“Being in the hospital for a twelve-year-old kid day in day out. It was kinda like a nightmare.”
Ray Levier’s story behind how he became a drummer is among the most inspirational that you will ever hear. Based out of Nyack, New York, Ray’s career is divided up between being a sideman, teacher, clinician, public speaker and composer for TV and his musical projects. When you listen to Ray play, you wouldn’t know that he was involved in a serious accident that almost claimed his life. When he was twelve years old, he and his friends were hanging out in the chicken coop at night (which was a common activity). But on one particular night, a candle fell over and the chicken coop caught fire with Ray inside sleeping. Ray’s brother went back to rescue him from the blazing inferno and from there Ray would spend six grueling months in a burn unit fighting for his life.
His mother told Ray to “think happy thoughts” and for Ray, those happy thoughts were drums and one day being able to play. Through many years of hard work, ingenuity, and practice Ray realized those dreams and has had a long, successful career in music. In this podcast, you will hear his story and many incredible points of view on how to live a fulfilling life and how to face adversity.
Why Should You Listen?
This episode contains a great deal of simplified and pragmatic knowledge on how to live a good life. Yes, we hear about Ray’s story and it paints a picture of what he went through as a child. It is horribly tragic and I can’t imagine what that must have been like for him. Ray acknowledges that it was “basically torture” in the burn unit. I’m sure that the years that followed rehabilitating would be challenging to everyone involved in his recovery. Ray doesn’t feel like a victim at all though. He has such a strong sense of what matters in life because he almost lost his. He is also living proof that limitations are in the mind. He wanted to prove that regardless of what happened to him, he could become a highly capable musician.
During the conversation, Ray kept saying things that resonated so strongly with my own set of values and beliefs. It was like having someone tell me everything that I already think about. The fact that we established this feeling of unity lead us to some incredibly deep subject matter.
I can assure you that the stuff that we talk about in this episode really works. Listen closely to Ray’s personal story and then the actions he took to grow and heal. It is so simple and obvious. Nothing groundbreaking at all. But sometimes what is obvious is the actual answer you are looking for. This episode has the chance to give you such a massive set of tools to take your state of happiness to a more stable place that can be counted on. I hope you all find tremendous value in this episode and I want to thank Ray for sharing his story and thoughts with us on this one.
Music featured in this episode
Ray Levier - Ray’s Way
Drumeo Gab’s Socials
“I’m trying to exist at the crossroads of making content, consuming content and being content.”
Jules Jenssen is an amazing example of a drummer who broadened his skill sets considerably to become incredibly versatile. He is a show-programmer, a playback engineer, incredibly knowledgeable in Ableton, a fantastic drummer and he even studied business education at Harvard University. His creations all take place in his home studio that he calls Shabby Road. The amount of skill sets that he has acquired is astounding and he is hungry to learn more and more.
Earlier this year, Jules decided to start his project called Mad MIDI after attending a workshop in LA to learn more about Ableton and playback stuff. Essentially, Mad MIDI is an incredibly robust Ableton session that Jules builds and then through many triggers and samplers, he articulates everything through the drum set to perform his music that is also accompanied by visuals that are also controlled through the drums. The most well-known person to do something like this is Zach Danziger. So far, Jules has been doing very well with growing this project and performing it live to an enthusiastic audience. You will hear all about the inner workings of Mad MIDI in this episode and I simply cannot do it justice as it is very technical.
I chose Jules to be on the show because he is such a hard worker, focuses heavily on being a craftsman and because I have seen his growth over the last year or so. Very few people that I follow online have learned as much as him and have taken their craft to these heights. Over time making this show, I have always featured “grassroots” musicians on this show that are doing amazing things. I try to focus on a little bit of everything in this community. Not just the famous players that we know and love but also the lesser-known players who deserve attention too. Jules is a shining example of that and I wanted to make more people aware of what he is doing in this industry.
Why Should You Listen?
Jules is a very specialized artist that is taking his career in a very different direction than most. It is refreshing to hear the story of a drummer who went the route of programming shows, using Ableton at a very high level, and building this elaborate setup for his Mad MIDI projects. In the episode, Jules talks about this art exhibit where he is collaborating with a sculptor to place environmental sensors on the sculpture. The sensors detect all-weather and produce sounds based on a variety of parameters that Jules programs. Who would have ever thought that a drummer would branch out into the art world in this way?
I always talk about finding gaps and being innovative on this podcast. Jules is an exceptional example of someone finding their place in the music/art world with their unique skills that have taken years to develop. I hope that this episode opens up some minds to show that there are more options available for drummers to forge a career than you might think.
Drumeo Gab’s Socials
“I’m just tryin’ to see the world and get better at drums.”
Joel Turcotte is one of two back to back episodes where I am highlighting some exceptional grassroots players. Joel plays for the bands Writing in the Skies and his new band Peak Fiction. He is also involved in a new jazz fusion type trio, which is nameless so far. If you are familiar with Joel’s playing you will know that he has an affinity for “shedding” sessions and odd subdivisions/time.
Joel’s day job is teaching and working with special needs people. This opportunity was all due to a Craigslist ad that Joel’s mom found some time ago online. This job provides Joel an outlet to find unique methods to present teaching material to his students. He and his students also perform at senior homes. He feels that life has a weird way in working out sometimes and he values this job because it allows him the chance to follow his passion for music and teaching.
From time to time I like to shine a light on some players who I feel are deserving of an opportunity to be guests on this show. I don’t book them nearly as often these days but I will from time to time because these players are heavily involved in their process to reach their desired goals. Not only do they have interesting stories of how they got to where they are but you can hear it in their voices how immersed they are in their process.
Why Should You Listen?
This episode isn’t meant to be taken as gospel. The point of this episode was to bring up some topics for a conversation to provide some different perspectives into consideration. A lot of times my questions and thoughts force the guest into really giving serious thought to something they may never have thought about before. In some cases, it is very specific to the guests’ specialties and so we get to hear an expert opinion that bears a great deal of wisdom.
With this episode though there is much left up in the air with no absolute conclusion to the thoughts and points mentioned. Instead, we look at them, share some ideas with you, and move on. I would encourage everyone who listens to give these points some thought of your own because there is a lot of openness that remains to interpret things in your way. Many of the points are deep and rather interesting.
Drumeo Gab’s Socials
“Elvin Jones is vitamins. You gotta have Elvin Jones at least once a day.”
Johnny Vidacovich has been playing music for more than six decades. He is a jazz drummer from New Orleans, Louisiana and you can still find him at the Maple Leaf on any given Thursday night. He has been involved in many classic recordings throughout the years including James Booker’s “Classified”, Professor Longhair’s “Crawfish Fiesta”, John Scofield’s “Flat Out”, among countless others. Given the fact that Johnny has grown up and lived in New Orleans his entire life, he has the second line, syncopated New Orleans sound coursing through his veins. He is a highly respected instructor as well. A couple of his students over the years are none other than Stanton Moore and Brian Blade. It is safe to say that Johnny Vidacovich is one of the greats.
Why Should You Listen?
Well, because Johnny is a legend. To understand what second line drumming is, you must listen to Johnny’s work. To understand what he values as an artist, this episode will lead you closer to that. He has a lifetime’s worth of experience with music and to get an opportunity to hear what it means to him to be a musician is heartwarming. This is an interview that I felt that I needed to capture for the sake of history. I prepared a great deal for this one so that we can hear Johnny’s life story, which is fascinating, to say the least.
The title of this episode is “A Concerned Mother” because you can hear directly from Johnny how concerned he is about the state of the industry. And…well he is a mother (which is a term of endearment towards a high-level player…) I just left the last part of it out. But you catch my drift right?
This episode will capture your imagination in what times were like for Johnny and how truly humble it all has been. It has always been about the music for Johnny and to hear that in this episode is such a great reminder for so many of us.
Music Used in This Episode
“Deb’s Garden” - Vidacovich
Drumeo Gab’s Socials
“We can’t get passed this. Ya gotta do the work. No matter what you’re doing, if you want success…do the work.” - Dre Energy
Dre Energy is a drummer for the Cirque Du Soleil Quidam show. He has held that gig for roughly six years and the story of how he got that gig is very inspiring. The moral of that story is about why we sometimes need to follow our hearts and go for broke sometimes. Originally, Dre Energy began playing the drums at the age of two. He has also never taken a lesson but of course has utilized any resources available to become the exceptional player that he is today.
Dre is from Las Vegas, NV but he is almost always somewhere else. The gig with Cirque historically been one that requires Dre to perform some 300 nights per year. In addition to that he is also in high demand internationally for clinics. China seems to be a country that really enjoys Dre in particular. He is also an entrepreneur for his own practice pads, shoes, cymbal line with Samsun and a new innovation that is yet to be released and up until this point, it is something that has been shrouded in mystery. All in all, Dre Energy is a force on the drums and possesses an extremely high work ethic.
Why Should You Listen?
This episode is packed full of wise and pragmatic advice from a man who has been there and done that. Dre prides himself on telling it as it is. This episode will be helpful for drummers who feel that they need an endorsement to advance their career. This episode clarifies that hard work with direction and focus really is what gets things going in a forward motion. Overall, this episode is geared to inspire, educate, and motivate drummers into a state of progress and clarity.
I also recorded a special monologue at the very beginning of this episode where I talk about having a purpose and a trajectory for your practice routine. I share my own personal story with this and I hope that it puts the fuel in your tank to hit the shed with proper focus to achieve greater results with your craft. If you combine drive and intent with the amazing resources that are available online, including Drumeo, I believe that anyone can become the drummer that they want to become in this life.
Dre Energy’s Socials
Drumeo Gab’s Socials
Gunnar Olsen is a New York-based musician who performs both live and in the studio very often. He has performed with The Exit, Big Data, Mother Feather, The Goo Goo Dolls, and even the boss. Mr. Bruce Springsteen. You are going to hear all about how that came to be in this interview. He represents C&C drum company, Zildjian Cymbals, Remo Drumheads, Vater Drumsticks, GoPro, Big Fat Snare Drum, Big Ear N.Y.C., Ableton and Reflexx.
Becoming a session player
Gunnar talks about how back when he was playing with The Exit originally, he believed that what he wanted out of his career was to be a band guy. A rock star type. That was where his head was at. But as he continued on his path with music he started getting calls to do other stuff for other people. Eventually, The Exit fizzled out and by this point, Gunnar was finding himself doing a lot more session-based work. It wasn’t really the goal when he set out to pursue music but it became his experience either way.
As Gunnar explains in the interview, he was being taught many important things about how to do a session gig to best suit the music, artist, and the producer. It is a discipline to simplify your playing in order to get a thumbs up from the producer. Is it really necessary to get attached to your performance on the record or to just do what is satisfying everyone else who is involved? This is a very interesting point of the conversation. On the other side of the coin, sometimes it is a great thing to really push the envelope and create something particularly special on the drums. I suppose that is a matter of good judgment, experience, and intuition.
In any case, as you will hear in the episode, Gunnar has become a very active player in the New York scene and recording remotely for other people abroad.
The Bruce Springsteen thing
To lay down drums for the Boss has to be one of the greatest feelings a session player can experience in his/her lifetime. A major triumph and validation that you are doing something right. The tracking for Bruce’s new album “Western Star” happened a few years ago. Gunnar wasn’t sure if the music was ever going to be released, but sure enough this summer it happened. He finally had the chance to tell the world what he had participated in. And you are getting that story told for the first time publicly on this podcast. What a treat!
