If Alicia's striking presence seems familiar, it's not because you're confusing her with Cindy Blackman, Shauney Recke or other brown-skinned drummers with big hair (an all-too-common mistake) it's because she's played with many high-profile singers who got their start on television. She's worked with Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, Chris Rene & Colton Dixon. Alicia got her big break when she replaced Kelly Osbourne's drummer on MTV hit reality show, "The Osbournes".
1. What is your schedule like when you are on the road?
It differs a little depending on who I'm on the road with. Right now, I'm touring with Chris Rene (Epic Records). There is a LOT of flying, airports and little sleep involved. I try to hit the gym everyday, I go over our set list & my drum parts on my iPod before the show, we usually do an early soundcheck and sit at the venue all day...drinking large amounts of caffeine and visiting the catering several times. We've been doing the radio tour-thing (stadium, outdoor ampitheater, arena gigs with several other new Pop / Hip Hop artists). It's cool - doing the radio promo tours, you get to play with a lot of the same artists and you become a little touring family.
2. What are some of the things you love about your job?
Everything. I love traveling, meeting fans, waking up in new cities and meeting the crazy locals :) Just being able to play music for a living is such an amazing blessing. I don't take one minute of it for granted.
3. What are some of the drawbacks?
The people in your personal life get mad at you for never being available. Haha.
4. What made you want to play drums, and how did you get started?
I immediately wanted to play drums when I walked into my grandparent's basement and saw my uncle's new drum kit. It was a 1970's Ludwig, stainless steel, 16-piece monstrosity...everything from a 4" roto tom to a 22" concert tom. It was glowing under stage lights and a fog machine on top of a homemade riser. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in all 11 years of my life. My uncle was into the 80's hair metal and hard rock so, that's what I started with. He set up a stereo with a PA system in the basement and we would play along to tapes all day. Haha. I taught myself by drumming along to Dokken, Bullet Boys, Queensryche, Motley Crue and Stryper.
5. Whom did you study with and how did that affect you?
I've actually never studied drumming with a teacher. I studied guitar for 5 years and learned a lot about music, time signatures, etc that way. I think guitar has helped me be a better drummer, in the way that, I know how to complement a musical piece and work creatively, yet tastefully. I'm not one to overplay or compete with other instruments. I'm definitely more of a groove player. As far as drumming, I've always been big on watching videos, live drummers and just playing with people. However, I do want to work with someone now that I've been playing for such a long time.
6. What was your most difficult -or challenging- gig, and how did you handle that?
The Gore Gore Girls gig made me focus on not focusing, if that makes sense. I love GGG's music. I did a 10-country tour with them. It was a Garage Rock gig so, it was a challenge for me at first, to loosen up so much and just have more fun with it as opposed to drumming super tight and precise. Also, all of the songs were up tempo and we were doing the long set / headlining gigs. It was physically demanding to keep up the power and intensity every night but, it was a great gig. Those ladies rock. I did a few gigs with Dawn Robinson of En Vogue. I've been a huge fan of En Vogue since I was 9 years old. Playing with Dawn was an absolute honor. The thing that I worried about most was that - we were playing the hits - the hit songs that Dawn has been doing for 20 years with En Vogue. She was used to hearing them a certain way, she knew the songs and the drumming like the back of her hand. I just wanted to do my best representation of the songs the way she knew them and bring my own style into the mix at the same time.
7. How did you get your current gig?
I was tracking drums in an LA studio, when the producer got a call asking if he knew of any good female drummers, for an upcoming gig on the Ellen DeGeneres show. That gig ended up being Chris Rene. I did the Ellen show with him and then, thankfully, was asked back to be a part of his touring band.
8. Are there certain shows that stick out in your mind above others?
First shows always stick out. I always remember the first shows of any artist that I've worked with. There's always that moment of, wow...how did I end up with THIS gig, or - never thought I'd be playing with these people. Kelly Osbourne at St. Andrew's Hall in Detroit sticks out in my mind because my whole family was there. I loved that they were all able to see what I do and that "See mom! Drums really are a real profession". Hahaha. My family has always been very supportive so, it was good to have them there.
9. What was the strangest thing that has happened (or that you have seen,) during a tour?
Well, I met a real live hooker at a Karaoke bar the other night...does that count?? Haha
10. Female drummers are becoming more prevalent. What do you feel you have to offer to other female drummers that may be coming up?
Hopefully, my track record helps inspire young female drummers who might have people around them telling them that drumming is a "guy thing" or that it's not a feminine instrument. If you're good at it and drumming is what you love - then just do it. Go for it and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Growing up, I didn't have many female drumming inspirations. I wanted to be Scott Rockenfield. There may have been female drummers but when I started, outside of Roxy Petrucci, Debbi Peterson and Gina Shock - I never really saw female drummers. Female drummers didn't (and still do not) have the media coverage that male drummers do.
11. Whatís your current set-up, and what are you digging about it?
My current touring set up is a Ludwig Classic Maple kit: 22" Kick, 10" Rack tom, 16" Floor. I like a Ludwig 6x12 maple or 5x14 Black Magic as my main snare and an Epic series 6x10 birch/maple/birch side snare. The Epic side snare is a recent addition. It really cracks and adds some nice accents to my sound.
12. How important to you are the drums you play and how do you feel it affects your playing?
I've been a Ludwig girl since the beginning. I've played other drums, I like some of them but Ludwig has always been the most consistant in quality craftsmanship, sound and durability. I feel like Ludwig focuses on the actual drum and sound quality as opposed to a lot of other drum companies focusing on how many flames and finishes they can get into their catalog. In cases where I have to use backline gear on a tour, there's always a sense of relief when I see that they have what I asked for on the rider. If I show up and see a Ludwig - I know what I'm going to get that night. I know what I'm going to sound like.
13. What drew you to Ludwig?
See above :)
14. Can you describe how you tweak your drums to get your personal sound?
I tune according to the type of music I'm doing as well as the room I'm playing. However, I generally prefer a punchy impact. I have the Aquarian Texture Coated Performance II's on my toms. They allow me to have a deep, yet punchy sound. I usually use a Texture Coated Hi-Velocity head on my snare. It's a really versatile head. My kick drum varies the most. I use a few different Aquarian kick heads, either the Clear Super Kick II for a more focused punch, Super Kick Coated double-ply for a bit warmer sound or the Coated Impact III for a dry, darker feel.
16. Who are you major drumming influences?
I LOVE Will Calhoun above all but...also really dig Janet Weiss, Mike Bordin, Matt Cameron, Brendan Canty, Vinnie Paul, Scott Rockenfield, Gerald Heyward, Jean Paul Gaster, Bernard Purdie and Chris Phillips.
17. What are your four favorite albums (drumming or otherwise)?
Four? Seriously? I have to give you at least 12...