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
new and unusual or experimental ideas, especially in the arts, or the people introducing them
Dan Mayo is an incredibly expressive drummer hailing from Tel Aviv, Israel who specializes in an avant-garde approach to the drum set. He endorses A&F drums, Meinl cymbals, and Vic Firth drum sticks. Along with playing drums, Dan also composes and produces music for his band TATRAN.
This interview was recorded in Anaheim, CA on January, 24th 2019.
What we talked about (in order)
- We begin the interview by contemplating the following list of components to drumming.
Creativity, Timekeeping, Endurance, Independence, Coordination, Groove, Chops, Technique
Dan sorts out the importance of this list by ranking them in order of most important to least important. We deeply discuss each of the components and fall into many rabbit holes along the way.
- As we wrap up the list of components, we discover that technique is not very important to Dan. Dan’s belief is that the technique develops over time through playing the instrument. Or we develop particular techniques to properly express through the variety of instruments on a drum set. This leads Dan to explain how he feels that practice pads are of no use to a drummer. He doesn’t understand why drummers are the only musicians that play on something other than the actual instrument, which is the drum set. I have a feeling that many drummers will debate this section of the interview, but it does, in fact, make a lot of sense to me what he says about practice pads.
- Dan’s style of playing is incredibly expressive and he uses a lot of dynamics. So I ask him about how dynamics play a role in his expression and why they are important. This leads to how colors, shapes, and even smells play a part in how Dan’s approach will be influenced by these senses and metaphors.
- Dan decides to add something to the list and that is commitment. We talk about risk-taking, how to commit to the audience, and how to be vulnerable to allow the moment to come through when he plays.
- An incredibly interesting metaphor that Dan brings up more than once is how he feels that he is “a tube with two holes” and what this represents are input and output. If good energy and vibes are coming in, the output will be amazing. He talks quite deeply about how this is essential to him finding the highs of making music that he needs as an artist.
- How many shows that Dan performs are great, good, and crappy and how does he deal with the undesirable outcomes? Or are the shows he thought were bad, actually good? We explore how the moment, adrenaline, our own perceptions can alter reality.
- Dan shares what his fans can expect and look forward to in 2019. This includes his Masterclass that will be recorded and filmed for internet consumption that is titled “Inner Voice” which ironically this interview captured most of the content that is planned for this Masterclass. So if you enjoyed this interview and Dan’s philosophies, I am certain that you will enjoy Dan’s “Inner Voice” Masterclass.
- Dan talks about the importance of loving yourself and how if you do embrace yourself, you will play better. This is one of my personal favorite sections of this conversation. It is absolutely true and also is grossly overlooked and under-discussed.
- Lastly, we wrap things up by talking about the truth to one’s playing. How do we know if something is bullshit or the real thing?
Drumeo Gab’s Socials
Music Production/Mastering - Kingmobb
Voice Over - Tom Knight
Drums - Me
Recording Engineer - Michael Marucci
Claus Hessler is a well-known drummer and educator located in Germany. He has authored several educational books such as Camp Duty Update, Drum Set Workout, and Open-handed playing Vol 1&2. He also performs with his funk/fusion band Flux. Claus does fly under the radar somewhat in the drum community but has carved out a long and prosperous career with education and performance.
What we talked about (in order)
- Claus talks about his rope tuned solid Ash wood drum in significant detail and gives me a small tour of his home studio.
- This interview was recorded January 3rd, 2019, so naturally, I wanted to know how Claus’ new year has been treating him so far.
- Claus and Dom Famularo go way back. Claus talks about how Dom played a big role in Claus’ development both in his playing but also with an opportunity within the industry.
- Claus is hugely interested in drum history. Swiss rudiments, medieval drums, techniques to name a few. I bring up the Tabor and the open-handed roll. Claus clears up some misinterpretation within this subject.
- We fall into a rabbit hole which, if I sum it up, is about intentions and purpose to drumming in music. We begin with the Tabor. A medieval drum that accompanied a fife and was played with one blunt stick. Then we end up talking about if and how different time periods affect a musician. This is highly speculative, but interesting subject matter.
- Camp Duty Update has been receiving some notoriety lately. With the 2018 Best Educational Material nomination from Modern Drummer, I had to ask what his mission was in writing that material.
- Claus has authored a great deal of educational material to the drumming world. He discusses with me how his students are his beta testers and allow Claus to see directly what needs to be included or not to develop a great piece of educational material.
- The mileage that you can get out of one rudiment opposed to memorizing fifty rudiments and barely scratching the surface, is a concept that Claus is very interested in. How to “hide” rudiments effectively in musical settings is what he believes more drummers ought to do. This part is like having a lesson with Claus.
- With educators, I sometimes sense that there is a lot of calculation in their approach to what they play and so it comes out sounding very “beige” and exercise-y sounding. That doesn’t apply to all educators obviously, and therein lies the question. How does a player, who teaches, maintain a sense of character and a distinct sound?
- Claus talks about his early career doubts and fears. He’s good now though. In all seriousness though, Claus gets into some great commentary about human nature and by sharing this stuff with other people is a sign of maturity and strength.
- “If you don’t sound like shit, you’re not practicing” This is a quote we all know and love, isn’t it? Of course, this statement is true, but does it lead a focus of persuading a student to focus on their weaknesses? Claus explains his point of view towards this.
- This conversation sparked a question that I didn’t anticipate asking, but I ask Claus what his thoughts are on pacing yourself on new material. I use an analogy where my fist represents my size of abilities. Then my other hand and fingers represent the new things that you want to add, that you will inevitably suck at. How much of the new stuff should you add, and how long does it take to fuse to the total sum of your abilities. This leads to perhaps the most interesting part of this episode.
