Rafael Gayol

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Rafael Bernardo Gayol
Birth name Rafael Bernardo Gayol
Born (1958-07-13) July 13, 1958 (age 57)
Origin Mexico City, Mexico
Genres Rock
Occupation(s) Musician, film composer, voice-over
Instruments Drums, percussion, backing vocals
Years active 1982–present
Associated acts Leonard Cohen, Charlie Sexton, BoDeans

Rafael Bernardo Gayol (born July 13, 1958) is an American drummer. He is best known for his work with singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen, and with such diverse artists as Charlie Sexton, BoDeans, Robbie Robertson, A-ha, Shawn Colvin, Bob Schneider, Tito & Tarantula, Billy Harvey, Robert Rodriguez, Patty Griffin, David Rice, Joe Ely, Kelly Willis, Bruce Robison, Tish Hinojosa, Jon Dee Graham, The Flatlanders, Eliza Gilkyson, Patricia Vonne, Scott Gibson, Tonio K, Bascom Hill, Mason Ruffner, Trish Murphy, Michael Thomas, Maggie Walters and Doll Congress.

Early life[edit]

Gayol was born in Mexico City, Mexico and raised in Los Angeles, California. He began playing drums at 13 after his family moved into their first house. Upon graduating high school he took on various odd-jobs to support himself as he played with "just about any band that needed a drummer, paying or not."

Early career[edit]

Gayol played in many local bands in Los Angeles until 1982 when he joined Doll Congress with Michael Penn and Patrick Warren. They were managed by Nick Wechsler who also managed Robbie Robertson. After leaving Doll Congress in 1987, Wechsler recommended Gayol to Robertson for a show in Italy at the Sanremo Music Festival in 1988. During the festival he met the Norwegian group A-ha over dinner and ultimately was invited to join them as percussionist/backing vocalist for their Stay on These Roads 1988-89 world tour.

Austin, Texas[edit]

After a three-year stint with Reprise Records recording artists BoDeans (1989-1992) Gayol settled in Austin, Texas where soon he began recording and touring with guitarist/songwriter Charlie Sexton. Through this work The Charlie Sexton Sextet released their debut 'Under The Wishing Tree' album on MCA Records. This association led to a fruitful working relationship with the record's producer Malcolm Burn. With Burn once again at the helm, Gayol was invited to work with Patty Griffin and Shawn Colvin as well as other Burn-led musical-experimental projects.

In late 1998, Gayol continued work in Austin recording and performing mostly in the Americana format with Kelly Willis, Joe Ely, Tish Hinojosa, Eliza Gilkyson and Jimmie Dale Gilmore to name a few. In 2001 Gayol received a Grammy Award nomination for his work with The Flatlanders on the Townes Van Zandt tribute album 'Poet: A Tribute To Townes Van Zandt'.

In 2002, Gayol was invited to record with Bob Schneider on his third solo album I'm Good Now. Schneider invited Gayol to join his group, spanning over three years and recording his fourth album, The Californian.

It was also at this time Gayol was recommended by singer-songwriter Trish Murphy as a jingle drummer. Upon meeting the studio chief to offer a reel of his work, Gayol was told within the first five seconds, "You should be a Voice-over (VO) artist". Since then Gayol has performed VO work for Dell, FedEx Office, NASCAR, Southwest Airlines, Nortel, Time Warner Cable and Toshiba.

As demand for his studio work grew, Gayol was invited by Patricia Vonne to perform on the soundtrack to the film Once Upon A Time In Mexico. Upon recording with the film's director Robert Rodriguez, Gayol became the first call for subsequent soundtracks to the director's films including Sin City and Machete. Rodriguez has also referred Gayol to director Quentin Tarantino to perform on the Kill Bill Vol. 2 Original Soundtrack as well as inviting him to Los Angeles to perform in Robert's band Chingon on The George Lopez Show.

It was also Gayol's association with Vonne that led to an adventurous period recording and touring with Tito & Tarantula. The group became the first, if not the only band from the United States to have toured through Siberia in more cities than any other US band. Scheduled for seventeen cities in twenty one days, 'T&T' covered ten time zones on five Trans-Siberian Railway trains, six Aeroflot jets, and five tour buses that could only drive during daytime to avoid the potholes. Having secured the tour 'into the books', 'T&T' went directly into a German recording studio and Back Into The Darkness was released in April 2008.

Leonard Cohen[edit]

In 2008 a chance phone call brought Gayol to the attention of bassist Roscoe Beck who was putting together a band for a tour Leonard Cohen had planned to begin late Spring. Originally scheduled only for a year, with the exception of an 18-month break in between to record a new studio album the tour is now entering its fifth year. Having performed to audiences in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Ireland, Israel and Russia, the tour has produced one new studio album titled Old Ideas and five live albums with DVD recordings titled Live In Fredericton, Live in London, Songs From The Road, Live In Dublin and Can't Forget - A Souvenir of the Grand Tour.

Waiting For Buddha[edit]

In 2009, Gayol released a solo recording titled, Waiting For Buddha playing drums, singing and taught himself to play the accompanying instruments as the recordings progressed. "It became a labor of love. I had no intention of it seeing the light of day though when it finally did the music found homes with great ease and acceptance." Gayol wrote, arranged, recorded and produced the project with Shannon Phillips Gayol singing backup on the opening track, "Shelter" and a stream-of-consciousness-rap on the closing track, "Claiming Clarity". The album was mixed by Dwight Baker with assistance from Ted Roberson and mastered by Dave McNair.

Personal life[edit]

Gayol is married to Shannon Phillips. They met in the summer of 2000 while both working in the private sector. Hitting a brief 'dry spell' in music-related projects, he took on work as an operator in an 800-capacity call center for supplemental income. Upon seeing Shannon for the first time sitting at her desk and diligently taking calls, it took another month before Gayol could even introduce himself to her. Their first date finally took place on the night before his birthday without her initially knowing of it. Having been married since 2003 they have traveled together to almost twenty five countries. They reside in the south of the United States.


Gayol plays Drum Workshop drums, Paiste cymbals, Vater drumsticks and brushes and Remo drumheads.

Brief discography[edit]

External links[edit]