Drew Schultz of The Four Tops : Modern Drummer

Hello, MD readers! My name is Drew Schultz. I’m new to this, and you’re probably wondering who I am. I’m a drummer and percussionist from Cleveland, Ohio, and I’ve been pursuing the dream for some time now. I am currently touring with my favorite group, the Four Tops. I’ve been a soul music enthusiast for a long time, and the pursuit has led me to play and study with some of my biggest influences, including Uriel Jones, Benjamin Corbett, Mike Clark, Lenny Pickett, Earth Wind & Fire, Harold Melvin’s Blue Notes, Dennis Coffey, and the Dramatics. When I was a little kid, my mother played percussion and sang in a Cleveland cover band, and I fell in love with the soul songs they played. Something about the combination of the drumming, lyrics, and vocal delivery really hit me the right way, and I’ve been following that feeling ever since.

For this first entry, I’m going to stress how important it is to pursue your goals. It may sound cheesy, but I’ve found that the higher the goals you set and the harder you work toward those goals, the further along you’ll find yourself. They say that if you shoot for the moon, at least you may land among the stars.

I was about twelve or thirteen years old and in heaven at a Yellowjackets show. They were the first band I ever saw by my choice, as opposed to my parents’. My drum teacher, Bill Ransom, had turned me on to them that year, and I’d quickly become enamored with Will Kennedy’s polyrhythmic drumming. At first I was disappointed that he was not at the show, but I was easily won over by Marcus Baylor. I had brought a drumhead to be signed by the group, but I was too shy to approach them. My dad, always one to get to the point, looked me in the eye and said he wasn’t taking me home until I at least asked them. I was worried about being a pest, but my dad kept saying that I’d be mad at myself if I didn’t at least try.

I was lucky that the Yellowjackets were the first group I approached as a fan, because they were some of the most welcoming guys I’d ever met. If I had been snubbed, I probably would have been even more afraid of approaching a musician I admired the next time. They were very kind and very willing to talk to a fledgling drummer about their old recordings, playing techniques, and drumbeats. I had several more positive encounters with more of my favorite musicians, like Victor Wooten, David Garibaldi, and Maceo Parker, mostly under pressure from my dad. I adopted his it’s-worth-a-shot attitude and quickly gained “weasel” status for getting myself in pictures with a lot of my influences.

As I became more and more serious about drumming, I tried to move from fan to colleague in the eyes of my heroes. I went from getting pictures and autographs to taking lessons, getting playing tips, and trading favorite recordings. I just wanted to get to know these guys, and I wanted them to know me. I’d always find myself saying “It’s worth a shot” or “I might as well try,” and these mottos led me to study and play with a lot of the people I’ve collaborated with. An added bit of luck led me to where I am today, playing drums with my all-time favorite band. They say luck is opportunity meeting preparation, and I’ve been lucky, or blessed, enough to find myself in opportunity’s way.

I’ll leave you with Babe Ruth. He was the first baseball player to hit sixty home runs in one season, a record that stood for thirty-four years. What many people don’t know is that within that same season, he also held the highest record for strikeouts—which meant that Babe Ruth basically swung as hard as he could at everything that came his way. So next time you’re on the fence about approaching someone you admire, or you’re auditioning for a band you don’t think you’ll make, or you’re trying to get a lesson with your favorite drummer, do yourself a favor and just ask. The worst they’ll do is say no, and you’ll never know if you don’t try. Keep on keeping on, and swing for the fences.

For more on Drew Schultz, go to www.dsdrums.com.