John Colpitts is a composer, drummer, writer, and educator based in Queens, NY.
Colpitts was named one of the 100 Greatest Drummers in Alternative Music by Spin Magazine in 2013.
He has performed with Laurie Anderson, Royal Trux, Yo La Tengo, TIGUE, Boredoms, Spiritualized, Damo Suzuki, Rhys Chatham, Zhang Shou Wang, So Percussion, Michael Daves, Philip Glass, Stephen Malkmus, Jan St Werner (of Mouse on Mars), Lia Ices, Glenn Kotche, Akron Family, Samara Lubelski, Lee Ranaldo, Mick Barr, Glockabelle, Silver Apples, J Spaceman, Chris Brokaw, Marnie Stern, Ex Models and William Basinski (among others).
Colpitts is a Contributing Writer at Modern Drummer, and also writes for Pitchfork, Talkhouse, Red Bull Music Academy Daily, Rolling Stone, Paris Review Daily, Bandcamp Daily, The Cut Up Quarterly, Flood Magazine and N+1. His 2019 Talkhouse report about Sofar Sounds resulted in a $460,000 settlement with the NY State Department of Labor.
John has given composer workshops, and lectures for students at The School of the New York Times, Middlebury College, Brooklyn College, University of Central Florida, Bennington College, The New School, NYU, MIT, Bard, Saint Paul’s School, Millbrook School, Chicago Lab School, Dedham Country Day School, the Pavels Jurjans Music School in Riga Latvia, Rhythm Music Conservatory in Copenhagen, and at the So Percussion Summer Institute at Princeton University. Subjects range from composition, creativity, drumming, percussion, record production, DIY approaches to a music career, journalism, and composition strategies.
Colpitts has produced albums by Tigue, STUN, Company, and Sightings.
He has created limited edition poetry prints and chapbooks with Kayrock Screen Printing.
A more complete resume/bio:
Man Forever (2010 through present) – composed, recorded and released four full length albums and four live recordings on various formats.
* February 2020 – Premiered Multi-media work “The Accident” at Roulette Intermedium based on his recent car accident and recovery.
* Toured extensively throughout North America, Europe, Japan and China and has performed at venues and festivals such as San Diego Art Institute, The Poetry Foundation, NYU Skirball Center, Ecstatic Music Festival, The Lab in San Francisco, Hopscotch Music Festival, The Kitchen, HallWalls, Fringe Arts, Incubate, RedCat, Detroit Contemporary Museum, Canadian Music Centre Toronto, Issue Project Room Darmstadt Institute, The Stone, and Pittsburgh Filmmakers.
* October 2017 Man Forever performed and collaborated with students from the Chicago Lab School at The Poetry Foundation.
* Summer 2016 Man Forever was selected to perform at the Thursdays at Bliss Plaza presented by ReCreate QNS.
* Performed and collaborated with the percussion ensemble TIGUE during the 2016 Ecstatic Music Festival at the WNYC Greene Space.
* Performed and collaborated with William Basinski during the 2014 Ecstatic Music Festival at Merkin Hall in NYC.
* Performed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in collaboration with So Percussion, June 2013.
Oneida (1997 through present) – drummer, composer, vocals. Recorded and released fourteen full length rock albums with an additional fourteen shorter works and live performances on various formats.
* Toured extensively throughout North America and Europe and has performed at venues and festivals such as Guggenheim Museum, Mass MOCA, All Tomorrow’s Parties, London’s ICA, The Kitchen, MOMA PS1, Abrons Art Center, Andy Warhol Museum.
* Conceptualized and organized Oneida presents The Ocropolis – a ten hour continuous improvisation and visual installation project for the All Tomorrows Parties festival – in 2009, 2010, 2011.
Million Lands (2017 through present) – Collaborative project with multi-instrumentalist Ben Lanz (touring member of The National, Beirut, Sufjan Stevens). Full length album released in 2020.
People of the North (2001-present) – Drummer, Composer. Recorded and released five full length albums and one EP.
