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Meet Pro Drummer Greg Collister

Today we’d like to introduce you to Greg Collister.

Greg, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
My parents would tell you about how I was born with natural rhythm & my banging on pots & pans as a child. I used to listen to classic 80’s hits as a kid such as Phil Collins, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson etc. I have memories of my dad asking me to tap out the beat & I would. I physically started playing drums at age 10 with my local elementary school’s 5th grade band program. I received 1st place for a snare drum duet in competition in 6th grade.

I grew up on a small farm in the Midwest where my father taught me a lot about work ethic. I stuck with it & my parents bought me my 1st drum set from a local music store & inquired about drum lessons at which time the connection was made with my 1st private drum teacher Al Nache around age 12-13. I spent about the next 5 years studying with him & practicing extremely hard. Al is a PIT graduate & he showed me everything he possibly could. I had an epiphany one day while in a lesson with him. I was looking out a window & it just hit me like a ton of bricks, I knew this is what I was going to do for the rest of my life. I knew I would grow up to be a professional Drummer. I owe a lot to Al as he showed me the way, gave me a solid foundation. I have maintained friendship with him to this day, he’s like family to me. I played drums all throughout Jr. High & high school performing with the concert band, marching, jazz, honor, pep & competing in the IHSA solo & ensemble contests where I received 1st place every year for my drum solos.

I started playing in a band outside of school age 14 we played Nirvana, Goo Goo Dolls etc mostly at local coffee houses, parks, & private parties. By age 16 I joined classic rock band corporate rock at which time I also started to teach drums privately to some of my younger classmates. My teaching influences came from my mother who was a school teacher for over 30 years. I attended the Los Angeles Music Academy summer camp in 2000 receiving instruction from Ralph Humphrey & Joe Porcaro. At age 17 I opened up for Ted Nugent at Clinton riverboat days in Clinton, Iowa July 3, 2002 who I had previously listened to on cassette because my uncle Russell really loves classic rock bands like Nugent, Zeppelin, Jethro Tull & I used to spend a lot of time with him rocking out. I remember rocking “stranglehold by Ted Nugent on the drums via my Walkman.

He also introduced me to the show Austin City Limits where I used to watch the likes of my now favorite blues artist Stevie Ray Vaughn perform. After graduating high school, I moved to Hollywood, CA to attend musicians institute & the PIT program for 1 year. I had a lot of really amazing teachers & worked with a lot of cool musicians. I practiced night & day & put everything I had into school! I graduated in the fall of 2004 with a degree in Professional Percussion. I also met some friends I had yet to know would also become like family & help me along not only my musical path but Also my life path.

One of them is Aaron Nordstrom, a longtime friend & lead vocalist of the current band Gemini Syndrome. I studied drums privately with Sammy J Watson & Rob Carson around this time as well. I ended up in a pop band for a while (girl without fear) which did receive radio play for the single look like angels on KROQ 106.7. I joined female fronted progressive metal band clandestine back in about 2006-2007, played some local shows, and did a couple tours with them. I moved back to the Midwest in my early 20’s.

I started to teach drums privately again in several locations. I was also asked to perform drum clinics, & join in helping with camps & programs for kids & adults. At the time, I also was playing with a top 40 cover band called zero gravity. We played a lot of things like Paramore, flyleaf, seether etc which I loved. I really had the time of my life playing the bar scene with that band! I competed in the guitar center drum off in 09′ winning the store finals in Davenport IA & went as far as Minneapolis MN. I also got into worship drumming for a church which I had done a little of in my younger years growing up in church already. I did some moving around from the Midwest to CA a few times but finally managed to make it stick! I have been currently working with a few projects. I am looking to play to thousands & record with some of the most successful bands in the world. So I have really been on a journey lately to catch that break & really get out there. In addition to playing live, & recording as a professional Drummer I also teach drums privately & now with more options than ever I have the ability to teach anyone in the world anytime through these options: in home, my studio, a studio of the student’s choice or skype/ FaceTime! I really love teaching & helping people achieve their goals as well. I am currently studying with International drum sensation and educator Thomas Lang. I continue to work in a number of projects including drumming for discovery church in Simi valley, ca with the goal of bringing everything full circle by succeeding in this music industry, making a comfortable living, and eventually raising a family. I wanna tour the world you know? Play to thousands, record as many multi-platinum albums as possible, pass down the art of drumming and make a real difference people will remember for the rest of the future. I just want to help influence people in a positive way. Help them make it through a difficult day or time.

Has it been a smooth road?
It has not been a smooth road, which is something anyone in the music industry or any entertainment industry for that matter will tell you. I would say that one of the biggest struggles is financial…trying to make enough money to survive in the music industry is no joke. another struggle is right time right place…. dealing with rejection because maybe you don’t look the part. going in audition after audition and being turned down.

The struggle with drugs and alcohol is real and something I’ve personally experienced.

I would say not being able to find the right project…that 1 band that makes enough money so that you don’t have to freelance. Fake friends and people. Dealing with negative people in my life. Depression is certainly something I’ve also dealt with of course the cliché (should I give this up?) (am I getting too old for this?) Struggling with relationships and finding women that understand and support what I do has never been an easy task. Leaving my family and so many things behind. I’ve had to sacrifice a lot to get where I am today and I’m still working hard to climb the mountain.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Pro Drummer Greg Collister – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
I specialize in the areas of professional drumming, live, studio/recording, private instruction, drum clinics, drum tech. What sets me apart is my passion for what I do. I love it with all my heart and soul and have dedicated my life to it…22 years this month of August and counting. I’m highly driven, dedicated, patient and through my study of other arts quite calm and Zen like. I will never give up on myself or anyone else I’m teaching/ guiding whether it be through music/ drumming or through life itself. I have a good heart you know I love helping people and I want everything I know and have experienced in my life to positively influence the next generation and future to come.

Even those that are older than me. I am proud to help everyone that I possibly can. I am proud and so thankful I’ve been given the gift to do what I do best and that I get to do it every day for a living. Even though I am still building my career I’m working so hard to make the right opportunities happen. There is no “Plan B” Drumming is who I am.

Who else deserves credit – have you had mentors, supporters, cheerleaders, advocates, clients or teammates that have played a big role in your success or the success of the business?  If so –who are they and what role did they plan / how did they help.
I’m very thankful for all of my amazing teachers & the support of everyone in my life including my parents, friends, family & current girlfriend, the growing support of the community and that I’d be thankful for any musical opportunities anyone may be able to provide.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I love the scenery & the weather in L.A. it’s beautiful! I like the diversity and culture. I would say what I like least is the traffic and inconsideration for other people’s wellbeing and feelings. We’re all working to succeed here. Gotta support and help each other out.

Pricing:

  • Drum Lessons are $30per half hour and $60 per hour for my studio location and skype/ facetime
  • + $.50 a mile roundtrip for in home instruction

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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