Interview with Jess Gowrie (Chelsea Wolfe)

Jess Gowrie of Chelsea Wolfe was kind enough to grant me an interview before her show here in NC on Friday the 13th! So, check it out!

DIY: How did you get the gig playing with Chelsea? I know you played with her before in a different band.

Jess: That’s exactly it. It was probably like 10 years ago, actually I keep saying 10 years ago but it might even longer, but around 10 years ago. We grew up in Sac (Sacramento) together. We were in a band for like 3 years and then you know we parted ways. It was sad but I totally understood and you know she wanted to do a solo thing and so we didn’t actually talk for like 7 years. 2015 rolls around, and we go to a New Year’s Eve party together and instantly just like reconnected as friends. It took about a year – 2016 I was in the band. So it was just a kind of a transitional period of time. I think Dylan (their last drummer, who I also interviewed) was getting my pretty busy with his other project (Mang Chi). I think it was honestly like a mutual kind of time for everyone to just transition into different things, and so the timing was actually really perfect, and so I’ve been with her ever since and we did the record together and it’s been awesome. 

DIY: I’ve seen some of the Instagram pictures, and your light show looks amazing.  

Jess: Yeah! It varies from different sized clubs on a nightly basis you know? Using a full rig, or half a rig. Every time it changes it’s almost like for the better because it’ll be more stripped down and Punk. But, then its super intense because there will be like a strobe behind me, or something that’s just like making up for the fact that the full rig isn’t being used and then when the full rig is up it’s amazing.

DIY: So what are some of your influences? I read in the modern drummer interview that you are a fan of Jimmy Chamberlin (Smashing Pumpkins) and Matt Cameron (Soundgarden)

Jess: I’ve said it a million times but it’s true! I grew up in the 90s, and grunge is very important to me, so learning how to play those songs just like on the radio really developed how I approach writing, but then I realized much later that those are jazz drummers who were in rock bands. I didn’t realize they came with the certain style that usually you don’t get from just being in a rock band, so that kind of helped me broaden my mind I guess without even really realizing that I was playing with like a jazz style. I’m definitely not a jazz drummer, so that’s not what I’m saying, but it’s just like writing a riff rather than just like four on the floor. Jazz kind of like you know, pardon the pun but it really Jazzes it up to see that style in rock. I don’t know, they were just really interesting drummers. 

DIY: So you teach drums as well?

Jess: Yea, I used to teach a lot more, now I’m with her (Chelsea) and I’m hardly home and I don’t have a consistent schedule, but yes I did teach for a huge chunk of time.

DIY: Do you recommend your students playing along to their favorite bands more so than let’s say sitting with a pad? I guess it varies depending on what they’re looking for. 
Jess: I do both, yeah. We start with the pad and then “the fun part” as they put it, is playing along to one of their favorite songs. You’ve gotta make it fun but at the same time, if you are teaching and your student doesn’t know what a paradiddle is then what kind of teacher are you? You just have to incorporate that somehow. But yeah mostly it’s just getting in the garage and jamming to your favorite songs. That’s where your creativity comes from and maybe a passion might be sparked you know?

DIY: Also in the modern drummer interview, I read about Rocket Shells. Tell me about that. Whats it all about?

Jess: Dude, I’d love to. I’ve worked with Rocket Shells since I was 18, so it’s been like 17 years…and it’s a custom carbon fiber Drum Company. The problem though is that drums just weren’t cutting it, so now we branched into custom carbon fiber other things and we don’t make drums anymore, which breaks my heart. However, my snare drum – I’m playing Tama, but my snare drum is my Rocket Shell, and my snare drum is my secret weapon. I get so many fucking compliments on my snare like “what is that!?” and it’s a rare gem. There are some Rocket Shells floating around out there but not really. It’s what sets us apart, in fact, on Hiss Spun I had like 15 snares at my disposal, and we would go through each one for each song and Rocket shells is 80% of that record. And it would be just like, okay we didn’t know it was Rocket Shells, and everyone of us in there would be like “I like this one” which was the Rocket Shells. I mean I would have gone with whatever sounded best, but it was the rocket shells almost every time and I was just so stoked! I switched to Tama because I needed a company who makes drums now, but I will always always use my rocket shell snare. My snare is super fucking loud and my drum set is too, for being kind of on the smaller side of the sizes they project really well, so live you get a bigger bang out of a smaller kick or whatever. 

DIY: I read that you normally use a 20-inch Kick and now you’re using a 22?

Jess: Yea I went a bit bigger. So I can’t play a 24, it makes my toms too far apart, so my compromise was going to a 22. I’m VERY happy with Tama, of course.

DIY: Are you using the Bubinga?