Charnel Ground (2017-present) – Instrumental rock project with guitarist Chris Brokaw. Album out on 12XU in 2018 features James McNew from Yo La Tengo on bass.
The Symptoms (2015-present) – Ongoing project with Laurie Anderson and Tony Diodore.
Kid Millions/Jim Sauter Duo (2010-present) – sax and drums improvisational duo with Jim Sauter of the legendary NYC noise ensemble Borbetomagus. Released three full length albums and one single in various formats. New album “Safe and Sane” out in 2019.
Fox Millions Duo (2014-present) – Ongoing project with drummer/composer Greg Fox. Debut album “Lost Time” released on Thrill Jockey in 2015. New album “Biting Through” was released on Record Store Day 2019.
Kid Millions/Sarah Bernstein Duo (2014-present) – violin/vocal and drums improvisational duo with celebrated jazz and improvising violinist. Live album released in 2015 and their studio album “Tense Life” was released in 2017 and the latest studio album “Broken Fall” was released in August 2019.
Kid Millions/Jan St. Werner (2015-present) – Duo with Mouse on Mars founder Jan St. Werner. They have performed live in Boston, NYC and Berlin and have an album in the works for 2020.
Kid Millions/Zhang Shou Wang Duo (2014-present) – improvisational duo with acclaimed Chinese rock musician and composer. Album released in 2015 on Chinese-based Genjing label.
Monas (2014-present) – improvisational trio with guitarist/saxophonist Colin Fisher and bassist Johnny DeBlase. Album “Freedom” was released on Astral Spirits in 2017.
The Unspeakable Practices (2014-present) – recording project with writer Rick Moody and a cast of NYC experimental musicians. Debut album released on Joyful Noise Records in 2015.
Kid Millions/J Spaceman Duo (2013-present) – guitar, piano and drums duo with guitarist from Spacemen 3 and Spiritualized. Released a live recording on Northern Spy in 2014 and performed with the Joshua Light Show at the NYU Skirball Center in Oct of 2014.
Boredoms (2007-present) – auxiliary drummer for the Japanese group’s Boadrum project. Has performed in North America, the UK, Germany, Japan and the Pacific Ocean during a solar eclipse.
Soldiers of Fortune (2002-present) – drummer and vocalist for harmolodic by way of Allman Brothers rock band. Released two full length albums, the latest in 2015 on Mexican Summer Records.
Matter Waves (2010-2012) – micro-tonal improvisation ensemble with guitarist and composer David First. Archival album was released in 2018.
White Hills (2008-2010) – drummer – appears on four full length releases by this Brooklyn psychedelic rock project.
Royal Trux (2016-2018) – drummer.
Spiritualized (2013) – drummer.
Residencies, Awards, Juries and special performances:
Music for “Drop the Mask“ a 24 hour Plays Viral Musical with Lennon Parham and Dan O’Brien – May 2021.
Workshop for “Hoaxers” – Portland Center Stage – June 2018 – worked closely with playwright Dan O’Brien, director Michael Michetti, actors and musicians to develop music and songs for collaborative musical project.
Principle Percussionist – for John Luther Adams’ Inuksuit performances – at Caramoor, Katonah, NY July 2018 and Sharon, CT Sept 2015.
Curator for 2018 Joyful Noise Recordings White Label Series – selected unique, unreleased album for inclusion in subscription vinyl series.
Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant Recipient 2017 – support given towards an 8 show European tour by Man Forever and Tigue.
Tutto Questo Sentire Residency September 2017 (and July 2015) – Tuscany Residency with Performances in Capalbio and the Orto Botanico di Roma in Rome, Italy.
Sonny Pro Bono Public Domain Sample Band – Aug 2017 – collected and recorded samples from items borrowed from the Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse at the Ace Hotel PGH for sample sound project. Check link for more information about the project.
David Shrigley’s Problem Performance – March 2017 – “The Problem in NYC” with Lee Ranaldo, Alan Licht, Sarah Lipstate, Jessica Pavone, and Brian Chase performing on instruments by David Shrigley, Independent Art Fair, Spring Place, NYC.
