Perhaps the biggest thrill of my drumming and writing career was interviewing the legendary Steve Smith. I was writing a piece for Drumhead magazine on the book that Steve wrote with Daniel Glass titled “The Roots of Rock Drumming.” Imagine Skyping with a man you had worshipped while growing up from the privacy of both of your homes. Steve could not have been nicer and more accommodating. Prior to the interview I showed Steve a handful of Vital Information cassettes proving how much of a fan I was. He laughed at the fact I still listened to cassettes. I also asked him how he felt about “Don’t Stop Believin’” being used in movies and TV shows. He smiled and simply said “royalties.”
For the next hour or so I conducted the interview and Steve discussed his thoughts on how he related to the drummers in his book. He said, “I grew up playing mainly jazz and big band music. Then I played fusion. When I was asked to join Journey it seemed like a big detour because I had never played with professional rock musicians, or even a singer for that matter…One thing about being a jazz drummer is that you are highly trained and you possess musical versatility. That means your technique is more advanced than what you would typically use in rock. Then it simply becomes a matter of concept. How do you use those jazz skills within the framework of rock music? That’s how you define a versatile drummer. They can bridge that gap.”
When it was over I was disappointed to end the conversation. When I completed the draft I sent it to Steve to identify any issues or errors. There were none. He gave me his approval in an email and that was a thrill in itself. One of the coolest benefits of writing for drum magazines or this blog is that you get to interview all kinds of drummers, many of them your heroes. I have yet for one to disappoint. Steve Smith was a Bucket List interview for sure and one I won’t forget. You can read the interview here. For more on Steve visit his website.