Today we’d like to introduce you to Mike Diggs.
Mike, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I’m 29 years old and I’ve been living in Los Angeles for almost five years now. But my story actually starts in my home state of New Jersey. My first instrument was the trumpet, and in fifth grade, I joined the Millstone Middle School concert band. But the drums were calling my name already! I remember watching the kids on the drum-sets and thinking about how cool it would be to be able to control all of my limbs at the same time and make a beat. Unfortunately, the percussion section was saturated with a bunch of kids that really wanted to hit things, so there was no room for me. Well, fast forward a few years later to 7th grade, and my friend Joe Zorzi (of the currently active band Modern Chemistry) called me randomly on my house phone and asked if I wanted to start a band with him. I told him sure! When he asked what I wanted to play, I said the drums. Cool, done deal. It was so spontaneous and quick, I didn’t really have to think about it. Who would have thought that that quick phone call would basically mold the rest of my life.
So my mom took me to Freehold Music Center, the local music shop where I took my first drum lesson with a guy named Andy Miller. In just that first lesson, Andy got me playing a beat, for the first time! I was using my right foot, left foot, and both hands to play the most basic, boring, “learn how to play drums lesson zero” beat. And right then and there, I was addicted. Within a few months, I saved up for my first drum-set and the rest is history! I took lessons once a week with Andy and eventually with other instructors, practiced for hours and hours a day at home, joined every school band I had time for, played in private bands, and even started teaching lessons. By the time I graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in Communication in 2015, I was ready to take my music career to the next level. In October of that year, I moved to Los Angeles and it was the best decision I could have made for myself. So here we are!
Has it been a smooth road?
The road was the smoothest when I first started playing as a kid. Not much had mattered back then other than the fact that I loved drumming and music more than anything else. It got a little more complicated as I grew up though and needed to make some decisions regarding my career. Would I go to college for music or for something else like business? What jobs could I get as a drummer in the music industry? Would they pay well? Did being a professional musician mean that I would have to be on the road nine months out of the year and sacrifice possibly starting a family one day? Truth is, I couldn’t answer any of those questions because I had no idea what I wanted out of my life for quite a while. That’s why I believe moving to LA was one of the best choices I’ve ever made because it forced me to leave my comfort zone. I threw myself into a culture surrounded by artists, entrepreneurs, and so much creativity. My good friend and bandmate Doug Rockwell moved here exactly a year before I did and he told me, “The hardest part about moving to LA is making the decision to do so.” I’ll always remember that because he was absolutely right. Once I was here, it was all about action. No more thinking and dreaming about what I was going to do; I was finally doing it. It’s still a bumpy road, it always will be. But instead of taking a detour, I just changed the tires on my Mike Diggs-mobile and I’m treading over it!
We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
Well, I’m a working drummer here in Los Angeles. At the moment, I am probably most known for my full-time affiliation with two bands; The Gutter Daisies (3 piece punk rock powerhouse) and The Puscie Jones Revue (9-piece funky, sexy, soul sensation). These bands are my babies; they are the groups that I have chosen to dedicate and invest my time, sweat, and energy into. Being in these projects has not only made me a better musician but also allowed me to gain other valuable experience as well. For example, I have taken on the role as the social media coordinator for both bands. I’ve also gotten some amazing insight into what band management is like through both of my amazing band managers Ryan Boehler and Megan Tracy (The Gutter Daisies and The Puscie Jones Revue respectively). These bands have helped me grow and express myself more than I ever thought I would have the chance to and I love them for it!
My endeavors don’t end with those bands though! As a drummer for hire, I have had the pleasure of working with so many amazing artists, bands, and producers performing at shows, recording in studios, touring, and providing any services that a working drummer can provide. I teach lessons to students of all ages and experiences and am constantly working on creating content for my social media platforms in order to continue to build my network and find more work. I think the thing that makes my business stand out is that when I accept a job, I pay special attention to the person that is hiring me. I really put in the effort to get to know them and the job they are hiring me for. It’s not about me at that point, it’s about the artist, student, producer. My job is to use the skills I have developed to give them what they want. For example, imagine you’re a singer in a band and you hire me. You’re trying to speak drums to me but you have no idea what it is that you want or how to explain it. My job is now to sit down for however long it takes with you to find out what you want and to give it to you. Even if it means we have to vocally “boom boom BAP boom boom boom CRASH” at each other for the next 15 minutes, we’ll get there! I pride myself on being flexible, accommodating, and respectful of the needs and desires of the people that choose to work with me.
Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I absolutely love the artistic culture of Los Angeles. Being around so many creative and talented people really makes me feel like I fit in and I’m in the right place. Musicians, actors, photographers, videographers, comedians, dancers, the list goes on and on. Whatever you need, you can find someone here that does it! And if you hang with the right people, you can develop some AMAZING friendships. At the end of the day, I love the hustle and bustle. I love the grind and seeing people chasing dreams no matter how wild they are.
What’s not to like about LA? Well….the traffic sucks, I think we can all agree on that. You definitely need to plan out your trips a little more efficiently to maintain your sanity. Believe it or not, I also wish that there was some more variance in the weather. Warm, sunny days are nice but every day eventually feels the same! I need some clouds and rain in my life! But that’s just the Jersey boy in me, haha. On a more serious note, LA can be tough if you’re building a career in entertainment. While it’s awesome to be surrounded by so many motivated people, it can get overwhelming. You need thick skin to last out here! I try to remind myself that the only story that matters is mine. No comparing my success to anybody else’s or feeling envious of their accomplishments. That’s not respectful to myself or anybody else. If you can get over the traffic, the sunny day filter, and the competition trap, LA is pretty damn cool!
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @mikeondrums
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