I have been asked on occasion what led me to become a drummer. I assume that my story is pretty common. My first formal introduction to the drums came in the 7th grade when I began taking lessons at a nearby drum shop. My initial interest in the instrument was inspired by MTV and the growing genre of hard rock. Watching drummers like Frankie Banali (Quiet Riot), Alex Van Halen (Van Halen) and Stewart Copeland (The Police) made me want to follow in their footsteps. I started out air drumming to cassette tapes (yes I said cassettes) and later, I beat on Tupperware with my first pair of drumsticks. Like many young drummers I constructed a make-shift drum set out of plastic and pillows.
Soon after, my parents got me a drum pad to see if I was serious about learning the instrument. I also got an electronic Synsonics drum console for Christmas. Proving my desire to play I begged my parents for a real drum set. A year or so later I got my first kit, a beautiful white Pearl Export which I miss to this day (pictured above, how about that gap between the toms!). This led to some opportunities such as accompanying our middle school choir and forming my first garage band. There was something about playing with other budding musicians that resonated with me. I quickly became known throughout the school as the drummer boy.
Once I got to high school I joined the symphonic band, marching band, stage band and percussion ensemble. During that time I participated in marching band competitions as well as countless halftime shows, national band festivals and school concerts. My senior year I became co-captain of the drum line and was selected to participate in Pitt University’s Senior Day and the Mellon Jazz Festival. I also played in a basement band and continued to take lessons on and off until I graduated. During this time I became enamored with players such as Jon Farriss (INXS), Steven Adler (GnR) and Steven Perkins (Jane’s Addiction), three players that I remain infatuated with to this day.
When I went to art school I fell out of drumming for what ended up being 17 years. At the time I turned my priorities away from music and focused on establishing a career. I never lost my interest in rhythm though and often tapped along to the radio. An impromptu New Year’s Eve jam session with my old band mates rejuvenated my passion for the drums and I haven’t looked back.
Since then I published a successful drum book and have written for two of the major drum magazines. I have also fostered relationships with many of the drummers that influenced me growing up. If you had told that 13 year-old kid that someday he would see his name in Modern Drummer and be friends with the guys he emulated he would have laughed out loud. Today I can say that I am truly blessed to be able to play the instrument I love and share that passion with others. What’s your story? Share in the Comments below.