Amandla is the music and group of Claude Coleman Jr., familiarly known as the perversely versatile drummer for the group Ween , whose 20‐year discography as a drummer stretches across an eclectic array of artists and players throughout the NY/NJ area and beyond that include an extended and eclectic range of styles including the group Eagles of Death Metal and ‘Punk Rock Jazz Vibraphonist’ Mike Dillon.
On record, Amandla is Coleman as its singer‐songwriter, performing on all instruments, engineering and producing inbetween home‐built studios and other locations. Live, he is Amandla’s frontman and guitarist.
In 1989, his first band Skunk was signed to TwinTone Records, after which he began recording and performing with Ween in 1992. Skunk’s second release Laid (1991) featured three Coleman‐penned tracks including the slow, falsetto burner I Think I Don’t Mind, later re‐recorded and re‐released on the debut Amandla release, Falling Alone (2001).
Falling Alone was a contextual portrait of Coleman’s influences and defied all categories with its alt‐rock‐soul‐folkpsychedelic exploration. It was a songwriter’s record, and it proudly defined Amandla with its own traditions and sounds; boasting the lush haunting of On A Ferry, then jumping over to the prog‐heavy Daniella. Gene Ween sings on the Marc Bolan cover, Summer Deep.
In 2002, Coleman became a near‐fatal car accident survivor, suffering multiple pelvic fractures and traumatic brain injuries resulting in paralysis of the left side of his body. After a 35 days hospitalization and two months of wheelchair confinement, Coleman intensified his rehabilitation by working with outside trainers, in addition to the full‐time cognitive and physical therapy he received from The Kessler Institute. In exactly one year, Ween was touring again, and Amandla was again writing and recording its music. Coleman’s amazing recovery has been featured by NPR’s To the Best of Our Knowledge and The New York Times.
In 2006, Coleman released The Full Catastrophe, the span of four years including the accident, rehab, Ween touring and three studio relocations. The title is inspired by the words from Zorba the Greek, as well as the meditative teachings of Dr. Jon Kabat‐Zinn. Featuring guests such as legendary slide trombonist Art Baron, It again featured Coleman on every instrument as he struggled to reacquire his music skills, incorporating everything from the playing to the patchbay soldering into his therapy. On Catastrophe, Coleman continued Amandla’s across style boundaries, bringing Costello‐esque pop and flirting with jungle music moods. It has been reviewed as “a minor masterpiece”.
Currently, the drummer, singer‐songwriter, multi‐instrumentalist, engineer / producer, music teacher, writer, web designer and carpenter has just completed his third record titled Laughing Hearts, and resides in the Asheville, NC area assembling players for touring throughout the year.