Jess: Well, thats a loaner kit. I have one being made and it wasn’t going to be done in time for this tour. It takes like 5 months or something, but yes in December I’ll have a full Bubinga 22,16,12. I wanted a 13 inch tom but that would have made me wait even longer, so I’ll make that adjustment later down the road. It’s a pretty simple set up but yeah full bubinga, its going to be flat black black. 

DIY: Black hardware too, or just the classic chrome?

Jess: The flat black was kind of a compromise. I personally don’t want to play on some weird color drum set, and naturally with her (Chelsea Wolfe) black works with or without – whoever I’m playing with or whatever I’m doing, black is a classic. It’s like a t-shirt, it matches everything. 

DIY:So you have an endorsement with Tama?

Jess: Yea, that’s basically the reason why I got a loaner kit so I could start getting the word out and not have to wait until my kit was made. They actually came to our first show in Santa Ana and GoPro’d the whole thing by me. I haven’t seen any footage yet but I’m sure it’ll be cool. It was a warm up show, but it was still rad and it was really hot, so I’m sure I was just sweaty and crazy. 

DIY: Do you have any pre-show rituals or anything like that? Or maybe even as far as stretches and warm ups, or also maybe any sort of spiritual thing?

Jess: I mean with the new record, playing these new songs, I definitely started practicing on the practice pad. I used to go in there cold and not do that, but the drumming is a little bit… “more”… on this record and so I just realized I need to start warming up and get loose, but I mean that’s pretty much all I do is you know warm ups on the practice pad and take a couple shots basically. 

DIY: Nice. Whats your poison?

Jess: Well right now its Grey Goose. No whiskey, that’s just bad…bad news. Its mostly just Grey Goose.

DIY: Do you use any in-ear monitors? Or do you just go with the house monitor system?

Jess: Well, I play to a click live so I have only the click, as of now, going into my ear and I rely on the monitors. However, one of our next steps for after this tour is getting me with both of the in ears in, and having my monitor mix, because I know it’s not good for your ears to just have the one. I’ve noticed that when the show starts, my click is to here, but by the time it’s ended I’ve turned my click up way beyond that, and when you put it in your ear the next day you’re like HOLY SHIT! So basically hearing the whole mix in my ear is going to save my hearing for sure, but I just need to get the proper mixer to have all those channels to work with. Other than that it’s just the click thats in my ear yea. 

DIY: What’s your favorite food on the road?

Jess: Oooooh! Alright I think I have some here. (Jess digs through the cabinets of the tour bus) Ah! These miso ramen noodle soups!

DIY: Oh cool! Dr. Mcdougall’s vegan miso ramen noodle soup! Are you vegan?

Jess: No but my bandmates are, so I buy these so everyone can enjoy. I mean I don’t care, they taste fine to me, but these have been a lifesaver. When you’re done and you’re back on the bus and then you’re like I’m hungry, this is it dude. 

DIY: Do you have any advice for drummers trying to “make it”? 

Jess: I mean seriously, two things, and its probably like what everybody would say but it’s SO true. I’ve been playing music for a long time and recently now feel like I’m actually doing some cool shit, and it’s because, like I said I practiced in my garage and kept playing playing playing…and then seriously, do not EVER give up! Like, I don’t care if your band breaks up in 2 years or 5, keep doing it… seriously, something can change just like that, and sometimes takes long time, sometimes it doesn’t, but you just have to keep trying. Perseverance is so cliche but it’s so true. If I had stopped, you know even when Chelsea and I stopped playing together the first time around, we would have never made this full circle to come back into each others lives and create what I think is one of the fucking coolest records that I’ve ever been a part of. I feel like they feel the same way. Everybody put their own little specialness into it and came out with something that I think is very rare for everyone involved.  

DIY:It seems very cosmic.
Jess: Exactly. And that was me going my separate way, being in a bunch of bands, learning my styles and improving my chops, and her going her separate way, making a bunch of records playing with certain different types of people, adding instruments here and there, to get us where we are open-mindedness and just being ready, and we were both ready at the same time and it was great, and here we are we made a record and now we are touring on it. 

DIY: Well thanks so much for chatting with me, and inviting me onto your lovely tour bus!

Jess: Of course! Thanks for having me. And you’re right, there needs to be more female drummers that are like fucking doing shit that people know about. Even the modern drummer thing, I was just like dude thank you for even caring.

DIY: I mean, women in general and female musicians I feel like, for some stupid reason, are not given the same amount of attention as other accomplished musicians, and a lot of the times they are way better.

