Jonathan Patrick Wurster (born October 31, 1966) is an American drummer and comedy writer known for his work with Superchunk, the Mountain Goats, Bob Mould and The Best Show with Tom Scharpling.
Jon Wurster performing with Superchunk in 2010
|Birth name||Jonathan Patrick Wurster|
|Born||October 31, 1966|
Sellersville, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Early music careerEdit
Wurster grew up in the southeastern Pennsylvania town of Harleysville and began playing drums at the age of ten, taking lessons for a few years before playing in local bands. In 1984 Wurster joined the psychedelic punk band Psychotic Norman. The band shared bills with the Minutemen, Die Kreuzen, and Suicidal Tendencies and recorded a three-song 7" single before Wurster left in January 1986 to play with rock band the Right Profile .
Months after Wurster's arrival, the Right Profile was signed by Clive Davis to Arista Records. In April, 1987 the band recorded demos in Memphis, Tennessee with Jim Dickinson and Jerry Lee Lewis's guitarist Roland Janes at Sam Phillips's Recording Studio. Soon after this session, co-founding member Stephen J. Dubner left the band to pursue a writing career. Dubner would go on to great success as co-author of the book Freakonomics.
Dickinson and The Right Profile began sessions for their debut album at Ardent Studios in the summer of 1987, but the album was never completed. The band continued for four more years, eventually changing their name to the Carneys. A five-day recording session in 1989 produced by drummer Steve Jordan at New York City's The Hit Factory has been cited by Wurster as crucial to his development as a drummer. A cross-country tour to Los Angeles to find a record deal proved unsuccessful, and the Carneys broke up in August 1991. Andy York, the guitarist on the final tour, would go on to play with John Mellencamp. The Right Profile's 1986-87 lineup reformed for a benefit show in August of 2018 at the Cat's Cradle in Chapel Hill.
Wurster moved to Chapel Hill in March of 1991 and joined the band Superchunk in October just before the release of its second album, No Pocky for Kitty. Wurster has drummed on every Superchunk album since No Pocky.
After eleven years of recording and touring, Superchunk went on hiatus in 2002. During the hiatus Wurster worked with Caitlin Cary (2002); The Minus 5 (2002); Marah (2003); Chris Stamey (2004), and Robert Pollard of Guided by Voices (2006). In November, 2006 Superchunk played with The Mountain Goats at The Daily Show tenth anniversary party at Irving Plaza in New York City. In addition to performing a comedy sketch with Samantha Bee of Daily Show, Wurster played three songs with the Mountain Goats. As a result, he was invited to drum on the duo's west coast tour in 2007.
Wurster played drums and percussion on the Mountain Goats' 2007 album Heretic Pride and joined the band after the release of the album. He has drummed on every subsequent Mountain Goats album. As the 2008 Heretic Pride tour was ending, he was contacted by bassist Jason Narducy about replacing Bob Mould's drummer on the west coast leg of Mould's District Line tour. Wurster flew from Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles the day after the Mountain Goats' last show and played his first show with Mould the next night in Solana Beach, California. Wurster has drummed on every Bob Mould album since 2009's Life and Times and became a member of the Bob Mould Band. He has recorded or performed live with Aimee Mann, R.E.M., Dave Grohl, The Pretenders, Nick Cave, Ben Gibbard, Charlie Daniels, Britt Daniel, The Bangles, Katy Perry, Guided By Voices, Ryan Adams, Rocket from the Crypt, Magnapop, The New Pornographers, Margaret Cho, Jay Farrar, Alejandro Escovedo, Split Single, Chris Stamey & Peter Holsapple, and The Connells.