Drumeo Gab's Socials
Music Production/Mastering - Kingmobb
Voice Over - Tom Knight
Drums - Me
Recording Engineer - Michael Marucci
As a drummer, Todd Sucherman is in a band with an ironic name. Styx. Harhar had to do it. On a more serious note, the Styx throne has only been held by two individuals in the forty-six years that Styx has been around. The original drummer, John Panozzo, and of course, Todd Sucherman. That is serious rock drumming royalty to behold right there.
This interview was captured the day after the cold and rainy BC Helicopter Mountain shoot that many of you have seen on YouTube. The video shoot was in an effort to promote Todd Sucherman’s Rock Drumming Masterclass and do something that has never been done before.
Imagine….you already play with Styx, you're publicly known as a total badass player, you have been recognized numerous times for your many contributions of excellence in the art of drumming, and then some crazy Canuck suggests that you fly in a helicopter with a massive drum kit to play on top of a mountain…..while being recorded and filmed. “A charmed life”, I believe is how Todd put it.
In addition to Styx, Todd is also a clinician, session player, and responsible for multiple award-winning video pack series Methods and Mechanics. In 2018 Todd was awarded the title of “#1 Progressive Rock Drummer” and “#1 Recorded Performance” for “The Mission” (Styx).
Beyond Todd’s outstanding playing, he is also an incredible hang. I can see why people want him around. He’s clear, direct, intentional, smart, funny, and there is a certain intensity to him that is nice to be around. I had an amazing time visiting with Todd, Dave, Jared, Victor, Taylor and the rest of the team at Drumeo while I was there. Getting to have that time with such a revered musician is something very special. It was THE BEST way to reintroduce this podcast that I and many of you have grown to love.
So I want to give all of my past listeners a big "high five!" It's great to have you back! I also want to welcome new listeners to this show! Thanks for checking this out! I love hearing from listeners, and I will always try to get back to everyone, but please write into the show to share your thoughts, experiences, and in general any feedback or suggestions to email@example.com
Alright, let’s get into this!
What we talked about (IN ORDER)
- Fresh in his mind, Todd talks about the BC mountain video shoot.
- Todd talks about his philosophy on the good and bad cards that we are dealt when we are born and the cards that show up later in life.
- The daisy chain of small opportunities that can lead to big ones. Todd shares a personal story relating to this.
- Todd talks about the night when he asked other students at Berklee when the penny dropped for them that they would actually become a musician. Todd goes on to explain that he never had to give it thought. He always knew.
- We discuss Todd’s upbringing in a musical family and how that nurtured him into a life of music.
- Did you know that Steve Smith wrote Todd back a six and a half page letter after Todd reached out when he was a kid? Todd reflects on the impact that the letter had on him, some of the memorable contents, and why he feels it is important to pass that same feeling onto other young students who are fans of Todd’s like Steve did for him.
- After we reflected on Steve’s letter we got into a story about Elvis and a costume that illustrates how the universe reveals unbelievably coincidental circumstances when we follow our path in life. Maybe it isn’t a coincidence at all, but it is the kind of thing that makes us wonder “how in the hell…?”
- It is widely known that Todd has been playing with Styx for twenty odd years now, but he is not the original drummer. Todd explains what it was like stepping into Styx after tragedy struck the band when they lost the bandmate, friend, and brother, John Ponazzo.
- There were two concerts/tours that really stuck out to me in my research. One was the concert where Styx played with over 100 school children from the Cleveland Contemporary Youth Orchestra, which was directed by Liza Grossman. The other was when Styx did a tour (around 26 shows) in 2010, where they played Styx albums “Pieces of Eight” and “The Grand Illusion” back to back. I had to know more about how each of those musical experiences was like for him. Todd’s answers may surprise you….
- Todd is a father. I had to know more about how he balances his work life with his family life.
- Todd shares some thoughts on the balance between having good business sense and a creative passion. They both need to exist with today’s modern musician. I bring up a thing I found about a sour deal that Todd had to deal with when he released Methods and Mechanics.
Drumeo Gab Socials
Music Production/Mastering - Kingmobb
Voice Over - Tom Knight
Drums - Me
Recording Engineer - Michael Marucci
100. I have thought about what I would do with my 100th since the time I started DrumGAB. It's the episode that I have looked forward to the most. I always knew it was going to be long, quirky, wandering, nostalgic, and challenging and not just for me to make, but for you to listen to as well.
I see it as a symbol of devotion and commitment to something. Not to say that this thing is important in any way at all, but it was tough to make and it meant something to me to assemble something purely from my own personal warm fuzzy places. And I don't consider myself a content creator, but rather a content assembler. In fact, I am really trying to get out of the way more and more often as time goes on. I am less concerned with creating a character; I am the character. I am also less interested in forcing the conversation to suit my prep. I dunno, this is all just shit that you learn when you do something that you know nothing about and decide that you will give it a try. Nearly two years later and I have assumed the role and position and that is a weird realization to me still. Little transformations and adjustments have been happening on a subconscious level. It is all slow and consistent, so you never notice the spikes of progress and change. You just realize one day that you do it now, and you are comfortable doing it.
So what is DrumGAB to me? Is it anything similar to what it means to you? I do receive a lot of detailed feedback from listeners and it is usually a few months after someone discovers the show. The things that are said to me is just fucking awesome. It really is. I don't take this shit lightly because I have now developed a show that I felt didn't exist in the drum industry and threw myself directly into it without noticing, and for reasons beyond my control people feel it's their show too.
And that is what I want!
I have ALWAYS been the odd duck who would show other people and friends things I have made or something that I really like and most of the time it isn't accepted. I used to be really self-conscious about shit that I liked or how I wanted to go about making something. Acceptance is a big issue with me that I struggle with, but at the same time I have always been an anti-pop weirdo who can't seem to fit into an easy place, so I really work against myself in that way. But here we are with DrumGAB, and I have always just made what seemed like the right thing to make at the time and it seems like there are a group of individuals who are kinda like me too. I found a lot of my people through this show. So connectivity is maybe the biggest components to the success of this show.