Jess: I feel like you have to take gender out of it and just look at like, what is this person doing? What are they accomplishing? What HAVE they accomplished? What makes this person special? Whether or not they’re a man or a woman just shouldn’t matter, but for some reason it does, and its a shame. We just need to break that barrier somehow. Like I said, even with modern drummer being like “yea lets do a little story on you”, that’s a big thing! I mean they’re like the Bible of drumming right? I can only hope like…you want to be on the cover, you know? Like THATS the thing. Maybe someday, but you know what we did was more than I would have ever expected, so I’m totally down to talk about drums and get the word for Chelsea out and the record out there. However I can help is important.

Jess plays Tama drums and Vic Firth sticks

Hear her on Chelsea Wolfe’s new album Hiss Spun out on Sargent House Records, and also with her other killer band Horseneck.

Main photo courtesy of Mary Gebhart

All others courtesy of the internet. 
Thanks for reading! As always, please like and subscribe! Find us on Instagram – @drumityourself is powered by Visionary Drum 

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Big News Is Here! 

Alright, so I’ve officially joined the band NETHERLANDS, from Brooklyn NY!

 This is huge!

 They are the weirdest heaviest band you wish you’ve heard of sooner! 

Check out the album Audubon on Spotify! Follow us, like us, do all of that shit RIGHT NOW. 

Instagram –>> @nethrock

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On top of this, I’ve also become endorsed by VISIONARY DRUM! An amazing drum head artwork company based out of Portland Oregon! Not only do they make custom printed heads (remo of course) but, they also make custom reusable stick on “skins”. I recently ordered several for the NETHERLANDS drum kit, which has a gigantic 28 inch kick drum, and the skins are fabulous!  

Here are just SOME of my favorite designs from their website! They have so many great ones, and they do custom artwork! Go order yours now!!!

Thanks for tuning in! Check out all the links! See you soon! is powered by: 

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Interview with Hugo Stanley of PALM

PALM is one of the most interesting bands hailing from the New York noise scene….or any scene for that matter. Their mind altering arrangements push and pull the listener around as if the body and the soul are in a heated battle of tug of war. Upon first hearing the song “Crank“, randomly going down a youtube rabbit hole, I remember being immediately taken over by some strange cosmic force…laying down on the floor, and being consumed completely.

I missed them playing at Neptunes (a local bar in Raleigh) in november of last year…but was fortunate enough to get the chance to see them at KINGS this go around (joined by Gnarwhal, SMLH, and DED) and I couldn’t help but let my inner drum nerd get the best of me. Hugo was nice enough to hang after their mesmerizing set, and give me some insight on his extremely innovative and musical approach to the drum set.

palm band 2

Hugo, thanks so much for meeting with me. I Have to ask….what are your drumming influences? How would you say you’ve developed such a unique style?

Its a little strange. In my head I’m kind of like, primarily a guitarist. Which doesn’t really make sense when I say that to people, because I don’t play guitar in any bands.

I feel like that makes sense in the context of Palm though, because of the way the guitars and the drums work together you sort of have to think as a guitarist and a drummer at the same time.

Yea its kind of like a conscious thing in Palm where the guitars, a lot of the time, are the rhythmic element whereas the drums and bass act more like the melody, or if not the melody maybe the lead in a way. Which is fine because Kasra (guitar, vox) is a drummer, he doesn’t play that much anymore, but his way of playing is more of like a natural drummer to me. I’m shit at just playing 4/4, its just not my thing. I’m envious of people that can. So I guess getting back to your question, what drummers am I influenced by?

Well not necessarily drummers, but what inspires you to play drums the way that you play them. Do you usually just sit down and go for it, or do you have specific things that you do to get inspiration?

I don’t really practice on my own. I’d love to, but I’ve never really had a living situation where that was possible, so when I play drums its normally just at practice. I’ve played drums in a few other bands that are pretty different compared to Palm. One was sort of like noise rock/ post hardcore kinda thing where the drums were more like classic rock influenced. I don’t know, I played drums just fucking around with different stuff in college, which is also when I started kind of playing drums regularly, even though my mind is very guitar centric. When I started getting into music as a player when I was around 14 or something I definitely always liked the drums. The first drummer that was super influential to me when I started playing a lot was Britt Walford from Slint (also the Breeders, Watter and Squirrel Bait). Even specific fills I feel like, I’ve probably lifted and used. That band just blew open the door to things you can do compositionally, and I definitely try to be compositionally minded in the way that I’m a part of this band at least. Its not the kind of thing where they just bring in a song and its pretty apparent what the drums are supposed to do and I just do that. Either we work out a song together or something just comes from jamming or Kasra brings in a song and I’ll just be like “alright, I’m gonna try and fuck this up” or just play in a different time signature over the song and see what that sounds like…and Jerry kind of switches between playing in the feel that im play and then playing in the feel the guitars are playing.

