Hello, MD readers! My name is John Montgomery, I’m a drummer living in Los Angeles…and I love it.
I’ve found lots of opportunities in while living in L.A. At the early age of eleven, I won a scholarship to study at Eubanks Conservatory of Music and Art (on the Crenshaw strip). I am a proud product of South Central L.A., and thank drumming for keeping me out of trouble.
After a short stint in Brooklyn, I moved back to L.A. and started a punk band called Bottom 12. It changed my life.
Bottom 12 was twelve people at its peak…and two of us were drummers! We began as a bunch of misfits playing punk/metal/soul, with a heap of weirdness inspired by Captain Beefheart, the Butthole Surfers, and the Mentors. We soon found ourselves headlining L.A. clubs and playing with bands like Tool, Weezer, and No Doubt. Eventually the band began touring, mostly in Europe, and put out a few records.
When the band ended, I moved on, but continued to play with my fellow drummer pal, JxPx Blackmon. We still play together today in the Virginia City Revival. As a single drummer, I’ve played in amazing bands like L.A. funk legends Breakestra, Latin powerhouse Paris Escovedo, and soul rockers Year of the Dragon. I currently play with VCR and the Mudbug Brass Band, featuring New Orleans’ Jamelle Williams on trumpet and vocals. I thrive on playing as many styles as possible, and L.A. is the perfect place to do so.
Besides the live and session work I do, I compose music for TV and film. I have cues in all three Jackass movies and on shows like Wildboyz and Ridiculousness. Creating cues has helped me hone my writing and production skills—and find a new revenue stream. I suggest every drummer learn to make money in the area of music licensing and publishing, you may be missing out.
Teaching drums has helped me achieve a steady enough income to support my family. Teaching also affords me the opportunity to go on a three-month tour. Not many 9 to 5 gigs are okay with long-term roadwork.
I found the key is to do as many kinds of music work as possible, as it’s hard to make a living just playing out live these days. Today’s professional musician has to find inventive ways to make a living.
Last week I got to mix some tracks for bass guitar legend Lonnie Marshall. His disc has guests like George Clinton (Parliament), Angelo Moore (Fishbone), and Dionne Faris (Arrested Development). Needless to say, I was honored to work on mixing the project. Lonnie’s band, Weapon of Choice, played the Long Beach Funk Fest around the same time, and I got to share the drum throne with Jackson’s drummer, Stacey Lamont Sydnor. Man, can that cat hit.
I also went out as the backline technician for R&B star Trey Songz. I got to work with Antwan “Amadeus” Thompson, one of the coolest and most talented drummers you could ever meet.
Recently I put out a solo record called Spacecraft under the band name My Own Black Hole. I simply aimed at making a catchy record, which I think is as good as playing a clean open roll.
I look forward to discussing unique and interesting topics in the future! Thanks to Modern Drummer for giving me this chance to communicate with you!
For more on John Montgomery, go to johnmontgomerydrums.wordpress.com.