Drumming Has Its Perks: Interview with a Drummer Told from His Point of View

I started drum lessons when I was 13 because my brothers were already playing the guitar and bass and I figured I should try something else. We had a band in high school but we didn’t really play to audiences. A few years out of high school, my friends and I started a cover band and we got a few gigs playing in local bars. The owner of one of the bars said we’d never be good enough to get an agent, but then he got arrested for drug dealing, so what the hell did he know? Right after that happened, we got signed with a well known agency and we’ve had regular gigs on Long Island for over eight years now.

The money’s pretty good, but I’ve kept a second job this whole time for health insurance and some extra cash. A few of the guys are paying mortgages and raising babies just from the money we make at the gigs.

We’ll play at night from like, 11 to 3 in the morning. Then I’ve gotta drive home a get some sleep before I get up and go to my other job. Since I have to drive, I usually don’t drink, but if we’re playing out of state, like in Boston, they put us up in a hotel right around the corner from the bar, so we all get wasted during and after the show and we can just walk back. The next morning though, none of us can remember what the last few songs we played were. It’s awesome.

Playing the drums, you see things differently than the other guys on stage. When the chicks from the dance floor get up on stage with us, I get to see their asses right up close. I’ve seen tons of thongs, and sometimes they flash me, because they know there’ no one else around me to see. When they try to grope me, and I just want to smack them. I can’t quit beating on the drums, so I just shake my head, make a face, and hope they get the picture.

I don’t really practice because I don’t have the time, but when I do, it’s only to keep my arms in shape. If I feel like I’m starting to get soft, I’ll just do a shit load of pushups and I’m as good as new. Sometimes, if I’m really tired during the gig, I’ll start to fall asleep. I’ll actually start to dream, but then I wake up again, and I’m like, oh I’d better pay attention, I’ve got a solo coming up here in a second. When that happens, nobody notices. We play the same shit practically every night of the week, so my body just goes on auto pilot.

When I am paying attention though, and the bar is crowded and the people are loving us, I’ll get this big adrenaline rush, and I’ll start beating the drums harder and then my sticks will break. I go though about six pairs of sticks in a week. I can’t twirl them though. It’s pretty hard, but I’ll try it every once in a while and it’ll look like I know what I’m doing. The lead singer likes it, cause he thinks it makes us look cool.

The girls are always coming up to us between sets and they don’t even notice I’m there. They just want talk to the lead singer and the other guys. I don’t talk a lot anyway, and I’ve got no game, but sometimes I get lucky. If I’m drinking and it’s late enough, I’ll get real lucky. I’ve gotten sexual favors in the bathroom at the bar, in her car, in my car, even outside. Yeah, those nights are cool. They give me their number, but I never call them. I don’t even remember their names. I guess that’s probably bad, but they come on to me! I just let them do the work.

This one time, I brought a girl back to my new apartment and she was loud, and she kept yelling, “Choke me! Choke me!” and the landlords heard us. The wife thought I was getting robbed, but then they listened more closely and the husband was like, “No, Jim’s just having sex. Good for him, I thought he was gay.”

Since I’m not very talkative, some people think I’m an asshole and that I think I’m so cool just because I’m in a band. I’m just like, hello! I’m in a fuckin’ cover band. I get bored, the same bars, the same songs, the same crowds. It gets old. I mean, I’m 32 years old, you know? I can’t do this forever. Nothing lasts forever, that’s why I’m glad I still have that other job. I’d be just as happy being a manager at Sears making $120,000 a year. At least that’s got security. This band thing can fall through tomorrow. I mean, right now, everyone still thinks we’re hot, but they won’t when we all start going gray, and I want to be ready for that.

Three of the five of us guys have been playing together since we started the band, but the singer and another guy have only been with us for a few years. We get along pretty good together. Sometimes an original member and a new guy will butt heads, but there’s no real drama, like there used to be. That’s why we got rid of the first singer we had.

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