’Twas a pleasure rehearsing and recording a live DVD concert for the Chinese pop artist Jason Zhang.  We arranged almost 30 of his hits, and performed them at the Ace Hotel Theater in Downtown Los Angeles.  Jim and Jeanna Lee were the masterminds of this project.  The band included guitarists Jan Ozveren and Yogi Lonich, keyboardist Peter Adams, and bassist Eric Holden; plus a whole bunch of guest artists and string players.  I look forward to doing more shows with this gang in the not-so-distant future.

1. Ex-Machina (by Alex Garland)
2. Mad Max: Fury Road (by George Miller)
3. The Martian (by Ridley Scott)
4. Spotlight (by Thomas McCarthy)
5. The Revenant (by Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu)
6. Dope (by Rick Famuyiwa)
7. Straight Outta Compton (by F. Gary Gray)
8. Bridge of Spies (by Steven Speilberg)
9. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon)
10. Slow West (by John Maclean)
11. Lambert & Stamp (by James D. Cooper)
12. Sicario (by Denis Villeneuve)
13. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (by Christopher McQuarrie)
14. Big Short (by Adam McKay)
15. Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens (by J.J. Abrams)

1. Mr. Robot
2. The Jinx
3. Narcos
4. Homeland
5. Making of a Murderer

1. Carly Rae Jepsen: E-Mo-Tion
2. Chvrches: Every Open Eye
3. Robot Koch: Hypermoment
4. Jaime XX: In Colour
5. LO: LO
6. The InterSphere: Live at Alte Feuerwache Mannheim
7. Kendrick Lamar: To Pimp a Butterfly
8. Thundercat: The Beyond/Where the Giants Roam
9. Jason Isbell: Something More Than Free
10: Vince Staples: Summertime ’06
11. Deantoni Parks: Technoself
12. Mister Barrington: Can’t Turn Back
13. Tame Impala: Currents

Hi friends!
Hope all is well. Whenever I get asked, “So what have you been working on lately?” it makes me realize that I do a terrible job of keeping people up-to-date.
So here are a few highlights from the last 18 months (!) or so.

Live Playing

Studio Recordings:

– Rilan
– Alejandro Sanz “Sirope”
– Shelby Lynne “I Can’t Imagine”
– Minnie Driver “Ask Me To Dance”
– Aleks Syntek “Romántico Desliz”
– Beth Thornely “All That Longing”
– “Cantinflas” movie soundtrack
– JJ Lin “Genesis”
– Willodean “Willodean”
– Taryn Southern

And yet to be released albums from artists:
– Roberto Carlos “live from Abbey Road”
– Nathan Fox
– Jeff Wang
– Axel Muñiz
– Boys School
– Joel Taylor
– Kandia Crazyhorse
– August Empire
– Dan Navarro
– Stevie Brock
– Stevie Ann
– Madame Recamier
– Spam Allstars
– Christian Petersen
– Sarah Packiam
– The Voice Australia

Thanks for all the support!
rock & roll.

I’m constantly asked for advice to give up and coming drummers who are trying to “make it” in the industry… It’s a pretty simple plan… PLAY!!! And then, play some more! Hours and hours on a drumset, with sticks in your hands… that is the most important concern.

“But what about websites, and social media, and YouTube?” Don’t lose focus on the most important part of becoming a great drummer, and that is BECOMING A GREAT DRUMMER.

Also, and I know I’ve said this a million times, meet other musicians through playing. Form bands. Rehearse together. Play shows. Meet other drummers from other bands while you are out. Go to jam sessions and concerts. Talk to people. Don’t creep them out with overaggressive networking. Just hang and get to know fellow musicians. Improve your drumming, while expanding your peer group. That’s it! The rest is beyond your control.

(for my nerdy drum friends)
– 15″ Artisan Hats
– 14″ Paragon Hats
– 21″ HHX Dry Ride
– 21″ AAX Stage Ride
– 19″ Vault Crash
– 19″ HHX Extreme Crash
– 19″ Legacy Crash
– 18″ Artisan Crash
– 18″ AAX Chinese
– 18″ Ozone Crash
– 18″ El Sabor Crash

Lastly, get paid. This sounds simple, but it’s important. And you’d be surprised how difficult this part can be. For musicians, it’s not common to get paid before you do the work. Therefore, you’ll probably have to type up and send an invoice. There is a myriad of ways to transfer payment such as: direct deposit, PayPal, Western Union, cash, or “the check is in the mail.” Keep track of all outstanding payments because certain people will space out and forget.

I hope this gives you a brief look into what I do to prepare for a performance. You’ll find that most pro drummers out there have a similar approach and work ethic. And keep in mind this sports quote: “Don’t practice until you get it right. Practice until you can’t get it wrong.”

*thanks to Kevin Stevens and Stewart Jean from Musicians Institute for the additional help.

Countless articles have been written about the professionalism needed to maintain a career as a working musician. This includes concepts such as “punctuality,” “getting along with others,” and “not vomiting in the artist’s dressing room or getting arrested at the airport.”

Assuming we’ve already read and internalized these nuggets, I’ll just skip ahead to showtime. Hint: I like to write my own set-lists and tape them where I can see them. It’s a habit that makes me comfortable. On these set-lists, I will often scribble a note for each song such as “count off the guitarist for this one,” or “switch to mallets,” or “don’t forget those crazy hits at the end.” These are just reminders to glance at from time to time.

Beyond learning the songs, I also take the time to walk through the moments that occur between the songs. For instance, does the singer tell a story or joke between songs #2 and #3? Or, is there a non-stop segue between songs 7-8-9? I like to be in charge of time between the songs so as to keep a good flow. It’s almost a choreography that I develop (tighten the loose snare drum lugs here, drink a sip of water, fix the hi hat clutch, switch to brushes, add a sizzle chain to the ride cymbal, switch the patches on my sampler, crack an inside joke at the bass player). This all happens seamlessly during the few seconds between songs.

Beyond that I would say, (1) shake hands with all the band and crew members before you go on. So many people are in their own worlds before a show. Smart phones, ugh! This is a team effort. (2) Expect that things will go wrong on stage, and embrace those moments. They can be a whole lot of fun! And, (3) hug and celebrate with your gang of musicians once the show is completed. It’s not just a collection of songs. It’s an event!