The story of how Gunnar got this gig and the events that took place at Bruce’s home studio at his ranch is larger than life really. You can tell that Gunnar has rehearsed this story by living with it for so long and telling his close buddies in sworn secrecy. I won’t spoil it in this article, but what I will mention is how Gunnar knew how to read a situation and provide what was truly preferred by Bruce. This must be incremental as well considering the other two cats who laid down tracks previously to Gunnar. But a combination of having a producer’s ear for drumming and intuiting a situation based on a keen observation made by Gunnar definitely had to play a role in why you are hearing him on that record. I actually included the tune “Sundown” at the end of this podcast from Bruce’s new record. And yes, that is Gunnar on drums.
A producer’s ear
I think that this is an often-overlooked “chop” by drummers. We tend to focus on the technical prowess that we possess on our instrument and less often employing a producer’s ear towards what we perform. Music isn’t just about drumming and I realize this isn’t news to many people.
What I am getting at though is that many of us, I think anyway, are looking to constantly improve our abilities on the drums and rightly so! But we cannot simply focus on that. We also need to look at how our natural eq is in the mix when we play, what sounds we select for any given song, the effectiveness of our fills that we use and this applies to the grooves that we use too. It all plays a role in the delivery of the music and drums have a lot to do with setting the pace on this stuff. Of course, all of the instruments involved in a piece of music have to be considered, but drums really do have a profound place in this and it isn’t something I hear much discussion about.
Like you, I see so many incredible session players who know what to do with this and can fit in nicely with their playing and even inject their distinct sound into a piece of music but we are observing that. So Gunnar and I have a go with this subject and I think there are some valuable nuggets in there for listeners to check out.
What should we focus on?
Gunnar talks about how he isn’t interested so much in being an engineer. Like any skill, much time is required to become great at something. With time invested in one thing, means that less time can be afforded for other things. Gunnar COULD dive headfirst into engineering but he is far more interested in producing and drumming. Between those two things, he could easily spend a lifetime growing and he just isn’t keen on including engineering into that mix.
I think what is important for people to consider is to really hone in on a couple things at a time. Take your time to truly explore a skill and develop it through your honest interest and passion for it. There is no better way to see what is possible within yourself by being selective and intentional like that with learning. I really like that message. It is really easy to get tempted into other things by the vast quantity of tutorials and so on out there but it is common to be really into something for a short while and discover that you aren’t truly into it once the honeymoon phase wears off. Be observant of your level of interest in what you pursue.
Music used in this episode:
“When Will Today Be Tomorrow” - Gunnar Olsen
“Sundown” - Bruce Springsteen “Western Stars”
Drumeo Gab’s Socials
Benny Greb is one of the most celebrated drummers over the last ten years. With his acclaimed educational content such as “The Art and Science of Groove” and “The Language of Drumming”, Benny has been opening up the minds of drummers in a unique way. He currently has another book that is due to launch in Q1 2020. Along with his educational content, Benny is well known for his original music with his Grebfruit albums and his fusion trio Moving Parts. Benny also holds clinics and camps worldwide to expand the knowledge and abilities of drummers. I would imagine it would be an amazing experience for anyone who attends.
A Big Opportunity
Since running this podcast I have always hoped that one day I would have an opportunity to interview Benny. Any content that I have viewed, Benny stands out to me as an exceptional communicator, teacher, and performer. He would bring up concepts that went further than simply the mechanics of drumming by also implementing the psychological and scientific aspects of how we play. He breaks these concepts down into very understandable smaller parts so that literally anyone can understand it. Looking at Benny’s performances will also very quickly indicate to you that he is very methodical and intentional about his musical decisions and execution. So with all of these ingredients, you might imagine that an interview with Benny would be very eye-opening and an event that I would be very excited to present to all of you. And you would be right — mostly.
If you have been listening to DrumeoGab, or in its earlier days, DrumGab, you will know that I like to promote the idea of pursuing your work with integrity and to push yourself to reach greater heights with your art. Stagnation usually leads to boredom. So, I think it is important to step out of your comfort zone and do things to the best of your abilities. With Benny’s interview, I prepped a lot and tried my best to design something a bit different for listeners that would challenge myself with being able to host it. It was all really deep subject matter that brought curiosities forward but I hadn’t fully established my own thoughts on it yet. Instead, I wanted to see what Benny would bring forward and discover what kind of conversation could be had from the questions I had. I also enjoy challenging my guests with these deeper subjects as well.
All was going quite well I thought and then towards the end, I asked a question that would end on one word that would essentially ruin the question. The question was whether a drummer should spend their time mastering one to three styles of music or if it is better to know a lot of styles — but just a little bit. Nothing too in-depth or “masterful” so to speak. We as drummers hear a lot of people suggesting that in order to have a better shot at a stable career that we should learn as many styles of music as possible. But how is that information being handled? This is my curiosity. Are people just dipping their toe in styles or are they spending a great deal of time in a style of music and as a result finding their own voice within that style? So the question seemed pretty interesting to me when it is phrased that way. It seems like something people may want some clarification on but I really flubbed the question. I said, “should you half-ass it all?” which is absolutely horrible wording. It also contradicts how I approach this podcast and I personally don’t think that anything should be half-assed whatsoever. But I said it. And instantly, I regretted it.
During the interview with Benny, I felt what was best was to just let it pass and try to continue with the interview without having to defend myself at that moment, even though my ego felt the need to pipe up to try and regain some worth. It was tough making a big mistake on the podcast with Benny. I don’t know why the word came out of my mouth. It just kinda popped out of there and before I thought to stutter a bit and readjust my question, I committed instead. It was this type of catastrophe that I used to worry about happening when I first got into doing this podcast. It is the kind of event that I never wanted to have happened because I am not good at feeling embarrassed and I have a perfectionistic approach with this show. Whenever embarrassment happens I have a tendency to ruminate on my embarrassment and it cuts away at my confidence quite a lot. So what did I learn from this?
The episode is titled “Growing Pains” because that is what I had experienced making this one. It connected me again with the fragile side of my ego that has always been a bit soft.
Before I continue though, I need to hit rewind a little bit.
When I started the podcast people were saying, “it’s really good considering you have practically no experience! Keep doing it!” What does that really mean? Well, I guess translated it means, “it isn’t very good yet but I think it will be good once you learn more about how to do it. Definitely stick with it.” So even from the beginning when I was incredibly uncertain about myself doing this kind of work, people were very gentle with their feedback. As the show grew and I felt that the content was becoming much better, I felt that the feedback was far more natural sounding. People were telling me often how much they look forward to it, that it was making a big difference in their personal lives and with their approach to drumming. The feedback has been really great, with only a few small comments stating otherwise. But that is the thing, I haven’t had much “bad” stuff to deal with while making this show. It has all been very good and it has been easy to feel positive about the work.
To clarify, I have also been very careful not to get too comfortable or confident either. Believe me, I still get nervous butterflies with every interview. I always want to hit a home run. It is very tough for me if I feel that I didn’t. This is why I prep so much and pour so much love into the work because I am actually really afraid to fail. That feeling of embarrassment is one of my biggest fears.
For my listeners, you must know the following about me. I grew up being incredibly self-conscious. Even something as insignificant as playing a game of basketball as a kid was stressful because I wouldn’t want to trip over the ball, miss a shot, miss a pass, or anything that put me in a place of inferiority to my peers. I didn’t want my teammates to say I was the reason why they lost the game. Overall, I wanted to be accepted. This mental strain actually caused a lot of these “misses” to happen and I felt like the loser on the team. In school, I was always the last person to be picked to be on a team for gym class because most of the kids didn’t like me much. And that became my truth.
Fast forward a few years later — I was always in a band, playing a lot of shows and having a lot of fun with music. I would come off the bandstand and my bandmates would tell me how tight the show was, and some members of the audience would say how they dug my playing. I got told this all the time. Hugs all around and everything is alright! I felt like I was competent at something! I was being accepted for a skill that I had.
Once I packed in playing music, due to Harrison arriving soon and needing something different for myself, I decided that I would start up a podcast. And again, I found something that really worked with me. I have felt a bit embarrassed or self-conscious a few times for sure, but I knew it was all part of growing with the show. The difference was that it was always in micro-doses, never a full blast of it. And that all changed with this episode. The thing I was trying to protect myself from by over preparing, over-editing, and playing it a bit safe with questions lead me to what I needed. A big jolt of something that would force me to make a decision that would test my comfort levels like no other time in this podcast. Do I keep the part of the podcast that I cringe at when I hear it? Or do I remove it and continue to be safe from humiliation?
Making A Tougher Decision Always Has A Better Outcome
Even writing this article took me about a week to visit. The reason being that I have to relive the bad feeling. As you heard in the intro to this episode I confronted it once already, and it felt GREAT when I faced my fear. I felt so uplifted and proud that I decided to keep something in the show that I felt was as embarrassing as running down my neighborhood naked with a cowboy hat on. But coming up to the release of this episode I am once again feeling a bit worried about what people might think when they hear it. Will any credibility I had built be lost? Will people make fun of me when they are listening to it and praise Benny for pointing it out? Is it going to be spread around on the internet as the big highlight to this episode? Will fans of the show email me about it to ask what went wrong this time? So now as I observe it again, I am hoping I can let go a bit.
As you build something and the momentum grows as this podcast has experienced, you feel even more need to protect it. It can become this thing that you place on a pedestal. Like a game of Jenga, you are more reckless at the beginning of that game than you are towards the end when you know it could all fall down. With the relationships I have formed, the wide listener base that comes here to get their weekly dose of podcasting goodness, and the growing sense of responsibility to everyone above, I am feeling the imposter syndrome more than ever.
I was told once by a good friend, Ned Burwell, that a decision should be looked at as a circle with a line running through the center. The center line represents a neutral state. On the right side of the circle starting in the middle is the hard decision. It is a vertical climb to get to the top and then an easy fall to get back to neutral again. An easy decision is represented on the left side of center on the circle. You can fall down the edge of the circle but it is a hard climb to return to neutral. This concept has become one of the most influential things to me when I need to make a decision. In this case, I felt it was no different. I had to make the hard decision in order to live with myself easier. I also had to do it not just for me but to inspire you too. I want people to make decisions that challenge them for the right reasons. I could have removed that part of the show and avoid my humiliation but instead, I thought it would be best if I just owned it instead. It is what I promote after all.
With More Influence Comes More Responsibility
As you become someone that people look to for inspiration and advice I feel that it is absolutely crucial that you practice what you preach. That might seem incredibly obvious and it kind of is. But doing it can be tough especially if you think there is a chance to avoid it. It negatively affects your confidence if you know in your conscious that you aren’t living up to what you promote.
We live in a world now with social media influencers everywhere. The potential issue with that is simple. Social media doesn’t have to be real to be believed. We can edit and filter out all of the stuff we don’t like about ourselves through it. We can essentially lie to both our audience and ourselves and only we will truly know that. Personally, I don’t want to live with that burden. That also means that I have to grow to become a person that truly doesn’t care what people think about me. If I know myself that if I am being honest with myself and my audience, that is all I can do. I should feel liberated to show my scars and insecurities. I should also feel liberated to show my successes too. Overall, we need to accept what is. We need to practice what we preach.
