December 13, 2018

The Spin Doctors’ Aaron Comess on His Bar Mitzvah and the Band’s 30th Anniversary

With many millions of albums sold and a handful of singles still regularly played on the radio, The Spin Doctors proved to be one of the most successful rock bands of the 1990s. The quartet of vocalist Chris Barron, guitarist Eric Schenkman, bassist Mark White and drummer Aaron Comess is still at it 30 years late, most recently releasing “If The River Was Whiskey” in 2013.

Outside of The Spin Doctors, drummer Aaron Comess released a new studio effort earlier this year, “Sculptures.” He has also recorded with the likes of Rachael Yamagata, Willie Nile, James Maddock, Marc Cohn and Leslie Mendelson, to name a few artists. Simply put, Comess stays busy with a variety of musical endeavors.

In support of its 30th anniversary, The Spin Doctors – including Comess – will be headlining a big 30th-anniversary show at New York’s Brooklyn Bowl on Nov. 8. I caught up with the New School alumnus and New York resident on behalf of the Jewish Journal, and highlights from that Q&A are below.

Jewish Journal: As I am speaking to you for the Jewish Journal, I must ask: What do you remember about your bar mitzvah?

Aaron Comess: My parents had me do the full on bar mitzvah: the haftarah, the shacharit and the Torah portion. I also studied with a fantastic cantor named Cantor Sanders at Sherrith Israel in Dallas, Texas, where I grew up. He had me do the really hard version of the trope, which is the melodies and this weird sort of notation. It was extremely challenging and I was not happy about having to do it, but looking back on it, it was a very challenging part of my musical journey and I pulled it off pretty well. Perhaps it was good practice for the many hours of drumming practice that would follow.

I’m not much of a singer, although I did sing a small background vocal part on our song “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong,” so perhaps my bar mitzvah paved the way for my big professional short-lived singing career. Needless to say, I’ve stuck to the drums from that point on. 

JJ: I believe 3 members of The Spin Doctors are technically Jewish, yet I don’t remember reading about The Spin Doctors being a “Jewish band” the way that KISS or The Beastie Boys were. Was it simply a coincidence that most of the band was Jewish?

AC: We never really think about it or put religion into our music, although we do joke around and call ourselves “three jews and a black.” In fact we almost used that as one of our company names but wisely decided against it. I probably should not even be mentioning it here, but we get a good laugh out of it. (laughs)

JJ: Judaism aside, what do the next few months look like for you career-wise? A lot of Spin Doctors activity?

 AC: We just had a great 2018 and are looking forward to a busy year ahead. We have a few shows left this year and are especially looking forward to our 30th anniversary show at the Brooklyn Bowl in New York City where we will play two sets. Aside from the band we are all four very active in many other musical projects and our own groups.

JJ: Finally, Aaron, any last words for the kids?

 

AC: What do you want to be when you grow up? Happy. That’s what I always tell my daughter, and also to find something you love to do and you will never have to work a day in your life.


More on Aaron Comess can be found at www.aaroncomess.com, while The Spin Doctors keep an online home at www.spindoctors.com.