1. What is your typical schedule on the road (or in the studio) like?
Road days are usually very similar, with waking up in the morning, having your coffee, breakfast etc., then around noon you go and look over your kit, tune or change heads on the drums, make sure everything is functioning and up to snuff for the gig that night. We use some tracks, so I check that to make sure it’s working and make any edits to the songs or changes in order. Then we do sound check around 2pm, run a few songs, dialing in our ear monitors and getting the room dialed in for our front of house engineer. Sometimes learning new songs or changing arrangements will take place during this time. We have the afternoon off, have lunch and dinner, maybe a nap, and then do the show for usually 75 minutes. Break down the gear, pack it up, get on the bus and head to the next show. In the studio, you usually get there an hour early to set up and tune, then everyone goes in the control room to listen to the song we’re going to do first, make notes on a chart for kicks, pushes, rests, any arrangement changes, etc. Then, go back in the tracking room, and play the song to the best of your ability to make the song as good as it can be, not as good as you can be. I don’t get to do a lot of studio stuff, but I really enjoy the creative part of being in the studio and making a track come alive.
2. What are some of the things you love about your job?
I guess first and foremost, I am blessed to be able do what I love and make a living at it. Not a lot of people get to do that, and I’m very grateful for that fact. And as I mentioned above, I love the recording process for the creativity and making a song come to life.
3. What are some of the drawbacks?
The traveling is hard, for being away from family and home. That’s really the only draw back
4. What made you want to play drums, and how did you get started?
I don’t know how it came about, but I remember hearing the Beatles on the radio and just started playing along with the cardboard bottoms of hangars. I ended up joining the school band and learned how to read and play the rudiments and then just cont...
5. Whom did you study with and how did that affect you?
I only took a few lessons along the way, and just studied the play of other drummers and learned as much as I could from how they approached their music and implemented that in my play. Especially when the video world came in to play, it was better to watch some of the greats and how they got around the drum set.
6. What was your most difficult -or challenging- gig, and how did you handle that?
One of the most challenging things I have encountered was auditioning for the music program at San Francisco State University. I had to read and play a drum chart for them to get into their program. I was from a very small town, and going in to the office of the “professor of percussion”, scared me to death. Needless to say, I didn’t get accepted. Crushed me, until I decided I was just going to go out there and get gigs. So here I am.
7. How did you get your current gig?
I had worked with a bass player in a band in Nashville for a few gigs, and he and I played well together, and he was friends with the band leader for Sara Evans. He heard that Sara was auditioning drummers and told the band leader about me. He called me and asked if I wanted to give it a shot, and I did and got the gig, 12 years ago.
8. Are there certain shows that stick out in your mind above others?
Some of the shows I remember most are the big stadium shows touring with the likes of George Strait, Kenny Chesney, and Rascal Flatts. So many people and big stages with great lights, it’s awesome. Also, doing the tv stuff, like Leno, Good Morning America, the awards shows, it’s great to meet some of the Stars that host the shows, and just knowing how many people are out there watching, like your family!
9. What was the strangest thing that has happened (or that you have seen,) during a tour?
10. What do you do to maintain your versatility as a drummer?
I play in a couple of different bands locally in Nashville that are very different from the country thing: one is a gospel type group that is kind of like Eric Clapton meets Mike Farris; and a pop artist that is kind of like John Mayer meets Michael Jackson. It’s great to play the different styles to keep your creative juices growing. And of course the studio thing, playing other peoples songs as well as my own, and trying to make interesting grooves or beats, keeps me thinking.
11. What’s your current set-up, and what are you digging about it?
I’m playing the Ludwig Epic series kit that I got from Mike Palmer after Garth did his Nashville flood victims benefit concert: it’s a 5 piece set up with, 22”x18” Kick; 6 ½”x14” brass snare; 12”x10”, 14’x14’”, 16”x16” toms. I use Meinl cymbals; Remo heads; and Vic Firth “Grip” drumsticks. I really like the combo sound of the birch and maple shells on the Epic series, they have a good punch with the warmth of the maple.
12. How important to you are the drums you play and how do you feel it affects your playing?
Like anything, if you’re not happy with the equipment you’re using, you won’t perform at your best. If the drums don’t sound good, it really is distracting to where you won’t play your best. When they do sound good, it’s motivational and in...
13. What drew you to Ludwig?
The first kit I ever owned was a Ringo Star, black oyster pearl, 5 piece Ludwig kit that I absolutely loved (and had I been smart and not a dumb teenager, I would still have it today). I sold it and bought another Ludwig kit that was a ginormous “Octoplus” kit that I used for several years. I always appreciated the Ludwig name, and the quality of their product, so when the opportunity came up to become an endorser, I was happy to join the team.
14. Can you describe how you tweak your drums to get your personal sound?
I guess just in the tuning, I learned a while back that each drum has a “note” that brings out the best resonance and tone of that individual drum. I always do my best to obtain that and get the best possible sound out of my kit.
15. Are there any upcoming projects that you are particularly excited about?
I really love the gospel group project, we have a cd that we did independently, and it turned out really great. This project is a real work of love. It’s a group of people who got together by chance, and it has turned out to be something that has taken on a life of its own, and something we all believe in very much. We all write and arrange the songs, and have a very personal involvement in making this project the best it can be, and to mean the most to us. It may never get the massive public notice, but it won’t matter as we feel it’s something we believe in.
16. Who are you major drumming influences?
John Bonham and Jeff Porcaro were two of my influences. I respected how they put their “groove” in the music they played with. They both had great feel and chops, but used them in the best form for the songs they played.
17. What are your four favorite albums (drumming or otherwise)?
Toto IV; Physical Graffiti; Steven Curtis Chapman’s, “Declaration”; and all the Beatles records, some of the most creative music that there has ever been.