Jake Sommers is the current Drummer for the Country sensation Luke Combs. Jake grew up in New York, and after completing his Jazz Studies at University of the Arts, moved to Nashville to pursue his playing career there. Being from a wider musical variety Jake has incredibly high levels of reading, and a great understanding of many styles of music. He’s endorsed by Sabian Cymbals, Evans Drumheads, and ProMark Drumsticks. I caught up with Jake from Nashville, where he was in between Luke Combs gigs.
Firstly, congrats on playing Madison Square Garden! Being from New York and growing up around that, talk me through that experience?
Oh man! Let’s see…We got there, I walked out on to the floor while they were still building the stage, with two of our guys and…I’ve never seen a concert there, I’ve only ever seen basketball games. So, I was looking around and saying ‘I remember sitting there as a kid, and sitting there, and there’ pointing each one out to the guys [Laughs]. It was just surreal. My folks got in the night before and I met up with them and it was really cool to talk to them and just reminisce about when I was a kid going to basketball games with my parents and they used to say ‘How incredible would it be one day for you to play Madison Square Garden’ [Laughs].
I saw the pictures you posted! It looked insane…
It was certainly a dream come true. I’ll say this, definitely my number one bucket list in the states, and it was cool to have checked off The o2 in London, as being my number one bucket list for overseas. To me, that’s the equivalent of Madison Square Garden. I can’t think of another place…besides Wembley Stadium, I think The o2 is it! It’s just so big. It’s not just an arena, there’s like a whole mall surrounding it. Which is crazy. Yeah…Madison Square Garden was definitely one for the books.
And, sort of starting from the beginning, I know you went to university and things like that, what major steps lead you to where you are now?
So…while I was at University of the Arts in Philadelphia studying Jazz and all the other styles, a close friend of my Dad’s told me to come and check out Nashville, and I wasn’t actually into Country Music until my Junior Year of college. I did the whole ‘oh okay, I’ll listen to whatever the top 30 songs are on the Billboard Country Charts’. I did that. Did all my homework. I charted everything out that summer, and then I came to visit Nashville. The first place I saw was where The Honkey Tonks were downtown and I just fell in love with it. It was music pretty much all day long. And all night! Which, if you love music and you want to play, like why wouldn’t you want that? So I fell in love with that and I decided I was going to move to Nashville. It’s a lot slower paced than New York, it’s getting a little more expensive, but New York and LA are still very much higher priced. So I thought ‘This’ll work’.
I made the move to Nashville, I contacted Jason Aldean’s drummer when I first moved down here, because he’s a friend of a drum teacher of mine from home, and it took us a little bit of time to actually meet up, but once we did, we had coffee and we were just talking for a while. He was very impressed with how persistent I was and all that, he was like ‘Yeah, I have a gig for you if…’ then he said ‘Do you know how to run tracks?’ and I was like ‘Nope, they don’t teach you that in college’ [Laughs]. And funnily enough, I’m sure I could learn how to run tracks now, but luckily we don’t use any, we just run click from a drum machine, which is wonderful. The director of the school of music that I went to knew an alumni down here and he put me in touch with her, and she was like ‘Hey, come to a party with me on music row’ my first week in town! I was like ‘Okay, Cool’. I just went to go meet people, wasn’t expecting anything to turn out from it. There was a drummer who was there who was playing downtown that night, and he told me to come down, I did, it was just luck, I sat in…then a really drunk bass player stumbled in [Laughs] and he was watching and then I got done, and he asked if it was my gig and I said ‘No, I literally just moved here a few days ago’ and luckily enough he said ‘Hey we’re auditioning drummers tomorrow, come and audition’, I did, I got the gig within an hour later. I didn’t start until that next week, but it really is timing, luck…you know…I moved down here August 6th 2013, I was originally going to move in October of that year, but there was nothing for me in New York, so it was really just timing.
