LoginCreate ProfileSubscribe


Mitch Dorge Part 2

Interview by Sean Mitchell // February 18 2015
Mitch Dorge Part 2

Regardless of how they got the music or whether it was free or purchased, if what you are delivering is real then people will come to the shows.


In this digital age—with the MP3, the online music purchases, Spotify, Songza—we’ve been used to a standard delivery system of music. It was LP, then it was cassette, then it was CD. Where does Mitch Dorge see the future of the music delivery system headed?

I myself have always been a fan of performance. As many bands as I’ve played with over the years, as many bands as I go and see perform now, I am always intrigued by performance. I’m always walking away from a room asking myself, “Did I just experience – something? Being a part of however many people were in that room tonight, did I experience something that the rest of the world missed out on?” If so, then if I can do that twice, if I can do that three times, then I think that people will support that. They are going to say, “This has provided me with something that I want to support.”

We’re not going to get away from people downloading music. A lot of people don’t see any issue with it—"there it is, it’s free, I’ll take it." It would be much like if you could make anything else free, they would just take it. However, regardless of how they got the music or whether it was free or purchased, if what you are delivering is real then people will come to the shows.

If they come to the shows, you’re going to be able to do what you do best, which is perform, and you’re going to perform the best you possibly can. You’re going to lay your soul out on the line, and people that are in that room are going to witness and be a part of something that the rest of the world is not. If you can do that on a daily basis, you are fulfilling your obligations to yourself, as a musician, and you are going to be supported by the other people who you are giving something to, if you can give it to them in the form of a CD that they’re willing to take home. Or maybe not. Maybe it’s not in any kind of form; maybe it’s a guarantee that the next time you come to town they are going to be there to see you. So you’re going to be able to play and you’re going to be able to make a living doing it. If you can get the garnered support either by making a CD or even just a digital package, if people are liking it they’ll support. I believe that they will. But it can’t be just blank and soulless. It can be whatever, but if you go in there and you feel something, they’re going to support that.

I don’t think anybody should feel threatened by what’s happening. I do believe that we should be doing whatever we can, that the people are being creative and they’re putting their creativity out there. It would be great to be able to support these people and we should be able to purchase their music in a way that they benefit from it so they can continue to make good music. That would be a wonderful thing. To say that everyone’s going to do that, that’s just a pipe dream.

I still do believe that all the music that I’ve seen in my life ... there are concerts that I’ve seen that are burned in my mind. I’m talking about little jazz clubs where there’s 35 people in the room but the music that I heard will stay with me forever. If I ever was at any place and time and I knew that they were coming to town, I would be there in a heartbeat. The cost wouldn’t matter if I knew I was supporting them.

I believe that as musicians what can be happening—this isn’t new, I don’t think, to anybody—but when you go into a studio and you’ve got your Pro Tools or any digital technology available to you, a lot of guys just go in and say, “I’ll play whatever I play and if it doesn’t work out we can just fix it.” I think that’s creating a little bit of the loss of the love of music. I absolutely love if I can just sit down and play some time and I’ve got the ring of the snare drum and I’ve got the ring of the toms, everything’s just working out and I can lay something down, the most mundane thing, but if I lock into it the rest of the world just stops existing. That’s what we should be striving for every time that we create a piece of music. I think  if we do that then, yeah, put it on the net, let it be free for everybody, but when you come to town those people will come to see you and support you. I believe that ... I might be naive, but.

Mitch, you have a website mitchdorge.com. Do you have a Facebook page where people can reach out and ask questions?

Absolutely, you can reach me through my website, mitchd@mts.net. You can find me via Facebook. You can find me via Twitter, except that’s under themitchyman.

It always floors me. I’ll get an email from somebody who lives in Mexico City saying, “Crash Test Dummies was one of my favorite bands. In that such-and-such song, which snare did you use?”

Or I might meet somebody that says, “I was at a concert that you guys played at and you were nice enough to come over and talk to me. Thanks, I appreciated when you did that.” That’s 20 years ago and people like to send a kind word. Or maybe there’s people who would like to send not a kind word, I don’t know (laughs). I haven't had any yet.

As you know I’ve got an opinion on most things and I’m happy to be wrong—I’d like to add that.

Musicians reaching out to connect, fans reaching out to connect—I think it’s an awesome, awesome thing and I do really enjoy the interaction. One thing I really miss doing (as when I was out in Victoria awhile back),  I really miss doing a lot of clinics. I used to do a lot of clinics in Europe, in Germany, of all places. I really enjoyed sitting down and doing master classes.

As you know as one of my students, I don’t teach in the normal way. I try to bring something different to the table and I enjoy twisting minds a little bit and watching people struggle.

Is there a chance you would write a drum book? Has that thought ever crossed your mind, and what do you think that book might entail?

