In the rock milieu, drummers are hardly ever famous in their own right; unless you happen to sing while you’re swinging the sticks, like Phil Collins or Don Henley (or, around Popdose, Andy Sturmer), it’s exceedingly unlikely that the garden-variety fan will ever have any idea who you are (or notice when you’re fired). Just ask Danny Seraphine, who co-founded the pioneering “rock band with horns” Chicago in 1967 and held down its rhythm section until 1990 — then had to watch from the outside while the band’s ever-dwindling core of original members hit the sheds every summer with a growing cast of replacements.
For Seraphine — who told his side of the Chicago story in his memoir, Street Player — his painful divorce from the band he helped start was enough to send him into a musical hibernation that, for awhile, seemed to be permanent. But the drums never stopped calling him, and in 2006, he surprised longtime fans with California Transit Authority (CTA for short), a cheekily named collective dedicated to fulfilling the promise of the brass-fueled rock ‘n’ roll sound that Chicago fans have never stopped hungering for.
This is a special episode of the Matt ‘N’ Jeff Radio Hour for your hosts, both of whom spent major chunks of the ’80s poring over the liner notes to the Top 40 records of the era — including, of course, Chicago 17, Chicago 18, and Chicago 19, all of which we get into during our discussion with Danny, who was kind enough to humor our slavering nostalgia even though he was on hand to promote CTA’s new record, Full Circle.
The kicker here is that Full Circle is actually pretty terrific — more than a return to form, it’s a culmination of everything Seraphine’s music has always been about; a collection that transcends the commercial concerns and genre straightjackets that have often derailed Chicago, and helped cost one of the most dynamic drummers of his generation some potentially productive years.
That’s water under the bridge now that Seraphine’s at the kit for CTA, and with Full Circle, they sound like a band with plenty of energy to burn. Go get yourself a copy — but first, listen to our chat, embedded below!
(Thanks to Dw. Dunphy for the special Radio Hour graphic, yo.)
The Matt ‘N’ Jeff Radio Hour, Episode 17: Danny Seraphine