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