Thomas Pridgen is an american drummer best known for his collaboration with El Paso band The Mars Volta from October 31st, 2006 until October 23rd, 2009.
He’s been drumming since age 3, and at 9 he won the Guitar Center Drum Off. Amazingly, at age 10 Thomas was the youngest recipient for a Zildjian endorsement in the nearly 400 year history of the company. Thomas is also naturally left-handed, but plays the drum kit as if he is a right-hander with his kit set-up right-handed. He’s studied with David Garibaldi, Walfredo Reyes Sr, Troy Lucketta, and Curtis Nutall. He’s endorsed by DW drums, Zildjian cymbals, Evans drumheads and Pro-Mark drumsticks. In 1999, at age 15 he received a 4 year scholarship to Berklee College of Music and was the youngest musician to ever receive this scholarship. Thomas Pridgen has recently done plenty of drum clinics, his own, and those where he has participated with Walfredo Reyes Jr. and Dennis Chambers, amongst others. By his teenage years he had already done studio sessions with many Bay Area Gospel artists.
In 2006, Pridgen received a call from Omar Rodríguez-Lopez of The Mars Volta: “Omar asked if I wanted to come check out the band,” Pridgen recalls from his home in El Cerrito, California. “We talked on the phone for a couple of hours, and then I went to Ohio to meet them. Omar invited me to a back room, where the whole band was set up. We jammed for a good thirty minutes. He then said, ‘We’re going to play that groove tonight in front of everybody.’ This was for a huge show in Cleveland, when the band was touring with the Red Hot Chili Peppers”.
In 2007, Pridgen became the new permanent drummer for The Mars Volta. Pridgen’s first appearance was at the March 12th show in New Zealand, where the band debuted the song “Idle Tooth” which was later renamed “Wax Simulacra” for the forthcoming album. After shows in New Zealand and Australia, The Mars Volta toured a few west coast venues as the headliner, then entered the studio to record their fourth LP, The Bedlam in Goliath. Pridgen’s style on Bedlam in Goliath used “blistering 32nd-note full-set combinations, stunning single-stroke rolls, and blazing single bass drum patterns” along with a creative and precise paradiddle technique.
In 2009, The Mars Volta won a Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance the nominated track was ‘Wax Simulacra‘.
Thomas Pridgen has been voted as Best Up and Coming Drummer by Modern Drummer magazine.
Besides his work with The Mars Volta, Thomas has also performed with Christian Scott and Wicked Wisdom. Thomas, for some time, was working with singer Keyshia Cole as her live and session drummer and being her music director. He also was featured alongside with Tony Royster Jr., Eric Moore, and others in drumming DVD entitled Shed Sessions Volume 1, a Gospel Chops DVD.
Thomas Pridgen was also featured on the Modern Drummer 2008 DVD with footage from his performance at the festival.
In October 2009, Pridgen left The Mars Volta. As of December 2009 the band has still made no official statement, however, in their most recent shows they have been performing with drummer Dave Elitch. However, Thomas Pridgen explains what made him leave the band in some interviews.
In December 2009, Thomas Pridgen formed another band called The Memorials with friends and former students from Berklee School of Music – singer Viveca Hawkins and guitarrist Nick Brewer. Thomas describes The Memorials’ first record: “For me it was important to put a band together with my friends, and ya know, the record is a rollercoaster. Some songs are hard, but will make you cry by the end….”
In 2010, Thomas has been busy with drum clinics across the US, side projects and interviews. You will soon be able to check Thomas’ past clinics and his exclusive interviews on this website.
The Memorials have been gigging all over the United States, and are now preparing for another tour season. From January to March,The Freedom Tour 2011 summed 30 dates coast-to-coast. Their first debut has been released in January 18th, 2011 and the band is now preparing for spring/summer shows! A future recording will be released in late 2011/2012.
Thomas has also been busy in studio with Jordan Ferreira Elixir On Mute‘s new album! For the newest release, Jon Reshard will also line-up on bass. Thomas takes part in the recording of Vigilant‘s debut, along with Jon Reshard, Chloe Pappas and Jordan Ferreira.
After completing 3 tours (Freedom Tour, Equinox Tour, Waterguns, B B Q, & Hot Chocolate Tour) over the United States with The Memorials, the band has travelled home after a successful 2 month schedule all over Europe during October-December – the much missed The Memorials “Never Ending” European Tour 2012.
Project TEN (Thomas Pridgen, Eric McFadden, Norwood Fisher) is flying to Hawaii in mid December 2012 for a couple of shows.
Touring europe with Itch, supporting AWOLNATION, from January until mid February 2013. March is a busy month for The Memorials.