When did you first start playing drums?

 First time I ever played drums in my life I was like 9 or 10 or something. My dad played music and he was doing some kind of recording session somewhere and brought me along, and they were listening back to some shit in their control room and my dad was like “why don’t you go in the live room and mess around” I was just drawn to the drums. I played them for a second and I was like whoa. Drums are kind of like the most intuitive instrument in a way, like they’re harder than all the other instruments in that you have to have independence with all four of your limbs. There aren’t really any other instruments like that. I guess arguably, Piano is one because of the use of the pedals in conjunction with the keys…but with drums its also kind of counter intuitive in that you have to develop this independence that’s not necessary with guitar and bass, but its also intuitive in that its just very clear how physical action of playing the instrument correlates with the sound that comes out you know what I mean? Its like, you hit this thing with a stick and it makes noise. You can figure out how to play percussion on some level even as a baby. I guess I like drums because it’s like this weird juxtaposition of it being a really obvious thing but also kind of limitless. The deeper you get you can conceivably be playing 4 different time signatures with all 4 of your limbs. It’s pretty insane. But yea, I didn’t start playing drums regularly until later in high school like 16 or 17 but I didn’t really start playing in bands that practice regularly until I got to college. There were a lot of situations where I would play drums because we were having a band practice and I didn’t really play outside of that. Only once I started touring with Palm and Big Neck Police, I would be like “oh I should practice this so that when we are playing a show I’m not like FUCK I wish I had practiced this. Guitar was always a thing because I could just play it in my room for hours and not disturb anyone. I grew up in Manhattan in an apartment, and I knew I wanted to play drums really early, but it was just never a thing. My parents bought me this electronic drum kit where all the drum pads were on this one unit, and it wasn’t particularly satisfying to play. Its not an acoustic instrument, which is another thing that I like about drums is that in this sort of classic rock context its pretty much the only truly acoustic instrument.

Do you remember the first show you ever went to, or played?

The first show I ever played I was probably 18. I think I had just turned 18. I had been playing guitar since I was 13 or 14 and I had started fucking around with drums at that time as well but didn’t play in bands until later. It was at this building that was a weird structure from the 1700’s called The Old Stone House in Brooklyn. It was some sort of outpost during the civil war or some shit. Anyway I played there with my band at the time, I guess we were like psychedelic rock. We drew lots of influence from Pink Floyd and Neil young so we kind of had that sort of vibe. I remember I was physically shaking I was so fucking nervous. No amount of practicing could prepare me for that at the time.

What are your kit specs? Your set up is basically: Kick, snare, floor tom, hi hat, crash/ride, and a jam block instead of a rack tom right?

Yea, so my kit is assembled entirely of stuff that I found mostly. The hardware I guess I “found” at my school. During the spring fling there was this thing and they had a tent where I guess bands were playing, and they had bought all this hardware for this showcase of the bands. It was 3 or 4 days after the even and the tent was still erected and there was still all this gear inside the tent and it all had tags on it, so I deduced that this had been bought by the school and had been abandoned. I called my girlfriend at the time and was like “there’s all this shit that I wanna take” and she brought me a random guitar case from somewhere that I had, and so I basically stole all this hardware. That’s where its from, haha. My bass drum pedal which I actually lost in Austin a few days ago was just like…my house was on the same lot as this other house and someone that played drums lived there and left it behind, so that’s how I found that. The floor tom I got from this dude that I met skateboarding who was like “hey, I have all this shit.” He had bass drum and a floor tom and was like “yea I’ll just give it to you” So I sort of kept nagging him and hitting him up for it and one day he was like “yea I’ll bring it by…but I don’t have the bass drum anymore cause’ all that stuff was in my car, and I was trying to pick up some friends and there wasn’t room…so I just left it on the side of the road somewhere, but I still have the floor tom” So he gave me the floor tom. The cymbals and snare actually I bought for super cheap from a friend of my dads who played drums. The bass drum I bought from this store called Main Drag Music in New York, which is a really good music store. They were having this even which was like a BBQ where they were trying to get rid of the surplus the store had, and they had this bass drum. My dad was with me and I was like “I need this bass drum, I gotta go on tour but I don’t have a bass drum”. It was this weird Ludwig from the 70’s that didn’t have lugs for a resonant head it was just open and it was soooooo light. Lighter than the floor tom. So they were asking for like a hundred bucks, and my dad who is like this fierce bargainer was like “I’ll give you $40 for it” So I got my bass drum for 40 bucks, got all the hardware for free, got the floor tom for free, the cymbals and snare which I guess are the nicest parts of the kit I bought from my dads friend, and then there’s the jam block. Its funny, people always ask me about that.