First of all, I doubt that that would ever happen, that I would have the privilege to write something probably from the fear that no one would want to look at it. There’s such an abundance of books out there and in a lot of cases I think it’s perfectly viable because there are a lot of drummers out there. There’s more drummers now than there ever has been. As a way to share knowledge people are writing books and getting them out there but there’s a real flood. I think as a student of drumming, to walk into a store and look at the abundance of books, where do you start?

If I was able to do something, I would definitely try to approach it in such a way that you really wouldn’t know what I was talking about until you got to page 56 or 57. As you know I believe that a lot of the great drummers, when you read their stories, there was somebody in their life who was a teacher—maybe it was a drum teacher—where they would go in and sit in their class and they would never touch drums. I’ve read stories about people playing piano, or sitting down and listening to music or just philosophizing about life. There’s so much talent out there. There’s so much available on YouTube or a multitude of different places to learn, so acquiring the skills is out there.

Whatever it is you want to learn the information is available. What we really need to do now is cultivate the human being. So if I ever had an opportunity to write such a book, that is probably what I would focus on more than anything else: asking some questions and making people think about first of all, who are you? What do you bring to the drum kit? These are difficult questions. There’s so many wonderful questions that can be asked, taking people out of the paradigm that they live in. For instance, one of the things we can talk about: why does drumming have to be the way that it is? Why does it have to be everything in a right angle? Why can’t it slow down sometimes? What does that mean?

When you’re playing with other musicians, everybody has to have the ability to lock in together. Everybody has to have a common concept of what time is—it’s not just the drummer; it’s everybody. However, sometimes music should just move; sometimes it should just be whatever. But if you’re just thinking about it in a clinical or intellectual way, it’s not music anymore. So how do we find who you are? I know that sounds awfully flaky, I think, but I have talked to some amazing drummers in my time. Efrain Toro was such an influence and an amazing human being. We would talk for hours and I don’t think we ever talked about drums, but we talked about people.

If I did do a book or something that was instructional, I believe that it’s all out there already. We can find all the techniques in the world but how do we really cultivate people? How do we get people to think outside the box; how do we get people to hear music a different way? And what do they bring to the table, spiritually, when they’re playing with other people? That’s kind of a hard thing to get across, right? Such a book by me will probably never be penned.

Truth of the matter when you think about it on that subject, why would I write that book? Efrain Toro should write that book or Bob Moses should write that book. Bob Moses, when it comes down to “Who are you as a drummer?” Bob Moses is the guy. Put him and Efrian Toro together and they’ll write a way better book than I can even fathom 'cause they understand what all that is.

I won’t forget that when I first approached you and we began lessons I may have told you I was influenced by such-and-such a person and I wanted to learn how to do this, I wanted to learn how to do that. Your answer was very simple: you said, “Well, I’d like to find Sean Mitchell and bring him out. That will be the beginning of the journey and it might be pleasant or it might not be pleasant but we don’t know yet.”Since then I have often wondered, when is the point that a musician or a drummer should look at “I’m done learning technique, now I need to learn listen and be a musician"? What do you think that point isor is there a point; does it just naturally happen?

I think it’s kind of a mutual discovery. The problem, as you know, is the more you know, the more you realize you don’t know. In my opinion, you’ve really got to keep an open mind. If you think that you’ve “arrived,” then you should just quit—you’re done because the learning is over. The true musician, the true artist, the true anything understands that you really never quite get there. There will always be something that you’ll think could have been a little better.

As you know, sometimes you’ll sit down and play the drums and go, “Wow, I’m happening today. This is really good!” Now, if you turned on a tape recorder and you did the exact same thing, I’d be pretty safe to say in most cases what you thought you played and what you really played would be two different things. When it starts to flow from you just naturally—there are some players out there like that—and what you thought you played is exactly what you played, there’s a pretty good start. Now you can say, “What about my vocabulary? What can I do to improve my vocabulary (which comes down to technique, I guess), so I can be more articulate in what it is I am trying to say?” For that matter, I can be vague but at least I know I am being vague.

I think that is a very difficult thing for a lot of people. First of all, you need to have the confidence to know that what it is you’re saying means something, and if you’re going to change what you’re saying, now you’re going to go out on a limb. You know what you can do, but what if you are going to change that and go in a different direction, can you just do that and make it happen?

I don’t know that one comes before the other. I think they work in conjunction. The technique will improve as the player improves; as the player improves, you realize there’s more that you want to do. You also realize you need a larger vocabulary to say those things and so you go back in pursuit of improving your technique or whatever it is.






Login to view comments and join the discussion.

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.

Editor's Choice
  • For Your Ears Only

    For Your Ears Only
    Unless you have been living under a rock, you are probably well aware of the dangers we as drummers face... (more)
  • 7 Must-Have Drum Toys For 2017

    7 Must-Have Drum Toys For 2017
    Tax season is soon upon us, and for those of us getting a return it's time to start thinking about that... (more)
  • Billy Cobham

    Billy Cobham
      It is incedibly humbling to talk to someone you respect and admire. And when that person can also... (more)