But back to the 100th. This episode features fifteen interviews (technically speaking) from both good friends of mine or fans of the show. In a couple of cases, I think it was just something seen as an opportunity to be on the podcast, which is fine too. We also have six original compositions from my friend Matt Davis who accepted the challenge to create the music to some drum tracks that I sent him. We have numerous studio recordings featuring my beautiful Sugar Percussion drum set played by yours truly and tracked by the talented recording engineer and drummer Michael Marucchi. We have VIKING!!! Fucking Viking man. He made this so special both with his VO impersonations and the interview that we had that was based on some fan-generated points on what annoys a drummer. It was absolutely wonderful to have him involved with the project, as he is a dear friend of mine. There are four different flashback chunks of some of the funniest moments in the show's history. I recorded three separate narrations to guide you along this incredibly long episode and also to offer some perspectives on my experience with creating DrumGAB. Fuck what else is there.....? Oh right, there are tons of audio snippets that I yanked off the internet. All of it is stuff that I have loved for years, whether it be Monty Python, Beavis and Butthead, Norman McLaren, The Big Snit, or the Twilight Zone, it's all in there. I use these clips to bookend the interviews and sporadically throughout the actual interviews.
There is a lot of stuff....thirty mp3 sessions were created and then all assembled into one session to create 100. A LOT of time and effort went into making this thing. I am not sure if I have ever put something together of this scale ever before and I am so happy with the results. It is a winding road of many different perspectives, stories, messages, music, culture, and it all stems from the keen interests that I have and how I used DrumGAB to explore and share them with you. Thank you all again for taking time from your life to get inside of mine a bit.
Here are the running order and times for 100
Viking Intro (0:00 - 2:13)
Old Jingle (2:13 - 3:23)
Narration One (3:23 - 22:02)
New Jingle (22:02 - 23:02)
Flashback One (23:02 - 35:02)
Hunter Krasa (35:02 - 50:00)
Adam MacEachran (50:00 - 1hr32:40)
Viking 1 (1hr32:40 - 1hr40:17)
Steve Nadler (1hr40:17 - 2hr21:50)
Flashback 2 (2hr21:50 - 2hr30:48)
Viking 2 (2hr30:48 - 2hr46:01)
Kevin Nordeste (2hr46:01 - 3hr21:09)
Brandon Green (3hr21:09 - 4hr20:57)
Charlelie Fusillier (4hr20:57 - 4hr52:53)
Viking 3 (4hr52:53 - 5hr04:06)
Narration 2 (5hr04:06 - 5hr12:25)
The Big Snit (5hr12:25 - 5hr22:16)
Anthony Lafrate (5hr22:16 - 5hr42:32)
Ryan Claxton (5hr42:32 - 6hr06:17)
Alex Kaufman (6hr06:17 - 7hr03:24)
Flashback 3 (7hr03:24 - 7hr12:59)
Viking 4 (7hr12:59 - 7hr26:07)
Joe Mintz (7hr26:07 - 7hr49:24)
Boyd Little (7hr49:24 - 8hr05:16)
TJ Hartmann (8hr05:16 - 8hr59:09)
Flashback 4 (8hr59:09 - 9hr12:23)
Travis McGowan (9hr12:23 - 9hr49:58)
Rob Maybee & the flower shop family (9hr49:58 - 9hr53:47)
Vinny Werneck (9hr49:58 - 10hr42:55)
Viking 5 (10hr42:55 - 10hr57:16)
Narration 3 (10hr57:16 - 11hr10:07)
Vikings’ Outro (11hr10:07 - 11hr11:42)
I hope you enjoy this piece and thank you again for listening to DrumGAB, it was my pleasure creating it.
Stan Bicknell. A lot of you know Stan, he came up in conversation a shit load of times in the different interviews for the 100th episode. His original show has been downloaded nearly 5000 times since it aired and continues to get about 50 new listens each month. It is just insane to me how much influence Stan gained on Instagram. It is one of those rare little gem cases where influence actually happened within a social platform.
This explosion online caught the attention of Jared Falk and that resulted in an invite to Drumeo. Holy fuck, right!? One minute Stan is buying fish and chips with his family and the next he's being invited to fucking Drumeo!! Well, the last time we spoke over Skype, he was going and then at some point he wasn't gonna go. He started to really feel the effects of some blowback regarding his foot technique, which was a major factor to Stan attending Drumeo, so you might imagine he felt a tad deflated. Well, one day Stan came to his senses during a run and said to himself, "Why in the fuck did I sleep on the Drumeo gig?" and the next thing you know Stan is getting in touch with Jared to accept the offer provided if it was still available.
It has been an exciting time for Stan since our last chat and it was great to catch up and see what he had to say for the 99th episode!
POI in this episode
- After our catchup small chat, Stan begins explaining Drumeo in vivid detail. For any drummer appearing on Drumeo to film lessons is a considerable honor. To think that the Internet largely had nearly everything to do with Stan being noticed and being asked to film content for Drumeo is kind of mind boggling isn't it? Stan thinks so too. He understands parts of why he thinks he got so much attention online, but he doesn't understand why it went to the degree of popularity that it did. But in any case, once the commitment was made Stan didn't waste any time when it came to practice. He went above and beyond to ensure that no stone was left unturned.
- There was a point in the sixteen months since our last proper chat that Stan had to deal with some serious imposter syndrome issues. He was challenged about his foot technique and essentially being told that he will be injuring people, this person's students all wanted to learn Stan's technique which also pissed this person off. They even talked about it over Skype but it remained a difference of opinion. But how can Stan teach something if he himself is being affected by another person's strong opinion on his technique and claiming that it isn't good? It messed Stan up a bit and he shares that with us.
