Photo by Kaitlyn McQuaid
Photo by Kaitlyn McQuaid

Hello! If you were to tell me less than ten years ago that I was going to grow up and be a drummer, I likely would have thought you were insane. There was not a musical bone in my body, I had never taken lessons or even expressed interest in doing so, and was getting along just fine without them.

When I was a freshman in high school, a great friend of mine convinced me to join choir with him for fun. I went in with low expectations, thinking I would hate it, and what followed was a meteoric rise to loving music more than anything else. I stayed in choir, did musical theatre productions, taught myself to play the drums, and even picked up the trombone in band class. When it came time to graduate, I couldn’t see myself doing anything other than music; my father was briefly a drummer, so it must have been in my blood somewhere.

I owe most of my current ideas, skills, and musical mentality to a little place in Chicago called VanderCook College of Music. While attending VanderCook, two men in particular shaped me into the player I am today—Kevin Lepper and Bret Kuhn. Without them, I am nothing. So many of my listening habits, gear choices, and even fill orchestrations are directly linked to what they taught me, despite the fact that I play lefty and presented a huge hassle to them in every lesson. I left VanderCook in 2012, thinking I could take on the world from behind a drumset.

And that is exactly what I’ve been doing since! I have had some wonderful opportunities since joining up with the Future Laureates in late 2012, and we’re not slowing down. From multiple appearances at SummerFest and SXSW to several Midwest and East Coast tours yearly, there is never a dull moment, and I am always feeling the pressure to push myself and try new ideas and sounds to keep our music fresh.

Our most recent record, Here and After, was an incredible collaboration with renowned Nashville producer Chris Grainger (Wilco, Switchfoot, and many more). Chris has a very keen ear for drum sounds and also really knows how to articulate what kinds of grooves he feels work well for specific sections of songs. Between the two of us, we came up with some great material, and this was by far my best studio session to date.

Drumming is and forever will be my greatest passion, and I can’t wait to keep playing, learning, and meeting others who feel the same. A quick shout out to some of my biggest influences—Bryan St. Pere of Hum, Chad Sexton of 311, Erin Tate of Minus the Bear, and Jason McGerr of Death Cab for Cutie.

One final word to the wise—don’t forget to flow. Cheers!

 

For more information on Rob and the band, please visit www.thefuturelaureates.com.

 

Photo by Kaitlyn McQuaid