Martha Graham Dance Company – Feb 2017 – worked on music with Tei Blow for their piece inspired by Punch and Judy with choreographer Annie-B Parson. Music premiered at NYC’s Joyce Theater.
Beyond the Confession: Kid Millions Reworks Harry Taussig – special vinyl and digital release of remixes and augmentation of original recordings by the guitarist Harry Taussig. Released in April of 2016 by Tompkins Square Records.
Avaloch Farms Ensemble Residency Oct 2015 – One week composition and performance residency with the group TIGUE to compose and prepare for a recording of a new Man Forever album.
Musical collaboration and soundtrack with artists Broomberg & Chanarin for their multi-media piece and short film “Rudiments” – Summer 2015.
Red Bull Music Academy NY 2015 – First Commissioned Piece by the Academy – Colpitts wrote “100 Disciplines” for 20 Musicians. Premier at Brooklyn Museum on May 3rd 2015. Recording released in 2017 on Thrill Jockey Records.
New Music USA Grant Awardee – Jan 2015 – Man Forever with TIGUE – Percussion and Vocal Canons – assistance granted for the recording of the album “Play What They Want.”
Groundswell Commission at Olana State Historic Park – September 2014.
Composer in Residence – Middlebury College – November 2012 and November 2017.
Composer Portrait – Darmstadt Institute – Issue Project Room – June 2012 (selected as one of the Best Concerts of 2012 by the New York Times by Ben Ratliff).
Member of the Composers Jury for the Millay Colony’s 2012 and 2013 Residency Season.
Infinite Loop: residency and collaboration with visual artist Val Briton. – Secret Project Robot – Jan 2012.
Edward T Cone Foundation Fellow – Composer in Residence – Millay Colony for the Arts – May 2011.
Founder and Engineer of the Ocropolis Recording Studio – Brooklyn, NY (2006-2011).
* Recorded and produced albums by Sightings, Oneida, White Hills, Company, Oakley Hall, People of the North, Man Forever, TIGUE.
Founder and President – Brah Records (2005-2011)
* Released 20 albums by artists such as Shinji Masuko, Sightings, Oakley Hall, Company, Oneida, People of the North, Home, Dirty Faces and Pterodactyl. Manufactured and distributed by Secretly Canadian Distribution.
Selected Recent Compositions:
Twin Torches – Composition for two drum sets, percussion, 5 person vocal ensemble, violins, harmonium, electric bass, 2016 (10 minutes)
You Were Never Here – Composition for two drum sets, percussion, acoustic bass, piano, harps, violin, organ, 7 voices, 2016 (10 minutes)
100 Disciplines – Composition for 20 musicians including timpani, drum sets, Thai nipple gongs, Tam Tams, vibraphones, organs, voices, electric piano, chimes, crotales, almglocken, 2015 (45 minutes)
Ryonen – for tuned snare drums, toms, bongo drums, concert bass drum, two cymbals, 5 voices, 2013 (15 minutes)
The Clear Realization – for two tuned drum sets, snare drum, two sets of bongos, 5 voices, 2013 (30 minutes)
The Cave – for tuned snare drum, treated guitar, electronic keyboard, 2012 (30 minutes)
Surface Patterns – for tuned snare drums, electric organ, electric guitar, electric bass 2011 (30 minutes)
Ur Eternity – for tuned snare drums, rack toms, floor toms, bass drums, and electric bass, 2011 – (40 minutes)
Voices – for ten vocalists, 2011 (10 minutes)
Man Forever Part 1 – for 5 tuned drum sets, hi-hat, electric bass, 2010 (17 minutes)
Man Forever Part 2 – for 5 tuned drum sets, snare drum, electric bass, 2010 (17 minutes)
Paris Review Daily – Drumset = You – May 2017
Rolling Stone Online – Love Time: Remembering Can Drummer Jaki Liebezeit’s Otherworldly Groove – January 2017
Modern Drummer Magazine – First Person: John Colpitts on Carmine Appice – November 2016 (print only)
N+1 Magazine – “Heads Ain’t Ready – the Education of a Drummer” – Spring 2013