Ned told me another amazing thing once about trajectory and influence. Let’s pretend that we are a ship setting sail. The trajectory is going to be one hundred miles. In order to get to our destination, we must sail perfectly forward on the trajectory to meet our destination. If our moral compass is off by one or two degrees, it has less impact if we have only traveled five miles. You may only be off center by a few feet and it is easy to get back on course. But if we are have traveled one hundred miles and haven’t checked our moral compass we could find ourselves off course by many miles. So what do the one hundred miles vs five miles represent? It represents influence. As we gain influence in the world we must be more aware of our moral compass because we are now affecting more and more people. The intention behind our actions has to come from the right place. Many things can have an effect on our moral compass and so we need to check in with it every so often. As an example, I have heard of some people falling into what is called “the messiah complex” by becoming really influential. It is a real thing, look it up if you don’t believe me.
I am always trying my best to stay humble and remember that loser kid that no one liked. I feel grateful that I have an audience that adores this podcast. You come here each and every week to get your weekly dose of quality media that I try so hard to ensure it is good for you. (Hence the catchphrase for this podcast has always been, “It’s good for you”) I don’t ever want to be misguided by my desires, for acceptance. I just want to make my show and learn more about how to be a better version of myself, have great experiences (like this one), grow the show in every way, and develop more relationships. In addition to that, if people are learning, growing, achieving, facing their fears, working hard and being respectful and kind to other people too — then I am very happy with that.
Face Your Fears
With this decision to leave in something that I am insecure about is the very thing I needed. I needed it to see for myself where I stand with my own growth as a person and to ensure that you, my audience, understand my intent with this media. I hope that after you hear this episode that you feel that it is a great thing to own your failures, observe them for what they are, and move on as soon as possible. It is all part of the process. I can also guarantee each and every one of you that growth lies on the other side of your fears. It is better to face them now and see what they really are instead of allowing them to fester in your mind.
You have to prove to yourself time and time again that your fears are not what your mind makes them seem. It is nothing more than something your mind has conjured up in order to prevent you from moving forward. I also think other people are wanting to see other people set the example of walking through their fears before they take their first step. So be the person that shows others the way. Be encouraging to your peers who you know to struggle with moving past their fears. Once fear turns to worry, it only becomes harder to move forward.
I hope you all have a tremendous week and thank you for coming along on this leg of the journey to finding more growth within myself and maybe even you too.
I also want to say a huge thank you to Benny for spending his time with me on this episode to provide some incredibly thoughtful insights in this interview. Also, with teaching me more about myself.
Music used in this episode:
“Barking” - Benny Greb Moving Parts
“Stabila” - Benny Greb Moving Parts
“Bunker” - Benny Greb Moving Parts
Drumeo Gab’s Socials
Man, am I ever a lucky guy. Keith Carlock has been one of my drumming heroes for many years. Ever since I saw the 1999 Marciac Jazz Festival video on YouTube, featuring Keith, Wayne Krantz, and Tim Levebre, I have been a big fan of these musicians. That video had a very profound effect on me as a young musician who was trying to find something new that I would connect with for the rest of my musical life. Since then, I have wandered cyberspace to find other examples of Keith’s playing in that context that I could also connect with but unfortunately, high fidelity content featuring Keith online is not in abundance. This is one of the big reasons I was excited to see Keith perform and teach his concepts at Drumeo. To witness that in person was a pleasure of the highest order. Moreover, to interview such a modern legend in the Drumeo studio was something I never EVER thought would ever be in my future. So first and foremost, I owe an enormous thank you to the wonderful team at Drumeo for this opportunity and to Keith for giving me his undivided attention and time after a full day of filming lessons at Drumeo.
Keith Carlock is a favorite of mine because he has such a firm grasp of having a distinct sound. In addition to that, he has managed to forge an incredibly nice career for himself too. Working with such acts as Steely Dan, Toto, James Taylor, Oz Noy, Wayne Krantz, Sting, and John Mayer to name a few. He also released his own instructional DVD through Hudson Music titled The Big Picture: Phrasing, Improvisation, Style, and Technique. Over the years he has also received many accolades through the Modern Drummer’s readers poll, managing to win a few and make it to the top three in several categories many times over. Too many drummers, Keith is held in high regard for his smooth delivery, musical style, and untouchable groove.
Can You Unlearn?
Keith studied at North Texas State University in their acclaimed jazz program in the early ’90s. Taught by Ed Soph, Keith went to the University of North Texas to learn jazz. It would prove to be nearly impossible to consume and digest all of the materials covered in school. Keith sat upon that material for a few years to process what he had taken in.
There also came a point where Mr. Soph approached Keith’s mother to inform her that he felt that Keith no longer had to continue his studies. Ed felt that Keith would be just fine if he stopped going. I suppose it is fair to say that Mr. Soph possessed some exceptional foresight.
At one point in the interview, I asked Keith if he ever wished that he could unlearn some of the stuff he learned in school. This curiosity spawned because of a very interesting point made by Mark Guiliana on episode 108 of DrumeoGab. Mark had declared that while school was great, sometimes he kind of missed how he used to play before he learned all of this stuff in school. This point of view struck me as a very interesting point made in that interview with Mark.
Keith had said that he went to school to learn and be a sponge. How he characterized his sound has much to do with the time spent with guitarist, Wayne Krantz. It is how I found Keith originally, after all. Keith regards those early years in NYC, specifically with Krantz, as the years that he really found his sound. That must have been amazing times for Keith. If you watch any of their stuff, you will notice the wonderful mix of searching for the high and getting there. Wayne with Tim and Keith at the 55 bar playing their asses off is something I wish I could have seen when they were playing there all the time.
Time Away From Home
Keith is a father and a husband — and a musician. Being a musician seems to be both isolating and social, which seems like a dichotomy. When your life also encompasses your family and friends, I have to think about how the pleasure of the road changes. I would personally find that very challenging. For any small length of time that I have been away from my family, I end up missing them quickly and I find that it takes a day or two to adjust when I return home. I can imagine how difficult long periods of time for touring drummers would be when their family is at home. Like anything, people adapt and find their ways to make it work though.
Todd Sucherman had said in episode 101, he just slides into the groove that is happening and adjusts to them. Time away from loved ones will always be hard though. It is the life a musician chooses to live. It is one of those sacrifices, if you do in fact see it that way.
I want to share a quick story. This is abrupt, but hang in there. This is a great perspective I was given by a stranger that applies to this.
While I was staying in Abbotsford at the Sandman hotel, I popped outside for a bit of fresh air and found myself having a nearly forty-minute conversation with someone who was also staying at the hotel. He was a European man, middle-aged, who was in town because he and his team set up the scoring system screens for horse racing tracks. I can’t remember all of the details of his job, but what I do recall was the fact that he and his team spend upwards of 300 days per year on the road. His name was Tom.
Tom told me an amazing story about how he was a musician in Europe during his teens and into his twenties. He became quite popular in Germany and other parts of Europe with his music. He got into electronica towards the end of his music career and had the best management in Europe handling his act at the time. This same management was working for Sigfried Fischbacher. Yes, the world-renowned magician. Well, as it turns out, Tom and Sigfried became very good friends. Sigfried eventually told Tom that he should incorporate magic into his musical show to bedazzle his audience and add something that no one was doing at the time.
Eventually, Tom’s act became solely a magic show. He bought a caravan and toured all over Europe performing his magic. He eventually gave that up and began this gig with the scoreboard systems. This is, of course, the cliffs notes version of the story he told me but there was something very interesting that he talked to me about.
A perspective that helped me understand a lot more about what some musicians who tour for most of their lives might go through. Tom had said that after a week at home, as much as he loved his home (which he showed me a picture of on his phone and it is absolutely lovely looking) he gets very antsy after a week. Willie Nelson comes to mind.
What I was getting from Tom was that even though he did miss home when he was away, he was just so used to the life of being in different, far away places all the time. Tom began touring very young. So, really -- it is all he knows. He probably feels more at home on the road than at home. Starting late with a career that involves travel might be a totally different story for some people. I just find this idea of detachment from a physical home base really fascinating about musicians, or any entertainment based careers.
I wonder how many musicians began playing an instrument because of the appeal of potentially touring? Could that be why some musicians began playing? This is why I think some people are built for the road. There must be so many costs and perks to touring. The adventure! I mean, c’mon, when you are young it would be amazing! This must be a dream for a person who is, other than to him/herself and music, not committed to anything too significant. Pack up and go whenever you want. Eventually though, I think it is hard to not notice the pressure to conform to adult society. House, married, stable job, financial freedom, kid(s) and on it goes.
I am bringing this up because I know some musicians that never really settled down. When you are young it must be fun, but it seems lonely when you’re older. Props to any musician that has a family at home and with the support of their spouse, manages to find a routine or norm within their family unit. Just something to create some stability. That mustn’t come easy. The thing we love isn’t easily compatible with the idea of settling down. IF, you want to make it your life.
Finding Your Voice
I see a lot of chatter online, and I am certain it has been discussed within this podcast before, that we as musicians need to learn as many styles as possible in order to establish a more reliable career. Before I continue, I do not disagree with this at all because it has been stated many times by many industry professionals. But the quality of that message is determined by how it is interpreted. It could be possible that the wrong approach to this idea leads to a generic sound. Even with a generic sound, as long as the drumming is tight, and you have yourself put together professionally, that could be just fine. However, I still feel like there is something to be said for recognizable musicians.
So I asked Keith what he thought about this, after basically answering my own question, and he made a very good point in particular. He used an example of some African music that he was asked to perform once where the artists sang the parts for him to play, which was very helpful he had mentioned. Keith wasn’t born in Africa, nor did he grow up there with their music, so there is a limit to the authenticity. He managed to play the music and they actually called him back even though he may not have been the most ideal musician to play the music.
But the most important thing he had said in regards to all of this, in my opinion, was that with any musical style it is important to find your voice in it. What is it that you can connect with and project your true self through the music? This is such a cool point I think. Not just the notes, but the attitude, the spirit, creativity, and flow. I think this is a strong point made by Keith that should be considered by everyone when they get called to perform. How can you inject your voice into something pre-existing and let your sound be heard without taking anything away from the music?
This opportunity to speak with one of my heroes is one that I will never forget and certainly a highlight with this podcast. Keith is an incredibly nice guy. What is nice is when you meet one of your heroes and they turn out to be a person that you really like. It was a very important and special time that I will be telling my kid about one day. So, I hope that you enjoy some good vibes and the thoughts of a truly great player in this episode. It was an absolute treat. Thank you again for all of your comments in the Drumeo Edge section, DM’s and emails sent to me to show your love and support to this podcast. I appreciate every single one of you.
Drumeo Gab’s Socials
Sarah Thawer has been on the show once before, as you might recall. It’s coming up two years ago in October and Sarah’s career has grown immensely since then. She has been involved in many things since then including international drum festivals and drum clinics, major video shoots for the companies she endorses, Drumeo, VF Jams, international touring with Watsky. She even started her own jazz outfit called “Sarah Thawer and Friends”. It is absolutely crazy what she has been accomplishing. She is totally in it.
After our interview, Sarah performed at the Victoria Drum Festival and she absolutely killed it. I swear that she has improved greatly since the last time I saw her perform. It appears that there are no limits to what she wants to achieve as a musician and this episode really brings out the “how’s and why’s” to her success. She is incredibly diligent, hard-working, intelligent, musically educated, creative, passionate, unique and kind. I can’t see how anyone couldn’t love Sarah. She has captured an amazing audience to cheer her on and so I wanted to name this one after the many times during her tour with Watsky where the audience would chant “Go, Sarah, Go, Sarah, GO!!” during her drum solos every night.
