Photo's by Andrew Lepley, Courtesy of Hudson Music
Working in drum education, it is always very rewarding to see students excel and achieve all of their goals and beyond. Since Drummers Collective was started in 1977, the school has seen many students become professionals in the drum and music communities on many different levels.Some have gone on to play on some very big stages, others have made a career working as session musicians, and many others have gone on to become teachers themselves. Drummers Collective alum Chris Coleman has had the opportunity to work in many different professional settings. From the classroom level at Drummers Collective, to Madison Square Garden on tour as Music Director for legendary boy band New Kids on the Block, Chris has become a very well rounded working professional. Most recently, Drummers Collective was honored to have Chris as a featured clinician at Modern Drummer Festival 2010. This was the first time in the history of Drummers Collective that a faculty member, as well as a former student, was featured on the festival bill in the publications 20 festival history. We had a chance to sit down with Chris to get his thoughts on playing at Modern Drummer Festival 2010.
DC: So what was the actual day like for you preparing to play?
CC: Did I sleep? (Laughs) Actually, I barely slept the night before. I got up off and on. I wasn’t stressed, but it was the excitement of knowing what I was about to go do and the feeling of being blessed to play the festival. That was kind of how the night went, but the morning, when I actually got up, I was thinking about the breakdown of the Master Class and how I could flow with the crowd. I wanted to connect with the people in the audience and get my point across. The day before setting up I got all of the hype out beating the heck out of my drums for a few hours. I also needed to get back to feeling familiar with my kit again since I hadn’t played on it since being on tour the year before with New Kids on the Block.
DC: Were you nervous at all before you got on stage?
CC: No, not really, I was pretty relaxed. I was loosening up before I went on, playing with my sticks on my cases, keeping conversation with everyone. That’s what I normally do before I play a show. Some people ask me if I’m nervous because I’m constantly playing and talking, but that’s jut what I do. Actually, I think I had a moment before you introduced me standing in the back. I was listening to you talk, but it really hit me when I heard you say “Could you please welcome Chris Coleman”. I was like oh snap here we go! To be honest it wasn’t because there were a ton of people in the audience, it was because the Master Class was being filmed to be released on DVD.No matter what I did, it was always going to seen, good or bad. So, technically no, I wasn’t nervous, there was just a slight moment right before playing.
DC: It has to be a very rewarding feeling knowing that you went from being a student at Drummers Collective, to becoming a Faculty member that is playing the Modern Drummer Festival?
CC: It is a very rewarding, but it is also very enlightening as well. I’ve never been in that situation before. There was no pressure to being a student other than learning what my teachers taught me. I did have some pressure on me when I was teaching for the first time because it was a total reality check, but it’s a whole different thing when you are being put out there as the it of it in the drum world. I’m not saying that I’ve stopped growing on my instrument and will never learn anything on it again as a student. I’m still learning something new everyday. This pressure was different because you are looked at differently by your peers, and you are part of this professional drum community. I can remember going to the music store when I was younger and seeing a Modern Drummer video being played with Virgil Donati. I had never seen anything like what he was doing or even heard of who he was.I bought the tape because of watching his performance. A thought came to my head right before I went on stage - this is a monumental moment. Maybe there is someone that doesn't know who I am. What if they see this DVD and are inspired by me? That was also a total different type of pressure.
DC: Out of all of the Master Classes and Clinics you have taught and been a part of, where does this one rank?
CC: This is a 10 for me. To be honest I don’t look at things as ever being perfect, but I feel like this class flowed the best I’ve ever had a Master Class or Clinic flow. Ever. From the point of inception I had a theme and a goal. I was able to meet my theme and go even beyond my goal. I didn’t expect the crowd to respond the way they did. I didn’t expect to have the interaction with them that I did. When it happened it was fun and I felt real comfortable. I felt free being up there. I didn’t feel held back or rushed; I felt like I could just be myself and share some of my life experiences.
DC: Where did this rank as a life experience for you?
CC: Again, a 10. The hang alone was very cool. Being on the roster with other drummers that I have listened to and been inspired by was amazing. Prior to the event, I started doing some history on everybody. Some of it I didn’t have to do, because I was already digging these cats. There were a few that I wasn’t as familiar with that really inspired me with their playing. Now I was getting a chance to play with them and hang. Being around them all and talking with them as they were friends was a great feeling. Having them ask me questions about my playing and having them say great things about me was an experience in itself. So to me this was definitely a 10 as far as life experiences go.