- So your ego can be crushed pretty quickly sometimes if we are vulnerable to particular feedback. But I had to ask Stan that even though this wasn't a positive experience, does the positive stuff affect him too but in a different way? It was kind of a neat perspective to see if false confidence is in anyway involved with Stan and how he takes in the compliments. Also, does he ever numb out to the positive messages that he receives?
- So we talked about how he felt before and during the Drumeo experience, but he did he feel after? What comes next?
Local Canadian drummer, Rob 'Beatdown' Brown, known widely for his YouTube channel where he has grown to nearly 70K subs makes him one of the bigger drum related channels hands down. He also works a lot, staying busy as a full-time musician, Rob shares a lot of fundamentally useful knowledge that has been said before but Rob and I somehow put it all together in one place with a nice punch to the delivery. It is all stuff that will shift your mindset, or chances if you are busy, you can just nod your head and say "fuck yeah, he's right about that" about 400 times from start to finish. It's that episode.
POI in the episode
- Rob and I kind of just shoot the shit for the first little while until I ask him to wind back the clock a bit and explain how he got started with all this. It luckily doesn't fall into the pots and pans thing, it is actually a lot cooler than that.
- A big topic that we explore is teaching and one of the best things Rob says here is how we don't need to be college profs to teach a person something on drums. Rob specifically mentions that if you have played for six months and another has played for two months, you can likely teach at least one thing to the younger player. He also goes through some benefits of teaching, and we both contemplate whether people dig into teaching for a better chance to get endorsements and make music their livelihood, even if they hate teaching for example.
- So how much has YouTube helped Rob? Well, a lot actually. More than I was expecting to be honest. He does a very good job of promoting products and his content has a down to earth, trustworthy, and overall not douchey vibe. So I am not too surprised that he does well with it. We chat a bit about the advantages of the internet in today's music industry.....And then we talk about how fucking weird social media is.
- Next up...endorsements. This is such a funny thing to me. I for one am relationship rich, and endorsement poor. But maybe what I have is even better than an "endorsement". Peers, friends, family, and the ignorant all congratulate the endorsement deal. I am not sure if any achievement endures my social media groveling than an endorsement. Well, I suppose winning stuff gets a lot of praise too. Anyways, what Rob says here is just winning.
- Rob takes it up a notch when I ask him to share any wisdom that he feels needed some airtime to clear up and/or inform fellow drummers/musicians. He goes into encouraging people that if they want to get into music....JUST DO IT! Think Nike and that's it. Don't wait around, and don't be an entitled shit about not getting paid what you think you are worth in the beginning. If you wanna play so bad, you should want to and look forward to the experience. Especially when you are young. This part is chalked full of good stuff.
- Lastly, we talk about the Law of Attraction. Now, for the record, I completely believe that what you put out into the universe is heard if it is sent with intent. This is in conjunction with JUST DO IT. It boils down to exactly what the phrase suggests and also to have intent while doing it. The right people will enter your world and will align with your cause if you seem like someone worth investing in.
Make sure to check out Rob's (YouTube channel) to watch and subscribe to his content.
Lou Santiago Jr. is a name that some will know and others will not. What’s in a name though? Is a name that important? Maybe it is, and maybe it isn’t. Lou Santiago Jr. was a name with a lot of buzz around it back in 2003 and beyond after he won the Modern Drummer Undiscovered Drummer Contest. The stories that we are told in this episode are a product of his success with that contest and also a Guitar Centre contest that went pretty far until he was beat out by none other than Chris Coleman. So with everything that is said and done in Lou’s career, it is kind of insane why we haven’t heard of him lately.
But here’s the thing. Lou left the music scene and the drum industry almost seven years ago when he enrolled in medical school to pursue a career as a professional healthcare provider. A massive departure at the peak of his career as a pro drummer and some may wonder why he made that move. According to Lou, it was for his children and family. He wanted to provide his family with a stable and bountiful income and he felt tired of the hustle that he experienced in the music industry. He also wanted to be a present father and not on tour for weeks on end away from his family. These are very good reasons in my opinion, depending on what you value of course. I side with Lou on this one though.
So Lou is only three months from graduating and he also has some big plans to launch a new online business on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Lou leaked that it is an educational website and apparently you get a lot for very little money. Lou claims that his website will be an instant success, which is a lofty claim in my opinion. In my eyes, it would be difficult to break out on the internet with an education platform/business plan without some serious marketing horsepower and a very well developed plan to launch it. I mean look at who exists in that space. Drumeo, Orlando Drummer, Mikeslessons.com and ummmm that is kind of the big three, isn’t it? It’s kind of like Ford, Dodge, and Chev if we are comparing online drum education brands to domestic vehicle brands. All of these brands have been building their businesses for years, they have enormous exposure on all social networks, and they all have been chipping away and working hard to create products and services that drummers want. So in other words, even if the idea is amazing, there is still some stiff competition to deal with to make it an instant success. I will say this though, good quality content that you get to keep at a low price is a winning formula in theory.
So this is a very long episode with quite a lot of details about the life and drumming career of Lou Santiago Jr. Everything from his roots growing up in New York, his scholarship to prep school, his time spent in the Navy, his divorce, the product he developed with Meinl, his DVD called “Three Days” that didn’t come together, some great advice given by the great Billy Ward….the storied career of Lou Santiago Jr. is almost larger than life with twists and turns of success and defeat. Considering the rather short length of time that Lou has played drums it is absolutely incredible what he managed to achieve and what skills he managed to develop. There is almost too much stuff to list in this write up that is worthwhile mentioning because most of it is. It is difficult not to agree with some of the statements that Lou presents in this episode and it is also not difficult to avoid taking a close listen to the advice of what not to do as well. I believe that Lou has a lot of great principles on life and how he chooses to live. He is a person who strongly believes in his values and does not fall, victim, at least based on what knowledge I have come to understand, to temptation from offers and opportunities that many people would snap up in a heartbeat and assume their net worth based on the profile of the artist they are associated with.
