What up to the drum world! My name is Greg Kaufman, and I play drums for the fresh new rock ’n’ roll act Dang We’re On Fire from Sarasota, Florida. This is my first blog for Modern Drummer and I’m very excited to say it’s an honor and privilege to be writing this. I think every drummer remembers the feeling of being a kid and dreaming of being a part of this magazine. So thank you, MD crew, for this opportunity!
I began playing when I was twelve, and it started with three drummers for me. The first was my friend Drew, who was the drummer of my band in 6th grade. He had this sick vintage Ludwig kit his dad passed down to him, with a set of RotoToms and all—that kit was classic! Every time we had practice in his garage, I would wait for everyone to take a break (I’d almost scream harder so my voice would be shot to break), and jump on his kit. I really had no clue what to do; I just knew that I was going to play drums instead of be front man after that.
The second influence was Chad Sexton of the band 311. To me they are one of the greatest alternative bands of the last two decades. Chad is great, and I loved everything he did, from the way he set up the drums, to his single kick work, to his live solos, to my subsequent addiction to Vic Firth sticks. He really got me believing in the drums as an instrument, not just as something that provided a beat.
The third drummer would be Travis Barker. It was a mix of his fast fills and unique beats, along with Blink’s catchy pop rock glory, that got me. To this day I’ll find myself tuning into one of his many bands and projects. So props to all the people who have pushed me to learn and love playing the drums!
I was an athlete growing up, all the way to varsity baseball, where I was a pitcher. When my parents bought me my first Groove Percussion set, I started to jam on the drums so much that I didn’t even want to go to baseball practice. I didn’t even want to play the games—even if I was the starting pitcher! I sat on the kit for hours at a time and taught myself the basics of drums. I would read magazines, watch videos on tuning and technique and stick grip and soloing to teach myself the fundamentals, and go out to every concert I could to grab some knowledge. I saw 311 in 8th grade, and that crowd of a few thousand made me say, “I don’t want to do anything else with my life. That’s the coolest thing ever, and that’s what I’m going to do!”
After joining Upper Class Trash in West Palm Beach, I toured the country a dozen times, playing malls, dives, clubs, and some arenas, plus festivals like Warped, Taste of Chaos, and Bamboozle. That band really allowed me to grasp the intensity of being on the road full-time and making it a lifestyle. To this day, I can’t think of anything that excites me the way touring with your best friends does. I got to meet so many people and bands I looked up to during that time period, and I wouldn’t trade that experience for the world. When that band broke up, we formed Dang We’re On Fire, and since then it’s been really picking up. I’m thankful to have three of my best friends alongside me on stage, and really just in life. We’re working hard day in and out to make everyone we meet the next believer. With us, it’s safe to believe, because our band, songs, and lyrics are all a part of our lives. We’re believing in something that is so pure and honest. I could tell you, ‘This song is because of a family medical emergency,’ or ‘This song is the feeling of us being down, wanting to make it and never knowing what lies ahead.’ It’s all fresh, and we’re trying to build on new ideas and just have a great time. I think that really reflects in the music. You can feel it in every kick, every slide, and every vocal.
I’m currently playing Shine drums—have been since 2007—and I love them! I get so many compliments on the sound of my 22×22 kick drum. The way it was built was key—a very even and huge, punchy sound, with the heaviest low end. I’m playing on Shine’s new Definition series, which is a birch shell with a gorgeous lacquer and die cast hoops. It’s the easiest kit to tune that I’ve ever played. I’m really stoked to be working with the guys at Shine in conjunction with my band’s new record, which comes out this February on Carlson Music Group.
I’m very excited for 2010 and all the possibilities it may bring, as should all of you! Please check out Dang We’re On Fire and spread the word about our record Heart Stopped Beating, which hits major stores and all digital outlets in February, with a full U.S. tour to follow. Dates and preorder info are available through our myspace link below.
Thank you, MD, and anyone who reads this, and remember to follow your dreams when you have them, and never give up! I’m still reaching for mine. If it’s drums that you dream, then beat the hell out of them! Peace y’all!
For more on Greg Kaufman and Dang We’re On Fire, go to www.myspace.com/dangwereonfire.