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Dan Shinder

Interview by Sean Mitchell // October 23 2014
Dan Shinder

I love being dialled into what our audience has to say and the literal conversations we have with them. We love asking our audience all kinds of things that we learn from, that I learn from, as a person and as a drummer. We find artists through that.

365 short days ago I stumbled upon an interview with Tommy Aldridge on a website that I had never seen before. Interviewing this drum legend was perhaps the most humble and insightful interviewer I have seen to date (and a nice haircut I might add). Little did I know that this unassuming little website would grow into one of the largest drum websites on the planet in the span of one year. 

Due in many parts to an organized team and an unending stream of incredible content, Drum Talk TV is dominating the airwaves, and at the helm is a California kid who knows all too well the meaning of hard work. I have had the privilege of knowing many drummers through The Black Page and Dan Shinder is at the top of that heap. 

Ladies and gentlemen, my friend Dan Shinder of Drum Talk TV.

 

 

Dan, how did you did you discover drumming?

I started when I was seven. I had older cousins and one of them in particular was seven years older than I was. He played the drums and I told my parents, “I want to play the drums; I want to play the drums!” They didn’t do anything about it yet, but I think what helped … I don’t remember this happening but when my Mother was alive she used to remind me all the time of this story. A guy came to the front door and was selling accordion lessons. My parents said, “No, thank you.” When they closed the door I jumped up and down crying and screaming saying, “I’m going to miss my chance; I’m going to miss my chance!”

If I started playing drums at seven, I must have been like six-and-a-half, so I have no idea what the hell I thought [missing a chance was]. I have no idea what was going through my head, but I think my parents realized at that time that maybe [they] should let [me] start in music, and they were crazy enough to start me with drum lessons and a drum kit when I was seven years old.  I’m fifty-one-and-a-half now and I’m kind of getting it figured out a little bit and I love it—I really do!

Who inspired you growing up, as far as drummers?

John Bonham, Ian Paice, Buddy Rich. A lot of the dinosaur rock music and progressive rock is still stuff that I go see still and still listen to. I don’t listen to a lot of new stuff unless that it’s an artist that we’re going to interview and then I’ll want to. That’s how I get turned on to new music, or through my kids sometimes who will like different music.  One of my daughters turned me onto Mars Volta six or seven years ago.

I’m real stuck in my ways when it comes to music, which I don’t recommend to people, which is weird. I love what I love. What I have discovered is that I love going on YouTube and doing two things: looking at newer drummers in bands who are out (when I say newer, I mean like the last 10 or 12 years); I love watching all the stuff that I couldn’t see when I was a kid—all the videos of Papa Joe Jones, Max Roach, Gene Krupa and Budd Rich.

I just interviewed Kathy Rich and Greg Potter, and in researching what video I would want to talk about of Buddy’s I was digging through stuff. There is so much stuff out there and we’re in such a great time when we can find it.

You get a lot of websites that do the reviews, articles, but you do all interviews, which I think is really unique and creative—and you’re very good at it. How did you get Drum Talk started?

When I think about how I got it started I laugh because I don’t know how I didn’t get it started five or 10 years ago. We’ve been around now 21 months and two weeks and we’re pushing 30 million people a week—it’s just crazy!

What happened was I had a video production company and I was doing corporate videos: marketing, training, promotion, sales videos, some documentaries and things like that. I had an opportunity with a couple of clients to go to Australia and I went there and worked for awhile. My wife went with me for a little while; [she] is an artist, not a musical artist but in visual arts and performing arts as well. She came back home ahead of me and I stayed and worked there for quite awhile. When I came back I took care of my father who was dying. (For the last sixteen weeks of his life I was his caregiver. I lived at my sister’s house here in town doing that.) When I came home, I said, “I don’t want to have big clients anymore; I don’t want to work 12-hour days anymore.” Be careful what you wish for. 

So I told my wife, “Why don’t I just work for you? I can do all your marketing and promoting.” We did that for a little while and I think she started to feel a little smothered because she said, “You need to find something for you.” The bubble above her head said, “You need to go find someone else to go play with.” And I said, “This is what I want to do.” She said, “No, you need to follow a passion. What’s your passion?”

For the first time in my life—this was two-and-a-half years ago—I really didn’t know what to do. She said, “Why don’t you give drum lessons again?”

The moment she said that I realized, I know how to do video production; I’m pretty good with social media; I know how to stream if I wanted to do that (but I ended up not doing that); I know how to teach; I’m a trained speaker and I’m actually certified to train people to be speakers. And I put all that together and immediately I thought of something called Dan’s Drum Clinics. So I thought of doing online drum lessons and I started this platform and I did it for about six, seven months. Then I was going down to San Diego to visit my sons one day and I said to my wife as I was leaving, “Oh yeah, I’m going to stop into Timicula and interview David and Danny. I just have this idea that not all drum lessons happen at a drum kit or on a practise pad but just with discussion.”

My wife’s face lit up and she said, “That is going to put you back on the map.” I thought she was crazy.

