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