So the first half of this episode is mostly biographical and the second half of this interview features the juicy stuff. Lou really comes through with strong and powerful statements that will rattle your cage. It makes you think. It’s not to say that I agree with everything he says, but the fact that he believes it so strongly is all that matters in my opinion. There are some points mentioned regarding success, visibility, taking the high road, sticking with your faith, and being used, that I can’t help but agree with and quite strongly in fact. Other things said are simply Lou’s life experience and it is his truth. That is what makes us all unique and what makes for great interviews. At the end of the day, Lou is #sorrynotsorry.
Paulo Stagnaro is the percussionist for Puerto Rican pop star Ricky Martin and has also performed with many tremendous artists such as Sting, Paul Simon, James Taylor, Paquito D'Rivera, and Angelique Kidjo. Paulo is certainly one of the leading voices in Latin percussion today. Paulo was kind enough to spend a considerable amount of his time speaking with me about all kinds of great topics that I personally felt would serve the drumming community in a valuable way. If you are either a percussionist, drummer, aspiring to be either, or you perform in a band that features both drum set player and percussionist you will want to listen closely to this episode.
What you will learn in this episode:
- a brief overview on Paulo's website and membership service Conga Chops and everything that went into making that website and what you can expect from it if you are looking for a solid percussion based curriculum.
- Paulo's story about how he found his passion for percussion while attending Berklee's 5-week summer camp. He also shares his point of view on being the worst musician on the bandstand at all times in order to grow as a musician and why we must walk through our fears.
- Paulo attended Berklee for a total of four years and then he visited Cuba for about four months. In this portion of the interview, Paulo tells us the story of how he managed to stay in Cuba, or even enter for that matter as a USA citizen and the incredible life experience he gained by staying in Cuba and how that affected him musically.
- Following some terrific storytelling and providing a solid foundation as to why Paulo is a voice of authority on the subject of percussion, we now dive into the role of a percussionist. Paulo explains this in so much fantastic detail and I can't imagine anyone not learning a great deal whether you play drum set or percussion. This is some really great stuff in this section.
- Finally, we conclude our conversation with some motivationally driven dialogue. The anchor for this portion of the podcast is how Paulo, and his bandmates, bring the heat to each and every Ricky Martin performance even if he/they are exhausted both mentally and physically. The question that kicked off this part of the interview happened some 45 minutes before our chat ended. It gets deep and a bit heavy as it evolved into Paulo and I discussing pursuing anything with intent. We both feel that intent is what makes our goals become reality. Nothing can truly manifest into reality without intent. It is a terrific way to end this amazing conversation.
If you want to learn more about Paulo and his membership website please visit www.congachops.com.
Thank you for tuning in and I will catch you next week!
Today's guest is Paul Hermann, who is a drummer and also a sales rep for Roland Canada in British Columbia. We began talking a little while ago about the Electronic vs Acoustic drums debate that seems to be very popularly responded to on social media. It just seems to me that drummers have a lot of interest in this subject, so I thought that Paul would be a good person to share some of his opinions on the matter.
By the end of the interview we both agreed that electronic drum sets are different instruments than acoustic drums. In the same sense of any electric instrument compared to it's acoustic counterpart, we use our knowledge and facility to play the instrument but the applications are a bit different. If we go into an electronic kit wanting to recreate the sound and feel of acoustic, and that's all that matters to you, it may be a somewhat diminished experience. Rather, what applications really cater to electronic drums? Or how can we incorporate electronics into our acoustic setups and how does that alter the experience of playing?
The big takeaway is really about removing the context of "vs" when talking about how electronic and acoustic kits are different from one another. Kind of taking a line of equality and suggesting that they both have a place, whether it suits your goals, preferences, or just the ethos of them in general is all that really matters. For me, I'll always need/prefer acoustic shells but sprinkling in electronics is even better than straight acoustic. It's just more options to utilize musically and I am totally cool with that.
Today's show is with not one but TWO builders. Yes, that's right, we have a two-part episode this week with two incredibly skilled builders in the industry. First up is John from Cherry Hill Custom Drums and the second interview is with David from CaseBass Drum Co. Both of these gentlemen are building incredibly high-end custom products that have been taking the industry by storm with their unique style, attention to detail, innovations, and overall quality. No corners are cut with the work that they do and everything is handmade.
Sounds interesting, doesn't it? Well, it turns out that the people behind the companies are interesting as well and we get right into it with both John and David. They share the humble beginnings, the trial, and errors in developing their ideas into reality, and how they are growing so fast to the point where they need to problem solve to evolve their companies into the next stages. Both John and David are becoming in demand for the quality products they produce and have found a market for clientele who want the best product possible. It is great to see that there is still room for new companies and that there is, in fact, a market for boutique equipment.
Follow CaseBass Drum Co. on Instagram
Dylan Elise, native to New Zealand, is probably (and to a point, unfortunately) best known for his viral busking videos on YouTube from when he was a teenager, as well as his hi-hat trick performances. Here's the thing though...if that is all you know Dylan as you are missing out. Dylan is an extraordinary talent who plays for Blood, Sweat, and Tears and has done so for nearly four years. Bobby Colomby (the original drummer and co-founder of BS&T) actually noticed and auditioned Dylan because of those busking videos, which is kind of hard to believe considering the busking videos were an old representation of Dylan's playing and they were not musical. It was quite an opportunity, and it may not have happened if it weren't for technology.
