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Meet Sammy J Watson of Drumming D.N.A.

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sammy J Watson.

Sammy J, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I’ve been living in LA since 1994 chasing my passion (drumming). After graduating with honors and awards from Musicians Institute in ‘95, I started working at coffee shops to support myself as I pursued my dreams. This is where I met people/musicians and how I landed most of my work. I went from slinging espresso to head lining a second stage on a major festival, (Ricky Lee Jones- H.O.R.D.E. festival 1996). As the life of a musician goes up and down, you tend to keep looking for expendable jobs in between gigs. Again, coffee shops were easy, and it was there where I picked up some theater work and toured for a bit. In between those tours, I eventually met someone who put me in the line of fire of “The Apex Theory” where I made most of my noise as an artist/drummer. After years of ups and downs, (whole other interview  ) we walked away from it. Over the last 10 years I’ve mainly found myself teaching and doing local session work. Being a Dad, my priorities have changed and going on the road doesn’t really appeal to me anymore. Most of the gigs low ball you and I’ve built a life in LA, so why leave for chump change.. Though if someone like the Foo Fighter’s calls, I’ll consider 🙂

Over the past few years, my focus has been the release of my instructional drum book, “Drumming D.N.A.” It’s currently used at the collegiate level where I teach classes at the Musicians Institute in Hollywood. Musically, I’ve got a handful of projects that I’m drumming for but to be honest, I’m more interested in a new direction/passion of music I’m working on. I’m writing sound scape pieces that I create mainly from all drums/percussion involving pitch bending with the use of water and other experimental manipulated FX (plug-ins). These pieces are a journey of peaks and valleys of emotion, vibe and exploration. There’s no intent behind them, besides to explore, express and enjoy myself. Who knows where they will lead me….

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Never a smooth road. Watching a band that has everything going for them shoot themselves in the foot was hard. Imploding right in front of your eyes, you try to help and guide, but can do nothing. That’s a real kick in the gut. Egos, pride, and selfishness will always ruin music/mankind. The band finally fired our singer in 2002.  Shortly after that the industry collapsed and everybody turned their backs on us. We continued as a 3 piece, but timing is everything. We were (dare I say) A little ahead of our time. As 2006/8 approached, progressive music was starting to come around again, but the band, “Apex”, was burnt out. Members had, had enough. Unfortunately at the end, we (Not my choice) changed the band name to “Mt Helium”, released the album that we had worked on for 4-5 years “Faces” and then broke up. The music never really saw the light of day.

Drumming D.N.A. – what should we know?
“Drumming D.N.A.” is my instructional book that can be found at www.sammyjdrums.com and at Amazon (Kindle and hard copy).

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
Besides the music we created together (Apex), Staying honest to myself. I’ve turned down plenty of opportunities and offers to play with artists that I didn’t respect or had no musical connection with. I know for a fact I’d be in a much better financial place now. But, I might be spiritually broke…

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Image Credit:
Rebecca Truszkowski

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