What needs control and what doesn’t
When Sarah and I first chatted on the podcast she had talked about her level of exhaustion and how her schedule was filling up fast. She was learning how to keep it all organized and together. The level of dedication and work she puts towards the instrument must have been tiring, and then for that to produce the big opportunities while trying to continue evolving with her drumming must have been tough for her. So with all of that in the back of my head going into this interview, I wondered how Sarah was feeling these days ‘cause it hasn’t slowed down much!
Interestingly, Sarah not only appeared to be more relaxed than before, but she also seemed more confident and in control. Everything that she spoke as a response happened so quickly and firmly. She had figured out a way to slow things down when she needed to. Mediation became a big part of her routine to calm herself and also be more present mentally during her performances. Even when stressful situations arise, such as the story where her parents’ car got towed just one hour prior to a gig, she still managed to focus on the gig and set the drama to one side for the sake of the gig.
The other thing is her scheduling habits and the spreadsheets she creates for music that she needs to listen to, or practice related stuff for an example. She is able to control what is in her control and let go of what is not to be controlled. This is by far one of the most incredible revelations anyone can have about their lifestyle. It is scalable and realistic. Being well organized is so important of course, but also allowing spontaneous moments to arise is important as well. A mixture of the two is what I am gathering from Sarah.
A big topic that we cover in the interview is directed toward attention seeking, social media addicted, phony people who chase something for the wrong reasons. This may be a part of the episode that triggers a part of you that doesn’t sit very comfortably.
I think it is human nature to want to be seen. We want acknowledgment. We want praise. But for what?
That is the question that each and every person should be answering.
What if we don’t feel “cool” enough or that our lives aren't constantly being packed with adventure? Can we compete with what we see online? How can we decorate our lives through social media to appear relevant and worth checking out? Personally, I think it is all about finding something that we can obsess over that brings us knowledge, experiences, skills, income, confidence and through those things we can advance. But what if what we do isn’t something we think is exceptional and makes us feel insecure? What else can there be for us to feel confident to share with the world what we are doing?
I would suspect that there are a lot of people who do feel a bit underwhelming compared to what they admire on social media and so compensation enters the picture. Fortunately, social media has been designed to make our lives seem more exciting than ever! And we can put any filter we want on our reality too!! Insecurity combined with a desire to feel worthy is maybe one of the main reasons why this exists for so many of us and why we decide to live in our phones instead of our waking lives.
So, if we never have to face the world that we have represented ourselves through social media filtering, we are safe. All is well and we can continue to live out our “ideal” image that we create. But what if a social media account turns influencer? What if we get to a point where social media “you” and the real you collide together in the flesh? Do you feel able to stack up to what you have portrayed?
When I created DrumGab, I hid behind it a lot. Due to a myriad of situations that cut away at my self-worth, I really felt convinced that I didn’t stack up to how my podcast was being accepted. Like sure, DrumGab might be cool but I am not. I won’t lie about the fact that I heavily edited my show because I hated the way I sounded. I would feel embarrassed if anyone heard the audio while I was editing it. I was terribly insecure about myself and yet I continued to make the show. When I think about it, I actually cannot believe how willing and obsessed I was making the podcast. It was an exercise of taking the raw audio (that I almost always thought was awful) and turn it into something I could really love. That was the experience for me over and over again. It wasn’t until I was sixty or so episodes deep that I was starting to enjoy the raw audio and I got excited about how much I could add production to make them even better!
Then one day I found myself on an airplane heading to Drumeo to meet Todd Sucherman and to interview him. I was originally very excited about it. I couldn’t believe where the podcast had taken me! As time went on I began to realize that what I had become comfortable with, was no longer present. I had to step into the now famous and iconic, “Studio A” at Drumeo and proceed to interview drumming royalty. Me!! Well, I can tell you that the occasions have been few where I felt pressure like that in my life. All of my podcasts were crafted quietly, privately, and in the safety of my home. And all of that work was now amounting to this. I now had to host an interview in front of people who were fully convinced that I was the right person for this job.
So, how was it? Well, it was scary. Very scary. But I have only been that focused a few times in my life. I remember most of that interview by memory because of how involved I was in that moment with Todd. I also felt a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders when it was over. I actually managed to do what was expected of me. And this may sound like I am being incredibly hard on myself and you aren’t wrong. I rip my own work to shreds in my mind. I am always looking for how I can get better at this. I am incredibly picky with how I conduct interviews and what I am trying to achieve with them. But I also know about the edits I used to make. I know about how I feel before an interview. It is all a little bit shaky at times.
I feel that if I wasn’t editing the show and I always did face to face interviews, Todd’s wouldn’t have been as scary. But Skype interviews allow you some protection. Something to feel safer behind. And that is almost all I ever did.
I feel that with social media we can feel that safety as well. We edit stuff and then put it out. We give a lot of thought to our message or how we format captions to gain more engagement with our content. But if that is all you ever do, what are you like in person? Without naming names, there have been people I thought I knew over social media and then met in person and it was so different. It’s like, um where is the person I was following on IG? Where is he at? ‘Cause this person in front of me right now seems uncomfortable and well….different.
So use social media for the right reasons. Be real on it. Face the fear of being ignored, mocked, or posting less than perfection. If you are being real on socials, then you have nothing else to live up to but yourself. It makes everything much more comfortable and you will be happy you did it.
Inject your passions into your life
The last thing I want to cover regarding the episode is why you NEED to inject your passions into your life. These are the activities that you cannot wait to learn more about, practice, perform and so on. It doesn’t even have to be drums. But let’s be honest, it probably is if you are reading this. But anyways, I think every person should assess what they want out of their passions. Once that is done, decide how long you are willing to wait to become what you want to be within your given passion. Based on that, work accordingly while maintaining the obsession. Even the most incredibly interesting new thing that pops up in your life may fade into oblivion and fall into the “I used to be into that” category.
I feel that when we have our own “thing” that we are chipping away at, it has the potential to fulfill us in a deep and meaningful way. I have always been the kind of guy who likes to have a couple of hobbies going at all times. One of which is Disc Golf. It gives me a chance to watch the flight of a disc, walk through a wooded course, have some level of competition with myself, and learn the technique involved. Plus, I have a few buddies that are into it, so it gives us a chance to catch up and hang out for an afternoon. Do I want to become a pro? Nope. I just want to have it in my life as something fun to do, and keep it being fun.
I think this is what drumming has been for me for most of my life as well. Although I did believe when I was young that I wanted to be a pro. It was something that I felt was not going to be approved by my parents and so I settled on just playing. Due to the fact that I had not believed that being a pro drummer was something that could be, I left drumming as a passion. It actually did bother me a lot for many years that I didn’t pursue a life in music. Usually, this would be the commentary I would vocalize when I was having a terrible day in my construction job. Fortunately, that dream became revealed to me in the form of a drumming podcast which I must admit filled that void I had all those years.
I guess my point to this is that you should have some passions in your life to keep you from rotting your brain in front of a TV set. Keep sharpening the skills that make you feel unique and confident. I think that if you have your own thing to work on, all aspects of your life can benefit from it.
Drumeo Gab’s Socials
Rashid Williams, much like the last guest, Brian Frasier-Moore, is Philly raised and an absolute force to be reckoned with on the drums. He tours with John Legend and has had other gigs in the past including Eric Roberson, Goapele, N.E.R.D., Jill Scott, Diddy Dirty Money, JCole and Alicia Keys. He has also started his own business called Little Fat Jimmy, where he spreads a message of positivity to kids in the schools and the drumming community at large. Here is an excerpt from his website littlefatjimmy.com
Little Fat Jimmy represents the part of us that chooses Love before Hate regardless of the circumstances. In a society where Hate has become almost standard, remembering the days before the world jaded us is so important. Understanding that we each hold a responsibility to be Kind to one another and Care for one another is the first step. LFJ's brand is devoted to using the most simple yet powerful words as reminders to us all. Our world and Society are far from perfect but we CAN improve and create a better place to raise our children. Health, Wealth, Positivity and GodSpeed to you all. - Little Fat Jimmy
So what is Little Fat Jimmy all about?
Rashid’s first name is actually Jimmy. When he was a little kid, as he explains in this interview, he would set up his drums in different corners of his garage while pretending they were different countries of the world. He would literally pack up his gear into the bags and move them across to a different part of the garage and then proceed to unpack and set up in a different part of the world, as far as he was concerned with imagination. Prior to the time he actually got his first kit, he would take clippings of drum sets and cymbals from drum magazines and put them into a binder and stow them under his bed to look at and fantasize about owning his very own drum set one day. This is what Little Fat Jimmy was all about. The wonderment of a child’s mind taking back the passion he once had with drumming as an adult. If he didn’t do this it could have very well been the end of Rashid’s career. Not because he couldn’t play. If you just listen to two bars of this man’s playing you will surely understand that this was not the issue, but instead, it was because he didn’t love it anymore.
Rashid has a striking revelation during a tour with Jill Scott where he missed a cue in the music. He was then approached about it and was told that it was his JOB to play the music the way it was intended. “This is a business” he was told. He proceeded to spend the night in tears realizing that the passion was gone. He was in the music biz. He had a job to do and he had to set his passion to one side and just DO THE JOB.
Rashid’s mother is his manager, or “momager” as he describes. Rashid talked about always wanting to give back. But how can a musician spread positivity when he/she hates the music business? He had to find a way to reignite the spark that he once had for this instrument and thus spawned “Little Fat Jimmy”.
He managed used his past to reignite the spark. He thinks back to that little boy tearing down and setting up in the garage and collecting scraps from magazines to become the person he wanted to be again. A person who is wanting to spread positivity into the world. This is what saved him from potentially never loving drums ever again.
Long before Rashid, there were drummers going through the motions of learning how this industry works. How do they get the gigs? How do I keep food on my table and my phone ringing?
Enter the blueprint.
Rashid talks in detail about the importance of following the blueprint. He shares his wisdom on how this road has been forged already and that all a player really needs to do is follow that road that has been laid ahead. Instead of becoming inventive and somewhat of a reprobate to the industry, if you wanna get in, you gotta follow the blueprint. You have to build a solid foundation. Create your brand on something that can withstand the load that you will place on it as you grow into your new opportunities. If you don’t use the blueprint, it is quite possible that you may have nothing in the end and your house of cards will crumble.
So what is the blueprint exactly? I am sure that you get the sense that it is something incredibly valuable and important by this point. Well, I asked Rashid this because I too wasn’t entirely sure. It turns out it all comes down to studying music. Learn who came before you. Seek the most authentic and accomplished artists in whatever genre of music you seek and learn from the greats. Understand the nuances of how the music moves and this isn’t just about drumming either. This is about the music in its entirety. You can certainly find your own voice but not before you know what is true to the music and what has been established. As Rashid explains, this is crucial to you getting the gigs and getting called back.
We all know as well, especially if you listened to Brian Frasier-Moore’s episode, that you have to be a professional in every sense of the word. Be on time (which means early). Be courteous. Be aware of yourself and others. Be respectable. Be dependable. Know your worth. Look into what those artists may be accustomed to and find a way to gel with that and maintain your own sense of identity on the instrument. Congratulate others. Be a good hang. This is all common sense but as the old saying goes, “common sense ain’t so common”. I think this part of the episode will be very helpful for listeners.
This Moment Needs To Be Cherished
Life can get us down and we can become jaded. It is a human condition that many of us will experience in our lives. Maybe it is the day to day grind that you wish you could either put down and stop altogether. Maybe it is the company that you keep that prevents you from moving forward. Maybe you have circumstances in your life that require your attention immediately but you are too afraid to engage with it. There are all kinds of things that clutter our lives and our minds. But every once in a while we arrive at a place that needs to be taken in completely and fully.