In this interview, Dylan talks a lot about New Zealand culture, the process of landing the BS&T gig, his work visa struggles and just how difficult it is for a foreigner to stay in the United States, his experiences while busking, the fire in Chicago, and how he feels about his own playing.
As Stan Bicknell said to me, Dylan was considered as the child prodigy of NZ drummers. Dylan is a true player and was even homeschooled so it is safe to say that Dylan spent most of his life playing drums and that is simply the reason why he is so good. I also feel that Dylan flies under the radar amongst the company of other high-level players for some reason. I am not sure if it is because of his busking videos took precedence over his "real" stuff or what, but Dylan is so much more than what those busking videos illustrated to fans. He has developed into an incredibly musical, fast, powerful, and groovy player. His work with BS&T is a testament to what he is truly capable of and hence why he has been with them for almost four years, even despite the fact that Dylan would be an expensive option due to the fact that the band covers all of his immigration expenses. I really hope that the industry begins to take more notice of Dylan as an extraordinary talent.
Music and samples featured in this episode.
Dylan Elise drum solo LIVE with BS&T 2016
Dylan Elise with the Hipstamatics (fun fact...the bass player is Dylan's Sister) Recorded LIVE in Auckland, NZ
BS&T - Surreptitious
Episode 92 of the podcast is a special one. For starters, this interview took place in the same place (and the same table) as my very first interview for DrumGAB and one of the three guests featured in this episode was Archie, who was the first person I ever interviewed for the podcast. So that is a lot of firsts that are being revisited for this episode. I guess I could go one step further by stating that this was my first "true" roundtable interview. So, now that's out of the way, I will now introduce the guests.
John Huff, Nicholas Elie, and Archie Gamble were the gentlemen who joined me at the table at The Scots Corner bar for this session. Each of them has a history of playing in London, ON, including myself. They all have their own unique perspectives and experiences with gigging, the scene, and forging a career with music.
John has been playing professionally for about six years, while he has played drums for much longer than that he had decided six years ago to pursue drumming as more of a vocational activity than simply a hobby. He is about to head out on a European tour with Sarah Smith and he is also responsible for writing a blog as well. The blog is the reason why I invited John to the table, as some of his thoughts that he writes were fodder for a good chunk of this interview. You can check at the bottom of these notes to read up on his blog.
Next is Nicholas who is currently drumming for the group Nimway. I have been buddies with Nicholas for several years (even in the audio clips featured in this episode you can hear Nick's voice several times). Just to indicate something to listeners, those musical snippets were recorded on my iPhone (yes just a phone) a few years ago in an attic where both myself and many other local bands used to rehearse in (oh the many times I have been up there over the years). In any case, those were improvised jams that we recorded one night for fun and I held onto them over the years and decided to insert them into this episode. Anyways, back to Nick. So Nick is a drummer's drummer. He is a passionate player who simply loves to play. He has been involved in many projects over the years and while he is often found performing around London, he does not consider it his vocation. He is a lot like me that way where he just wants to create musical projects and gig here and there and have fun, while of course being compensated for his time. But he has a day job and is content with just having music as part of his life but not his sole source of income.
Finally, we have Archie. So Archie has been gigging professionally since 1984. That is 34 years....and he has been playing drums for 41 years. In London, Archie is one of the most respected and admired players around and gigging has been Archie's primary source of income since he began his career in music. He has no education, no savings, no retirement plan, and now he is beginning to experience the trials and hardships of being a musician primarily. He recently turned 50 years old and he acknowledges that this was a big deal for him as he looked around at his life and what it consists of at this very moment. Looking to diversify and find a way to survive on music alone is at the forefront of his mind when considering his professional life. It is in some ways, bitter sweet. Archie has been through many incredible experiences that drumming and music provided to him, but on the other side of the coin it has left him with very little to sustain himself unless he gets a normal day job and he damn near refuses to do that. Think about it, he has never worked a normal day job in his life. Why would he ever want to start at 50!?
So having these three at the table provides an incredibly broad point of view that is rooted in considerable amounts of experience. Between all four of us at the table there is a century worth of experience with drumming. We discuss the industry, the scene locally in London, self-doubt, taking chances, our futures, and some realities to this life we choose to live. All in all, this is an episode that I felt I had to make. I was once very much a part of this music scene in London and then one day decided that I would try to make something on my own and look outside of this city for the results I was wanting. To create something for myself that involved something I knew I really connected with and I decided to call it DrumGAB. Two years later it feels good to reconnect with some folks in a place I know all too well to discuss some topics that I know are on people's minds. Big thanks again to John, Nicholas, and Archie for their time and honest input towards this interview. There are loads of takeaways from this one and it is presented in a way that is totally different from other episodes in the podcast's catalog.
Rich Stitzel is native to Texas but currently lives in Chicago and has been gigging professionally for in and around 25 years. He lives a fast-paced life in the world of music and is the definition of a musician on the grind.
Rich has played just about every type of gig imaginable and has seen a lot in his career which makes him such an incredible person to interview. He reminds us that even though we can become familiar with the hustle and different gigging situations, we also have no idea what each day may bring and how we have to respond.
He is responsible for creating the DrumMantra series and has recently developed his DrumMantra 3030 (30 minutes/day for 30 days) curriculum. He is specialized in polymeter rhythms and is completely enamored with rhythmic concepts.
NOTICE: Jeremy is putting together a fundraiser called "Beats for a Cause. Check out the link below to learn more about this fundraiser. He is trying to raise money to help fire victims in the Carr fires that are happening in Northern California.
Jeremy "Walrus" Schulz is a teaching coach, professional drummer, and educator based out of Brooklyn, NY. He has performed and toured with bands such as Barbie Car and Mother Crone.