So that’s where I got my start, at least, downtown. And then just from doing that, you meet a ton of people playing down there, and your name gets thrown around like ‘Hey do this gig’ or ‘Hey do that gig’. Then, through somebody else when first visiting Nashville, who worked at a clothing store, who now works for Sam Hunt, he got me my first touring gig. I did that for about six/seven months and the guys were older, it was just like a foot in the door type of thing and left that, because I was like…Well, that was fun, but I need something more serious. So, there’s a bar here called Tin Roof and a buddy of mine runs a night there called Revival and they do song writers rounds every Tuesday, and I was taking drum lessons from Jim Riley of Rascall Flatts, and he said, ‘Go to these writers rounds, they all need drummers and musicians’ so I went on a whim and I didn’t know that Luke was playing and walked in by myself, knew nobody there, was just blown away by his voice, his songs, went up and spoke to him. You know, if I didn’t go and do that immediate connection, I probably wouldn’t be where I am now. I took a chance on him, and he took a chance on me. He literally said ‘Hey, I have a gig next week, you want to play?’ ‘Yes please! Send me your stuff, so I did the audition the day before, if it was necessarily an audition, nailed it, and nailed the gig, and we just hung out for the next six months while he was writing and thankfully I was the only drummer in his phone [Laughs]. He called me and said ‘You still want to do this?’ and I said ‘Yeah let’s do this!’ and here we are now. I guess…three and a half years later playing Madison Square Garden, traveling the world and…gosh…just my house is filled with drum gear [Laughs]…cymbals, drum heads, snare drums…[Laughs]
As you know, they say Nashville is the hub of Country music stars. Did you ever imagine you’d be here four years later?
You know…I want to say yes. But, it could have gone any way. Say I didn’t go out that night, I wouldn’t even have met him and who knows where I’d be now, I could’ve still been hustling on the ground. You know…I was working a day job as a waiter for two years still, while playing with him until we got to the point where I didn’t have to do that anymore, but I was taking anything I could get…I was playing cajón at a writers round every Tuesday for free, getting free alcohol and food, playing for ten artists a night, playing one cover and one original I’d never heard before, just on a whim. On Monday nights they have a thing here called Whiskey Jam, and it’s really where I networked on Monday nights at least, I did that. We play the Bridgestone Arena here in town on the September 7th. Basically, I said yes to pretty much anything I could get my hands on. Especially when you’re starting out, why say no? until you get to a point where you need to be getting paid a certain amount of money for the time being, you know, I’m not going to be like ‘I want $300 to learn three songs’, but it’s like maybe $60 if it’s taking the time out of my day, even though you love playing drums, but even if you’re taking the time out to learn even three songs and rehearsing with the person, you should still get compensated in some way. But yeah…I busted my chops and really just hustled. That’s definitely what it’s all about…hustling, networking. One of my teachers from New York…Do you know who Dom Fumularo is?
So he’s been my teacher since I was 15, and then another teacher of mine who I’d study under when Dom was overseas and whatnot, his name is John Favicchia and he knows Rich, and one of the best things I learned from him was, it’s all in the tip of the tongue, it’s all about who you know, someone who’s like, I need a drummer, and then someone else is like call this guy, and they will, because they know that you’re trustworthy…and that’s definitely a big part of this town. I’ve had people come up to me in the street and say like ‘hey do you know so’ or ‘can you do the gig?’, or if not, ‘could you recommend someone for me?’ and that’s just a huge part of this town…who you know…
Yeah, and have you always been the type of person to go and just chat with anyone? I know that can be a daunting feeling for some musicians out there…
Yeah…kind of…I think if I really felt like that person stood out, or I really enjoyed their voice, I would just go over and compliment them, either on their voice or their songs… But, yeah, I just love talking to people and meeting people. You meet so many people in this town. People come up to me and they’re like ‘Hey!’ and they always know my name, and I always feel kind of crumby when I’m just like ‘Hey man how’s it going?’, because of course the only people’s names you really know are the people that you’re close with. You can’t know everybody’s name, as much as you’d want to, you know [Laughs]. I’m always thinking in the back of my mind, I hope that didn’t come off wrong.
I thought it was really interesting…I saw you went to university, how would you say that experience aided you in where you are now?