I went and did the two interviews and then I started to hook up with some fellow educators on Facebook, interviewing them via Skype. My wife made me see that this was really going to be a big deal if I wanted it to be.

So Jan 1st of 2013 we formed the official corporation and covered NAMM that year and it just has been this giant snowball getting bigger and bigger and bigger. Now I think to myself, Man, I had a video production company for 10 years. How did I not think of interviewing drummers?  It’s like having an apple farm and never thinking, Maybe I should sell apples. I really felt kind of silly about the whole thing.

But like my wife says, “Everything happens when it’s supposed to happen for the right reason.” So that’s, in a nutshell, the story.

From my experience with what it takes to keep The Black Page going, I would imagine that Drum Talk TV would encompass a lot of your life.

I don’t work 12 hours a day anymore—I work 18 to 20. It’s every day, 7 days a week. I’m not complaining. I love it! I don’t believe anybody should do anything they don’t love doing. We all need to do what we need to get by and survive at certain points in our life, but when you can break through and do what you love so much, you’re happier, you feel better … there’s so many reasons; it’s corny for me to even go through the list. But it’s also what you do best. We all do what we love best.

But it is all encompassing. I’ve got a wonderful partner. I’ve got to mention, Lori Shube (Chief Marketing/Technology Officer) has just been amazing. Drum Talk TV would not be what it is or where it is without Lori.

Like they say, if you ever see a turtle on a fence post you know he had help.

(Laughs) That’s me. When you surround yourself with like-minded people that want to get somewhere, they’re positive, they do support you and don’t find ways that it won’t work because they can’t imagine themselves as entrepreneurs, or whatever the case may be. You’ve always got to take inventory of that, I believe, because we are the sum of who we surround ourselves with. That’s why I love dishing out credit to everyone that’s ever helped Drum Talk TV—all of our guests, the fans on Facebook, on our website. It’s a collective effort in so many ways.

I still have my finger on the pulse of our social media because I love being part of that conversation regularly. I’m a member of the community that we cater to. I have just as much fun with the conversations, and sometimes the arguments and all that, as much as anybody else has.

However, on that note, I do want to point out that there is something that I like to think is an anomaly that happens in social media, at least on our Facebook page, where I’m always disheartened by the amount of people that have negative comments about other people because I don’t understand that. It has nothing to do with who’s good, who’s better, who sucks. No one sucks; you either like it or you don’t, just like food or a painting. That’s the one thing that bugs me. We do not foster that sort of behaviour. We do not encourage it. Does it happen on our page? Yes. We can only police it so far. Our thing is, you are welcome to have whatever opinion you want, you can voice your opinion; we just ask that there not be such negative attitude and language in it.

Mike Johnson said one of the best things, he said, “No one sucks. Everyone’s just at a different timeline.”

Also we all have different tastes. I don’t particularly follow Barbra Streisand. I don’t have any of Barbra’s records, but for me to say she sucks would just be ludicrous. She’s an amazing artist; it’s just not what I listen to. I think everybody’s art form is like that. We do post stuff of “unknown people” just for fun (like check out so-and-so’s forum) and it amazes me how many people suddenly are perfect and know absolutely everything. Everyone turns into a teenager (laughs). They put on their lab coats and they want to dissect. You know that’s not what our page is about.

I don’t want to chase our fans away, but there is a certain amount of people that I just think they’re probably like that everywhere—they’re like that at dinner; they’re like that at home; they’re like that in line at the bank. But that aside, I love being dialled into what our audience has to say and the literal conversations we have with them. We love asking our audience all kinds of things that we learn from, that I learn from, as a person and as a drummer. We find artists through that.

We talked about April Samuels a moment ago. I found out about April Samuels when in the very beginning of Drum Talk TV I put up a picture of a female drummer and I asked, “Who are some female drummers you would like to see interviews of?” There were certain names that came up over and over in that post and one of them was April Samuels. I checked her out and I saw that she plays SilverFox Drumsticks. I knew the artists’ relations person over at SilverFox at the time and I said, “Hey, do you think you could maybe introduce us?” April and I are such best of friends now. We’re so close. Last year she invited me to be the MC of her biggest breast cancer fund raising event. (For those of you who don’t know, April is a survivor of triple negative breast cancer of only three years now and she formed a non-profit foundation called “Breast Cancer Can Stick It.”) She’s in a band called Metal Shop. It’s an ‘80s hair metal band.

We just released, yesterday, the documentary of that whole show. We had Troy Luccketta of Tesla; Jimmy D’Anda of Lynch Mob and Bullet Boys as special guests, as well. And the next event, we’re doing that again [October 18th]. That’s in Corpus Christie, Texas, but by the time you see this, it will have happened. Go to drumtalktv.com and you’ll see April’s artist page. Click on that and you’ll see not only her first interview but also the documentary on the show from last year, and to help in the fight against breast cancer anyone can contribute at any time through the links on that page.

I know this is probably a loaded question for you, but who would be some of the highlights of your past interviews? You’ve talked to so many cool guys and girls—what are some of the ones that stick out for you?