They can happen regularly and you may not even notice it and other times it feels like it rarely happens but it knocks you off your feet. Whatever comes across your path that demands your full attention….give it. Let the moment soak in and feel gratitude, man.
Your chances of even being alive are one in the trillions. You already won the damn lottery by being you. So what are you gonna do about that? Do you want your life to be a series of mundane events that hardly raise the brow of any person you meet? Or do you wanna be the person who has a life full of experience and wonder? I’d choose the latter any day of the week. And you deserve that too.
As Rashid and I sat in the room that we had for the interview, I had specifically chosen a wonderful view for my guests to look out of. The rolling hills, water, trees, and mountains of beautiful British Columbia was our view. During the interview, Rashid took a moment to look out of the window and said, “how did this happen?” I legitimately felt his realization to the moment he was in and what drumming has gifted him with. From his parent’s garage when he was a young boy to a drum festival, among his heroes, in Victoria, BC. It was a moment that I think he won’t forget and that is what is all about folks.
You can be sure of only one thing in this life and that is the moment you are in is all that is guaranteed. Anything beyond that is a gift. IF you treat it this way, your life will suddenly feel wonderful to your senses. Try to live in that space as often as you can.
In the words of Little Fat Jimmy….
Music used in this episode
Rashid Williams - Rock Out, Yoshi 11, and Drumeo performance drum solo
Drumeo Gab’s Socials
Brian Frasier-Moore was Philly raised and has been waving a flag of positivity for many, many years now. Next week’s guest, Rashid Williams, (also from Philly) was at our dinner table at the Victoria Drum Festival and it is clear that Rashid has clear admiration and respect for Brian. BFMWorld.com is Brian’s business where he offers consultation services and will also soon be accepting students to teach via Skype or privately, in the new studio he will have when he and his family move to their new home soon.
My brief time spent with him over the two days in Victoria was a true blessing for the podcast. So huge thanks to Brian for accepting the invitation to be interviewed and graciously giving me his time, even considering how tired he must have been. Also, keep an eye out for Brian’s new documentary that is due to release in Q1 next year. I am sure it’ll be real, uplifting, motivating, and inspiring for people.
So here is a quick rundown on what to expect with this one and then I am gonna unpack it a bit.
This episode is based on Brian’s Instagram where he shares these #BFMThoughts. Just small quotes that he has written that all have this flavor of a “cautionary prescription”. I have been seeing these for some time now and I have noticed that some of them contained subtext, or, different angles to observe the message. Also, with Brian’s appearances at Drumeo, you get this strong sense of a thankful and humble man behind the kit and I always love how this comes across with my interviews. I connect strongly with those personalities and spirits. It goes without saying that given the subject matter and Brian’s personality, the BFMThoughts route really brought out some great stuff. So here is a breakdown….
There is a difference between true modesty and fake modesty. You can feel it. I know plenty of people who are just really quiet when it comes to their ego and are always focused on the craft. And while compliments are nice and all, sometimes we don’t feel like we deserve to hear it the compliment as we heard it. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, however, I will say that if anyone does ever feel slightly embarrassed or not deserving of a compliment, just accept the compliment and respect the work you have put in to earn that compliment.
The following is guaranteed.
To someone, you are mind-blowing. To someone else, you may be on par with them. And to some others still, you may be the one getting the top of your skull blown off. You have to respect it all and figure out how to just accept it for what it is. And make it that simple. No emotions attached to that, if possible. Hope that helps.
Now, if you think you are all that and a ham sandwich and you blow off the compliment with fake modesty, you now just disrespected the intent of another. That’s a totally different animal! So, Brian claims this to be worse than being arrogant about it. That’s some good wisdom.
When I originally read this, I just thought of Clint Eastwood. When you have a duty to perform. You just do it. Think Nike. Think Clint.
This whole idea of needing praise is a sensitive topic though. I wonder sometimes why people need validation. When we are kids we wanted our parents to see us make a big splash when we dove into the pool, or hear about our good grades in school, or when we got a promotion at work. You see how it follows you into adulthood? I think when we do a particularly good job at something, we really wanna hear about it. I won’t lie. If NO ONE ever wrote me or downloaded my podcast EVER I don’t know if I could actually make it for this long. It is about it growing in confidence, knowledge, and being heard. It is scary in the beginning but over time as you get some validation, you become a bit stronger and want to forge ahead some more.
So, is being told that your show is something people enjoy a reward? It kinda feels like one.
Even in the sense of performing music, and this is hugely dependent on loads of factors, it could be a totally isolating thing or the most intimate musical experiences possible. I can’t speak at all, and won’t, to Brian’s 26 years on the road with all major pop acts like Justin Timberlake, Janet Jackson, Babyface, Genuine, Madonna…and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. But I can only imagine that what he knows about the “business” is as close as it gets. And personally, I don’t think I could ever do what Brian does. That man must have some serious armor built up around him. And ya know what? It isn’t aggressive armor. I sense that he has never lost his sense of gratitude for what his life has provided him with.
When gratitude becomes the reward, we can all sit down for a minute and calm down. When you have had the opportunities as Brian has, you gotta do your job and be thankful that the responsibility is yours. You can feel very purposeful when you give yourself that lens to look through. Sometimes life will lay a little beat down here and there on you, but you know the lumps will pass over time.
In the beginning, when things are scary and new to you, it is definitely helpful to have some encouraging words from your peers towards your efforts. However, if you have worked yourself into a professional role, you shouldn't need to be complimented for the work that you are hired to do.
Human beings are notorious for not knowing when to pull the plug on stuff. When things aren’t growing, being talked about, being purchased, and basically just earning a return; It’s time to re-evaluate.
I know that when you are the one invested emotionally, it can cloud your vision. You think it is a great idea or a great thing, or greatly needed. But it doesn’t mean the market thinks so. Someone who knows what is gonna work just focuses on what numbers are saying about it. Either it is working or it isn’t.
So, this might be the best checklist to cover when you decide to make a drum related video. Do I stand alone when I say that I am kinda bored of drum videos? Or whether I am or not, is it eventually going to be boring for the majority? I just feel that a lot of what I see isn’t greatly needed. Sure it can be entertaining, great fidelity, and maybe even a good message. But have I heard it before? Have I seen it before? To me, it is looking like Groundhog Day.
Now before I get tossed overboard, allow me to explain something. People want to be seen right? People want to advance professionally? People want opportunities? Many people have a greater chance of advancing further into the industry through social media these days? Perfect, that means a lot of people will use social media to work to their advantage. Many will copy the earliest examples of innovation because it worked for the pioneers. Then that gets copied until someone else finds a way to evolve it, and then everyone starts copying that instead. And on and on it goes. See, what you wanna be is the person finding the things that will generate a lot of interest in your content. Maybe CPR isn’t the trick to resuscitate it. Maybe you better get them defibrillator paddles over there instead!
Know when something is a dead idea. And know when it may not be the thing you are doing that is wrong, but rather how it is being approached.
Them trolls, man. This is a relevant subject in the drumming community. When I first heard about trolls, I thought about forums and YouTube comments. The absolute cesspool of bigotry, bullying, nonsensical BS, and a complete lack of human respect. And I still stand by this being my personal understanding of what a “troll” is.
As Brian states in the interview, there was a time when he used to say to his wife, "why are people trashing me!?" He was really hurt by those cruel remarks made towards him. Or the time when I interviewed Joe Mintz on episode 100. He appeared on Drumeo and during the live lesson, people were trashing him too. Dave had advised Joe not to read the comments, but against Dave's advice, Joe read them. Some comments were kind, while others were very mean spirited. Joe had said to me that it saddened him for the rest of the day.
With whoever becomes the target, a series of events in that person's life will unfold that you have NO clue about. Maybe that person you hurt is now speeding carelessly down the road because of their level of anger due to your comment. Maybe they have been struggling with depression and feeling worthless and your comment just resurrected those bad feelings that they have been trying to solve and prevent from happening. Maybe they just yelled at their kid or spouse about something completely unrelated because of how deeply they were affected by these types of comments. You never know how much that stuff can harm people and just because it came from your keyboard to their screen doesn't make it any less offensive.
The truth is that anyone who is projecting that negativity online is likely an unhappy person and wants other people to feel the same way. Maybe it is because they wish they were Brian touring the world with Justin Timberlake, or that they were Joe Mintz performing a lesson on Drumeo and because they aren't, they feel spiteful. Or maybe it is the only way they know how to assert themselves because they don't know of any other way to do so. I really have no idea where it comes from though because I have never felt the desire to troll anyone. I understand that even though I am not facing them in person, what I do and say will have an impact on someone's day and I would much rather build you up than tear you down.
All in all, this trolling behavior is BAD for our community! All of it is! Not just the trolling comments but the comments coming from people who defend the victims too. It creates sides. It creates drama. It’s getting out of hand! What is drumming about!? Playing the drums and making music!
To summarize, this is my opinion on the matter and where I stand.
If you don’t like me, that is fine. Just don't bother me. If we do get along and we can be peaceful neighbors, come on over. Beers are on me! That’s how I live, man. I support whatever anyone wants to do with their drumming. Just don’t cause conflicts in the community. It is poison. It hurts the art. It hurts the amazing community we have.
There are people in the world who would rather inconvenience themselves to convenience someone else. Even if it is just a little. And not just once. EVERY SINGLE TIME! I am one of those people. So even if no one else is like this, I know I am so I will speak on my own behalf here. Maybe you will connect with it, or maybe you already have it together in this area.
So, I have to admit that I don’t like to rustle feathers. Over time I have become someone who would rather help than ask for something. I am really unsure of my own self-worth at times. With anything where I feel I have a unique skill that I can use to be helpful, I will always try my best. It is all about confronting your doubts and proving yourself wrong. Over time, I began to own my position in certain areas of my life. Everything from being able to maintain a more positive attitude, to having enough confidence to host a podcast like this.
So before, it was common for me to take on stuff that I just couldn’t say NO to. I always wanted to be easy to jive with for other people. But it was at a cost. The cost was that I would get pissed off about what I had gotten myself into for the lack of return. Literally, if anything went wrong it was a bad scenario. Late on the payment, you say? Big piss off! Do you think I made a big stink about it to the person I was having a conflict with? Nope and the funny thing is that they wouldn’t know about any conflict. I just seemed like an easy going guy. In this situation, I believe some people know they can get away with more and so they try to as well. This whole scenario will eventually lead you to be taken advantage of by someone, someday.
So that is how it all looked on the outside.
On the inside, though I was seething with anger. Anyone whom I’m comfortable with would get the bad stuff from me. It is a vicious cycle too because you end up giving more of yourself away to people to feel like a “good guy”. It would also lead to nasty episodes with anyone who offended me in certain moments. It’s like when you stub your toe real good. You’ll probably yell some obscenities and jump around like the floor is made of lava. It is a human response to pain. Well, my human response to certain situations was a reflex too. And it would usually involve me yelling a lot or just being mean.
There is good news though. Slowly, I am purging that side out of me. A lot of it relates to this quote actually. I am beginning to understand why it is important to respect and love yourself. I assess the level of joy versus how much can this really help me? That involves pay, the commitment of time, future growth, networking opportunities, exposure, etc. If it isn’t bringing me much joy, the other side of the coin has to be stacked, man. But, I am in a position to take on a little bit of stuff that doesn’t pay much or anything these days because it would bring a lot of joy. It is making a big difference with how I feel day to day. It is still a work in progress though, of course.