It really pushed me…I mean, I’ve been playing drums since I was six years old, and I practiced every day for hours, but, when I was there, I knew since I was fifteen years old I wanted to become a professional musician, drummer, all that stuff. So, while I was at school, I went for Jazz, was never really into Jazz either, studied everything from Jazz to Latin to Funk to different time signatures and all of that, and I really had great teachers there and whenever I had the time to practice, I would! Even if it was on the weekend and before going to a party, I would be there and my roommate and friends would call me at the time and say ‘Hey are you coming back? So we can go to this party?’ and I’d be like ‘Yeah, give me like another hour’. But yeah, it was whatever I could get my hands on. I think it was junior or senior year they would do faculty and student concerts, and one of the teachers went to the dean of the school and said ‘Who should we have play drums?’ and the school wasn’t massive, but at least in my senior year there must have been only about six drummers, but of course they could’ve chosen from the whole school, maybe there was about thirty or forty, but they had me play and I learned maybe twenty different songs from Broadway musicals to Country to Jazz to Pop, the whole gamete, pretty much in one weekend. I stuck myself in a practice room, learned all twenty songs, had the rehearsal, nailed that, then we did the show and it was just…they knew that they could count on me, and they just knew all the hard work that I’d put in to it…
I mean every time someone threw something at me and was like ‘Hey, can you learn this?’, I’d be like ‘Yes!’, and for senior year, instead of writing a thesis, thankfully, as I hate writing papers [Laughs], we had to write out the music for our recitals, and we had to plan rehearsals and get everybody together and get them the music…and it wasn’t just for our own parts, it was for everybody’s charts like sax, vocal lines, guitar parts, everything. That really was true to time management, and how to balance your schedule, because besides my own recital I was in five or six others, where I had to learn all these peoples music and get my own stuff together too, so that was a great lesson in time management and how to manage your time. And also how to read and visualize music very quickly, and memorize things quickly. So that was great. That was some of the best stuff I learned, and honestly, two or three of the best things I learned college wise, was; don’t suck [Laughs], If you mess up just continue, because no one will notice and thirty minutes is always early. And ever since then, I’ve never missed a gig, I’m always early, and if you do ever mess up, don’t worry, we’re all human and it happens here and there, you mess up a note, just continue, it’s happened to me, it happens to everyone, so…those are probably the best things I learned from college…
Yeah! And so how have you seen your own musicianship grow since graduating?
[Laughs] Oh man…well…playing Country music is definitely a lot different than playing Jazz or anything else, but it’s definitely broadened, my vocabulary has definitely gotten a lot larger. And If I was doing a recording session…I just did one this morning, I had the freedom to do some different fills that would fit more to the song and it was just like ‘cool, this could work’ it might not work, so you give it a few different tries and see which one sticks, and over time, just much more relaxed…I’m an open handed player, which most people don’t see that much, so I think that’s pretty sweet, and that separates me from a lot of the other guys here in town, but I think overall…I still practice. I still try to practice at home, or even just sitting down to play even just for an hour a day, just playing to a click or…I haven’t gone through a book in a long time, but I probably should [Laughs]. I just play when I can and see what comes out and just try to always learn more. I love watching YouTube videos of guys such as Eric Moore or Teddy Campbell, stuff like that…I’m not a big gospel guy, but I’ve always thought that stuff was cool, I don’t know if I’ll actually ever be able to get it under my hands and feet [Laughs] but I try to fake it, when the time happens. But I’m always just trying to learn new vocabulary, new fills, new grooves and all that stuff, so, I could definitely tell that my playing has gotten better…I’ve definitely grown…gosh, I’ve been out of school for five years now.
…You’re doing pretty good [Laughs]
Yeah I’d say so [Laughs]. I still practice all those other styles just in case. I would honestly love to be called to a Jazz gig, and someone to say ‘Hey, we need you to play this’…but unfortunately it’s more like ‘Oh, he’s known for Country’…so…
That’s a really interesting point actually, the whole…maybe pigeonholing is a bit of an aggressive word for it, but cast typing I guess? Do you feel that happens a lot?
I think so! Especially the Jazz genre here in town. There’s not many places to go for it, there’s a few, but I think there’s the guys here in town who are known for like these guys are killer Jazz cats, and then when most people see you play a certain genre or they just see that you can do a few different things then your name gets put around like ‘Oh he can do this and that’ but they don’t know you can do all these other styles too, so you don’t get the chance to actually do it, which is a bummer because I miss playing that type of stuff. So that’s why I try to keep up with it at home as much as possible!
