DRUM! Staff Blogs
Carter Beauford performs during a 2015 tour. Photos by Ron Dunnett.
On The Road With SJC Visiting Schools
SJC was a proud sponsor of the 2015 AP Tour and followed the entire tour in support of all the drummers--Foley from As It Is, Brian from Real Friends, and Jake from Mayday Parade. According to Mike Ciprari, company co-founder, SJC put just over 10,000 miles on their bus visiting over 25 cities, and speaking at over a dozen School of Rock locations, universities, high schools, and performing arts schools, where they got to tell the company story and demonstrate the drums.
Mike says, "Our best memories from the tour were definitely meeting all the SJC drummers out there, new and old, and making new friends with fellow drummers at the shows. Speaking at the schools and meeting young inspired musicians was definitely a major highlight as well. We'd speak about business, the music industry, manufacturing drums, and their aspirations as a musician. Definitely a humbling and inspiring thing to meet and speak to so many hungry musicians!"
Mike Ciprari indoctrinates young minds into the SJC way.
Do Whatever It Takes
To those on the outside, drummers can appear to be classic underachievers who just want to bang on a drum all day. We’re only ever seen onstage — smiling, thrashing, sweating, spinning sticks. Casual observers don’t realize those peak moments are just tiny fractions of the time we spend working on our art.
Whether hobbyists or professionals, drummers spend a lifetime practicing, investing in equipment and education, studying in school and with private teachers, learning new styles and material, cultivating professional networks, and traveling long distances to advance our careers and skills.
We also must survive. For weekend warriors that means holding down full-time jobs to subsidize the occasional gig. To pros, though, it often requires big sacrifices. That’s easier said than done. Few drummers actually make a comfortable living by only playing drums. Most piece together a monthly paycheck from a number of sources, commonly by teaching lessons or working in drum shops on the side. If you surveyed every professional drummer, you’d discover many who’ve had to take temporary or part-time jobs at times to stay afloat.
I certainly have. Before cashing in my chips to go into music journalism, I spent time working in retail, shipping and receiving, furniture refinishing, janitorial work, construction, dishwashing, deliveries — the list goes on. I took jobs in which I had no emotional investment, so that if I was offered a plum tour, I didn’t mind quitting on a moment’s notice, even if I burned a bridge on my way out the door.
It was like living two very different lives at once. During the day I was an unskilled laborer, nearly invisible to the rest of the world. At night, I was on stage in front of a packed venue, watching from the drum riser while the audience went wild. Every once in a while, those two worlds would intersect, and the results could be surreal.
For instance, there was a period in the mid-’80s when my band, The Naughty Sweeties, was between record deals. Our mangers feverishly negotiated with labels while my bandmates and I were in a strange limbo. We worked on new material and developed demos, but weren’t playing many gigs, since we expected to go into the studio at any moment. Our cash flow finally dwindled down to almost nothing, so we all got day jobs.
I found a job in a warehouse in North Hollywood. For eight hours a day, a Filipino guy named Saul and I sat at a workbench facing a bare brick wall as we stuffed handfuls of cotton into decorative pillowcases shaped like geese and bunnies. It was kind of humiliating.
We blasted the radio over speakers that ringed the warehouse throughout the day, and every so often a local station would play one of my band’s songs. It’s hard to describe the dissonance I felt at those moments. Most people driving down the L.A. freeways blasting their car radios would never have pictured the drummer they were hearing stuck in a sweaty warehouse stuffing pillows for minimum wage.
But I did what I had to do and, in retrospect, am glad that I was willing to take a bullet for the band. Within a couple months, the Sweeties got a decent record deal, cut a new album, and began gigging in earnest, as if nothing had happened. So don’t feel mortified if you have to do a day job once in a while. Be proud you’re willing to do whatever it takes. You’re just acting like a responsible adult, and I salute you for it.
Caught In The Act: Gil Sharone Kills With Marilyn Manson
Artist: Gil Sharone
Where: Santa Ana, California
Venue: The Observatory
Gil Sharone, DRUM! columnist and fierce stickman, is on tour with Marilyn Manson. Robert Downs, whose shots grace our covers frequently (such as the current shot of Richard Danielson with Vintage Trouble), was on hand October 20, 2015 to grab us these smoky images. Well done, RD.
Caught In The Act: Elijah Wood
Artist: Elijah Wood
Where: San Jose, CA
Venue: SAP Arena
Gear: Gretsch, TRX, Remo, Ahead, Gibraltar
Elijah Wood is leading a charmed life, playing on big stages across the globe at an age when most kids are still hoping to get into college. He started learning drums early, with the musical support of his dad Mark , who was a founding violinist in Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Elijah started playing drums early and by age 14 was performing with EYS (Electrify Your Strings), a youth group started by his father. A couple of years later he became the drummer for America's Got Talent (Season 9) at Radio City Music Hall. Not long after that he joined the AGT Live! Group at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas. And, along the way he also became a member of Orkeystra, with Jordan Rudess of Dream Theater.
Earlier this year a recommendation from a friend landed him the drum chair in Shania Twain's comeback tour, playing before packed arenas across North America. We visited Elijah backstage when he played in San Jose, and checked out his cool Gretsch stage setup. He sits high in the air, surrounded by high-voltage electronic fireworks that look like they might incinerate the drummer at any second. But don't worry. He's leading a charmed life. [Ed. Note: Elijah appears in an upcoming issue of DRUM! Magazine.]