Hello, my modern (and old-school) drummer friends. The drums have been a passion since I was a kid, and Modern Drummer has always been there for me. So writing this blog for you guys really is an honor.
The drums grabbed a hold of me at six years old and never let go. By ten, I was cutting my teeth playing weekly gospel gigs in Decatur, Georgia. I later hustled for a few years in the indie-rock scenes of Atlanta and Athens (Casionova, Beekeeper) wearing many hats as a player, producer, promoter, and sound engineer, until relocating to Los Angeles.
Over the years, I’ve kept the drummer’s dream alive by working as a writer/producer/director for a number of film and TV studios, networks, and production companies (FX, Pepsi, Fox Television, 20th Century Fox). I’m also the founder of a mobile app company called Flaregun (shameless plug alert).
The point is I am a drummer and an entrepreneur. I’m entrepreneurial so that I can keep playing drums. If you want to build and sustain a career today, it’ll be helpful if you develop an entrepreneurial spirit, too. Creative businesses are cyclical and seasonal. Anticipate the ups and downs. Having three passionate endeavors throughout the year helps keep time productive. One artistic, one entrepreneurial, and the third should be soul enriching. Some ebb, some flow.
This approach helped sustain me until I found the right project. I’m the drummer for Magnolia Memoir now. It’s the “one I’ve been waiting for” that makes up for all the day jobs and nights in the woodshed and was so worth the wait. Being an artist is all about the wait and doing the work to be ready.
I’ve learned a few lessons along the way that are worthy of sharing, hopefully. An old blues man I was playing with on a sidewalk imparted the most sage advice I have for you, “Pay attention son.”
Always serve the song. Don’t step on the lyrics. Make tasteful, cohesive choices for each intro, verse, chorus, and bridge. Just groove it, lift, and repeat. Play your heart out every time. You never know who is listening. Know yourself—be kind and work positively to your strengths. You were given them for a reason. You’re an artist. Protect yourself—your hearing, your hands, and your ass with paperwork. Check yourself—regularly ask, “Is what I’m doing and who I’m doing it with working”? Be honest, and don’t be afraid to pivot. Time goes by fast. Only work where the air is crisp. Take a lot of auditions. Be a good hang.
Most entertainment executives fancy themselves as could-have-been-rockstars. Use your rare talent to build meaningful relationships. Jam with VIP players, and make lasting bonds.
Most importantly, love yourself, people, music, and work. And have more fun than anyone else. You are the drummer!
Watch Magnolia Memoir “Pale Fire” below.
Watch Magnolia Memoir’s “Ash & Bone” below.
Watch Magnolia Memoir’s “Odds & Ends” below.