By Michael Reed
The Independent World lines are the rock stars of the WGI Percussion activity. With the growing popularity of “The Lot,” many drummers choose to spend time up close to these amazing ensembles. Perhaps no other group has developed a larger fan base than the bass line of Infinity Percussion. Michael Swain, Robert Wassum, Kevin Devlin, Ben Rusler, and Zach Gruse have been together since 2013. This year’s Finals show was the last time they performed together as several of the young men aged out.
Speaking after Semi-finals, Devlin elaborated how their Lot following has grown. “In 2013 when we first came together there were 5 people for our Finals Lot. In 2014, we had a YouTube video early in the season that caught the attention of a lot of people. When we got there on Finals night, there were lots of people surrounding us. 2015 was even bigger with people around us 360 degrees. I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen this year.”
Anybody who has seen Infinity’s lot routine can recognize how challenging what they do truly is. Michael Jung of Arcadia HS was impressed with “the speed of their splits and amount of vocabulary they have,” while Madi Bing of Shadow Indoor stated“I was speechless the whole time. Everything was perfect from Bass 1 to Bass 5.” Elijah Benson of Resistance Indoor simply said “Oh, my gosh that was amazing! To see it in person was really insane!”
Having people watching intently from an arm’s length away can be scary at first. Devlin mentioned “I think it’s more intimidating in the lot than in the stadium because they are so up close and they have their phones out and taking video, and you know it’s going to be permanent.” For Gruse, “It’s humbling to see all these people have an appreciation for all the hard work we’ve put into it. It makes us happy to go out there and play for everyone.”
According to Rusler, “Our routine is about a half hour long. We go through all the exercises and show chunks to showcase everything we’ve been working on.” Wassom added “I feel like a lot of our exercises are as difficult or more difficult than the book. It may not feel that way because we’ve had our exercises for so long and we only play the book for only one season at a time.”
How does a bass line get that proficient? According to Gruse, it just takes time and effort. “Everything that we play is very doable. Anyone is capable of doing it if they just put in the time and make it a goal to practice every day.” Devlin explained “we try play things that people think are impossible, and then break it down to the simplest form and make it perfect. It’s not actually as hard as you think, you just have to try.”
Thinking about their upcoming Finals performance after Semi-Finals, Swain indicated “I think because we’ve been together for so long it’s easy for us to stay level-headed and not let many outside factors affect what we do. It’s that kind of experience of continuing to be just one unit that helps us to stay focused and keep working toward the same goal.” As for Rusler, “It’s going to be pretty wild. We’ve kind of left our feelings at the door about the end point but it’s going to be an emotional time to know that’s the last time we’ll ever drum together.”
While their time on the floor as a bass line has now ended, the future is as bright as the Florida sun for the quintet. Now it’s time for future bass lines to step up to the plate to equal and surpass the accomplishments of these young men. It’s time for the next generation of percussionists to pick up the mantle and take the art of bass drumming to infinity…. and beyond.