The low-down on Australia’s hottest new stage show, Drummer Queens
31.03.2021

The low-down on Australia’s hottest new stage show, Drummer Queens

Niki Johnson, Georgia Anderson, Salina Myat, Peta Anderson and Lisa Purmodh in DRUMMER QUEENS. Photo by David Hooley
Words by Benjamin Lamb

We caught up with creator Joe Accaria and Drummer Queen Stef Furnari ahead of the much anticipated Melbourne Show to give us a rundown of it all.

Comprising eight extraordinary women, Drummer Queens is the brainchild of music industry stalwart Joe Accaria, a renowned drummer whose rich theatre and drumming experience in the field led him to create the upcoming – and mind-blowing – stage show.

“I was a classically trained musician at Sydney conservatorium, then went into pop music as a session drummer, then eventually I started working with a show called Tap Dogs, which introduced me to the theatre element of dance and drums and percussion, it was almost like a rock show, but with a cloak of theatre about it as well.”

This carries through to Drummer Queens, a show that isn’t “just drumming for 85 minutes” but a unique exploration into the worlds of the eight drummer queens through music, circus elements and genre-bending, all of which are important elements to Accaria.

“It’s about amalgamating music and rhythms from around the world, but putting them in a setting, and putting them in the hands of multi-faceted and talented female drummers.

“There are elements of percussion from all around the world, but integrated with new, electronic percussion and electronic sounds,” he adds.

For Accaria and the Drummer Queens, being front and centre is much more exciting than the usual drummer spot; “I’ve been always been fortunate to work with people who think you aren’t just the drummer up at the back, I’ve always been involved in the performance aspect; It makes it a bit more interesting than sitting up the back and accompanying.”

The show follows a storyline too, almost making the show a musical; “There’s a sense they belong in a world, there’s an underworld, and they’re powering the lights and energy of this underground world through drums.”

Accaria notes that one of the most important elements of Drummer Queens is creating an unforgettable and unmatchable experience for the audience, an area he and the drummer queens excel in.

“What can I do on stage to make people feel like they’re excited by or connected to something? I suppose the sum of my experiences (in the music industry) has sort of helped me understand that if you’re putting something in front of an audience, then you want them to feel something.”

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Each of the Drummer Queens has been a part of the popular show for a bunch of different times; each meeting Accaria at a different point in their career, and their immense talent and chemistry is what helps every show become the unforgettable experience that it is.

“Some of them have been with me since 2013, they’re really excited to see the progression of the show, some of them have done other shows for me as well, including Tap Dogs, where we sort of flipped it – there were two male drummers, we flipped it to female to create a different energy in terms of the male and female energy of the show as well.”

“It’s been great watching their development, not only professionally, but within the parameters of drummer queens, some of them are new, and some of them have been with us for quite a while, so I love watching the excitement that goes with that.”

Stef Furnari is one of Australia’s most in-demand drummers, and her skills and upbringing in the drumming scene have led her to be one of The Drummer Queens.

“I’ve been drumming since I was about 11, I always had some weird fascination with, and automatically felt drawn into drums, so as soon as I got my first opportunity to perform, I just kept rolling with it, the stage felt like home to me.

“Once I turned 18, I started to do real gigs, and by real gigs, going to the pub and playing gigs,” she laughs.

“I ended up auditioning for Joe’s Tap Dogs, then he realised there were a lot of really good female drummers in Sydney, so he came up with this concept of ‘I’m going to put a drum show together for just the female drummers’ and he invited me to be a part of that, so I’ve been a part of drummer queens for about 7-8 years since it was created.”

Furnari and her fellow Drummer Queens are not only putting on an awesome show, but influencing and inspiring the next generation of killer drummers out there.

“It’s all coming out in this one show. We wanna inspire people, we have young girls, young kids coming to see our show, we want to be able to inspire people to get into music, play drums, and get them excited about whatever makes them happy in life.”

“It’s theatrical, it’s rhythmic, it’s energetic, but it’s not anything you’ve ever seen before. I guarantee it’ll be different to what you imagine.”

Drummer Queens hits Melbourne’s Comedy Theatre from April 28 to May 8. Grab your tickets here.