- On the Mouth (Matatdor, 1993)
- Foolish (Merge, 1994)
- Here's Where the Strings Come In (Merge, 1995)
- Indoor Living (Merge, 1997)
- Come Pick Me Up (Merge, 1999)
- Here's to Shutting Up (Merge, 2001)
- Majesty Shredding (Merge, 2010)
- I Hate Music (Merge, 2013)
- What a Time to Be Alive (Merge, 2018)
The Mountain GoatsEdit
- Heretic Pride (4AD, 2008)
- The Life of the World to Come (4AD, 2009)
- All Eternals Deck (Merge, 2011)
- Transcendental Youth (Merge, 2012)
- Beat the Champ (Merge, 2015)
- Goths (Merge, 2017)
- In League with Dragons (Merge, 2019)
- Life and Times (Anti, 2009)
- Live at ATP 2008 (Granary, 2010)
- Silver Age (Merge, 2010)
- Beauty & Ruin (Merge, 2014)
- Patch the Sky (Merge, 2016)
- Sunshine Rock (Merge, 2019)
As session drummerEdit
- Dream Train –The Accelerators (Profile, 1991)
- Brain Junk – George Huntley (TVT, 1994)
- Above Ground and Vertical - The Pinetops (Soundproof/Monolyth, 1998)
- Forget Their Manners – River City High (Doghouse, 2001)
- A Man Under the Influence - Alejandro Escovedo (Bloodshot, 2001)
- Sebastapol - Jay Farrar (Artemis, 2001)
- Group Sounds - Rocket from the Crypt (Vagrant, 2001)
- Old School Dropouts - The Connells (Black Park, 2001)
- Double Back - Hazeldine (Glitterhouse, 2001)
- 2002 Holiday Single - R.E.M. (R.E.M./Athens LLC, 2002)
- Terroir Blues - Jay Farrar (Artemis, 2003)
- I'm Stayin' Out - Caitlin Cary (Yep Roc, 2003)
- Travels in the South - Chris Stamey (Yep Roc, 2004)
- 20,000 Streets Beneath the Sky - Marah (Yep Roc, 2004)
- Salamander - Doug Gillard (Pink Frost, 2004)
- Blues and Boogie Shoes - The Keene Brothers (Robert Pollard & Tommy Keene) (Fading Captain, 2004)
- Q People (A Tribute to NRBQ) - Mike Mills (Spirithouse, 2004)
- If You Didn't Laugh, You'd Cry - Marah (Yep Roc, 2005)
- Moon: Robert Pollard Live (Merge, 2006)
- Get Guilty - AC Newman (Matador, 2009)
- Here and Now - Chris Stamey & Peter Holsapple (Bar/None, 2009)
- Bright and Vivid - Kathryn Calder (2011)
- Former Lives - Ben Gibbard (Barsuk, 2012)
- Fragmented World - Split Single (Inside Outside, 2014)
- Metal Frames - Split Single (Inside Outside, 2016)
- Dr Demento Covered in Punk (lead vocals and drums) - Philly Boy Roy (Demented Punk, 2018)
- Wurster appeared in a 2002 UPS commercial playing drums with Kyle Gass and Charlie Daniels on a version of Daniels' song "The Devil Went Down to Georgia".
- The Electrifying Conclusion-Guided by Voices drums on I Am a Tree (Plexifilms, 2005)
- Wurster was a member of a drum section backing Katy Perry and Joe Perry on Queen's "We Will Rock You" during the opening of the 2009 MTV Video Awards.
- Wurster is the drummer on "Love Take Me Down to the Street"", a song featured in the 2010 film Role Models with Paul Rudd.
- On See a Little Light: A Celebration of the Music of Bob Mould he plays drums with Bob Mould, Dave Grohl, Britt Daniel, Margeret Cho and Grant Lee Buffalo, Britt Daniel, and Tad Keubler (Granary, 2012)
- Wurster plays drums on the song "Fat Pussy" in Margaret Cho's 2015 Netflix special PsyCHO.
- Wurster is the drummer in Test Pattern, a band featuring Fred Armisen, Bill Hader and Maya Rudolph, in the 2016 "Final Transmission" episode of the IFC series Documentary Now!
- Wurster has performed with Superchunk, The Mountain Goats, Bob Mould, and on Late Night with David Letterman, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, Late Night with Seth Meyers, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and The Colbert Report.
Comedy/The Best ShowEdit
Wurster met New Jersey native Tom Scharpling on June 19, 1992 at a My Bloody Valentine/Superchunk/Pavement show in New York City. The two found common comedy and musical ground and became good friends. Over the ensuing years, Wurster and Scharpling kept in touch, coming up with comedy ideas that would eventually find a home on Scharpling’s WFMU radio show.
The duo’s first performance on Scharpling’s WFMU show occurred on November 19, 1997 and featured Wurster calling in as Ronald Thomas Clontle, the misguided, egotistical author of a music reference book titled Rock, Rot & Rule. Listeners believed the call to be a real interview with a real author and called in to argue with Clontle over pronouncements like "Madness invented ska" and "David Bowie rots because he’s made too many changes." The Clontle call was eventually released on CD in 1999 as Rock, Rot & Rule via the duo’s Stereolaffs label. Rock, Rot & Rule saw its first vinyl release in 2015 on Flannelgraph Records.