It’s hard to single any one out because every interview is so meaningful to me, even ones that I don’t do. We’ve got Alan Kenny who does interviews. He’s interviewed Ray Luzier a couple of times and Rich Redmond. We’ve got Kenny Howard and Simon Fishburn who have covered the East Coast Bonzo Bash for us. And even those mean so much to us.

But for me, personally, I’ll tell you the biggest one—and no offence to anyone else that’s been on our show—and it was the biggest one to me because he was my biggest drumming influence other than John Bonham. It was John Bonham and Ian Paice that I started listening to and emulating from the time I was seven. Interviewing Ian Paice was just sort of a whole different thing. Actually, it was leading up to it that was a whole different thing. I was really geeking out like a total fan, a total kid in the week leading up to it. We interviewed him here in town. He’d said, “Why don’t you just do it in my hotel room?” So I’m racing through the casino and I’m pulling camera cases, and the camera crew is trying to keep up with me. We get to the door and Harold, our photographer and tech, says, “I’ve never seen you like this for an interview. You’ve got to relax!”

As soon as Ian opened the door I saw, as my wife would say, his kind eyes, and his kind eyes made all that just go away. And suddenly it was, in a way, just another interview. He made it so easy, so comfortable. It was meaningful to me because of the influence he personally had on my drumming forever. That was a biggie.

I bet you got to tell him that too.

Yeah, I did and that felt good to be able to do that.

Could I mention a couple of others? Glen Sobel has become a very good friend and Glen was our first “real” interview. He’s Alice Cooper’s drummer and does amazing clinics; Glen is just such a wonderful guy, very humble. Young musicians can learn a lot from him aside from drumming, aside from music, just being a humble person and staying grounded—that’s Glen. Glen’s been a highlight.

Carmine Appice, that was great. Lori and I went to his house in California to interview him there. He was so nice. He’s got such a badass Brooklyn boy image but really was such a wonderful sweet man. We’ve interviewed him two other times.

Nicko McBrain was a biggie for me because I’ve been an Iron Maiden fan since I was 15, since before he was in the band.

Emmanuelle Caplette we interviewed in Canada; Ally Bertrand on the same trip and Don George, Neil Peart’s first drum teacher. Don’s become like that long-lost cool uncle to me; he’s just such a freaking cool dude! He’s so knowledgeable he’s like a walking drumming education historian. He’s got books. Watch his interview on Drum Talk TV. We show books he’s had that were printed in the ‘20s that his parents got him as a young drum student.

The best part about my job, it’s not the interviews, it’s not the music; it’s the friends I’m making. Drummers are just the best people in the world. Even if they pop-off on social media once in a while.

So those are some of the ones that just stick out but I’ve never done an interview where I thought I don’t know if I want to publish that because every single interview’s been so meaningful for its own reasons.

We interview people that do recording sessions; performers; the prodigy series (we’ve got some young kids’ interviews coming out); the stuff we do with wonderful makers of drum gear and accessories; fellow educators—there are so many different categories and we’re going to be expanding that soon. We want to do a lot of interviews with folks from DCI, all the marching bands, drum corps culture. We try to widen our net as much as we can to live up to the name Drum Talk TV. It’s not just about the rock stars, it’s not just about the pop stars; it really is about any human story attached to drumming. There’s a drum heroes series. April Samuels is part of that. Joe Hardy, a drummer with no legs, he’s part of that.

Who haven’t you talked to that you’d love to interview?

Um, Ringo, have to get with Ringo. I know we’re going to get with Neil Peart (I even know where that’s going to happen; I don’t know if he knows that yet.) I’ve been a Neil Peart fan for a very long time. Terry Bozzio, Steve Gadd—again I don’t want to miss nobody but those are some of the real personal biggies to me.

But they’re also—and this isn’t the reason that I want to interview them—they’re also drummers that if you’re going to do what we do you have to interview them. We would look dumb if we never interviewed them or at least tried to.

Nick Mason of Pink Floyd, I’m such a huge fan of him. Barriemore Barlow, I really would like to get on. I heard that John Weathers (from Gentle Giant) is going to come on, which would be great. I’m a huge Gentle Giant fan.

Those are some of the ones that stick out right on top and are “must haves” for me, personally, and for our audience. Also Sheila E., Gina Schock, Cindy Blackman too.

STAY TUNED NEXT WEEK FOR PART 2 OF DAN'S INTERVIEW. UNTIL THEN ENJOY THESE LINKS:

http://www.theblackpage.net/interviews/dave-weckl

http://www.theblackpage.net/interviews/mike-johnston-part-ii




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About the Author
Sean Mitchell

Sean Mitchell has been an active participant in the drumming industry for over 20 years. He has studied under Crash Test Dummies drummer Mitch Dorge and Drumming's Global Ambassador Dom Famularo. Sean is also a songwriter and regularly performs with his wife (and singer) Jill Mitchell. Sean proudly endorses Aquarian Drumheads.



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