Since the early days of Youtube, cover videos have been a popular genre in the website’s video-sharing library. Musicians of varied levels attempt to recreate recordings of their favorite tunes, using their “axe” of choice.
Even being a musician myself, I was easily bored by these videos. Guitar cover videos kept my attention for about a minute and a half at best. Only for a close-up view of the “noodling” of one’s fingers on a tricky guitar lead. Drum cover videos had an equal or even lesser chance of my attention, as I found it uncomfortable watching a dude get sweaty as he whacks away at the “skins.”
A few years later, I saw some drum cover videos pop up in my Facebook feed from an old college buddy of mine. Frankly I was surprised to know that he was playing a full drum kit. When we were in our college marching band, he was a very flashy cymbal player. My fondest memory of his repertoire was the imitation of the “hadoken” move from Street Fighter II. If he was that entertaining on one percussion instrument, I figured he’s worth checking out playing an entire kit. So I grabbed some headphones and pressed click.
Immediately his drum sponsor logos pop up. “Oh my lord, this guy means business,” I thought to myself. Then the video opens up to a shot of my buddy Myron, seated at a type of drum kit you’d see at a Motley Crue concert. This guy has 2 or 4 or 6 of every type of drum in his kit, with cymbals to match. The song begins and you see the MTV music video version of the selected track in the top left corner, a shot of his feet playing double-kick pedals in the lower right and multiple angles of him in the center. There was so much to watch, that my eyes were glued to my monitor, trying to keep track of the drum party happening on my screen. By the end of the three minute and fifty second session, I was hooked. I watched another of his drum covers and then another. I became a fan of Myron Carlos, the independent drummer.
As he competes in online contests and gears up for another school year as a band director, I asked him to share a little about his experience and rise to the viral video drummer that he has become.
FP: Your online bio says you were bent on becoming a drummer in the 6th grade after watching Tommy Lee (Motley Crue) on MTV. However at what age did you actually begin playing on a full kit?
MC: I first started playing the kit the spring of my 6th grade year (1990). I messed around on a snare drum and played the kits at music stores like Harry’s but nothing really serious until after my 3rd drum lesson with Chuck James. My parents brought me to a drum shop that used to be on Queen St. in the Ward Warehouse area of Honolulu and we got my first kit, a black Royce 5-piece kit with 3 cymbals for $500. The cymbals were so bad that they all warped after the first week! All this happened during that 3 or 4 months of 6th grade. I was the only kid in school with a complete set of drums and cymbals!
FP: People that have seen your performances with the UH Marching Band would easily remember your flashy work on the cymbals. You are obviously talented and probably had your pick on any of the percussion instruments to play. Why the cymbals?
MC: Lol! Flashy and avant garde in a sense but more like a misdirection of talent (or lack thereof!) Truth be told, I wanted to be on the snareline but being from Maui during that time, I wasn’t prepared for corps-style drumming. Now days is a different story. The kids are much more prepared for it. I felt a little disconcerted about not making snare but at the same time thankful that I didn’t have to read and play all those notes! The rest of the battery (snares, tenors, basses) seemed to have their own element that made them cool to watch so instead of whining about not making snare, I decided to make cymbals the thing everyone wanted to do. We tried to steal the other’s limelight, so to speak XD. Cymbals just seemed to fit my (call it what you will) attitude, style, mentality, etc. but I figured, someone’s gotta play these things, there’s actual music for it, why not have fun doing it? I worked on the motto, “Do whatever comes to mind until someone in charge says otherwise”.
FP: How did you get the idea to start recording yourself and post videos on Youtube?
MC: My students! When Mike Portnoy left Dream Theater, my students suggested that I put up a video playing a Dream Theater song and maybe someone important will see it, like it and call (no one did btw). Before then, I really haven’t played the drumset that seriously since college. Some people thought I gave up on playing the drums! I occasionally played between classes and afterschool or jam with some students or play along with my classes but I figured my drumming days were behind me. I did a few more covers and the positive comments (and some negative) got me thinking that maybe I’m an okay drummer. What really drove me in the beginning too was that as a teacher, I’m always telling my students to keep practicing and keep getting better but lot of them haven’t seen me play. I even jokingly told them that if they want an honest opinion on how they play/sing, go post a youtube video doing just that. At least my students, their parents and other teachers can see that I am still capable of being a performer and that what I teach my students comes with some clout. I also cover songs that my students recommend, which shows them that music is music and it doesn’t matter what kind of music you’re into. Just do it well and with some enthusiasm.
FP: What was your first drum cover?
MC: My first one was “Overture 1928” by Dream Theater (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EpcZeY89510). I did a couple more after that but my first video on my own youtube account was “Crushcrushcrush” by Paramore (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jTStksRrM_c). The other videos are on other peoples accounts.
