Justin Wilson of Sleeper Agent
Photo by Lindsay Byrnes

I play in Sleeper Agent. Our music is fast-paced and energetic punk-infused pop rock. We’ve been together for about three years now. Our sound is heavily influenced by Jay Reatard, the Strokes, the Beatles, and many others.

My father started teaching me how to play drums when I was eleven years old. He taught me how to play along with the great drummers of classic rock, many of which remain my main influences. I think the one that comes out the most in my playing is John Bonham. The first time I saw The Song Remains the Same I got immediately connected with what he was doing. Ringo Starr is my second-biggest influence. A lot of drummers wouldn’t admit to that—why is beyond me. Every Beatles song has the most appropriate drum part for the song. When I was asked to do this blog, I thought about dedicating it entirely to writing about how great Ringo Starr really is, but I digress. Some of my other influences include Dave Grohl, Patrick Keeler, Ronnie Vannucci, Fabrizio Moretti, Taylor Hawkins, Chris Dangerous, Jon Theodore, Jesse F. Keeler, Chris Faller, Dominic James Howard, Ben Johnston, Billy Cobham, Jared Champion, Mike Portney, Mike D, and more and more and more.

At the moment I’m really enjoying going back and listening to classic rock bands with drummers that aren’t written about anymore. For example, Albert Bouchard from Blue Öyster Cult. The guy wrote some incredibly memorable drum parts for all their songs. “Burning for You” and “Don’t Fear the Reaper” are two of my favorite drum performances of all time, and it’s not because the parts are super complicated or anything.

Playing in my band, I have the opportunity of having another drummer play with me. Our keyboard player, Scott Gardner, has been playing drums just as long as I have. With the first album we didn’t utilize his kit abilities as much as we may in the future. So far we’ve just been kicking ideas around as to what we’re going to do, but it’s pretty exciting to think about. I’ve never had the opportunity to write with another drummer in that way. We’re kind of thinking of something like what Chris Freeman from Manchester Orchestra has as a setup.

Having the opportunity to go out and play with my band on the road has been a lifelong dream of mine, and I am incredibly grateful to be able to do so. I made some pretty unconventional decisions to get to where I am, but I’m glad I made them. For any other drummers that might be just starting out, all I can say is, stick to it, and if you want it bad enough you’ll get there. Talk to you guys more soon.

For more on Justin Wilson and Sleeper Agent, go to www.youtube.com/bbgunpress or www.sleeperagentmusic.com. Photo by Lindsay Byrnes.