Scharpling & Wurster continued their partnership when Scharpling’s The Best Show on WFMU debuted in 2000. It was during this period that Philly Boy Roy, Hippy Johnny, Bryce Chastain and other beloved Best Show characters (all voiced by Wurster) were introduced. Scharpling and Wurster released four best of CDs (Chain Fights, Beer Busts and Service with a Grin, New Hope for the Ape-Eared, Hippy Justice and The Art of the Slap) between 1999 and 2007.
The Best Show left WFMU in December, 2013 and relaunched a year later as The Best Show with Tom Scharpling on thebestshow.net
In May, 2015 Numero Group released the 16-CD, 8-hour The Best of Scharpling & Wurster on the Best Show box set. To promote the compilation, Scharpling & Wurster took their audio act to the stage, starting with four sold-out shows at Brooklyn’s Bell House. The duo then embarked on a U.S. tour performing live recreations of their Best Show calls as well as new material. Special guests during this tour included Kim Gordon, Vanessa Bayer, Britt Daniel, Steve Albini, Stephen Malkmus, Ben Gibbard, Chris Stamey and Wilco’s John Stirratt and Pat Sansone.
Scharpling & Wurster appeared as couch guests on Late Night with Seth Myers on May 14, 2015 and recorded their Scharpling & Wurster Live at Third Man Records album two days later in Nashville, Tennessee. Wurster is one of only a handful of artists to appear on Late Night as couch guest, musical guest and as a member of the 8G Band. Wurster has appeared as an expert witness in the Judge John Hodgman podcast episode "A Trial of Two Cities".
Wurster has written for, acted in and done voice work for various television shows, commercials and films including:
- Late Night with Conan O’Brien – actor in various sketches (2000-2004)
- MTV commercials:
- Tom Goes To The Mayor (Season 2):
- Monk – Mr. Monk Paints His Masterpiece (Season 6 Episode 14) –writer (2006)
- Tim & Eric Awesome Show Great Job! (Season 2: Vacation, Episode 1) - co-writer (2007)
- Squidbillies – Earth Worst (Season 3 Episode 6) – voice of Dakota/consulting writer (2008)
- Your Pretty Face is Going Straight to Hell - Devil in the Details (Season 1 Episode 5) – co-writer (2013)
- The Newbridge Tourism Board Presents: We’re Comin’ To Get Ya! – actor/writer/producer (2014)
- Steven Universe – voice of Marty (2015-2016)
- Adventure Time - voice of Bryce (2015-2017)
- The Simpsons -The Marg-ian Chronicles (Episode 590) – voice of Barry (2016)
- Vice’s Party Legends (Season 2 Episode 6) – himself (2017)
- Deadwax – Part Four (Season 1 Episode 4) – voice of Radio Caller 2 (2018)
- Ant-Man and the Wasp – Burch’s SUV Driver (2018)
Wurster has written articles for Rolling Stone, McSweeney’s, The Onion and Spin and has been a contributing writer for Modern Drummer since 2003. He has written articles about touring and recording as well as features on other drummers. Wurster has also contributed chapters to the following books:
In popular cultureEdit
- In 1983 Wurster booked Philadelphia punk band The Dead Milkmen’s first ever show (at the Harleysville Senior Adult Activity Center). Wurster was later name checked in “Stuart”, a song from the Milkmen’s 1988 album Beelzebubba (“You know that Jonny Wurster kid, the kid that delivers papers In the neighborhood? He's a fine kid. Some of the neighbors say he smokes crack, but I don't believe it”).
- In the season 3 Bush is a Pussy episode of Mr. Show Bob Odenkirk tells his former Siamese twin (played by David Cross) that he is getting reattached, not to him, but to "Jon Wurster in Marketing."
- A reference to Rock, Rot & Rule appears on a blackboard in a scene from the Comedy Central show Strangers with Candy.
- "Drummer Jon Wurster Remembers Grant Hart: 'The Center of the Sonic Hurricane'". Rollingstone. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
- "The Funniest Drummer in Indie Rock". Rollingstone. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
- "Indie Rock Royalty Save the Postal Service's Unfunny, Overlong 'Funny or Die' Sketch". The Spin. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
- "That Time a Dog Bit Drummer Jon Wurster in the Face and He Played a Show Anyway". Vice. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
- Kaufmann, Justin. "Wikipedia Files: Superchunk's Jon Wurster". WBEZ. Retrieved 14 December 2010.