FP: Which cover has gone the most “viral?”
MC: Maybe not completely “viral” but the one that got an enormous amounts of views in so little time was my Giga Pudding cover (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yVgX1WwZfSk). It was a meme spammed on 4chan by it’s owner and one of my former students suggested I do it. I’ve never been to 4chan (apparently a lot of the world does) so I had no idea what this song meant to the internet. I just thought it was hillarious! I posted the video up the next day after it was spammed on 4chan and since the meme was still fresh, BAM…..instant views and instant traffic to my other youtube videos.
FP: Your recent drum cover videos highlight your numerous sponsors. Did you approach them first or did they seek you out as a result of your viral videos?
MC: I actually approached them myself. One of my (now former) students suggested I do it and sent me a youtube video of how to obtain an endorsement. I did exactly what the video said to do and got an endorsement deal with Soultone Cymbals. After obtaining that endorsement, other companies did the same and it got easier to get offers as time went by. Believe it or not, I’ve turned down about 2 dozen companies offering endorsements because they were competitor companies or because I couldn’t afford to swap out my old gear for theirs. Currently, I’m endorsed by Soultone Cymbals, SilverFox Drumsticks, Grover Pro Percussion, Gibraltar Hardware and Remo Drumheads. I also use this endorsement to supply equipment to my school program. I’m sort of a hybrid endorsee by being both a performing artist and an educator.
FP: Have any of your students been inspired to post videos of their own?
MC: Quite a few. One of them has a bunch of guitar covers he does, another on drums and another on flute. I have quite a few singers that post covers too. Some of my students are also in bands (cover and original) and they post their performances up on youtube. Some have even branched out to posting videos of their dance crew performances.
FP: As an independent drummer, are you approached by bands and touring acts to play as a “gun for hire,” so to speak?
MC: I have but only online. Not so much locally. I’ve done a couple of compilation videos and a lot of folks ask me if I’ll be heading into their town so we could jam but that’s about it. I think a lot of the acts that come to Maui have their “backup drummers” all ready to go. That would be cool though if I were approached to cover a drummer that can’t make it to the show.
FP: Do you even entertain the thought of starting a band or is the independent drummer route a permanent path for you?
MC: I am actually in a band. Just got together a couple of months ago. The band’s called Abbey StJohn and we play hard rock/blues. In fact we’re still auditioning bass players so as soon as we find the right guy (or gal) then we’ll be setting gigs. So far professionally, being a teacher, drummer and playing in Abbey StJohn works for me. I think if I took on anymore musical commitments, I’d be spreading myself too thin. My main commitment is to my family and I can’t sacrifice that for anything. I’ll keep doing what I do as long as it doesn’t interfere with my family life.
FP: As a parent/music educator, how would you go about starting a child off on the drums? Also, what age do you feel is appropriate?
MC: I think as long as you can pick up a stick and purposely hit a drum, you’re good to go. Like anything, children will find something that they love to do. They’ll also go through phases of showing interest in one thing and completely disliking it a week later. Not all kids are going to like drums. They might like seeing it or hearing it or showing some appreciation for it but not all kids will want to do it. If you have the money, go ahead and get a kit for your kid. They may stick with it for the rest of their lives, or they might use it as decorations later. It’s always going to be a gamble. I would have to say, you probably won’t want to start getting your kids into drumming. If the time is right, they’ll approach you (the parent) about drumming. I never had real drums as a kid and playing drums is something that stuck with me from the moment I wanted to play. My kids have access to my kit whenever they want but I don’t force it on them. I ask them if they want to play my drums and if they do, great. If not, meh. I think as parents, we’ll know what our kids will get into and how serious they are about it so we know what to invest our time and money in.
FP: What can your fans expect in the future? Touring drum clinics? Recordings? Additional gear to your existing kit?
MC: I’ll be doing drum covers as much as I can when I get the chance. If I have concerts or shows coming up with my music classes, I obviously can’t do as much drum covers as when there’s a downtime. As soon as we get a bass player for our band (Abbey StJohn) we’ll be doing some gigs and recording some songs. We’ve talked about traveling but we’ll see what we can do locally first. I think that’s pretty much it for the kit. I’ll probably add a few things like cowbells, woodblocks, windchimes etc. to the kit if the cover calls for it but unless I amass a HUGE amount of spare change to buy a new kit, it’ll probably stay basically the same. I would like to add a few more cymbals though. Maybe new pedals. We’ll see… Just keep offering suggestions for drum covers and I’ll try my best to get to them and pump them out!
Today is the last day to vote for Myron in the Drum Channels’ Alien Ant Farm contest. You can vote here: http://www.drumchannel.com/articles/Drum_Channels_Alien_Ant_Farm_Contest_Voting
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