“I feel like if I don’t approach it from a fun angle right now, I’ll just freak out!”: The Mars Volta’s Philo Tsoungui plays drums to Rush, LimeLight after hearing it for the first time

The Mars Volta Drummer Hears RUSH For The First Time - YouTube The Mars Volta Drummer Hears RUSH For The First Time - YouTube
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When it comes to modern progressive rock, The Mars Volta is one of the best-loved bands on the scene. Having formed from the ashes of At The Drive-In in 2001, the band has also been home to some incredible drummers (Jon Theodore, Thomas Pridgen, Dave Elitch and more). 

Philo Tsoungui joined in 2022, and recently she took a trip to Drumeo HQ where she undertook the ‘Hears it for the first time’ challenge, playing along to Rush’s Limelight having never previously listened to the song.

Now, it’s a well-known fact that late Rush drummer, Neil Peart had more than a little influence on the drum kit as we know it, in fact, in 2021 you voted The Professor as the drumming G.O.A.T.

Peart has also previously expressed his admiration for The Mars Volta, describing the band’s 2005 album Frances The Mute as “a brave, adventurous, uncompromising, highly musical piece of work.” 

Despite this, Philo’s reaction while first encountering a drumless version of LimeLight confirms that she isn’t bluffing, and has clearly never heard the song before. After a few listens, including taking note of the song’s twisting time signatures, which cycle through bars of 7/4, 6/4 and3/4, Philo decides to approach the song with educated feel over a prescriptively-written chart. “I was trying to pay attention to time signatures, but I just feel like I don’t want to be counting. I feel like if I don’t approach it from a fun angle right now, I’ll just freak the fuck out!”.

Her final take appears at 5:23, after which, Drumeo’s Brandon Toews reveals the song and band that she’s been playing along with. In a final twist of fate, Philo explains that throughout the video she’d been using Pro-Mark Neil Peart signature drumsticks, adding that she doesn’t usually play that stick model and grabbed them at the last minute before travelling to Drumeo.

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Stuart Williams

I'm a freelance member of the MusicRadar team, specialising in drum news, interviews and reviews. I formerly edited Rhythm and Total Guitar here in the UK and have been playing drums for more than 25 years (my arms are very tired). When I'm not working on the site, I can be found on my electronic kit at home, or gigging and depping in function bands and the odd original project.