I think most drummers heard Kiss
or Rush for the
first time and decided to be a drummer, I was a little different.
I was in second grade and playing the violin. My dad being a country
music fan insisted that it was a fiddle. In any event, things were
going well as long as I was playing open strings. However, once
I had to start putting down my fingers on the fret board, it was
an entirely different ball game. Trying to figure out where to place
my fingers on a fret board with no markings was a task for which
I wasn't prepared at seven years old. I recall the night my parents
took me to the music store and I walked away with a drum. I don't
remember how it was that I ended up with a drum. I sure am glad
I did. We walked out with a Ludwig Acrolite snare drum kit complete
with a case, stand, and that rubber practice pad. I wish I still
had that drum. The first time I put the stand together it was upside
down. With that, my drumming career had started and the rest, as
they say, is history.
I played a snare drum for seven years in school bands learning
proper technique and music reading skills until I was in 9th grade
and now living in Montana. That's when I got my first taste of a
drum set. There was a senior that year, Kurt Gardner. He was really good and maybe my first drumming inspiration. I believe the first song I ever learned on a drum set
is Wipe Out.
Fast forward to the next school year at Murray High School back
in Utah. I had a lot of fun drumming in high school, and I even
learned a few things. Like being a 'percussionist' means more than
playing a drum. I had a great band teacher in Mr. Ablonie who challenged
me to be more than a drummer. I learned to play mallet instruments
and read treble clef. I was also introduced to marching for the
first time. Many are the days I learned drill at 7:00 a.m. in the
snow. I even took up the tenor sax for a while. One should be forced
to play Pomp and Circumstance only once in their life on
any percussion instrument. My dad bought me my first drum set in
1985. It was a 1983 Tama Swingstar kit in Wine Red. I played that
kit for 22 years. I excelled in high school band and thought I was
pretty good, until college.
In 1989 I tried out for the marching band at the University of
Utah. Very quickly I learned that I wasn't all that. I landed the
#2 bass drum my first year. I marched for four years at the U, the
last three I was on snare. I have to say that my first year on bass
drum was the most challenging and the most rewarding. While at the
U I also played in the percussion ensemble, the pep band, and various
concert bands. I also teamed up with a very good friend, Scott
Spain and assisted him in the teaching and writing of music
for two local high schools. I learned a great deal while at the
U and I still follow the percussion department's doings. Douglas
Wolf who heads up the percussion department at the U is a world
class person and musician.
After not really playing much for a few years, I got back into it and moved to Los Angeles. I joined my brother's band, Shoot the Moon. That was a great experience. We played a few clubs in Hollywood, Pasadena, and Malibu. We were also commissioned to write a song for Crusty Demons of Dirt 2 video put out by Fleshwound Films and Jon Freeman. Our song, Burning Sands was the highlight song that closed out the video and is also on the sound track CD for the movie. That was my first recording experience and quite a wild ride. I was also fortunate enough to take a few lessons from the funk master, Rick Latham. Rick is not only an excellent musician and drummer, but he's a very nice guy. After one lesson I felt like I knew him my entire life.
After taking a few more years off (I've got to stop doing that),
I hooked up with a band from Orange County called god complex. Playing
Bieger will be an experience I'll always cherish. We had the
fortunate opportunity to record our demo CD at Sunset
Sound in Hollywood. We used the same room that Prince uses.
It was an awesome experience. Special thanks to master recording
Norrell (No Doubt, Weezer, Jeff Buckley, Jewel, Brian Setzer,
Faith No More, BT, Rush, The Replacements, John Hiatt, The Jayhawks,
Henry Rollins, The Refreshments, and Saliva) for helping set us
up with the studio time at Sunset Sound. Before leaving California
I had the opportunity to work with another OC guy, Rob
Blaney. Rob was writing the musical score for a new Rock Opera,
Here I Am. Erick and I both were brought on for the recording of
the concept CD for that project. I also was brought on by Rob to
play drums for the musical, Cabaret.
After a short stay back in Utah I made the trek to Nashville. I
met up with the guys from Niacin
Flush. They are a great group of guys who write awesome music
that make drumming both easy and challenging. I am currently an independent Nashville artist who has done session work with people who have supported artists such as The Judds, Johnny Cash, Hannah Montana, Randy Travis, Charlie Pride, and many others. I have recently finished up a country and gospel CD for Cher Hendrix in Nashville.
As of 2010 I'm back in Utah. I am playing in several bands and symphonies. My main gig now, in addition to recording, is a dance/party band called Rumor Has It.
In addition to playing drums, I have taken an interest in designing
and building drums. One of my designs took 6th place in the 2009 Snare Drum Olympics.
Keep your eye on my shows pages
to see when and where I'll be playing next.
©Copyright 2017 by Tommy Maras. All rights reserved.