Jeremy shares some very compelling stories about how he started playing drums (this is maybe the most fascinating thing ever said in the show's history) and how music education, drumming, and working with his instructor Steve Smith (no not the Journey one) at Seattle Drum School of Music played a major role in his massive change of direction in life.
We hear about a lot of concepts that Jeremy uses in his day to day life that help him live a more purposeful life. I am certain that this episode will inspire anyone who listens to it.
Jeremy also wanted to offer the DrumGAB podcast community a 30% discount on his program. Listen at the very end of the episode to check out what he has been generous enough to offer listeners.
Reuben Spyker is a drummer from Abbotsford, BC who is an employee at Drumeo and also just released his own album titled "Forward" as the Reuben Spyker Quartet.
This episode of the podcast focuses on Reuben's creative process with improvisation, and why he needs to be in "the zone" with his music. We talk about how this album came to be and the process in recording the album, which was totally improvised with a group of musicians that had never played as a complete group together before and was captured live off the floor in a continuous five-hour recording session. Reuben then chopped it up and made it into an album and the results are fantastic. It is highly textural, organic, and executed with a strong command from each of the four musicians on their respective instruments. The conversation we had regarding the creative process was fun and interesting, as improv is Reuben's preferred method of performance.
Reuben is also an employee of Drumeo. His title is "community manager" so he handles emails, communicating with the members, helping Dave with his workload, making the guest instructors feel comfortable as they stay at the facility, and quite a few other tasks including developing lessons and so on. How he got involved with Drumeo was over the course of many years, in fact, because Reuben and Jared both live in Abbotsford and have for several years, they have been associated for quite a long time. But over the course of several run-ins and Reuben's interest in the company, eventually Reuben found his opportunity with the company and this has made him very happy with his situation career-wise. But there was a big question surrounding this. Whether it is a cop-out to serve another's dream. Whether it is better for all of us to become entrepreneurs and be our own boss, rather than working for someone else. Both Reuben and I have our thoughts about this and the dialogue surrounding this may help others feel more at peace with themselves if being an entrepreneur isn't in your wheelhouse. It takes the focus away from the noise we all see online where it seems like a trend to be an entrepreneur and that we shouldn't fuel the dreams of others, but rather our own.
Overall, this is among the stronger episodes in the DrumGAB library, if you ask me. It is refreshing, thoughtful, funny, and certainly entertaining. Below are links to listen to Reuben's new album "Forward".
Eddy Thrower is the drummer for popular UK rock group Lower Than Atlantis. In this chat we discuss band morale, touring situations, Eddy's clinic experiences, aliens, conspiracies, ghosts, and Travis Barker.
Eddy is an incredible player, whos singles alone are worthy of mention. He cannot read, or write music, and barely understands theoretically what it is he plays, but it goes to show that with a lot of heart and dedication to the instrument anything is possible.
When Tama approached him about doing a masterclass, he was a bit fearful of that because it is so far outside of his comfort zone. Once it was revealed that he didn't really understand theory, it all kinda makes sense why he was fearful. We go into this subject matter in quite a lot of depth.
He then shares an epic story of when LTA was touring North America and how they were robbed after a gig in a shady part of Montreal, Canada. Damn, even I thought Canada was better than this, but the story is one of tragic misfortune and an outcome that was better than what it could have been I suppose.
I learned that Eddy was fascinated with ancient history, aliens, and the unknown at large. We ended up swapping conspiracy, ghost, and other stories about the unknown and had a blast doing so. Never before has a guest got so excited about a subject on the show.
Then lastly we talk about a few run-ins Eddy has had with Travis Barker. This stuff is just legendary and a great way to conclude the episode.
Charlie Engen is a monstrous prog/metal drummer from the Twin Cities who plays for Scale The Summit and Ideology.
In this episode we discuss the mishap with his thumb and how time off to renew our sense of interest is good, but that it has to on our own terms and in this situation, Charlie did not want to be off the instrument but had to be in order for his thumb to heal. We talk about how we can get bored of our own playing, social media returns, the importance of being ourselves and not allowing outside feedback that is negetive to influence our own ideas about our art, practicing with a metronome, and a crazy story at the St. Paul's Cathedral.
This conversation will hopefully help drummers get a better sense of their path with the instrument and realize that by being ourselves and honouring our own creativity is ultimately the most important rule of thumb when we develop ourselves around this instrument.
Forrest Rice is the drummer for bands Covet and The Illustrative Violet. We recorded this interview via Skype while Forrest was driving to San Jose in his Toyota. He was also enjoying a Vanilla Latte on ice from Starbucks, although it was made for Alex. We still don't know who Alex is.
So Forrest is a well known and revered drummer on the gram, but I wouldn't say that he is an "Instagram Drummer" necessarily. He spends a lot of time in real life situations performing, practicing and filming videos beyond his jam room. He had never been on a podcast before, which I still cannot believe, and he hasn't had a published article on him since his 2014 GC Drumoff success. With all of that being said we definitely take a deep dive into his past and how he came to be with the instrument. Most people know that I generally don't take this route with interviews, but considering he has never shared that stuff in an interview and he has lots of fans who would likely want to hear about that, I decided we ought to take that road.
Some takeaways in this episode are regarding his approach to playing, his practice routine, his past with "shedding", how he approaches the band setting, finances, and how to get flowing around the kit. This is actually a very "drummy" episode, which is also rare on this podcast. Forrest is a legit geek with the drums and we straight up nerd out for almost two hours and have lots of laughs along the way as I accompanied him on his drive. There were A LOT of technical difficulties and this was very time consuming to edit, (I think calls dropped around six times during our interview and took over three hours to record) but I am happy with the results and it turned out just fine.
Steve Lyman is a jazz musician from Salt Lake, Utah who has studied under jazz giants Ari Hoenig, and John Riley. Steve is a professor, clinician, and artist who manages to keep a very full schedule with little time off it would seem.