It definitely stands out, but in a good way.

yea it’s really loud and like super staccato and super bright.

Its fucking cool as shit to be honest

Haha, thanks man. I’m into because its like, there’s not anoter part of the standard kit that’s does what the jam block does. It wasn’t even me being like “oh I want to add this to my kit.” The guitarist Kasra and them liked it, and I guess they bought one. So I just showed up at practice one day and it was there and I was like “yea ill fuck around with this” … but I didn’t feel comfortable having a part of the kit that was like this novelty thing that I use in specific songs. I felt like I should treat it like a part of the kit. Its not so much like this anymore but for a while it made its way into all the songs we were writing, and I didn’t want it to be this kind of gimmick sort of thing. For a while I was using another crash and a rack tom but I kind of started stripping elements away. Part of that was because I’ve always thought the fewer elements you have the more you are forced to be resourceful. There are all sorts of sounds you can get out of each part of the kit. The other part is being on tour I would lose shit, and I hated carrying a bunch of shit. Any excuse for stripping away from the kit is less stuff that I can lose or have to carry. So I did away with a few things. It’s a weird combination of being practical I guess while also trying to challenge myself.

Right on. Thats a very cool way to acquire a drum kit!

hugo 1

How about some slightly different questions. What’s your favorite food?

I don’t really have a favorite food right now. My sense of good food is kind of fucked just from being on tour.

Ok, whats your favorite tour food?

I always love Chinese food, and pasta I guess but the odds of having a Chinese food that’s actually good on tour are pretty minimal. I almost didn’t say Chinese food actually. A few days ago in Tallahassee Palm and Gnarwhal went to this all you can eat Chinese buffet…and it made me feel like fucking trash man. It was $10 to make me feel like shit. I would have rather spent $5 and felt semi normal. On tour I guess that’s what I prefer….burritos and sandwiches that have lots of veggies. Often times you eat like 2 meals a day. Its what, midnight right now and I’ve only had one meal today, so stuff that has nutrients and calories and protein and such, are more attractive on tour.

Top 5 bands or albums you listen to right now?

Eve (guitar, vox) showed me this artist Cate le Bon who is really cool, I’ve been enjoying her album called Mug Museum. The more we play on tour the more I get into friends bands. There’s this crazy album of Malian singer songwriter stuff by this girl Saramba Kouyate with an album called 56. It’s on this cool blog called tapes from Africa which is full of obscure African music. Its really cool polyrhythmic beautiful meditative music. We have some friends in Atlanta that make really cool music called Red Sea they’re really sick. There are a lot of cool punk bands from NY that I’m into. There’s this insane band called Dawn of Humans who are super sick. Hmmmmm. I also really love reggae; I listen to a lot of reggae. There’s this drummer, Leroy “Horse mouth” Wallace who is like a reggae session guy that’s really awesome.         ( ^^^ these links are pretty fucking awesome. Don’t skip checking them out!)

What would you say is your biggest drumming pet peeve?

If the way a drummer plays speaks to me, I try to just take the whole package of how they do it. If I don’t like the way they are playing it’s pretty easy to see everything I think is wrong with their set up and how they are carrying themselves. So this is a hard question to answer, but when I really try and think about it I would say…people who play the same fill over and over again, or punctuate ever bar or 2 bars with a crash, or people that overplay in a setting that doesn’t make sense, but also people who underplay when it doesn’t make sense.

A couple weirder questions:

Do you believe in parallel universes, string theory, holographic theory, multiverses….anything like that? Are you a spiritual, or religious person? What’s your deal?

Man….I don’t know anything about that. I reflect on things that have happened to me and people that I know. I guess I form a world view based on that, but I’m not scientifically informed enough to feel justified in having any opinions like that I guess. I’m not a religious person, or even necessarily a spiritual person in the way that I when I think of people I know that I would describe as spiritual that doesn’t really sound like me…but I also value a lot of the things that people consider emblematic of being spiritual such as relationships with people in my life or certain things that have happened to me and seemed to have some kind of meaning or significance on the mark of my existence but I don’t have any specific ideology or set theories that I subscribe to as far as my outlook on my own life.

What do you think, or hope, happens when you die?

Honestly I don’t really care. I guess I always think that my love for the people that care about me transcends any sense of mortality. I wouldn’t want the people that care about me to be super bummed that I died or whatever, but one thing I’ve never really understood is why people are super precious about what happens to their bodies after death. I think it would be cool if I died, to just dump me in the woods and let animals eat me. I just don’t care. When I’m going to die and how it happens is concerning I guess, but I don’t have any notion of what should happen to my body or my memory after I’m gone because I feel like whatever happens to me after I die wont affect me in anyway, because I’d be dead.

