About The Torch: A monthly series, The Torch aims to help musicians of all ages and talent levels learn more about their respective instruments. Each issue features band members from around the world discussing their craft. They provide our readers with advice and insight towards their person experiences, as well as talking about the tool of their livelihood. Whether you’re an aspiring musician, beginner, fan, or expert, there’s something here for everyone. I truly believe it takes one generation to inspire another. With each issue, I hope we can motivate more and more readers to become the forces they admire.
Written & Produced by Meryl "LJ" DeWitt | Edited by Rachel Rosell | Photos by 99.7 The Blitz, ZTP Mag, CC
Today, Ohio's coming in strong with two great drummers; Jason Eilers of Sins of Motion and Tanner Jessup of To Kill A Monster and Ever Burning Bright. Their bands bring a lively, punk sound that I know you're all dying for! However, we'd never let heavy metal get overshadowed here. Our third attention comes out of Los Angeles; Zechariah Gamez of So This Is Suffering. All these acts come with some great, undiscovered talent that I'm excited to share with you!
Meryl "LJ" DeWitt: How old were you when you first started playing? What was your first drum set?
Tanner Jessup: I grew up around music. My dad was a drummer, so it has always been a part of life. I really started perusing drums in 5th grade. There was a spring recital (basically a talent show) and I drummed to "Brown Eyed Girl" by Van Morrison. From that point on I absolutely fell in love with it and it been my whole life since.
Zechariah Gamez: 15. My dad had an older CB drum kit sitting around, so I started jamming and learning on that.
Jason Eilers: I started playing when I was 4 years old. So, every birthday, I just extend the years of how many years I've been playing because I don't remember the exact date of when I started. But, I do remember that the Tom Hanks movie, That Thing You Do, motivated me to start playing. So, I've been playing for about 13 years now. I actually got my first drum set when I was 7. Before then I would just beat on pillows, couches, and beds (I still technically count it as drumming). It was one of those crappy beginners set though, which, I don't remember the brand actually because it was that bad.
LJ: Through trial & error in your career, are there any mistakes you would warn young drummers to be cautious of?
Zach: Keep playing and also practice with a metronome as often as you can.
Jason: Learn technique ASAP! I can't stress that enough. I still struggle with it sometimes, but over the years, I can tell that my technique has gotten better, if it's through not breaking as many cymbals, drumheads, drumsticks, anything basically. Yeah, you're going to break them because there's no way out of wooden sticks or 2 ply heads breaking, but it shouldn't happen at an alarming rate. Also, learn to play quietly before you play loud. Playing loud is so much easier than playing quietly.
Tanner: I'm not sure if there's any mistakes I have made that I can personally warn against. I can say that whatever you do, if it's something you enjoy, don't let it die. Just keep playing. If you can take advantage of learning to read drum music, do it! It's giving me so many opportunities to play with more people, do studio drumming, make more connections.
LJ: Biggest stage nightmare you've had so far?
Jason: I have the typical band mate story for this. Okay. So. Sins Of Motion was slated to play at Reading Metal Fest up in Reading, OH in October of 2015. So, I asked my (now ex lead singer and ex bassist) to get some of my stuff for me from our practice space in Lawrenceburg, IN. When they show up in Reading, they had brought everything, but my throne (or as some people call it, the drum seat). Every component of a drum set is important, but nothing is more important than the seat. And as expected, I start to flip. I think I ended up walking back to my car and just screaming and kicking everywhere because I was really frustrated. So, what I ended up doing was try to find something to sit on and in the corner was these metal bleachers, usually used for little league baseball games or soccer games. I sat on these bleachers and set my drums in front of it and for the entirety of our 30 minute set, I was sitting on these bleachers. #nevertrustyourbandmates
Tanner: By far is forgetting a drum rug! I've had a few shows where I didn't bring my own rug and the venue didn't have anything but a slippery floor. Your show gets ruined because your drums just run away from you! I've started bringing my own rug anytime I play out.
Zach: Just dropping sticks or cymbals falling. Seems to happen, so double check everything haha
LJ: What's your current stage set up?
Tanner: Currently I play a 4 piece 1 rack 1 floor tom, bass and a snare. I use Zildjian; A custom high hats with 2 18 inch K crash ride and an A fast Crash. I use a 22inch Zildjian Ping Ride and a Zildjian Trash China.
