James Michael McLesterGreetings from the Lone Star State of Texas! My heart goes out to all modern drummers, aspiring and professional. I currently am the drummer/songwriter for Christian rock band SuperNova Remnant, from Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, as well as drummer for various Dallas/Fort Worth churches including Crossroads Tabernacle.

When I was young, I auditioned for my school’s concert band, where I served as president and first-chair trombonist. I learned to sight-read and perform with an orchestra—yet I longed to play rock ’n’ roll. My cousin introduced me to Journey, AC/DC, and Van Halen. I traded in my trombone for a nice Tama Brazilian kit and enrolled in private lessons from Chuck Whitby, Warren White (studio, Ice Capades), and Ron McDonald (UTA drum instructor) at Grant’s Drum City in Irving, Texas.

Vinnie Paul of Pantera would frequent Grant’s when the band was on the rise in our local scene. I quickly went from teen clubs to opening up for Pantera at area venues before their worldwide rise to fame. My influences include John Bonham, Stewart Copeland, Neil Peart, Terry Bozzio, Alex Van Halen, Tommy Lee, Buddy Rich, and Gene Krupa.

Drumming professionally from age seventeen led to many opportunities to record with professional artists such as the Crossing, Redhouse, Andy Timmons, and the band Solinger, featuring Johnny Solinger of Skid Row. Solinger played all over the Southwest and recorded the Electric Mountain CD at Sumet-Burnet Studios in Dallas, Solinger Live at Starplex in Dallas, where we opened for the Scorpions and Alice Cooper, and Chain Link Fence, which went international and became the favorite of KEGL 97.1 in Dallas/Fort Worth. This led to a sold-out performance with Geffen recording artists Tesla. I was inducted into Buddy magazine’s “Texas Tornados” with great drummers such as Vinnie Paul, Frank Beard of ZZ Top, and Dave Abbruzzese of Pearl Jam. In Solinger’s rise, Johnny auditioned for Atlantic recording artists Skid Row. Johnny flew up to New Jersey to jam with the Skids and flew back to Texas as their new lead singer.

Around this time I realized that after pouring my heart into music for fifteen years, I was burnt out. But in 2002 I reunited with Redhouse front man Michael Madison in Love Sound Revival and we recorded an EP for Tower Records. In 2003, a near death experience led to surgery on my left arm, and I was unsure what the future would hold. Drumming professionally was my life. I was discharged from the hospital after eight days. A mutual friend told Robbie I was dying. Robbie came to see me and let me know of a “change” he had in his life. He’d flat lined of a drug overdose in 2001, and he invited me to Crossroads. Soon I was playing drums at Crossroads Tabernacle.

Out of the fires of our rock ’n’ roll past, God put Robbie and me together to make music for a new sound and a new generation. SuperNova Remnant was born and recorded its debut, The Afterglow, which was released through CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, and Best Buy. Regular airplay followed on the Christian rock station POWER FM 89.7.

SuperNova Remnant opened for Stryper at Trees, and our radio single “Glow” was released on our second CD, Worship & Warfare. We are now tracking our third CD, Rockets Red Glare.

Thanks to Max Peterson, I have three Tama Starclassic kits. I also use Zildjian cymbals, Tama hardware, LP cowbells, Evans heads, SKB road cases, and Vic Firth Natural Jack DeJohnette signature sticks.

I have been enamored by Drum Corps International drumline competitions since 2009. I want to share my passion for DCI with Modern Drummer readers and encourage you to develop an appreciation for this emerging art form. Please read my article on DCI Kick Off 2011 at www.jmclester.com.