I don’t know if you know him, but I interviewed Shawn Mendes’ drummer a few months ago, he’s called Mike Sleath?
No I haven’t! But I’d love to meet him…
Yeah he’s such a great person! Well he was saying that in his career he’s been able to meet some of his drumming idols, like Vinnie Colaiuta, Trey Cool, Travis Barker etc…I was wondering if you’ve met any of yours?
Yes actually! Rich Redmond who plays for Jason Aldean is a very good friend of mine now…before I moved to town I was like this guy is great. He does and has done everything I would like to accomplish as a musician and as a drummer. He does clinics, and he does teaching, he does session work, he does speaking engagements…all using the drums, and that is something I’d like to accomplish as my career continues and it’s just very cool to be on tour with him, and do things like play The Garden at the same time as him, and to be able to pick his brain is wonderful. He’s just a great guy, and a fabulous player. We joke around all the time you know…he hits really hard. Like before the show I’ll joke with him and be like ‘So…are you going to break any cymbals tonight? Because I’m sure you’ve got back ups, but if you want to borrow mine, you can’t…’ [Laughs] because we have the same crashes! So we both use two 20’’ AAX Xplosion crashes from Sabian. I actually got mine because I loved his so much, so I just got a pair, and I wanted to bring my other crashes home because they’re very expensive…but he’s a great person, a great wealth of knowledge and I’ve picked his brain about how he started out and how did he get to do clinics, and what he did, and he’s a great insight into all of that.
We’ve also done a few shows with Blake Shelton, just one offs and his drummer Tracy, he’s a friend of mine, he’s a really nice guy and just being able to talk with these guys, and hang out with them, having them watch you play and all that stuff, it’s cool. To see these older guys who’ve done it for so long watch younger guys like myself and other players coming up, appreciate what we’re doing, it’s nice. Let’s see…I’ve gotten kind of close with Darius Rucker’s drummer Jeff, he’s a super nice guys, we did a few things with them in Australia the past year and I’m hoping we do more stuff with them as time goes on. Great guy and incredible drummer. I just love watching him and picking out what he does. He also does everything so effortlessly. But so far I think that’s about it…I tell you what, if we ever do a show with The Police or The Dave Matthews Band that would be incredible [Laughs]. I also love Steve Jordan and Carter Beaufort. The way Steve Jordan is just so minimal and he just makes everything sound so great. On that latest John Mayer album where he didn’t even use a whole drum set! I think he just used Kick, Snare, Hat’s and maybe a Ride Cymbal, and it just grooved so hard. I love doing that.
I love playing along to the John Mayer records, because it really does help your pocket. I just love playing along to stuff too. I think that’s some of the best practice someone can do if you want to really get into that feel. Like, if you’re a huge fan of Stewart Copeland, play along to The Police records, just chart out some of the songs, or if you can’t chart out songs, do it by ear! His Hi-Hat work is incredible, as is Carter’s, that’s some of the best Hi-Hat, Double Pedal work I’ve heard in a long time, you know, outside of Metal and all those type of genres. But those three guys are just incredible. So, if we were to do a show with them, I’ll definitely let you know [Laughs]. But I don’t see that happening any time soon. It’s cool at the moment to be doing gigs with, and alongside friends, and go to festivals and see a bunch of friends there.
I bet! So in the same thread as touring, one thing that never really gets covered in magazines and interviews, is the sheer magnitude of actually touring! Things like how you stay fit and healthy, how you defeat the monotony of constant travel…so, how do you combat all of that?
Oh man! So for me, I wake up at around 9.30am to 10.00am every morning, just like an alarm clock goes off in my head, and then I usually go an eat a small breakfast, I always need a cup of coffee to wake me up. Sometimes we’ll go and play golf, just to get away if we have time, I don’t have a tech yet, so I still set myself up and break it down, which I don’t mind, because I like it to be perfect. I have local hands help me, but they basically just carry the snare and stuff like that to the spot, but I piece it all together. I don’t mind, you know. When you love it that much, you’re not going to care. Then, if we don’t get to play golf, because there is a lot of time during the day to sit around and do nothing. I actually stay off the bus as much as possible. So, once we get to the venue, I pretty much stay off the bus, unless I need to grab something from there. I’m off the bus until we leave. So, if we’re not golfing and I’m done setting up…I’m probably done setting up around 12.30pm to 1.00pm and, at least on the Jason Aldean tour, we only play 45 minutes as direct support…we usually carry some free weights and stuff like that, so I’ll usually go for a run or I’ll do a workout, and just do whatever I can to eat healthy.
