Welcome to Off-Beat’s first “Get to Know” interview where we present up-and-coming drummers who are making their mark and gaining notoriety. Our inaugural guest is a young man named Brandon Scott. I was first introduced to Brandon when he shot a week long video blog while attending JP Bouvet’s Drum Camp in 2013. (JP has been a great supporter of our FUNdamentals book and even provided us with an endorsement quote prior to its publication.) Throughout the video Brandon’s enthusiasm for the instrument was abundantly clear. I was also impressed with his sincerity and wit. A few months later I came upon some of Brandon’s “formal” video blogs and lessons on his YouTube channel. Once again his personality grabbed my attention and I found myself watching each one. I also played along to some of his exercises and found them to be very beneficial. This included lessons on displacement, sextuplets and ghost notes. Brandon also produced videos on how he built his own snare and bass drum. The production quality of these videos was exceptional and as good as anything I’ve seen on the Drum Channel. In addition to providing private Skype lessons, Brandon also gigs with a number of local artists.
MA: What first drew you to the drums? Why the drums?
BS: My Dad influenced me to play drums! He had been playing drums ever since he was a kid. I remember he had set up a home studio in the garage with all this gear as well as his five piece ‘Premier’ drum kit. So, me being an eight year old who liked to hit stuff, I played my dad’s drum set all the time. Also, one thing that may have contributed to my decision to play drums is when my older brother started to play guitar. I remember I used to just copy everything my brother did so I was like, “Well… I can’t copy my brother and play guitar too, so I’ll just play the drums!” So tried it out and have been playing ever since.
MA: You’re very active on Social Media and have done some excellent videos. What aspects do you think are most beneficial to having an online presence?
BS: It’s crazy to see how important social media has become in the past few years. I personally think it’s an absolutely perfect tool to use when you or a company wants to advertise themselves to people around the world. I feel like a big part of being “discovered” as a musician is just being seen. You need a way for thousands of people around the world to have access to your content and YouTube is the perfect tool to make that happen. I always think about it like this: When I play a local gig with bands in the area, only a select few people get to see that. Only those people at that bar just saw me play and now we’re done. They may never see me play again. Conversely, when you upload a video to YouTube, that content stays there forever and the entire world has access to it. One of the biggest perks to having an online presence is that ability to connect, learn and influence others around the world and social media has made that so easy.
MA: Your chops have grown incredibly since you attended JP Bouvet’s 2013 Drum Camp. How did it affect your playing and philosophy on the instrument?
BS: JP’s camp definitely did play a huge role in my progression as a musician. He changed the way I thought about practicing, kind of in a very simplified way. You find the problem in your playing, and then fix it. That’s it. I think one of the most difficult things about improving on drums is trying to find out what to practice. During camp I began focusing on weaknesses I had in my playing and JP helped me recognize those weaknesses and attack them. Sometimes it’s hard to sit down and be like, “Alright, I suck at this… let’s figure out how to work on it.” That’s really all it is. The next thing is how you spend your practice time. I used to sit down and just chop out for hours and call it practice, but it’s not. That’s playing. Of course, I do still sit down and chop out because it’s fun. But, when I’m actually practicing something, I’m focusing, trying my best to give it the attention it deserves. Soon you begin to crave those moments of overcoming challenges behind the kit. You feel your limbs become comfortable playing what was awkward to you 30 minutes ago but you can now play them! It’s so rewarding and it just kinda snowballs. I became addicted to practicing properly and JP helped me realize that. Lastly, the amount of inspiration you leave camp with is monstrous. You feel like you can rule the world. When you get home you feel so refreshed and inspired because you just spent a week surrounded by other musicians who share the same passion as you. That post-camp inspiration is what drove me to practice hard for a very long time.
MA: You’ve made your own snare and bass drum. Did that project give you a greater appreciation of the instrument?
BS: Yes. It totally did. I’ve always been into crafty stuff, so the building process was enjoyable for me. It’s very tedious, but I had the patience for it. You spend all this time and effort into building this piece of wood that is now complete and you can’t help but feel good about your work and the fact that you get to play it is the best part. You appreciate the instrument more because you understand the amount of work that goes into making it. You know every inch of the drum because you build built it from the ground up. Even when I look at other drum sets I observe more detail of how the kit was built (Dimensions, Hardware, Finish, etc.) I’m a total gear-head so every year at the NAMM convention I run around like a kid in a candy store.
MA: Where do you see your drumming taking you?
BS: That’s the million dollar question. Haha! I ask myself that all the time. Honestly, I don’t know where it will take me. I love it and I want to find a way to make it my career. I remember in high school I didn’t know what I wanted to do. All I knew is I didn’t want to sit in a cubicle for the rest of my life. I want to travel the world. I want to influence others. I want to be able to support myself (and eventually my family) doing what I love. I want to be able to look back at my life and be like, “dang… ya did good, Brandon, ya did good.” Haha! I always tell people I would rather be barely scraping by financially by playing drums, than be filthy rich working a job I hate. I think it’s very important to make a career out of something you enjoy doing. I’m sure most people would have it that way if they could, but it isn’t an easy thing to make your hobby a career. Although, I truly believe that if you’re passionate enough about something, you put the work in, and you stay focused, things will come your way. It sounds cheesy but I really do believe that. I have a feeling everything is going to work out for me. I don’t know where drumming will take me, but I know I’ll be playing for the rest of my life.