Jess Bowen of the Summer Set

Jess Bowen of the Summer SetHello again, Modern Drummer readers! My name is Jess Bowen, and this is my second blog for MD. If this is your first time reading, here’s a basic run-through of my band and myself. I play for a pop-rock group called the Summer Set, based out of Arizona and signed to the wonderful label Razor & Tie. I started playing about ten years ago, when my father, who was also a drummer, informed me that I would need to take up the drums before he would buy me the guitar that I always wanted. Ten years later, and still no guitar. (Thanks, Pop!) Luckily, growing up in a family of drummers (my older brother played as well), I naturally acquired rhythm and coordination simply from listening to them play every day.

I started out by playing in the school jazz band, with Buddy Rich’s “Mercy Mercy Mercy” being the first song I learned to play while sight-reading. After a few rehearsals, I realized that reading the music was keeping me from actually feeling it, and I took the initiative to scrap the sheet music and play the song by ear. I’m sure all you drummers can agree, you have to be able to feel the song in order to get into your own groove!

Eventually I was approached by some of my friends when we were in the 8th grade, asking if I’d be interested in joining their band to play covers of Blink-182 and Green Day songs. Of course at the time these were some of my favorite bands, so I happily agreed. We continued playing around locally, and eventually in 2007, with a few lineup changes, we formed the Summer Set. Since then, we’ve been lucky to have shared the stage with artists and bands that I admire and look up to, and have acquired some amazing friendships along the way.

Speaking of friendships, we recently got off tour with All Time Low, Yellowcard, and Hey Monday, which was probably my favorite tour we’ve been a part of thus far. As far as drummers go, Longineu Parsons (Yellowcard) was always one of my favorites to watch while I was growing up, and being able to share the same stage with him every night was such an honor and a great learning experience for me. Of course being a female drummer, I also looked up to drummers and percussionists such as Sheila E, Karen Carpenter, and Cindy Blackman. Without seeing these prominent females in the male-dominated drumming world, I probably wouldn’t be a drummer today.

A typical question I receive quite often is, “Why aren’t there more female drummers?” After hearing this question over and over again, I came to realize that a more salient question is, “Why aren’t more female drummers playing at a higher level?” There are tons of girls drumming out there, but unfortunately many of them become discouraged and simply consider drumming a hobby. We are striving against a barrage of criticism, and giving up seems to be the easy way out. I’d be lying to you if I said I didn’t face the same struggles that all female drummers face before establishing themselves. I knew that before I was even given the chance to prove myself on stage, there would be a preconceived notion of me as a drummer. I remember playing one of our first shows in L.A., and the sound engineer didn’t let me check my own drums. He even stated, “Don’t worry, I’ll hit them like a girl.” Since then I’ve often been told that I hit harder than most male drummers, so I guess I owe him a big thank-you for fueling my fire.

For those of you interested in gear, I play a four-piece SJC Custom drumkit, accompanied by four Sabian cymbals: 14″ AAX Fast hats, a 20″ Metal crash, a 22″ HHX Legacy ride (I use this to crash on), and a 21″ HHX Legacy ride. My wonderful friends at Vater were nice enough to customize my Universal Sticks with my signature and band logo printed on them. I am truly honored and grateful to be a part of these remarkable companies.

Thanks for reading my ramblings once again, but that’s all for now! Check out our new album, Everything’s Fine, and check us out on tour this summer with We the Kings.

For more on Jess Bowen, go to

To see Jess’ older blog post on Modern Drummer go here:



  1. Pingback: Jess Bowen of The Summer Set

  2. You’re basically the sexiest drummer alive. I saw you at Warped Tour and searched tirelessly after your performance to talk to you, but you weren’t at the table or anything. Anyway, the fact that you learned to read on Buddy Rich charts is impressive, and I like your comment about grooving by ear!

  3. Pingback: The Summer Set Spain - Primer fansite en español del grupo estadounidense The Summer Set ! Blog de Jess en Modern Drummer

  4. Darris

    You are an explosion of talent Jess and more fun to watch than any drummer I’ve ever seen . . . and at 57 I’ve seen a bloody lot of drummers . . .

  5. Desii Miller

    I have a deep love of musicians, but female drummers usually make me pay more attention to bands. I tend to fall in love with them haha, actually it was a female drummer that made me first look into a band that led me to realize I want to be a touring musician. (Jess Penfold, former drummer of The never ever.) Last year was my first year attending the vans warped tour (i went to the one in scranton) and while I was looking over bands the summer set caught my eye, so i looked up some of your songs and I still listen to you guys almost every day. Anyway, when I was at warped tour, I remember I went to get a picture with TSS, and while I was waiting in line with a friend he told me he couldn’t find you there, and I was genuinely sad about it. But then about halfway through the line, he said you were there then and I was like “Don’t mess with me i’m gullible!” and he lifted me up and I saw you and I started jumping up and down and being all happy. I didn’t even notice Kellin Quinn (from sleeping with sirens) walk right passed me. After I got my picture taken I just kinda awkwardly put my hand on your shoulder and said “i love you.” and then you smiled and said it back and that was probably the highlight of my first warped tour, tied with my conversation with Ash Costello and Nikki Misery from New years day. But yeah, I absolutely adore you! You’ve been my “woman crush wednesday” on multiple occasions. Hopefully that’s not too creepy, lol
    But anyway, yeah! You have a lot of skill and you’re drop dead gorgeous with a side of adorable, and your smile is beyond perfect. Just had to get all of that said, hopefully you see this hahah (x

Leave a Reply