You shouldn’t forget or ignore your past. It is information. It contains answers to the things you connect with strongly. For example, many of us started playing drums at a young age and by adulthood, it would have likely become a big part of who you are. I would also say that it is nice to reflect fondly on your youth and your “remember when” stories about you and your buddies at the sandlot. There is a darker side to your past too where your demons live that try to keep you in one position. Not moving.
But as the quote suggests, you shouldn’t ever live in your past, no matter how sweet it may feel. Create new memories instead and just see what can happen when you let go a bit to what you are holding onto.
There is almost nothing more effective to indicate someone’s insecurities than achieving something right before their very eyes and then get a cold shoulder from them. This has to be one of my biggest pet peeves. If you are someone who can’t muster up enough courage to say congratulations to someone who defeated you in a round of golf or congratulate your friend who got into school when you didn’t, I would suggest looking at why that is. Maybe a drummer that you know got the gig you wanted. There are tons of things that can challenge your ego at the moment. But regardless of that, you should congratulate them. Who knows, maybe next time it is your turn and you are hoping for some praise.
I believe that what goes around comes around. It is something I can’t prove but what I do understand is that it is a better way to conduct yourself in moments where it matters to someone else. They won’t forget a heartfelt and genuine exchange of positive words. I also believe that within a community like ours, each achievement is for the betterment of the community and drumming. I like to think of it this way.
I thought it would be great to end things with this BFMThought. This is a nice send off of motivation for people, I think. Anyone who is trying to cut someone down is not on your level if you are in your own lane trying your best. By engaging negatively as well, they are winning the battle. Don’t let them win.
I hope that you enjoyed this episode with Brian Frasier-Moore and that you got some great takeaways from this. Catch you on the next one with Rashid Williams :)
Music featured in this episode is:
Khirye Tyler - Electric Phantasy
Drum solos taken from Drumeo lessons
Drumeo Gab’s Socials
Murray Creed is one hell of a guy. The Victoria Drum Festival celebrated its 10th year anniversary this year and what an amazing job he and his team did! There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes, and I am not going to pretend like I even remotely understand what goes into this, however, it is safe to say that the list of duties is indeed plentiful. So why would someone decide that they would like to run a drumming festival? As Murray explains in this short interview, it was a way for him to celebrate the tenth anniversary of upon business “Groove Studios” in Victoria, British Columbia and inspire the local drumming community simultaneously. The reality of hosting and organizing an event like this must be a labor of love first and foremost. With all of the conversations I have had with Murray, he and his family are very much committed to making this festival happen for years to come.
So how did it all start?
He and his family take this trip out to Qualicum every so often and this is the time that Murray takes to reflect on the “big picture”. On one such trip, Murray suggested to Tanya, his wife, that they should look into running a festival that essentially would be a mega-clinic. How cool would it be to host an event where the world’s greatest players come and mingle with the drummers in attendance, share their thoughts, and perform? It, of course, would be amazing for everyone but what goes into making this possible and what are the realities of hosting such an event? That is what this episode focuses on primarily. Murray also talks about the changes the festival has experienced, what plans are in the future, and the response from the people who have attended over the years.
For me personally, this event holds a special place in my heart as well. If it wasn’t for this festival, I don’t think DrumGab would have ever been a thing. It was due to an ad that I saw, sponsored by Drumeo, explaining the requirements to submit a drum solo video that spawned enough interest to commit myself to a refreshed approach to studying the drums in hopes that I could create a solo that would contend and even perhaps win the opportunity to be flown out to Victoria to perform in front of the people in attendance. Long story short, I didn’t win, but I did create this podcast due to the shift in how I spent my time and the new found use of social media within the community. I owe a lot to Murray for making this festival for us and so I wanted to have a special episode just for him.
The next series of interviews, including this one, were all filmed and recorded on location at the Songhees Wellness Centre where the festival was held this year. I hope that you all enjoy this episode and the next three that follow.
Drumeo Gab’s Socials
No, Tom Knight’s episode is not about the show Seinfeld. Instead, this is an episode about nothing….well that isn’t entirely true. I mean, it is about stuff but it doesn’t have a trajectory. You see most interview style podcasts, should at least, stay away from sounding too much like a conversation and more like an event that features conversation. It shouldn’t sound like a couple of buddies hanging out with microphones. But what happens when you have a VO artist on the other end? Well that changes EVERYTHING.
For me, I thought it would be fun to have Tom on again for a couple of reasons. For one, this is a real treat for folks who have been listening to the show for some time now and have heard Tom Knight’s voice on the intro over 70 times now. So part of it is a nostalgia factor for listeners, Tom, and myself. I feel very lucky to have Tom as my friend. His expertise and willingness to help me by contributing his unique skills has been a major high point in the production of the show. I know that he enjoys the things he has contributed to the show too. Thanks Tom :)
The other side of it is whether a episode can feel like a couple of buddies hanging out and still have some kind of delivery that can make it a bit more than just that.
So, what did we go over? Well, for starters...my BIG fuck up. (clears throat) I had interviewed Dave Langguth the night before I recorded this session with Tom and I came home with NO content. Yup! That’s right. I didn’t record the audio, by accident. I thought that I had hit record on my Zoom H6 and did not double check and to my dismay, at the end of the interview my Zoom showed 0:00:00 on the time code. In the moment I had wondered for a moment what to do. Avoid immediate embarrassment and wait until I got home to send him a message that I didn’t record it. Or bite the bullet right there and man up to what had gone wrong. I chose the latter after not much deliberation. Just like how your parents used to tell you just to “rip off the Band-Aid”. I was greeted with a brief moment of personal misery from within and a “oh well man, shit happens”, from Dave. He was totally cool about it and the truth is, we had a lot of fun hanging out in his studio.
But there is something to be learned from this failure. For one, I won’t EVER not double check my shit before I get on with the interview. And secondly, I have grown up some over the last couple years. Your initial reaction tells a big part of the story about where you are at with yourself. It is as truthful as you can be with yourself, to recognize your feelings that seem to be out of your control, and your reaction when situations that are sudden and severe. In the past, I would have been unbelievably upset with myself and terribly embarrassed. The embarrassment would become the fuel for my anger and bad thoughts. This type of situation was one of the “nightmare scenarios” when I first decided to begin a podcast and could have very well prevented me from starting one in the first place.
By the time I arrived home that night I had a clear head about it all and I knew how to deal with it. Sure, I was pissed off about the amount of time that I had wasted but I understood that those feelings would pass. I would have to say that this is a great sign of progress for me. I think that because of so many good things that I recognize in my life can help outweigh stressful, negative, problematic, challenging events in my life. It has been a nice place to begin arriving to.
I wanted to take a moment to recognize the importance of that because from this point forward, until the end, it is just for fun. Oh, also I should add that Tom shared a story about a similar (but far worse) scenario that is absolutely heartbreaking.
So Tom and I talk about Motley Crue and the biopic “The Dirt” and how Tommy Lee was a big inspiration for Tom back when he was coming up. And then it becomes a winding maze of peculiar topics including Shaq’s shoe size, Tom’s lack of body hair and average nipples, our ancestral backgrounds, Tom’s embarrassing moments with Dave Weckl, and why Tom doesn’t play sports. It is all kinds of rediculousness.
Tom ends things on his new interest in gymnastics; starting as a middle aged man. That is what has always interested me about Tom. He is one of the most humble and modest people that I have met through this podcast. I still remember the AIM “anonymous” video the first time I saw it (credit to Joey “Bones” Parasole for sharing that content so I could find it). Tom is an unbelievable player and in some sense reminds me most of Dave Weckl, besides of course Dave Weckl. Considering his prowess as a drummer, he doesn’t make much fuss about himself. I think it is because his indenity as a drummer isn’t all encompassing. He is a VO artist (as many of you know), a father of three children, and a husband. He also loves tackling the impossible, which for him is gymnastics.
Tom discusses how this “impossibility” is what drives his determination to continue chipping away. I guess it must have been this personality trait that drove him as hard as it did to become such a skillful drummer. A quick check in with himself to see what is lacking the most and what is the next thing to learn. Tom then scurries off to the drums/pad and works on it until it is sorted out and then moves onto the next thing he would need to learn. I can only imagine that this is how that went down.
Suffice to say, this episode is really just for fun. My intent with a lot of my stuff is to trigger contemplation and your own curiosities. Ya know what the beauty of podcasting is? It is that it’s both original and curated content at the same time. With the information coming from so many sources, you can begin to see certain concepts, thoughts, and opinions that are in agreeance among many guests and perhaps even yourself. I feel that maybe it can be more trusted because of that. It is like if you go to a doctor and they discover something wrong with you that needs treating, you may ask for a second opinion. It all becomes more convincing as you get into the 4th, 5th and 6th time that you hear a similar message. Maybe that is a morbid reference, but it’s what comes to mind at the moment.
But anyways, sometimes we all need a break from the heavy stuff. I hope that you enjoy the episode and that it makes you laugh, think, and smile.
Music featured in this episode is:
Adam Nitti - Skitzo
Drumeo Gab’s Socials
Rob Wallis is a co-founder, along with Paul Seigel, of DCI Music Video, later to be Hudson Music. Rob being a longtime provider of content to the drumming community; Rob is the OG of video content. DCI Music Video was responsible for many legendary drum education videos that were great in their day and today holds a wonderful nostalgia. Titles such as “Bernard Purdie on studio drumming”, Steve Gadd’s “Up Close”, Dennis Chambers & John Scofield’s “Serious Moves”, Carter Beauford’s “Under the Table and Drumming” and mentioned in the podcast, “Modern Drummer Festival 2000”. These videos have been embedded for many years in my drumming life and I think back on them like you would your childhood. So huge thanks to Rob, Paul and the team with Hudson Music for making that content possible and delivering value to the drumming community for all these years.
A New Way
Whenever you are learning some style of music, a lot of drummers will suggest learning the history of players within that genre. It is always recommended to learn the roots and the history behind it. With so many drummers creating video content these days, is it important I wonder to study the history of video content? If it is, well...DCI is where you’d have to start. Rob talks about the truckloads of tape from recording festivals and the storage areas where they would keep it. We are talkin’ thousands of pounds of the shit. Tapes everywhere! Imagine where in order to create your live content, you have to hire catering services! The level of expense that went into this stuff was intense, man. Massive risk, and yet...a range of rewards. On one hand, no one else was doing it. On the other, you could lose your shirt if it flopped. But no matter how you sliced it, there was a huge gap in the industry and these guys forged the way. What they came up with would become the beginning of a new era for music education.
I want to focus on something for a minute…..
This “gap” is what everyone should be looking at. What makes that difficult is the fact that everyone has everything already. The delivery of information has improved immensely by looking better, sounding better, being more user friendly, and well you get the point, right? That all requires budget, experience, a facility, a network - and probably a bunch more stuff that I have no clue about to make it work really well….potentially. But back when Rob and Paul were getting into this, no one had ever seen anything like it before! It made a big impression and the ceiling was high to scale it. But again, the costs were MASSIVE back in those days, as Rob says in the interview. Renting 100k camera equipment for $1500 a day (in the early 80’s remember) is what’s on the menu. The cost of a mistake is on a whole other scale. “ It’s a different ballgame,” was the term we used in the conversation and it is all true.
A Slippery Slope
So, Hudson Music has produced a lot of the VHS tapes, DVD’s, and education books over the years. And by VHS and DVD was how you were going to receive that content for some twenty years…..until YouTube came along. It was a time for some people to strike while the iron was hot. Once again, there would have been huge costs involved, massive technical hurdles, less accessibility, and huge costs (yes I realize I repeated that).
So this was, yet again, a potential for a new era of education. And so the internet naturally became the focus for distribution. Since very early on, trusted providers such as Drumeo, Mike Johnston, Stephen Taylor, and Adam Tuminaro have all been chipping away and evolving in order to perfect online drum education. And to me it doesn’t look like there is a whole lot of room left to make this stuff exclusively. You could do it part-time, but likely you will be doing a lot of other stuff too to make ends meet. Music related or not.
It goes without saying that because it is easy to create a quick and easy lesson for Instagram or Facebook, anyone can do it. The internet is an amazing space to build a voice and brand. Hell, that’s what I am trying to do. It is all in how you handle that though. Is what you make any good? Is there really any value in it? Has it been said 10,000 times before and there any need to hear it some more? Are you doing it just to build a “brand”? Are you thoughtful with how you approach projects or content? Do you really love to do it, or do you feel pressure to do it? These are the things I would ask myself.
In any case, with lesser cost, lesser risks, better fidelity, and more access comes saturation. Inevitably.
Right, so tons of drummers are doing this. Some content looks great, some don’t. Some stuff sounds great, some don’t. Some lessons simply contain better information than others. But you know what it all has in common? I’ve seen it all thousands of times and I am bored now. I’m not suggesting that it needs to go away either. The great content, is great content! Keep that going for as long as possible. It needs to exist for drummers, of course, but when you combine all of what is out there….like I mean ALL of it! I am sorry folks but is it really needed?
The information coming into our phones and other devices are cruising along at overdose levels. I am not sure it is a good thing. Another angle to approach this is due to the fact that most of this content exists through social media and its design. So the question is whether or not we are attracted to our addictions or sharing great information? It is a blurry line if we really get real with ourselves. Likes, comments, more followers. All of it feeds the part of us that we associate with progress and esteem. And humans are drawn to progress and esteem...just look at the huge leaps forward as a species. That is a whole other kettle of fish that I may tackle another day but for now, let us all agree that we have come along way since we were banging rocks together and pounding our chests.
Point is, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and whatever else is out there, is meant to draw us in and keep us living there. It is up to our own discretion and discipline to monitor ourselves and maintain a healthy level of usage. This awareness ties in with my own abuse of social media, all with the notion that because I was growing a podcast, more metrics meant more growth. I felt that investing in the platform is a wise decision in order to scale my show. But ya know what? This show doesn’t actually grow much from social media. “But how is that Seamus!?”, you might be asking. Well, it is because people are on social media to be on social media. Not to find podcasts. That’s what Google’s for.
Side note: shares from super powerful and influential people/organizations on social media does help...a lot. But I am talking about, in my own experience, how the level of input vs output is disproportionate. However, with continued, regular investment, you will be on the minds of drummers/potential listeners and perhaps one day they may feel inclined to listen to a drumming podcast, and yours may be the one they choose. Also, you can easily create good relationships with people. This may have to be another blog at some point because there is something big to that. A subject that I find fascinating where people become currency to you….
SO! I know I am digressing here but there is a point to this, trust me.
I want this podcast to be what connects me to you.
E-mails FTW! (hit me up at Seamus@drumeo.com if you want to share your drum story or anything you want to be heard by someone). That is what I would like with listeners over any like, any share, or any comment on socials. I like one on one interaction and preferably off social media. So I encourage everyone to reach me by email, please.
The Glue That Holds It All Together
Rob possesses what I admire in people. Honest to goodness passion and love for something. Anyone who has that superpower is my friend, even if we haven’t met yet. But it is the love for what he does that keeps him fired up about working on Hudson Music all these years after having started it. This kind of testimony is what makes me excited because what I feel is a total obsession and interest in what I do. I just want to make the next thing, after the next thing. And that is exactly what Rob has done over the years.
He expresses his connection to the instrument, and how the connection occurs off the kit as well. Drumming is a community. It is music and art as well, obviously, but on the grander scale, it is and should always be about community. One person’s success is a victory for the community and so we should encourage each other, not compete. We should share ideas and philosophies to help each other grow and become stronger. That has become a larger purpose for this podcast as time has gone on and the show’s level of reach and impact have evolved. So as a sidebar, thank you, everyone, who comes here for their dose of a realistic, honest, well-intentioned, open forum.
Something that I want to drive home….
I believe that when you have integrity, like Rob, you produce the results required for something to survive and hopefully thrive. Ups and downs will always come and go, but long term success is really about devotion.
Because Rob treated his career more like an adventure, he managed to gain many fantastic personal life experiences that he can call his own. He made something out of nothing and nearly 40 years later he is still evolving by means of autobiographical book publishing; And he is super proud of it, as he describes “the spine facing out and everything”. He crossed paths with the amazing ****SPOILER ALERT****...(clears throat) Mr. Marlon Brando by happenstance at a red light in Harlem! The story goes that Rob had randomly stumbled across Paul Siegel driving some 20 minutes after they had separated at a red light. Paul’s passenger yells to Rob, “Hey, the phone is for you!”....and it was the Godfather!! Yeah, just unreal shit.
It was a big topic in the episode towards the end and I have some more thoughts about it. Listen to the episode before you continue reading.
Do you think it is better to be an entrepreneur than not? If so, why? What is an entrepreneur today? Is a loose term these days? I mean….you can’t actually be one without risking money, right? And #sorrynotsorry, social media accounts with nice content isn’t a business.
But here is the thing, I feel like too many people are telling us to be an entrepreneur. Are people becoming guilty because they work for someone? Is life nothing more than a series of daydreams about becoming something you aren’t yet? Do we focus too much on trying to become something greater than we feel we really are online? Are we becoming numb to motivation and inspiration because we hear it all the fucking time? Rehashed messages with similar lingo, that I attempt to avoid but sometimes step on those landmines, that mean almost nothing anymore? What do you really want? Yeah, you!
There are countless messages of motivation, inspiration, dedication...it is basically the fucking “ation” nation hahaha. Like c’ mon man, do I really need to be motivated on social media? Chances are I am not going to do what the content was intended to “inspire” me to do in the first place. I get it though, that type of shit pings off of you and you get a little jolt of something. But then you probably swipe to the next thing. At the end of the day, it is just you staring at your phone. Imagine a third person version of you looking at you, looking at your phone while you read a motivating thing on Instagram. Is that scenario all that motivating? Personally, I love the idea that you are reading this on your laptop or iPad with a whiskey, alone, at night, uninterrupted, in a peaceful environment listening to Brian Eno “Music for Airports” 1/1. But you might just be on the shitter at work on your lunch break and you were done pooping five minutes ago. I dunno, a man can dream, right?
What I am getting at is that if you watch a particular video on YouTube every morning at 4 AM before you “rise and grind” and it actually helps you “crush” the day; then I guess that’s fuckin “lit” bruh. But if you are just reading that shit and not doing anything about it, then be WOKE!
Man, I keep getting off topic. I apologize for that...
Anyways, the reason I asked Rob what he thinks about the projection of what is out there is because he is of a generation that largely lived without this technology and was a proper entrepreneur. And so what does he think is good for people? It is simple. It is the non-digital, human stuff that makes life interesting and fun. He figures if you make money at something, you should appreciate that. If you don’t dig it, quit and move onto something else. Inject your passions into your life. Find out what they are. It is important to have things in your life for you, and you only. That is the essence of honoring yourself. And even though Rob claimed that parts of the interview were challenging, I think our conversation brought out a moment for him that he won’t soon forget, and that is what it is all about folks.
Make An Impact!
That is my advice to you. Make impactful things. Do what really matters to you. It becomes honest that way, and when it is honest work that you produce, it succeeds over time. But you have to have passion and vision to see the long term destination. It is having a vision that keeps your momentum on a high note.
And the beauty of it all is that wherever you stop along the way is either, not up to you, or you managed to put yourself in the right place at the right time with intent. But your effort will, at some point, lead you to those places that your heart wants. You also don’t need to go searching for it every time. Sometimes things intersect your path instead. This notion that you can “take what you want” is too forceful and fiercely focused on what you think you desire, in my opinion. Why not let go some? Let your focus be on your passion and work ethic. Your devotion to your craft. Maybe there is fortune along that path as well. I am willing to bet that there is.
I hope that you enjoyed the podcast episode and took a moment to read this blog. Give this article a share on any of the social media channels (buttons to share are on this page) to spread this message if you believe in it.
I have included a variety of DCI Music Video clips for this podcast.
Drumeo Gab’s Socials
Hudson Music Socials
Carter McLean has been rising steadily in popularity since I have been familiar with Instagram. He has a great eye for gear, be it audiophile equipment, watches, drums, or pajamas and he also has a great ear for sound and musical tastes. He is really a guy who is after my own heart when it comes to this stuff. So it is no wonder why Internetland has rising interests in what Carter is doing musically. Between his long-standing gig with the Broadway musical Lion King and then his more improvised and loose approach with the unreal guitar freak Charlie Hunter, it would appear that Carter has found his footing quite firmly in his career. He also has an educational website business called Four Hands Drumming.
Again, considering Carter’s immense appeal, that also means that other podcasters have also sought interest in interviewing him. I have had the desire to interview Carter for a long time now, but every time I would consider reaching out to him he would appear on a podcast...and this happened, what seemed like, a handful of times until I finally decided to hit him up and make something COMPLETELY different. There is no sense in diluting the airwaves with rehashed Carter interviews, taking away the value of both this show and the others who have also had really fantastic sessions with Carter.
So what did we talk about you may be asking….well let’s see? We talk about watches, audiophile equipment, a gruesome skiing incident involving Carter and his friend, that one fateful morning working at Manny’s Music when the Twin Towers came crashing down, a memorable lesson with Peter Erskine, his new book, the switch the Ludwig. A lot in other words and it is all dealt in a rapid-fire type fashion. This is a rather short episode considering the sheer vastness of subject matter.
I highly recommend that you follow Carter online and check out his Drumeo YouTube lesson featured below to get a taste of what Carter is about. He does an amazing job waving the groove/song drumming flag that has seemed to become somewhat elusive since chops have become so fascinating to many drummers. He is without question one of the most controlled, smooth players in the game and equally a thoughtful and intelligent guy with some great perspectives.
I feature some tunes performed by Charlie Hunter and Carter McLean, which was performed live in Manchester. If you enjoyed what you heard and want to hear more of that music, please click the link below and enjoy it.
Drumeo Gab’s Socials
Bruce Becker has dedicated most of his life to drum education and has gained a significant level of respect from drummers as a leader in approaching drum technique. Bruce has a very unique background with drumming, as he was a long-time friend and student of the late Freddie Gruber. Bruce was not only Freddie’s student but was often called upon by Freddie to demonstrate techniques applied to the kit for the likes of Dave Weckl. Over the years, a lot of Freddie’s concepts have been adopted by Bruce and elevated to a level which many consider being more comprehensible than Freddie’s often cryptic nature in explaining his lessons. Besides education, Bruce has recorded over twenty albums in his career and has been playing alongside his brother David Becker in the David Becker Tribune for the better part of 30 years.
So, it is more than fair to say that Bruce is one of the most specialized instructors on the planet concerning drum technique. I figured that it would be a great use of air time to explore many of my own curiosities when it comes to development with drumming. However, instead of explicitly asking Bruce questions about technique, I thought it might be more valuable for listeners to hear Bruce’s thoughts concerning long term development. I feel that sometimes it can be difficult to know how to spend your time practicing, how long it may take to notice improvements, how much play time vs practice time we should invest in, whether old habits can be broken, and what the real reason is that we might want to exercise the use of practice pads. Bruce walks us through these topics with so much clarity, providing listeners with a sense of reassurance and guiding us towards a solid path to take with your drumming development.
