I’ve heard tell that drummers have a reputation for egotism.
Tony Lash must be the exception that made the rule. A quiet and staid gentleman, you’d never guess Tony was drummer and sound engineer for alternative rock band, Heatmiser in the early 90’s. A self-proclaimed introvert, drumming was not Tony’s immediate passion. He states that he never thought of himself as a drummer, never aspired to be. He started playing the drums as Heatmiser came together in Massachusetts when Elliot Smith and Neil Gust were playing music in high school. Lash and Smith had been playing together during summer breaks so it was an organic process for them all to start playing together.
There is an immediate sense of authenticity about Tony. No kisses on the cheek or buttering of the bread necessary. When we asked Tony to pick the Heatmiser songs he’d like to share, he sacrificed his personal favorite “Neil song” for his son’s favorite song, “Get Lucky”. When he talks about his son Lucas he warms up, his quiet smile revealing a father’s deep affection. He speaks of the Heatmiser songs almost tenderly. It seems that Tony Lash has a soft spot or two. When this is pointed out to him he looks up candidly and says, “There are more than you’d think”.
These days Tony is studying for a psychology degree and continuing to pursue studio work. When asked about his current involvement in the music industry Tony is hesitant to share his thoughts about the changes that have taken place in the industry.. He admits that, although he does not wish to be a curmudgeon about it, he has found that the scene is less focused than it used to be. “There were four or five main places that bands used to play.” He admits that while this doesn’t make it inherently better, he preferred the focused nature of the early 90’s in Portland. It’s clear he is hesitant to put a value judgement on the current music scene but that he is not one to mince words or trip over delicacy. “Maybe my career would be different if I knew how to blow smoke.”
Tony isn’t here to promote 20 new projects. He is here to discuss Heatmiser’s induction into the Oregon Music Hall of Fame and his experiences making music with his friends. He mentions the new documentary coming out entitled ‘Heaven Adores You’ which focuses on Elliot Smith’s story, and he briefly discusses the band he currently plays with, Buzzy Shyface. “The singer’s son picked the name.”
So it seems there is life after success. There’s another stereotype debunked…one’s choices are not limited to Burn Out or Fade Away. Tony is not wholly defined by his time in Heatmiser or his music career; His involvement in the Portland music scene has influenced him, but if you were to ask him the question “What do you do?”, the answer would probably not be limited to a job or career. This pony may be a little shy, but he’s got more than one trick to offer.