Finish this joke – How many drummers does it take to screw in a light bulb?

Ha, I don’t know man…you’d have to ask a real drummer. It’s funny enough to me being interviewed in this context. You’re a drummer talking about drum stuff, where as I don’t know shit about gear, I don’t know shit about technique. I don’t even consider drummer to be a part of my identity. If you woke me up in the middle of the night and was like “are you a drummer?” Id be like “I dunno.” I love music forever, but if someone told me I couldn’t play drums anymore that I could only play other instruments id be like “alright, that’s fine.” In terms of drummers, it doesn’t take a lot to intimidate me. I’ll see some 17 year old kid play with some band that I don’t even think is that good, and ill be like “fuck that kid is a real drummer…I’m just a fraud.”

That’s a really refreshing and interesting outlook from such a talented musician. I really like the fact that you don’t consider yourself a drummer, and yet you’re such a bad ass at it. That in itself speaks volumes to me. Its fucking dope, and I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me after the show.

I really appreciate you caring about what I have to say. Its super flattering, and it does wonders for my ego, haha. Great talking to you, and thanks again for lending me your bass drum pedal. You really came through in the clutch, no pun intended.


PALM is : Eve Alpert (Noise Angel), Gerasimos Livitsanos (Space Bass), Kasra Kurt (Sonic Shaman), and Hugo Stanley (Panoramic Percussion).

tradic basics palm


Trading Basics is out on Exploding Sound Records. Do yourself a favor and pick it up!



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How to Handle Drumming for Multiple Bands

Being a part of multiple projects can really help keep things fresh, and especially if the projects are very different from one another (they should be) it can help you develop new styles and techniques. This is crucial for growing as a musician, but it can also leave you drained and on the brink of insanity at times if you aren’t careful.

Drummers are always in high demand (You know, since everyone else thinks playing guitar is cooler for some reason). Staying busy as a drummer is way easier than you think, but finding people you want to play with that also want to play with you is the tough part. Thats the ultimate goal as a drummer with the mindset of having fun, gigging, and getting called back.

Im currently in 4 active bands, 3 other recording projects, rotating cover band sets with random talents from around Raleigh, I teach drums and am currently consulting for a concept album (4th recording project), all while trying to keep up with blogging, networking, social media (not doing so hot right now), an amazing girlfriend (who’s also the badass bombshell bassist for the Pie Face Girls) and work.

I’ve always had a scattered mindset, love staying busy, and I have a lot of experience with what it takes to keep your cool when the heat is on. Here are some key points to consider when thinking of joining multiple projects.

You MUST ask yourself these questions first. If you can answer yes to all of them…go for it. If you can’t, don’t even think about it.

  1. Do I like the music/idea/people involved?
  2. Do I have the free time?
  3. Is my schedule flexible enough? (things ALWAYS come up)
  4. Am I doing the band justice rather than joining because I cant say no?
  5. Can I actually bring something new and innovative to the table?

Odds are if you answered yes to all of these, it will probably work out. Its important to keep things fun, so make sure you really are having a good time. Don’t half ass it. The music world aint’ got time for 2nd place.

Playing in 2 or more projects can be extremely fulfilling, but its easy to get overwhelmed very quickly. If your bands are pretty active, or people really like your stuff, you will have dates thrown at you constantly.

Here are some tips for keeping track of everything.

-Get a planner. A real, analog, made of paper, fits in your bag or pocket, planner/calendar.

-Mark your work days, girlfriend days, birthdays, other shows you want to see, and whatever else you have to make time for so you already know your availability.

-Any time you get show offers write down all dates being thrown at you from all projects.

-Once you decide which shows you can do, talk to the bands and see which shows they can/want to do.

Things to keep in mind:

A good nights rest is your best friend in the whole universe.

Eat right, you’ll be way more productive…trust me.

You can’t make everyone happy all the time.

Sometimes you will have to ask off of work, cancel important plans, or disappoint loved ones in order to play gigs. (only do this for super awesome, well planned, great exposure, politically good move shows, and make sure to make it up to anyone you let down)

Don’t be afraid to say no

Saturating the market, especially with local bands, is a huge mistake that can cost you valuable momentum down the road. Its much better to leave people wanting more than to give it all away. This also goes for you as a person.

There you have it folks! Keep drumming!

If you want to check out any of my projects you can find them below.  Also check out the instagram and Facebook for real time updates!





See ya!

How to teach yourself (the process of learning)

drum room

Hey drummists,

I bet some of you have been in the same position I have when trying to learn your craft. You may think, “man, how can I self teach myself to learn more good?” but you just don’t know how to go about it. Sure, you can practice and watch Youtube videos about cool licks, and you know you should practice, but knowing to do something and actually doing it are two different things.