I’m not a huge soda drinker, I’m trying to stay away from bread [Laughs], I’d say pizza is usually the death of me, but thankfully they don’t have that in the pre-show catering, but sometimes for post-show they do, but I tell you what…if you are able to stay away from the post-show food, because that usually happens around 11pm then you’re good. If you eat healthy during the day…you know…you walk around a lot more than people think…when you’re just kind of hanging out and just walking around and adventuring the property or, if it’s a shed and you have the whole lawn area, I’ll typically go for a run and jog up the massive set of stairs that they have, which is great cardio, but yeah, I definitely think it’s a lot about what you eat, and a lot of…even if there are a lot of things you want to eat, I’d say small portions or, a little bit of everything won’t hurt you…and stay away from desert…like if there’s apple pie, I’m going for it [Laughs]. But typically if we’re not golfing, I always try and bring exercise clothes, so I always try and find a time in the day to go for a run, or to lift weights or something like that, and then of course playing drums, even if it’s for forty-five minutes, you’re going to give it you’re A game, you’re going to give it one hundred and ten percent, so that’s a workout in itself. That’s pretty much what I do to stay healthy on the road.
Yeah! And so with shows like Madison Square Garden and things like that…you touched upon it earlier that it’s like a childhood dream to play there, do you have any pre show rituals or anything? Do you just get out there and go for it? Or do you do the same routine before every show, no matter the scale?
So, I don’t know if it’s necessarily a ritual…the guys thought it was really funny, because a few of the guys did a Facebook live thing and someone asked about pre-show rituals and they said that I did…I don’t think it’s a ritual…I just warm up. I stretch, I warm up…I think it’s just being a smart musician. I don’t want to go on stage cold. If you’re a guitar player, or a bass player or even if you’re the vocalist, you should still warm up doing something…stretch, get your fingers going if you’re playing guitar or bass. For me, I do eight on each hand, then seven, then six, five, four, to one, then back to eight, then I’ll do full strokes, I’ll do paradiddles, double paradiddles, triples, paradiddlediddles, some cheeses, even though I don’t use it in the set, I’ll do it just to get my hands really going. Then I’ll do the stretch where you do one arm over your head, then the other. I’ll also stretch my legs and stuff like that, because you’re still using that part of your body as well…so that’s pretty much my ritual. I’ll do that for about thirty to forty minutes before we go on. It’s never good to go on cold.
And what’s that like, walking out into a sold out Madison Square Garden? And can you really prepare for that?
You know…I try to. I had a lot of friends and family there, and a lot of them are huge fans, and asked if I was nervous and honestly I was like ‘No’…I get up and play Madison Square Garden but I’m looking at it and playing it like it’s just another show. I found out that ninety-three percent of the venue was full when we went on, which was pretty incredible…it’s kind of dark in there so I really couldn’t see much until they put the lights on the people…but, it’s just a massive adrenaline rush, you go out there and…I count off the songs, and the first count off right when you’re in, you’re like ‘Let’s do this thing!’, like, ‘This is my hometown and this is the part of my life I’ve been waiting for, for a long time.’ So that was a lot of fun. And actually a few weeks ago we played the new SunTrust park where The Braves play for forty-thousand people. That was part of this tour, but we were moved to second on the bill instead of third, and they actually had Hootie and the Blowfish as direct support, and they haven’t played together like that in a long time, so that was a really cool experience to see, and that was also definitely a bucket list to check off too, to do our first stadium show besides playing Nissan Stadium for CMA fest, so this was a little bit of a different animal, but just as exhilarating. To walk out and see that many people there at a baseball stadium, was just like, ‘Wow, this is incredible’. So those two so far have been my favourite shows…currently.