Jason: My current stage set up consists of a Pearl Vision Birch kit with an 8x12 rack tom, 16x16 floor tom, 18x22 kick, and then I have a SJC custom drums tour series kit with brass hardware, which, if you tune this thing up high, it sounds like firecrackers going off. So, my 16th note rhythm fills are pretty fun, haha. For cymbals, I'm currently in the middle of switching from Sabian, to all Zildjians. But, so far I have 14 inch A Custom Zildjian hi hats, 18 inch A Custom Zildjian Crash, 19 inch Zildjian A Custom Crash, and the others are a 21 inch Sabian B8pro 2000s Crash/Ride, and a 18 inch Sabian B8X China. I have mixed hardware and pedals right now, but I'm aiming to use Zildjian hardware and Tama pedals. The Iron Cobra double bass pedal is the shiznit. I use Vater drumsticks, Evans drumheads, and also Cympad cymbal felts, all of which are amazing companies.
Zach: DDRUM Dominion Maple Kit 10" 12" 16". Remo Emperor heads. Pearl Free Floating Snare 14" with Evans Hybrid Head. Trying to get all Zildjian, but right now I'm using Paiste 14" PST 5 Hihats, 19" Zildjian A custom, 16" Zildjian ZHT China, 20" Zildjian A Armand Ride, 21" Zildjian ACustom Medium Thin Ride, and 18" Zildjian Oriental China.
LJ: Best piece you've ever owned? / Worst piece you've ever owned?
Jason: The best piece I've ever owned is probably currently the SJC Tour Series snare I have. I probably use it more than the stock snare I got with my Pearl kit, it's just that good. The worst piece I've owned is definitely the Eclipse drum kit I got 5 years ago. It was definitely worse than my first drum kit, that's for sure, but it was free, so I took it, hahaha.
Zach: My current setup. My first setup.
Tanner: I love my DW collector Series 14x8 black Nickel plated over brass snare. That thing SINGS! It's so versatile for everything I use it for!
LJ: Dream pieces to own one day? (Collectors, customs, etc)
Tanner: I'm a big fan of DW. I think they make some really good drums. Especially their collector series sets. I would love to have one in a royal sparkle purple with a black stripe in the shells. I think they are gorgeous.
Zach: Mapex or Pearl Maple Kits.
Jason: I've always wanted the 21 inch Zildjian 20th Anniversary Ride. It is such a good cymbal. I probably started wanting this ride when I watched the video Zildjian did with Steve Carey when The Color Morale played Warped Tour 2014. He talked about how it's thinner than most rides, but it's really good for being a crash/ride which is something I need for the music I play.
LJ: Some drummers think I'm crazy for asking this & others find it a perfectly normal question… Do you name your pieces? If so, what are their names?
Zach: No, haha
Tanner: I've never heard of someone maiming their pieces, haha. I don't even name my car. It's just not my thing.
Jason: Well. I named my set after my now ex girlfriend, but since then I haven't named it. But I do call it a she most of the time.
LJ: Who's your personal drummer hero?
Jason: Lately, it's been a few, like Luke Holland, Steve Carey, Chris Turner, Jerrod Boyd, Mike Fuentes, and Vinny Mauro. But all time, it's probably Steve Carey and Luke Holland. I've been watching them for a while now and a lot of the new music my band has been creating has been influenced by both of them. I saw both of them on this past year's Warped Tour and I stared at them the whole time. It was an amazing experience.
Zach: Aaron Gillespie of Underoath.
Tanner: Steve Augustine from a band called Thousand Foot Krutch is one of my biggest influences. He plays some really intricate grooves underneath his beats and it meshes really well with the heavy sound that the band has.
LJ: What, for you, makes it worth it to keep playing? What's your favorite part about being a drummer?
Zach: Seeing the people's faces from the back, improving every day, also keeping active. Not many people can do it, so I feel lucky to be able to hit the stage on tour.
Jason: Music is what helps me get through life, especially being a junior in high school. Whenever I play, all the stress melts away and I enter a world of my own. The adrenaline rush is probably my favorite part of being a drummer. Nothing can beat the feeling of playing sold out theaters with the people that you enjoy making music with.
Tanner: I love being able to make a groove or rhythm out of hitting things, haha. I love how you have to use your whole body to play, hands and feet! There's just so much movement and technique. It's easy to make a universal groove your own just by adding a bit of your own personal flare to it. I love playing in front of a 1,000 people just as much as I love to just sit down and play at my house. It's something I know I will always be able to do, even when I grow old because music never leaves.
Sins of Motion
"Mom (I'm Sorry)"
So This Is Suffering
To Kill A Monster
Ever Burning Bright
"Stay After Me"