I’m here to talk about something that is often hinted at but not explicitly discussed in the drumming community. That is, specifically how you learn, and the process of catering to your learning style in order to be most effective.

The first tip I have for you is to:

  1. Start at the beginning.

You have to crawl before you can run, and the same goes for learning any concept. You want to master a six-stroke roll? Learn how to play single stroke rolls. It’s okay to run scales or rudiments, and to struggle with them. Your struggling with mundane concepts will make harder concepts much easier to understand, which leads to the second tip…

  1. Break it into bite-sized chunks.

You learn in small groupings, so don’t try to tackle the whole lick/song/solo at once. Do you eat your 50 oz steak in one bite? No, no you don’t. You cut it up into pieces that you can chew and eat in your mouth. If it’s a written piece, write out the sticking pattern. If it’s a complicated jazz tune, write out the beats above the notes (I did this for my first ¾ jazz song I ever learned, “Footprints,” and it wasn’t even fast). Gradually put the bars back together until you can play the set of chunks as one big piece.

  1. Cater to how you learn.

Figuring out how you learn is essential to the first 2 tips, but I felt they needed to be mentioned first. If you are a hands-on learner, get physical with it and work it out with your hands. I personally like to clap out a rhythm if I need a second to digest what I’m hearing. If you learn visually, WATCH people do it and visualize it in your mind’s eye. Even write it out. If you learn through auditory means, listen. Actively listen and take notes. Also, singing a rhythm or pattern (and adding melody if needed) is a great way to comprehend it for auditory learners since the part of your brain that holds songs is so deeply rooted in memory.

Of course, no one is 100% any of these types of learner but you can find your mix and see what works for you (it’ll help for school too, if you’re into academics still).

  1. Be cumulative in your learning. Build on what you already know and branch out from your foundations. I don’t mean to practice the same 4/4 groove every time you sit behind a kit, but don’t forget stuff either. Cumulative learning has shown to be most effective when learning a concept, according to my cognition courses in college (which had cumulative exams, the irony of which is not lost on me). This means repeating stuff until it becomes muscle memorized (this happens with your brain though, your muscles just contract a bunch).
  2. Lastly, be patient with yourself and only compare yourself to yourself, yesterday. If you build each day, then all you see is progress. Don’t compare yourself to others, because you’re not them and they aren’t you. Each musician brings something to the table that is uniquely him or her, and that’s the fun of music. Remember that there is no competition in art, there is only expression.

I hope this was insightful everybody, and I’ll be writing a few more articles/listicles in the future about similar concepts!


Sean McClain


Drummers Xmas List

Drummers can be tough to buy gifts for! They are all picky, and not many people outside of the drum community know about all the nifty tools and toys that can make drummers lives easier…so I’m here to show you!

The list starts off with bigger gifts, and goes down in price ending with stocking stuffers. Most of the titles are links to purchase!

Lets get started shall we?


  1. Drum lite – led lights

drum liteDrumlite_Featured.jpg

These lights are designed to go inside the drum shell, usually with a strip of adhesive (doesn’t harm anything). When used on a see through acrylic kit, or a drum kit with all white coated heads, the effects can be pretty awesome! Not to mention, it just makes you look less boring on stage.

2. Go Pro


GoPro cameras are easily on of the most handy tools for pretty much anyone these days. Drummers especially, can make use of their small design with tons of options in order to capture those crazy moments on stage or in the studio. They even make a freakin chest harness!

3. Drum Mic Kits

This is probably one of the best, and most expensive drummer gifts, and a great investment for the drummer in your life. There are many different kits an options, ranging from $100-$1000…choosing the right one depends on your price point and how many drums your drummer will be recording. The ability to record drums is key for writing your own songs and recording instructional videos. Without them, I probably wouldnt be here. It all started when I got drum mics and a sound board for xmas.

4. Headphones


These are a must have if you want to record, or play along to music. This set of CAD drummer headphones is $35 right now. That is a STEAL.


5. Drum Emergency Kits

Every drummer knows what its like to lose a few little parts here and there…and it adds up. These emergency kits are pretty inexpensive, and theres no better feeling than being prepared when something gets lost, stolen, or breaks. There are tons of variations out there. At one point, I’ve gotten several different emergency kits and a couple pairs of my favorite sticks, and put them all neatly into a tackle box. Side note: It doesn’t hurt to have a few bandaids and a real emergency kit either…especially if you’re on the road.

6. Drum Rugsahead rug

Drum rugs are great for the touring drummer. With one, not only can you be sure that your drums wont slide all over the stage at the gig, but you can also set your kit up the exact same way every time by making use of some tape, and putting little squares where your stands, pedals, and seat are usually set up…and now you know they will be in the same spot every time!