In this episode, we explore some deep musical concepts, the importance of being a student whilst remaining as a teacher, how our society limits us due to the projection of shame and guilt for anyone who focuses on their own wellness, and many other deep subjects. Steve also had a close encounter with death recently and so we reflect on that as well and how that may have changed his perspective.
Steve has an online series that he calls "Drumset Mastery" that he launched back in February of this year that may be of interest to you. The link to check that out is HERE.
Cameron Carbone is a drummer from Austin, TX who performs with CYTERA and also a brand new project called Alter Mind. Along with performing, Cameron also teaches upwards of thirty students and is also a content creator.
I spoke to Cameron a couple of months ago over Skype and got to know him and his situation over the course of our chat. Because of our talk, I thought that a conversation on the podcast would be a good way to indicate to people what he had been going through and what he was doing about it. Most of us realize that sometimes life throws us curveballs and Cameron had some thrown at him. As Cameron explains in the interview, his life at the moment isn't at all what he was expecting. He mentions that he is thinking a lot about his future and what he wants that to look like, however, sometimes things are out of our control and even when we try our best to create the desired outcome it doesn't always work out that way.
So in this episode, we discuss the concept of self-awareness quite a lot. We both relate to the subject matter to help provide some real perspectives and some real solutions as well.
Ronn Dunnett is a colorful character who I had the great pleasure to finally meet at Victoria Drum Festival this year. He is a one-man show who is responsible for some of the finest instruments crafted in our industry today. Both with his Dunnett Classic Drums line and his continuation of the George Way legacy, Ronn pours love and care into each creation. He has high standards and does not sway off the path of excellence, as he has been known to be quite outspoken about certain aspects of the drum industry on social media and is misunderstood sometimes in the tone of his message. As we said (off-air) in our pre-chat, he is the guy who kicks the ball when others stand around waiting for someone else to take action.
The bulk of our conversation is focused on his revival of George Way Drum Company. In 2006, Ronn decided to restore the old company and honor its roots and tradition. Ronn is very interested in the history of the man, the story of the company and George Way, and the brand both in its innovation and focus on quality and sincerity of the products. Ronn realizes just how much responsibility he is faced with and he holds a high standard to honor what George might have wanted in regards to what the company would eventually evolve into if George were still alive. Listening to Ronn speak on this is very interesting and it says a lot about his character and what he values.
Beyond that we talk some shop, have some good laughs, discuss his lifetime acheivement, and contemplate the future of Ronn's companies and when he may decide that it is time to live out the rest of his days outside of his "factory".
Audio is taken from Carter McLean's Drumeo lesson and a demonstration of the George Way birthday kit, played by Carter McLean.
Rob Mount is the drummer for the rock legend Lou Gramm, who is most famously recognized as the vocalist for Foreigner. Rob has been an active drummer for a great deal of time, although his big breakthrough gig with Lou did not happen for him until his 40's, which is rather late for a musician. Even though Rob didn't get his major gig until much later in life, it did not stop him from believing that it was possible. He always kept that part of his life hopeful and miraculously his big opportunity came along.
In this interview, Rob and I discuss the process of getting that gig, but in a much more conceptual way than the actual literal side of the story. We hypothesize about whether he could continue working his day job and gigging smaller gigs on the weekend forever. This is particularly interesting because Rob did sub in for Lou once when Lou's brother, Ben, was sick. After that, however, Rob had to wait a long time before another opportunity came along. It was a bit painful for him.
Further along the episode, we get into some very unlikely topics including propaganda, media, mental health, and some fundamental basics for human beings.
Tommy Igoe is an iconic figure in the drumming world with his long and fascinating career spanning from instructional DVD's (Groove Essentials), Broadway performances (Lion King), and a wide range of sideman and bandleader roles throughout the years. Son of Sonny Igoe, who was a well-known drummer from the bop era (Benny Goodman) Tommy found his calling for music very early in life. In fact, Sonny had wished Tommy not to follow in his footsteps, insisting that Tommy become a dentist or something more sustainable for his career. The rest is history as they say.
In this conversation, we discuss everything from the current state of affairs with our youth, parenting, passion, greatness, online education, what it takes to be a bandleader, and how Tommy feels about his career thus far and what he wishes to achieve in his future. It was recorded at the Marriot Inner Harbour Hotel restaurant in Victoria, British Columbia during the Victoria Drum Fest event. Recorded simply with a Zoom H6 recorder, we captured some interesting thoughts and points of view that is unfiltered, raw, and honest.
Performance audio courtesy of Drumeo
Dali Mraz is a composer and drummer from the Czech Republic. He recently released his own record, titled Level 25, which features his own compositions that marries orchestral music and fusion to create a hugely unique sound. This record has taken Dali over two years to create and as he describes is a product of his journey these last two years. Dali is a fiercely passionate musician who does not compromise at all when it comes to his original compositions. But like everyone, he has to make a living somehow, so he does this by composing music for film scores and other contracted work that has nothing to do with drumming at all. He saves the drumming for his own projects, like Level 25. Dali also hosts clinic based camps with some of the worlds most well-recognized drummers in the world such as Todd Sucherman, Benny Greb, and Chris Coleman.
Dali is a true composer. He has been composing music since he was six years old and has won several awards for his work over the years. He is incredibly prolific and reminds me of people such as Frank Zappa. Just simply because of his daily routine of composing music and his level of passion for it. Like Zappa, who was an amazing guitarist, Dali is an absolute beast drummer. He possesses world-class abilities and an incredibly unique sound that I haven't heard anywhere else. I would easily be able to point out if it was Dali playing if I only heard a measure of music.
This interview gets quite deep into Dali's outlook on his work, why he is unable to compromise, and the names of his sheep.