Jason Gianni : Modern Drummer

by Mike Haid

Early on in Jason Gianni’s life, his father passed along a very caring but cautious piece of advice, saying, “Whatever you want to do, just be the best you can be, follow the rules, and do it the right way.” The New York–based drummer has followed this advice well by diversifying his drumming skills in many directions. By age twenty-three, he had earned a master’s degree in classical percussion and had enrolled in the Drummers Collective Certificate Program.

Gianni spent ten years in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he developed the foundational aspects of his life as a professional drummer. He wrote the highly acclaimed instructional book The Drummer’s Bible with coauthor Mick Berry and did a range of TV and radio session work. “I really cut my teeth with bands in many different styles,” Jason says. “But I wasn’t seeing any real positive career exposure. It wasn’t until I moved back to the NYC area that I started to reap the benefits of the hard work that I’d put in for many years.”

At first, Gianni wasn’t too concerned with the financial aspects of drumming. His decisions to take various unpaid gigs and to commit to long-term projects without immediate rewards were sacrifices toward a hopefully fruitful future. Such sacrifices paid off greatly, with Jason playing high-profile sessions including the SpongeBob SquarePants theme and tracks for the Hannah Montana TV show. “Looking back,” the drummer says, “those early gigs allowed me to gain experience and add to my résumé, and they provided me with the time to build the devices I needed to pursue bigger opportunities. Things like building a résumé, creating a press kit, self-promotion, and creating Web presence are all vital career-building characteristics that inevitably take up time.

“In addition to practicing to become better at your instrument,” Gianni goes on, “the marketing aspect of your profession is also a lifelong commitment. And having moments in your life where you have the opportunities and the time to build these tools is irreplaceable. At some point, the reality kicks in that this is what we do for a living, and the financial concern has to eventually become a major detail in our decision making. If you’re patient, friendly, and respectful of the steps you’ve taken on the way up, the financial rewards will come with time and will be so much more appreciated.”

Currently Gianni teaches many styles at Drummers Collective, with a focus on odd-meter studies, ostinato soloing, and progressive rock/metal concepts. He has also filmed a DVD for Hudson Music, Set Up, Tune, And Play Your Drums, and recently recorded a series of videos on polyrhythms for VicFirth.com. On the musical front, he can be heard on the new release from the melodic prog rockers Days Before Tomorrow and is gigging with members of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra in a project titled DareDevil Squadron.

“Happiness is the key to being successful,” Gianni concludes. “When you wake up every morning looking forward to the day ahead, you know you’ve found something you’ll love to do for the rest of your life.”