- "Tar Heel of the Week: A top drummer turns funny -- Jon Wurster, comedy writer and musician, will dominate Merge 25". News Observer. Retrieved 26 February 2019.
- "Meet Jon". Stereo Laffs. Retrieved 26 February 2019.
- "Jon Wurster". Modern Drummer. Retrieved 26 February 2019.
- "The Right Profile reunion forces band to reflect on legacy, and what could have been". News Observer. Retrieved 1 March 2019.
- "The Right Profile Lives Again (for About 15 Minutes)". Freakonomics. Retrieved 1 March 2019.
- "From the desk of jon wurster: the replacements". Magnet Magazine. Retrieved 26 February 2019.
- "BNS: Jon Wurster BONUS Mini-Episode". The Trapset. Retrieved 2 March 2019.
- "Mellencamp's longtime guitarist talks about new album, tour". Herald Dispatch. Retrieved 25 February 2019.
- "Superchunk's Jon Wurster shares his favorite Minnesota memories". City Pages. Retrieved 25 February 2019.
- "Interview: Drummer and Comedian Jon Wurster". Redbull Music Academy. Retrieved 25 February 2019.
- "Jon Wurster, Music Credits". All Music. Retrieved 25 February 2019.
- "Comedy Nerds, Meet Indie-Rock Nerds". NY Magazine. Retrieved 25 February 2019.
- "The Mountain Goats: Heretic Pride". Pop Matters. Retrieved 25 February 2019.
- "The Constant Impermanence of Bob Mould". Rollingstone. Retrieved 26 February 2019.
- "Scharpling and Wurster bring The Best Show to the stage". On the A Side. Retrieved 3 March 2019.
- "Guided By Voices: The Electrifying Conclusion [DVD]". Pop Matters. Retrieved 3 March 2019.
- "Jon Wurster's creative life spans cracking jokes and drumming in the Mountain Goats". Daily Progress. Retrieved 3 March 2019.
- "Original Soundtrack, Role Models". All Music. Retrieved 3 March 2019.
- ""How did I get here?": Documentary Now!'s little Talking Heads tribute that could". AV Club. Retrieved 3 March 2019.
- "Tom Scharpling and Jon Wurster Tell Us What Rocks, Rots, and Rules". Vice. Retrieved 28 February 2019.
- "Tom Scharpling and Jon Wurster of 'The Best Show' on WFMU Are Punk Genuises". Spin. Retrieved 28 February 2019.
- "The Mountain Goats' Jon Wurster talks not being goth and playing on an album about goths that doesn't really sound goth". Spin. Retrieved 28 February 2019.
- "Tom Scharpling Talks Classic 'Best Show on WFMU' Moments". Vulture. Retrieved 28 February 2019.
- "Scharpling & Wurster: The Best of the Best Show". Pop Matters. Retrieved 28 February 2019.
- "SCHARPLING & WURSTER LIVE! WITH SPECIAL GUESTS". Brooklyn’s Bell House. Retrieved 28 February 2019.
- "Tom Scharpling & Jon Wurster announce first tour ever". Consequence Of Sound. Retrieved 28 February 2019.
- "Season 2 Episode Guide". TV Guide. Retrieved 28 February 2019.
- MaxFun Intern (12 February 2014). "Judge John Hodgman Episode 147: A Trial of Two Cities". Maximum Fun. Retrieved 2014-05-14.
- "Jon Wurster". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 6 March 2019.
- "Comedy Central developing Paul F. Tompkins' Evil Genius". AV Club. Retrieved 6 March 2019.
- "Drumming Along With the Ramones: Jon Wurster Salutes Tommy Ramone". Spin. Retrieved 6 March 2019.
- "Rat Scabies". Spin. Retrieved 6 March 2019.
- "The Drummer: 100 Years of Rhythmic Power and Invention". Google Books. Retrieved 6 March 2019.
- "Where Have All the Humorists Gone?, Part 2: Conversations with Modern Comedy Writers". Vulture. Retrieved 6 March 2019.
- "Stuart, The Dead Milkmen". Genius. Retrieved 6 March 2019.