Stick bags make my life SO much easier. Plus, there are tons of different brands and models. Pretty much every drum company makes one, and they are all great. Hang em on the floor tom for easy access when you drop a stick doing one of those crazy flip tricks you learned once.


cymbal bag

These are a MUST. Cymbals are so expensive…and the better care you take of them, the longer they last.


If you have an expensive kit, or you want to just protect the kit you use…these are also a must. On the road you won’t have to worry about scratches and dings, and the handles make it easy to cary multiple drums at once. This is ideal, because no one is going to help the drummer load in or out.


This next section of gifts are all under $50, and were taken from my valentines day post from last year…still works for xmas!

10. SNARE UPGRADE!pure sound snares

A lot of drummers don’t realize how much better their snare drum will sound with a snare upgrade. My personal favorite are the pure sound snare wires. They come in a few widths ( I prefer the thick 42 count for more response). Make sure you get the right size as well. Most snare drums are 14 inches so thats your safest bet. Some drummers may have smaller snare drums in which case they can exchange them for the correct size at your local drum store. These bad boys are only $20!!!!


These funny looking tunnel things are actually pretty neat. For about $40 you can add more low end to your bass drum without changing any of the attack. If you don’t have a port hole don’t worry, it comes with the port hole ring to install it. Just place the ring where you want, cut around the inside, and then place the kick port in the opening and press the rubber gasket flush against the inside of the drum head to keep it in place. I’ve used this product since it first came out and it really does improve the low end of a kick drum, especially if you don’t use any dampening materials inside of it. A great gift for Valentines day!



Most drummers are pretty picky when it comes to their drum sticks, and rightly so. Once you get used to how a certain stick feels, nothing else is as good as the real deal. Don’t worry though! Every drummer can use a drum stick holder! Clamp it on the hi hats or on any stand and you have some back up sticks waiting close by incase you break one or fling one across the stage. Not bad for 20 dollars!


This product is very similar to the drum stick holder, and also the most recent purchase I’ve made for myself. At the 20 dollar price point this gem is hard to resist. Who wouldn’t want water or even better…beer right at your finger tips behind the kit. No more stashing your drinks in strange places on stage and having to keel over just to reach them or worse, spill them. I wouldn’t play a gig without mine!


Lastly, we have a drum head packs. Aside from sticks, drums heads are the most frequently bought items by drummers. If you want your drums to sound their best, its best to change out your drum heads as soon as they start to wear out. The two main drum head companies are Remo and Evans. Both are great and you can’t go wrong with either. Its more about what your drummer prefers. Most of these packs are around $49.99 and include a kick drum head. This is a HUGE deal because kick heads are usually $49.99 by themselves! There are also packs just for the toms for about $30. Advice: find out the diameter of the drums you are getting new heads for BEFORE you get the heads…if you can. If not, no big deal just take em’ back and swap em’ out!


Ok, you made it this far…now take a look at some STOCKING STUFFERS.


These are great! Let your drummer get what they need when you aren’t sure. This isn’t a cop out, this is actually a preferred gift for most drummers because they know what they like and can use the gift card to get exactly what they use. All retail music stores have gift cards and you can usually put whatever amount you like on them. I suggest 2112, a local drum shop here in Raleigh NC, free from the all the sales pitches and endless pestering of the retail chain stores. If you aren’t local, check your listings for a drum shop near by!


No drummer can EVER have too many! Most are in the 3-5 dollar range, with a few deluxe models a little pricier.


Keep those cymbals and drum shells nice and shiny! 10-20 dollar range.


cymbal topperscymb

These little fellas fit right on top of your cymbal stands, and add some decorative flash to your set up. I feel like I should mention that although not all of them are skulls…but most of them are. About $10-20 for a pack.


It goes without saying that as a drummer, you should be using ear plugs. Obviously yes, it protects your hearing…but better than that it brings down all those nasty high frequencies when practicing in a smaller space, and helps keep the stage volume at a tolerable level when you’re being blasted by the drum monitor…which always seems to be wayyyyy louder than it was at sound check. Between $1 and $20 for a pack.

I hope this was a helpful list for anyone buying gifts for a drummer! If you enjoyed it please, like the page or share it or comment or anything! Help spread the word to other drummers 🙂

New Project – The Quick Licks drum series

Every week I will be releasing a short video of a new drum groove/fill/exercise with a brief explanation. I’m calling it “Quick Licks”, and you can see the first two episodes right >> here << I encourage anyone to use them and send videos of your own, but you can also just check them out and maybe add something to your practice routine!