Drummer Andy Robbins once took a percussion lesson from none other than celebrated pop-rock drummer and instructor Kenny Aronoff, who has toured with all-star artists ranging from John Mellencamp to Paul McCartney. But Robbins is the polished musician he is today largely because of the patience of his teen-years neighbors in Columbus’ Flat Rock Park subdivision.
They allowed him to mature from perhaps something of a bombastic beginner to a beat-driven backer of the sounds of one of the area’s most popular cover bands — Flat Earth, a six-member contingent rocking ‘round the clock when members get the chance.
“Yes, I apparently had very understanding neighbors,” Robbins said with a laugh while recalling that he first played from his bedroom before moving his drum kit to a more muffled basement several years later. “But I usually stopped playing before it got too late.”
Flat Earth, which normally includes Robbins, guitarist Marc Gotoh, lead vocalist Mary Rossittis, bassist/vocalist Jonathon White, keyboardist Joel Carroll and rhythm guitarist John Carroll, will provide the soundtrack once again as it did last year for the Uncommon Cause annual arts fundraiser Aug. 6 at Harrison Lake Country Club amid the theme of “Future Focus.” Robbins acknowledged that drummers rarely find themselves with much focus on them, as Gotoh suggested for this story.
“Frankly, I’m always quite comfortable with my seat in the back,” Robbins said, adding that he became a vocalist in recently years only reluctantly and only with Flat Earth to give singers such as Rossittis, Gotoh and White a break during sets.
The curious can catch some of the group’s smooth sound on its Facebook page at Flat Earth, via cover tunes of acts as varied as Fleetwood Mac and the Bee Gees. Older clips on YouTube highlight Gotoh’s distinctive pipes on songs by artists such as The White Stripes.
Unsurprisingly, the Bee Gees’ number featured on their social media is “You Should be Dancing.” Because the group is known for its ability get people moving and grooving, often with numbers such as Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk.”
“If people are out there dancing, then I feel like we’re doing our job,” Robbins said.
Plus, for those who regularly catch the band at local venues such as Fourth Street Bar and Grill — or even for those who saw the ensemble at last year’s Uncommon Cause — the setlist regularly gets altered.
“We try to regularly update it, not only for listeners, but because it keeps things new and fresh for us, too,” Robbins said.
The band plays Mellencamp, Foo Fighters, Kings of Leon, Coldplay, Radiohead, Peter Gabriel, Blue Oyster Cult, Queen, and a host of others. Plus, members occasionally have made time for requests.
Rossittis likes to make room for one of her personal, high-energy favorites: “Beggin’” by Maneskin, but originally recorded by Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons.
“I have Italian heritage, and both Maneskin and Frankie Valli are from Italian heritage as well,” she said. “Plus, the song just rocks. That’s our latest new song that I enjoy.”
Band members’ simple enjoyment could be a key to any popularity that Flat Earth has seen, Robbins guesses.
“I think it’s just that people can see that we’re having a good time,” he said. “And that translates from the stage.”