“These days, Daru Jones lends his funky, passionate drumming to everyone from Jack White to Pete Rock. Growing up, though, Jones didn’t listen to rap, or rock’n’roll, or anything approaching popular music. In fact, for the bulk of his formative years behind a drum kit, he was forbidden from listening to anything that wasn’t church music.
“I came up with a really strict foundation where everything outside of gospel, we couldn’t listen to it,” says the drummer, whose extended family used to attend nightly services at a Church of God in Christ congregation outside of Detroit. Looking back, Jones doesn’t feel like he was deprived, at least in retrospect. “You know what’s crazy?” he chuckles. “It wasn’t until later that I started dissecting the music and I was like, ‘Man! Gospel music was funky!'”
It turned out, the same deep grooves that Jones had used to keep churchgoers singing the Lord’s praises each night throughout his teenage years translated extremely well to his eventual explorations beyond the steeple.
A ferocious performer who towers above a bed of steeply angled drums, Jones blends classic gospel chops with a jazz touch and drum machine-style breaks. It’s a unique and colorful sound that initially acted as a magnet for big-name rap acts, and has transformed into a whirlwind of opportunities in virtually every genre.
After a series of touring gigs, Jones’ first break came with legendary Detroit hip-hop group Slum Village in 2005. Eventually, he moved to New York, where he began sharing the studio and stage with musicians like Talib Kweli, Pharoahe Monch, and Detroit rapper Black Milk. Then, in 2010, at a show in Nashville, an epic drum solo on a Black Milk song called “Losing Out” caught the attention of Jack White. “