That is only part of what makes this episode valuable though. Late in the episode, Bruce and I stumble across an amazing topic that isn’t often discussed in public forum. I want to open this up with a scenario. Let’s say you are determined to become a GREAT drummer. You are finding this to be of importance later in your life (let’s assume you are 30 - 40 years old) and you just HAVE to get the practice in and maybe feeling a bit pressured to make up for the lost time. So there you are, working away on your drums/pad and all of a sudden you hear your wife hollering at you to stop what you are doing and help with something in the house and it just can’t wait twenty more minutes. In a huff and a puff, you reluctantly stop what you are doing and head downstairs to discover that you are going to be spending the next two hours clearing out your basement of items to be donated to the local goodwill. You then begin to ruminate on the thought that you DO NOT want to be clearing out old items from your basement because you were just hitting the zone with your practice and you were really in tune with the relationship between your hands and the sticks (just as an example. I am certain you all know that feeling when practice really starts to click and that is when you feel your effort is being completely soaked up by your body). It is a drag, isn’t it? It could literally put a damper on your day if you allow it to. This, of course, is just one of many potential examples where other aspects of your life require your time and attention and it may interfere with your plans that you have been anticipating.
If you are anything like me, I am quite obsessive over the things that I love to do and sometimes I have a difficult time stopping what I am doing to do something else that I am less interested in doing. The truth is though, we need to be flexible within our own designs of how we wish to spend our time to develop and self-invest. This is just one part of what Bruce and I discuss in this section and it continues to expand as we go along into some very interesting ideas about how we live out our lives. I stand by the fact that this episode is a must listen for drummers but I insist that you really listen closely to the fifteen to twenty-minute section towards the end of this episode and give that some consideration if it applies to you.
I want to conclude by suggesting that we all take a moment and reflect on our self-investing. Investing in yourself is incredibly healthy and aspiring to greatness within our skill sets. I attempt to do just that with this podcast. I have committed myself to become a great journalist and a highly skilled interviewer. That is something I need to accomplish in my lifetime and it is my passion. Cool...so I have recognized that and that is fantastic because it gives me a sense of purpose within what I have created for myself, which makes me more confident which in turn makes me a better husband, father, and human. However, I also need to recognize that other aspects of my life absolutely cannot become second fiddle to my desires. They are just as important as what I want for myself. I really wanted to address this because I can clearly witness the level of productivity that several social media channels display with certain individuals. I also know how much time is required to achieve those results, and based on the time you should invest in your marriage, parenting, home ownership, business upkeep, day job, your friendships, and other activities I have to wonder if the self-investing side of what people invest in is in amazing health while other parts of their life is on life support. Marriages fail at an incredible rate these days. More and more people are living hand to mouth. Unemployment rates are sky high. We are all being told to work for ourselves and as far as social media goes, we are all living it up, and life is grand! I see some big holes in all that and Bruce and I just nail point after point concerning this stuff. It is important stuff to consider and I hope that this episode provides some interesting points to consider with your own life and how you manage it.
Music featured in this episode is:
David Becker Tribune - Hey Mister
David Becker Tribune - Drivin’ Home
Bruce Becker - House of Cards
Drumeo Gab’s Socials
Marco Minnemann. Where do I start? He’s an UNBELIEVABLE technician, groove meistro, and total balls out player. But that only tells part of the story. He has also created 25 albums as a solo artist where he composed music, played the instruments, recorded everything, produced everything...ya picking up what I’m putting down? So yes, Marco is an incredible drummer. But for Marco, it is all for the love of music.
Beyond his solo work, Marco is also the drummer for the virtuoso trio, The Aristocrats. He has also performed with numerous artists such as Joe Satriani, Alex Lifeson, Paul Gilbert, Eddie Jobson, Steven Wilson, Necrophagist, and Adrian Belew. Marco has also been a massive force in educational content. With his book Extreme Interdependence and DVD Extreme Drumming, Marco has taken independence to another level with the concept of Interdependence earning him a reputation as being one of the most advanced drummers in the world today. Recently, Marco had filmed lesson content at the Drumeo studio.
In this episode we talk about the Aristocrats, what Marco’s practice routine looked like when he was developing early on, his creative process with composing music, his thoughts on hand/foot speed (this is something everyone needs to hear), Joe Satriani and my musical banana shirt. There is other stuff in there too. Enjoy ;)
Music featured in this episode is:
Marco Minnemann - Are You Having A Good Time?
Marco Minnemann - Butterflies
The Aristocrats - Sweaty Knockers
The Aristocrats - Blues Fuckers
Drumeo Gab’s Socials
Jose Medeles is the owner of the well known vintage drum shop in Portland, OR called Revival Drum Shop and he is also the author of The Stoic Drummer. Oh, and that’s not all ... Jose is also one of the members of 1939 Ensemble. So of those three topics that I could explore with Jose, I chose the middle one. In fact, it was because of The Stoic Drummer that I caught a glimpse of what Jose might be like to have on the show as a guest. We use this book as our reference point to this wandering conversation that dips heavily into some topics concerning who we are. Why do we play drums? What are our thoughts? What is fear? How do we nourish ourselves with self love? These are all questions that I wanted to thoroughly examine with Jose … and we did. May this episode refresh your perspective, open your mind and heart, and make you smile and feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for having the gift of drumming.
Music featured in this episode is:
Jose Medeles - Reception
Jose Medeles - The Art of Silence
Drumeo Gab’s Socials
Jonathan Collin Greene is a professional drummer from Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He is the creator of the YouTube channel Drumosophy, a private instructor and gigging musician. Jonathan has built a lesson within this episode where he shows us his perspective on internalizing fives through the use of ostinato patterns. I will stop there, because I really don’t have authority to continue explaining it. Jonathan shares how 9/11 was the day that drums entered his life for good, his battles with depression and imposter syndrome, and most importantly how he views the craft vs. the art of drumming.
Music featured in this episode is:
Jonathan Greene - The Greatest Something
Brave World Trio - Black Hole Sun
Drumeo Gab’s Socials
In the second and concluding part of this interview, Mark reminisces on his past with Heernt and Avishai Cohen. With Avishai, he learned a lot about how to discipline himself in order to bring his all to the band-stand by asking the question, "Why am I here?" We discuss how Mark was affected by working with David Bowie for Bowie’s final record, Black Star, and whether resuming his normal life again was challenging in any way, considering how unbelievable that opportunity to work with Bowie must have been. We also discuss the process of writing "Thank You." and finish off the episode with some listener questions.
Music featured in this episode is:
Mark Guiliana - "That DeeJay Chick Works At The Bank Now" (Beat Music: The Los Angeles Improvisations)
Mark Guiliana - "I Create Your Own Future" (Beat Music: The Los Angeles Improvisations)
Mark Guiliana - "BUD" (BEAT MUSIC! BEAT MUSIC! BEAT MUSIC!)
Mark Guiliana - "Thank You." (Single)
Drumeo Gab’s Socials
In this two-part episode, Mark and I discuss the process of creating Mark’s new record BEAT MUSIC! BEAT MUSIC! BEAT MUSIC!, his relationship with the drums, his fellow musicians, and music in general. Mark shares so many incredible insights to how he negotiates any commentary whilst playing, how he sets his expectations, and how he maintains the level of joy required to make drumming worth while. Mark discusses his earlier years being a student of Joe Bergamini and how this relationship would continue forward into the process of creating Exploring Your Creativity On The Drumset. And who is Cole Whittle?
Music featured in this episode is:
Mark Guiliana Quarter - "Big Rig Jones" (Jersey)
Heernt - "Locked In A Basement" (Locked In A Basement)
Mark Guiliana - "Ode to Bobby Moons" (Beat Music: The Los Angeles Improvisations)
Mark Guiliana - "GIRL" (BEAT MUSIC! BEAT MUSIC! BEAT MUSIC!)
Drumeo Gab’s Socials
In this episode, we are speaking with the awesome Richard Spaven about a lot of juicy subjects, some of which are my favorite. We go over “The List” (creativity, time keeping, endurance, independence, coordination, groove, chops, technique), we talk about "The Zone", which Richard speaks passionately about, and we go deep into his creative process.
We also reflect on Richard’s work, and in particular on "Spaven's 5ive", his first, original recording and my favorite of his. We close with a conversation about how he feels once an album has been created.
Drumeo Gab’s Socials
Welcome to the second episode of our roundtable series! In this episode we are speaking with Tim Baltes, David Cola, TJ Hartmann, Adam Tuminaro, Austin Burcham, and Dan Silver. The topics covered deal with risk taking, changes in life and how it affects our personal goals, social media perfection vs process, artist vs entrepreneur, and the isolation that comes with being a content creator. For all of the drummers out there taking risks, subjecting themselves to significant change, or using the internet to create a presence and potentially a career within the music industry will find this episode valuable.
Drumeo Gab’s Socials
In the 1st round, we talk about learning how to embrace yourself as a player, the appropriate time to be disappointed in yourself, and the current state of perfectionism with social media content.
In the 2nd round, Brody talks about his experiences as a recording engineer and session artist. Siros shares how playing saxophone helped him develop as a drummer and why he chose to pursue the drums as a profession. And we discuss how both physical and mental health, plays a huge role in how we perform.
Drumeo Gab's Socials
Ryan Brown is the drummer for Dweezil Zappa, Keram, The Fuxedos, The Young Royals, and Black Belt Karate. Ryan is also an instructor at MI in Hollywood, CA.
Originally from Colorado, Ryan had a choice to pursue his music career either in New York or Los Angeles. Who knew that a 50/50 decision would bring him the fortune of playing his dream gig. In this episode, Ryan shares important knowledge that will help working drummers in their pursuit to a fruitful career as well as the epic story of his audition to play with Dweezil Zappa, and how he channels the mega lineup of past Frank Zappa drummers in his own performances.
Key moments in this episode (in order)
Ryan Brown talks about playing the Black Page with a Morfbeats Marvin
Since 1999, Ryan hasn’t seen much snow since living and gigging in the LA scene. Ryan gives his thoughts on networking and how social media isn’t enough to seal that deal.
So how did Ryan Brown land the Zappa gig? It’s kind of a long story and it involves Pete Jones.
The story about the audition process for Dweezil Zappa is unreal. Ryan shares the story about the stress that he endured capturing an opportunity of a lifetime.
Replacing Joe Travers as Dweezil’s drummer was no small feat. Ryan reflects on his first year as Dweezil’s drummer and how the audience received him.
Ryan talks about his approach to channel the many great drummers who held the Zappa throne into his own performances with Dweezil and how he manages to inject his own personality into the music as well.
I asked Ryan who his favorite Zappa drummer is/was and this turns into a story about how he found Zappa’s music as a young man.
Ryan is an only child, which happens to be something we have in common. We discuss and relate to each other over the virtues of being only children and how it affects us as artists.
Ever wonder what improvisation might be like in Dweezil’s band? Ryan breaks down the hand signals and some of the musical escapades that occur on stage.
Ryan shares his advice on making a good decision when you approach an intersection where more than one choice can be made.
Drumeo Gab's Socials
Music Credits by Dweezil Zappa
Inverted Commas, I'm Sorry You Had to Hear That, Greasy Owl Bacon
Music Production/Mastering - Kingmobb
Voice Over - Tom Knight
Drums - Me
Recording Engineer - Michael Marucci