DIME Denver caught up with Grant Kershaw (Nightmares on Wax, Bonnie Tyler, Foxes, Wildflowers, Bo Bruce) as part of our “Top Tips From Drummers In The Know” series and asked him some important questions of how to make it as a drummer.
1. How many styles do you think I should learn?
Personally, I’d say as many as possible. Obviously, everyone has a style they prefer playing and enjoy more but the broader your playing is the more chance you have of getting the gig. If you class yourself as just a rock drummer, you’ll never get the call for that big band gig!
2. How many hours a week did you practice to be good enough to get in your first band?
I used to practice a lot! And not because I was told to by my teacher or because I was forced to, but because I love practicing! I’d never say force yourself to do a set amount of hours as I think you’ll find yourself getting bored and not being as productive as you could be.
3. Do I need to learn to program drums as well as how to play them?
I think this is entirely down to choice, but I will say that if you have more of an understanding of the tech side of things e.g. how to use samples/triggers and how to program parts in your DAW, it all adds extra strings to your bow and will most definitely be useful at some point in your playing career.
4. How do you earn money as a drummer?
Put simply, however you can. Just like any self employed job, if there is no work in the diary, you don’t earn! So, if you can be versatile in your playing, both live and in the studio, you have more chance of getting work. Another fall back which I personally enjoy is teaching. There will always be demand for a good drum teacher so if you can be qualified to teach and/or have experience teaching you always have that option and can earn money that way when not out on tour.
5. What advice would you give yourself if you went back to when you very first started as a drummer?
The one thing I would say to myself would be to persist with learning other instruments! I do play a bit of guitar, but I never practiced as much as I did with drums simply because I LOVED playing drums. I think a drummer who can play several other instruments and/or sing to a high standard is highly sought after!
6. Who is your drum hero?
One of the guys I have always looked up to and fortunately have got to know as a friend is a British drummer called Steve White. Steve got me my first professional session gig with a band signed to Sony and thankfully since then I’ve managed to keep quite busy and keep the gigs coming in!
Catch Grant on tour in the USA and UK with Nightmares on Wax!
DIME’s 4 year drum program (Commercial Music Performance) allows students to expand their technical ability as well as learning about the music industry and how to survive in it. We have drum students in Detroit, Denver and Online who are embarking on music careers.