Hey MD’ers! I’m Josh Trager from Montreal, and as it says above I play drums in the Sam Roberts Band. We just came off a pretty solid eight months of touring our new record, Love At The End Of The World. We hit several countries and continents and capped it all off with an appearance at the 2009 Juno awards (Canadian Grammys), where we took home awards for Rock Album Of The Year and Artist Of The Year. It was stiff competition—we had to beat out the likes of Bryan Adams and kd lang, to name a few! We also performed on the live broadcast and were again in good company, as Bryan Adams, Nickelback, and Simple Plan were among the other performers. It’s been a very rewarding four years since I joined this band, and I feel extremely fortunate to be able to do what I love every day—play the drums!
It all started back in 1992. I had drums on the brain big time and I was doing Josh Tragersome serious damage to my mom’s throw pillows with a pair of 2B chopsticks! I also used up a hell of a lot of masking tape making my own drumheads on many a cylindrical item. After what felt like an eternity of proving my undying devotion to drums, my parents finally caved and bought me my first drumset.
For a while I was only interested in playing G-n-R and Metallica tunes, and of course perfecting my doubles so I could do a nice long drum roll at my camp’s talent show. [laughs] One day I heard something that changed my world as I knew it. I showed up at my teacher’s studio, and he had some music playing on the stereo. I hadn’t heard anything like it. These drum beats sounded like they were from Mars, and I was floored. It was Tower Of Power! I think the tune was “Soul Vaccination” or “What Is Hip.” Hearing drums played like that for the first time opened some big doors for me.
I became a scavenger for all things drums. I was discovering all these heavy cats, and suddenly those pages of Modern Drummer I’d been flipping through started to make a lot more sense. I became a huge fan of guys like Dennis Chambers, Steve Gadd, Vinnie Colaiuta, Gary Novak—I could go on forever because I feel like I got so much from all the great drummers out there. I made it my business to track down any recordings, instructional videos, and rare footage I could find (which was a hell of a lot harder before YouTube!).
For the next few years I played whenever I could in whatever setting I could—jazz, big band, funk, rock, Latin, prog—my hyper-adolescent version of fusion where I let my un-harnessed teenage chops loose creating music that sounded more like a bag of golf balls rolling down the stairs! We all want to be like our heroes, and I was no exception. My musical heroes could play the shit out of anything, and naturally I wanted to be like them. And like some of them I decided I would continue my music studies by going to Berklee College Of Music.
Berklee was a great eye-opener to me because there I was, one of thousands of like-minded young musicians, and it really gave me a better perspective of what it would take to have a career in music. After one year at Berklee I got my first professional touring gig with Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush. I learned a lot playing in that situation and got to be a part of some pretty great experiences, including a U.K. tour involving some classic rock icons like Jack Bruce from Cream. I was twenty-one years old on a tour playing with some of the guys who helped shaped rock ‘n’ roll! I thought, “What the hell am I doing here? This is too good to be true!” It all proved to be an invaluable experience for me.
Over the next few years I started getting more calls for some pretty cool gigs, one of which was for the opening act for Van Halen in 2004, as well as touring and recording with various Canadian acts of note. In 2005 I joined the Sam Roberts Band, which was a huge deal for me. They were at the forefront of the Canadian music scene at that point, plus I had been a fan myself. So there I was, thrust into this whirlwind adventure with my new band of brothers. My second gig was in front of 150,000 people on Parliament Hill for Canada day. My third gig (the very next morning) was at Live 8. It was one hell of an introduction to say the least!
Right now I’m enjoying a much-needed break, but we’ll be out again during the summer festival season, so keep an eye out! I play Mapex drums, Sabian cymbals, Evans drumheads, Regal Tip sticks, and Mountain Rhythm Percussion.