One thing that Mike Sleath touched upon, was that when you’re the one with the click, as the drummer, and when there are sections where the crowd have to clap in time or sing in time, it can become difficult to stay with the click, as the sheer noise of the crowd can hinder that…have you found anything similar?
So for us…we all have the click in our ears, so it’s not just me, so it’s nice to know that everybody else has it. The bass player will have it here or there, depending on whether he wants it or not, but he just follows me. But there have been times where, for instance, in Hurricane, we have them sing Acapella and they’ll either get a little ahead…typically ahead, not as much behind…you know…I’m really paying attention to the click, they may be a few seconds ahead but I’m like ‘okay, well here’s the 1’ and I always come back in and have to que everybody else…but it definitely happens…but I just like to hear the crowd do it, as they’re always seconds out [Laughs]. But yeah, it happens! It’s just exhilarating to hear the crowd sing…not only that song, but they sing every single word back to every song. It’s amazing. Even songs that aren’t even out yet. It’s just like wow. It’s truly amazing how die hard his fans are and how much they love his music.
We did two shows at The Ryman on the second half of our headlining tour in…this must have been February, I think…and it was the second and third show back, and we headlined The Ryman and my parents were there the first night and my dad was saying that he’s never been to a show where the crowd was on the feet the whole night singing every single word to every single song and didn’t stop, and he’s a huge music guy, he loves Springsteen and he loves The Beatles and all that classic rock, which I grew up on, and he’s never been to a show like that, he thought it was really cool that his son was playing drums for an artist where something like that was happening. That was two very fun nights…for your kid to be up on stage at The Ryman two nights in a row. Like, most people don’t get to say that. So those are two shows I’ll never forget.
And so, when it comes to tours, and things like that, with Luke was it the kind of thing where you learnt as you went along or did he just throw a lot of songs at you before you went, how do you personally go about learning new material?
So he’ll typically send us the new songs at least a few months in advance, at least a good like month or two in advance…
Oh yeah! It’s not like ‘Oh, you have a week to prepare..’. It’s usually you have a few months to learn them and so when it was time to learn a few of these new songs off the deluxe album I was like, I’m not going to chart them out when I’m at home, we’re on the road, we have plenty of time to kill, so I did my homework on the road. I charted them out, took them home, practiced them, and then when we had rehearsal I would still bring my charts because it takes some time to memorise the song, even maybe the first few shows I’d have my charts next to me, nobody else could see it, it’s like…as long as you’re playing the part well, that’s what matters. If I want to really get them down quickly, I’ll chart all five of them in one day, there’s been times…going back, back…when I first moved to town, where playing on Broadway, I charted twenty songs in one day! So, that was probably a little overkill [Laughs]…
…And so what’s your charting process? Like, would you do it note for note, or write it in shorthand?
So…what I do is I’ll chart out pretty much note for note…and I like to have every signature moment of what needs to be played on the chart. So, it’s like…if this fill is something everybody’s going to know and it’s going to stand out, you want the people to hear that. Sometimes there’s a few fills where they’re slightly different, but they’re close enough to the record where they don’t really know.
So, because you don’t play on the records in the studio, do you try and keep the fills the same for continuity sake?
Oh definitely! If there’s something that has to be there I’m not going to change it, at all. But yeah, I definitely try to be as close to the record as possible, I think that’s important. I don’t think you should be away from what the person played on the song to make it your own. You playing it already as yourself, you’re making it your own because you’re not the same player they are. You’re going to play it with your own feel and groove and all that stuff.
And do you know the drummer on the record?
I met him a few times. He’s really, really nice. And when I met him I thanked him for playing such cool parts [Laughs]. Because there’s some pretty sweet fills on the record. There’s some thirty-second note fills…
The fill in One Number Away always kills me…
The drummer that played on that track is actually a good friend of mine. The guy that played on that is just out of this world!
He’s great!...and now only two more. What kind of aspirations for yourself do you have from this point forward?
