Few drummers have reached the heights — or name recognition — of Max Weinberg. Former right-hand man to Conan O’Brien for more than 17 years, Weinberg is probably best known as drummer for Bruce Springsteen and his E Street Band, with which he has been touring on and off since 1974.
Now, the popular percussionist is hitting the road on his Max Weinberg’s Jukebox tour, which will bring him to the Tarrytown Music Hall on Feb 15. We caught up with Weinberg, who dished on his tour and the future of the E Street Band.
What was the genesis of your current tour?
This came about because, when I am not performing with the E Street Band, I look for opportunities to play the drums. Not only do I like performing for people, I need to perform to get to the level in drumming I need to maintain my skills. One of the fun things for a drummer, at least in my case, has been to play with other bands. Plus, as a drummer, you have to know every style of music and play a bit of everything.
Photo by Joseph Quever
What is a performance of Max Weinberg’s Jukebox like?
It is interactive. The audience picks the set list, which they choose from a revolving list on video screens on both sides of the stage that contain about 350 songs. It’s all very different for us every night. For instance, some nights it’s only [songs by] The Beatles or all AC/DC.
But the one song that people always request is “American Girl” by Tom Petty. Immediately, the first time we did this concept people were just going wild over it. People had come in expecting to see a set list and suddenly they were creating it in real time — it became a party.
Any word on a new Springsteen tour?
We very rarely, if ever, have had a band meeting, and my basic position is that I don’t ask. It has just always seemed to work out. When I was doing TV, I did the E Street tours and Conan for years, so that took a little more coordination.
But its been this way for 44 years: I may get a phone call, so I’d better keep my drumming together, and I’d better keep my physicality together and, if nothing else, it’s a motivation to try to stay youthful. I saw Bruce socially about six weeks ago, and he is loving this show and wrapping up his own and, as a friend, that is a delight for me. So I am hopeful, but really I have no information.