Joseph D'Aqui


By Marc David Gambino 

March 16, 2015

On an unseasonably warm February night in 2012, drummer Joseph D'Aqui auditioned with the group for which I had been playing bass guitar with for the four years before.

In that four years, I had the privilege to play with many great drummers...  Some of whom I had been with previously in other groups, and some I met for the first time while in "Kimon & The Prophets."

I had never seen or heard Joseph play, and had gone through so many changes to the band's rhythm section over that time that I had grown tired of the lack of stability.  Auditioning another drummer was par for the course, and my "good soldier" mentality was being tested; as I had become fed up with it.

At the same time, the repressed dream I had to start a new band on my own was running out of time.

As a bassist who wanted to sing as well, it would have to start with a solid drummer.  Faith in finding that elusive drummer who would have the three qualities needed was waning.

That drummer had to have the kind of talent that pushed me to be better, the courage to commit to something new, and (above all) a serious personality.

None of the drummers I played with to that point had all three of those qualities, most importantly the commitment needed and faith in my vision.

As we were setting up before beginning to jam, and I don't remember how it came up, I voiced an opinion of how it takes months for a bassist and drummer to really click.

After the first two songs at that audition, I remarked about how quickly Joseph and I were synched.

His response to that was:  "It doesn't have to take months ."

When we finished playing, I remember sensing that Kimon was probably feeling Joseph's playing style was stronger than the direction he was looking to go in.

(I guess being a "Prophet" means knowing some things before they happen...)

Joseph left the room before we did, and I was asked what I thought.

"He is probably the best drummer I have ever seen or heard...  Seriously."

Outside the studio, I made sure I would not let this opportunity go.  So, on the sly, I said this to Joseph as I handed him my card:  "Ultimately, it's up to you and him as to whether you are going to join this group or not, but I don't want to lose touch with you."

After giving it a try for a few gigs, Kimon decided as expected that we were straying too far from the more bluesier path he wanted to take.  That decision was based on the strong "hard funk" emphasis Joseph and I started supplying to the songs.

A band meeting to see if a compromise could be reached resulted in me asking Joseph afterwards if he was willing to start a new band.

His response was: "I'm in!"

In the three-plus years since that time, I find myself forever indebted to him for being LION-HEARTED's co-founder.

We started by auditioning guitarists while (simultaneously) starting to write new original songs on bass and drums.

It took over three months to find Pete Pineyro, but we were completely on the same page through that time...  With an steadfast patience until he arrived, and an undaunted desire to never just settle for settling's sake before that happened.

The courage to decide to have a go at it as a musical trio right after that (rather than adding a keyboardist) meant accepting Pete's challenge to make songs and a sound that was interesting and constantly refreshed with just three inputs...  And without gimmicky overproduction from layers of recording overdubs.

That was (and is still) possible because of Joseph's constant supply of new and intricate beats that keep us driven to be creative.

Full disclosure means I feel I must admit to our limitations, though.  We do find ourselves stuck in an odd "Catch 22" because Joseph is our drummer...

Being, without a doubt, the most forceful and powerful percussionist I have ever seen, heard or played with -- we are NOT built for small clubs.

Truthfully, we have had to turn down many offers to perform at places we simply could not play.  For Pete and I to turn up to volumes that match Joseph's decibel level would mean we would cause irreparable damage to any audience in confined ("close") quarters.

So, it's been rough trying to cut our teeth on a New Jersey circuit where bigger venues are reserved for famous touring bands and successful tribute acts.

That's OK, though...  I wouldn't have it any other way.

And I would never think of asking Joseph D'Aqui to tone down his playing....  Not in a million years.

I know we will take the leap over that small hurdle with ease, playing larger places on prime nights (like we have).  And that will happen more frequently as more people "get" what we're looking to do, and demand for LION-HEARTED grows.

We call him "Chupacabra" for a reason.  His no-holds-barred approach to drumming is the most important element of our sound.  That nickname also exemplifies his sentinel mindset he has for his family and his band.

Messing with that aforementioned serious mindset WILL result in finding out, point blank, that he IS a force to be reckoned with.

Changing that in any way would change us, and NOTHING contributes to the appropriateness of our band's name as his personality and style of playing does.

LION-HEARTED was born just over three years ago out of a refusal to compromise.  I can honestly say I have NO doubt that our best days are ahead of us BECAUSE of that...

And because our drummer is Joseph D'Aqui.

© Lion-Hearted 2012