Oh man…So my next musical goal or chapter, is to slowly start doing studio work, even if it’s from my own house…also teaching, starting off with one student. I just want to help whoever loves drumming become a better musician, become a better drummer. Or if it’s a kid and they’re really serious about it and they want to pursue it like I did, then I want to help them get to their goals and tell them how to go about it and how to do it. And kind of teach them how I did it. I think it’s definitely helpful to know someone who’s…even still on their way to pursuing more goals of theirs. I also want to do clinics, and I know that will take time. The session stuff will take time too, even if I start doing it from home, it’s a foot in the door. Like, I did a session this morning and hopefully more will come from that, and I know another buddy who has a studio who wants me to do some stuff for him at some point. So, once again, it all goes back to who you know and all that stuff.
It’s definitely worth knowing a lot of the people in town, regardless of the guys you play with every weekend, and they’re like your family, it’s definitely important to know as many people as possible, especially if you want to pursue things like studio stuff…you know…if you know a guy who has a studio and he needs drums…he’ll just be like ‘oh okay I’ll just call my buddy and he’ll deliver’. So that’s probably next on my list. That and teaching. Maybe next year I’ll start to do clinics and hopefully will have room for me to bring a second kit out, or I guess I’ll be calling Guitar Centre or Sam Ash to supply a second kit and I can do clinics wherever we are then. So that’s kind of next on my musical journey.
Any artists you’d particularly like to play with?
That I haven’t played with yet?
…Like do you mean just touring wise?
In any capacity…
You know…not gonna lie…I’m pretty content with playing with Luke…currently he just puts on a great show, and it’s cool I get to be the guy behind him and be the one in the drivers seat. I’ve had people ask me, you know, ‘Hey, isn’t it getting kind of old to be playing Hurricane?’ or ‘How do you feel playing this song for the thousandth time?’ and I say honestly, I still love it! Because every crowd is different. They bring the energy, you bring the energy, you do it for them, and you do it because you love it, and if you didn’t love it, you wouldn’t do it anymore. I hope to be playing these songs for years to come, it’s always going to be fun, and the crowds are hopefully going to be getting better and better. So, I always find it funny when they ask if I’m sick of playing stuff, and I’m always like ‘No I’m not, do you get to see who we play it for?’. But yeah, so I guess if there was any other group…I guess, even sitting in with I would love, for just one song…The Foo Fighters. I love them so much. I love those guys. I love their music. I grew up on Rock and Roll. I listen to them every day, so. Them.
And lastly! What advice would you give to other musicians? And persons wanting to achieve the successes you have now and will undoubtedly continue to have the rest of your career?
Well…if you truly want to make it in the industry, you have to, I would say first off…live where it’s happening, because I think if you aren’t and you’re just going to audition, and you don’t live in that state or town, you have to travel, they’re going to give it to the guy of course who lives in town, it’s easier for them. Definitely network. Meet as many people as you can, because you never know what opportunity will come knocking on your door. Hustling. You definitely have to hustle, especially when you’re first starting out, don’t say no, because I think it’s important that the more people see you play, the more your name gets out. I think even now, even the level I’m at, don’t take it for granted. I think it’s important not to have ego. You can be the best player in the world, but if you have a bad attitude, no one’s going to want to play with you, but if you have a really good attitude, even if you’re just an average to moderate player, as long as you can play the song, that’s what matters. I think now, it’s seventy percent hang, thirty percent playing.
I’m really glad you’ve touched upon that last point, as it’s something I’ve been told time and time again…time and time again I’ve been told that you spend more time with the people you play with than your own family, so it has to work, and you have to be able to get along with that person…and that just genuinely being a nice person goes a long way...
Yes…and also, you could riff on guitar and do the coolest fills on drums, but it doesn’t mean you can necessarily play that song, or whatever you need to play for that record the way it needs to feel. I mean…especially when you have to live on a bus. If there’s ten of you guys on a bus, you just all need to get along. If there’s one bad egg, it just ruins the mood. Like, what’s the point? Then you’re just not having fun…you know…you did it because you love it, want to have fun, yes it’s still a business and you take it seriously, but it’s work. I think sometimes people think, ‘Oh you get to do what you love every weekend’, yes that’s true, but it’s still considered a job! You know…something could happen tomorrow and boom you’re out of a job. So, you should never take it for granted. Hopefully that sums it up [Laughs].
[Laughs] That’s some real solid advice! Thank you so much for a great, great interview.
Thanks again to Jake for an amazing interview.
Thanks for reading!
© Dan Lewis 2018