“Hello ‘Frands and Fam,’ My name is David Cola and I play the drums.” This is how David Cola opens every one of his exceptionally produced videos that are featured on YouTube and Instagram. From Guitar Center DrumOff finalist to Berklee graduate Cola’s budding career has already taken him from the classroom to the studio and onto stages around the country. Cola’s videos are immensely popular. He currently has 175 videos posted on You Tube with 27.5k subscribers and 978 posts uploaded onto Instagram with 50k followers.
That’s very impressive for a musician whose entire brand has been created using social media. David has a personality that was made for the online community. He’s engaging, witty and knowledgeable. His posts are a blend between first-hand experiences and drum covers that exhibit his skill and creativity behind the kit. He also posts instructional videos in which he shares his own secrets to playing. It is an extension of the lessons that David offers online. It’s hard not to get caught up in his videos. They are as entertaining as they are informative. I found myself scrolling through a dozen or so in one sitting.
David has played at Lollapalooza with Jackie Foster and recently started to work with Nicole Scherzinger who is the lead singer of the Pussycat Dolls. I was so impressed I had to contact David and inquire about doing an interview.
MA: What first drew you to the drums? Why the drums?
DC: At the time I was around 13 years-old, and the video game Rock Band had recently come out. I was always into video games, one of my favorites being Guitar Hero as well, so when Rock Band came out with the ability to not only play Guitar, but also Drums, it definitely caught my interest. My parents purchased Rock Band for my brothers and I, and in the first week I was able to play on the “Expert” level on the drums. The coordination part of it came very natural to me, and it eventually spurred the idea of “If I can play the Rock Band Drums this easily, I could probably play the real Drum Set as well!”
From that point I asked my parents if I could start Drum Set Lessons and was fortunate enough to have been able to study with an amazing teacher by the name of Tom Konopka from Cleveland, Ohio. Tom motivated me from the beginning, and showed me the many possibilities of being a musician in the future through his teachings. He consistently pushed me to improve and to be the most well rounded musicians I could to succeed in any/all of my endeavors moving forward in my career.
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 active online presence?
DC: In this day and age, I believe that having an active online presence is extremely crucial in the music industry. When I say this, I don’t mean you have to post extremely high quality videos to build a huge following and be famous. But I believe the best way to approach social media is to see it as an online resume. The biggest aspect that I think is the most beneficial is just to post something. Post anything so that not only people who do not know you may be able to see you and your abilities, but also the people who already know you can see what exactly you have been up to recently. I think this is a very cruicial part of the music industry and from my experience, it has been the basis of my entire career up to this point. There have been so many occasions for me where social media has translated into real life gigs.
From meeting new people online to becoming close friends in person that connected me to an opportunity in the future, to just posting I was in a city and someone sends me a message saying “Hey, I saw you were in town, are you available for this gig next week.” Those are just two examples of hundreds, but one big thing I’ve noticed recently is that whenever I try to refer a friend or aquaintance for a gig or substitute situation, one of the first things I am asked is “What is their Instagram?” Regardless of me knowing someones full potential myself, some people want to see it with their own eyes, and that is the exact reason why I feel strongly about approaching social media as an online resume.
MA: Your chops have grown immensely since you were working on a cruise ship. How did it affect your playing and philosophy on the instrument?
DC: Working on the cruise ships really changed my musicianship more than anything. I was fortunate enough to work with a highly experienced musical director named Michael Daigeau who is a Grammy winning Trombone player who worked with many artists such as Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind and Fire, Louie Belson, The Temptations, etc… This man taught me so much in the short amount of time I worked with him. From rehearsal etiquette, how to work with different artists, playing confidently, not wasting other peoples time, being prepared for whatever situation, and how good leadership affects productivity and overall musicianship in a band.
Working on the ships with many artists every single day with Michael’s leadership really refined my playing and matured it in a sense. Not only did my sight reading chops improve immensely, but my overall self-confidence did as well. I learned that in any situation it is my job first and foremost to make sure the rest of the band feels comfortable before I focus on that crazy quintuplet lick I can throw in at bar 67 before going into the Chorus.
MA: What is your biggest challenge as a professional musician living in LA?
DC: If I am going to be completely honest, it is money. I don’t want to sugar coat it by any means. Making a living as a musician is difficult, and I am sure that if you talk to any musician fresh out of college that just moved to a new city trying to make it in this industry, you will hear the same thing. With many things in this industry being so last minute it is truly difficult to plan months ahead of time, unless you are working a major tour that is well planned in advance. But if you are not, then it is not an uncommon thing to wonder how you are going to make money to survive after the next month.
Being a professional musician in LA is truly a grind, and I understand fully why this lifestyle isn’t for everyone. It is difficult to live without stability at times, but it is also that uncertainty that thrills me in many ways as well. One thing I’ve grown to love is that you never know what could be waiting for you around the corner, and I have been truly fortunate that whenever I seem to be struggling, something always seems to arrive at my doorstep so I can continue to step on forward and up! There are definitely times of struggle, but whenever something does come up I am constantly reminded of why I’ll never let this dream die until I accomplish it and more.
MA: Where do you see your drumming taking you?
DC: Honestly, I have no idea where I’ll end up! I’ve always had very specific goals in mind for each part of my life, however I am only 24 and I have accomplished many of those goals and even exceeded my expectations many times over already. As I said, I am very fortunate to have amazing friends and family to support me along this journey and I know the one thing I want to do is to give back to the world even more than what has been given to me in my life. My current goal right now is to work with artists at the highest level I can, and to share my entire story from start to finish.
Something along the lines of “How I started playing Rock Band in my basement to one day (hopefully) playing Madison Square Garden.” There are many disconnects in the music industry and one thing I’ve noticed growing up is that there is no set path to being a professional musician, but maybe if I can share my path with the world from start to finish, then maybe I can inspire someone to take the first step on their path.
MA: Whatever path David’s drumming takes him you can bet it will be entertaining.
For more information, visit David at: