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Jeff Mills

Interview by Donn Garrett // May 07 2015
Jeff Mills

 I have different sets for different situations. It's fun to switch it up!

This week Donn Garrett's Drummers of the Pacific Northwest features Jeff Mills, an in demand Seattle based session and studio drummer. 

How long have you been playing? 

I started playing in 1970, when I was 10 years old. The school had a get together for the parents and kids that wanted to be in band. I thought I might want to play the trombone, but when the high school stage band played I couldn't take my eyes off the drummer. So I decided right then and there that I was going to be a drummer! 

Are you self taught? 

I played in the schools concert band. Then for my 13th birthday I got a red sparkle Pearl 4 piece drum set. I took a few lessons from the high schools drummer. From that point on all I wanted to do was music. In the 70's there wasn't any videos or Youtube, so I studied Carmine Appice's Realistic Rock. I also played along to all of my favorite records. Aerosmith, Grand Funk, Kiss, Led Zeppelin, Rush, Queen and Montrose. So I learned the basics at school. Then found my own way on the drum set. 

How do you strike a balance between business and drumming? 

It used to be that I just wanted to play and let someone else take care of the business. Things are quite different than they used to be. Now I perform with 2 or 3 bands and give lessons. I spend a fair amount of time networking. You really have to hustle to make ends meet. I've been trying to practice more lately! 

Do you sing or play other instruments? 

I have sung a little bit but I don't really consider myself a singer. I keep saying I should learn piano but that would take time away from drumming so I haven't done it yet. 

Who did you most want to be or play like? 

Well I Went through my Neil Peart phase, then Terry Bozzio phase, then Simon Phillips phase and of course my John Bonham phase. 

What venue do you dream of playing or have you already played there? 

I guess everyone wants to play Madison Square Garden. I did play the Kingdome with Magic Bus.

Who would you love jam with? 

I would love to jam with Jeff Beck and John Paul Jones! 

What kind of set do you play now?

I have 6 kits. The 1971 Pearl 13,16,22. Fibes acrylic 12,13,16,18,24, 6.5x14 snare. ddrum amber acrylic 14,16,18,26. Ludwig Epic Maple-birch hybrid 10,12,14,16,24, 6.5x14 snare. Gretsch Mahogany 12,13,16,18,24. Pacific maple 12,14,16,22. I also have 2 Ludwig tympani 23,26. Tama high pitch octabans. Mini timbale. Cowbells, jam blocks, tambourines. Paiste 30" gong. My cymbal of choice is Zildjian A custom. I have lots of splash and china cymbals as well as many crash and ride cymbals. I have different sets for different situations. It's fun to switch it up!

 

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About the Author
Donn  Garrett

Donn Garrett is an accomplished drummer, songwriter and producer. He has performed with Alan White, Liberty DeVitto, Reek Havok, Shelley Tomberg, Steve Fossen, Chris Slade and many other talents. Visit Donn online at http://www.donngarrett.net/



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