Sunday, October 8, 2017

Volume 63 - Mike Spencer


So back to Atlanta, GA we go...
Thx 2 our friend Andre Boyd, I was able to hook up with this talented young man, who is definitely on his way to doing some great things in this industry. Not satisfied with being a drummer on a gig, he has his eyes set on be involved in all parts of the production.
I dig it when we see katz getting into more than just being a side-man. We are more than drummers (don't 4get that)
With that being said, let's see what this musical entrepreneur is up to and how he is creating and managing opportunities for himself 

Name or Stage Name: 

Mike Spencer

Where are you from? 

Born and Raised In Atlanta, GA

How long have you been playing? 

18 years.

Do you have a genre preference? 

To be a great musician all genres need to be your preference, but if i had to choose, it would be pop music.

How did you get where you are now? 

Developing relationships. Being nice and respectful to anybody I work with.

Why the drums? 

I saw my Aunt and older brother playing the drums and having fun with it. Seeing my cousin Puncho Stewart and knowing how far he got with it was the icing on the cake for me.

Hold old were you when you first started playing at your father's church? 

I was 8 years old. Played my first Wednesday night bible study at my pop’s church

How would you describe that first time you got to play at church? 

A rush of energy mixed in with nervousness. A girl I had a crush on at the time went to my dad’s church and she was there and I didn’t want to mess up and embarrass myself in front of her

I read that your Aunt and your brother were big influences on you. What types of things did you learn from them and are you still using that knowledge? 

I learned the basics from my Aunt and brother. You can never go without using the basics first. I'm definitely still using all of that knowledge everytime I get behind a kit.

What are some of your goals, short & long term? 

Short term: I want to finally get on a major tour and share my gift in front of huge crowds of people. Traveling with my talent. Room service, and long rehearsals and getting comfortable with a show I can make my own. Long term: I want to build the company I have with my best friend. Its called Room 442 Productions. Its a company that does everything music. You have the 442 Band for live shows, Studio production, Backline Rental, Artist Development, Rehearsal Space ect.

You have a nice resume of artists played for, are there any gigs that stand out? 

When I Played For Chico Debarge. It was like my first big gig at the time. I was so nervous to meet him and play his music. But he was the most down to earth person. SO much that he walked past me a few times and didn’t even know it was him. He made me feel comfortable with everything that was going on. Treated me like he would one of his friends. I appreciate a boss such as him. SO when I got on stage, I had no nervousness. I played and smashed the gig and played for him a few more times after. Great times!

What are your touring experiences, if any? 

I have toured with number of bands. College tours, doing cover pop music for Frats and Sororities. That's pretty much it.

Doing the college tours, what was that like? How did you keep it fresh every night?
I like to change up my set ups quite a bit. Adding more interesting things to use to make the show bigger. More samples, more sounds coming from the drum kit. My thing is, if the space allows it, set it up. I also like to come up with new fills and as an MD of the band, I like to arrange more hits and breaks in the music to make it not become boring to me and the rest of the band and singers.

Describe your current set up & gear - heads and sticks…ect? 
I have a number of kits sitting in my living room as we speak. I have a Tama Hyperdrive, Pearl Masters, Sonor 2007, Orange County Avalon, Mapex Armory,, Pearl Export. And all of my configurations come in 10, 12, 14, 16 toms. I love Evans Hydraulic Series heads for my toms. The hydraulic blues, and reds really bring a warms and tone to my toms. I use Remo Powerstroke 77 Clear and Coated on my snares. Those snare heads bring the right amount of body and pop I needs for the Pop gigs and R&B gigs. My cymbals are strictly Sabian. I used to have variety of cymbals. But I recently sold a lot of them to go with just Sabian. A dream to be a part of that lovely company. I used DW 9000 Kick Pedal, and Hihat Stand. I Love Vic Firth 85A drumsticks. They make me feel really comfortable behind the kit. Makes me feel like I can do anything behind a kit. 

Good lord, why do you have so many kits, lol?

I like to get up in the morning and sip my coffee and choose whatever kit I want to play that day, LOL. But seriously. Some kits were actually designed for a certain sound. Some are used for church. Some are used for hip hop, and jazz. Its just about what kind of sound I am going for with that particular gig. I am a musician of all genres. I play everything. So when I get the call for a gig, I have the kit to make the gig more efficient. Like I have a lot of cymbals too. Do I use all of them at the same time? Heck no! But I have the cymbal I need for every gig that I do. I will never compromise my sound because of what I don’t have.

Do you have a “Dream Kit”? 
My dream kit has to be a Pearl Reference Kit. 10, 12, 14, 16 toms. I have seen so many people use those kits and the sound amazing when they are mixed correctly. And of course with the right tuning and heads. 

Rihanna x Mr.E. Worldwide - Same Ol' Mistakes (Cover)

How do you describe your drumming style? 
My style ranges from a lot of different influences in my life. I've watched and learned from many different people. So to describe my style, I would say that it aggressive and sure. Laid back when needed to be. But I always use my jazz style of playing with mostly everything I do. Now when i say Jazz, I don’t mean swinging every song I come in contact with. I mean, I like to approach every song with a level of tastefulness. Not using too much but just enough to make the song feel really good, and makes you want to stay in there for a little while. A lot of drummers I see coming up are killing chops but when you ask them to play a song, they have no feel. Groove is nowhere to be found. And you look at them as if you want to ask the question, "What are you practicing?"

You talk about "playing the song" why do you think so many drummers haven't grabbed that concept yet?
Here’s a good example. I was doing an audition about a week ago. I was hired to look at drummers for this particular band. So one of the guys that was auditioning came in and I asked him, Do you know Rock With You by Michael Jackson? He told me with confidence, Yes, I do know it. Ok play it for me, I said. Everybody should know that song and how to start it. He started that song and did not play the intro nearly as right as it should be. I don’t even think he even knew that there was an intro for that song that started out with a quick drum fill. I said that to say, that when some drummers listen to songs, they are not listening to learn the song, they are listening for a beat to play over it. Playing it their way. Even in Gospel, back in the day you could kinda get away with it, but now its becoming more controlled and you have to actually sit and learn these songs, and people want to hear the song, not your version of it. The artist that you are playing for wants to hear their song, not your version of it.

If you weren’t playing drums, what would you be doing? 

If i wasn’t playing drums. I would probably find myself designing houses and skyscrapers. I went to school and got a degree in Computer Drafting and Design. 

How has drumming impacted or changed your life? 

I was always thought that you had to work a 9-5 job to survive and make it in the world. But music has shown me that you can make it, have a family, and support them through your dreams. A lot of people were not afforded the opportunity to live a dream. I am grateful that I have had the opportunity to live a dream and make good money doing it.

Are playing music full time? 

Yes, I do play music full time.

Name 5 of your drumming influences? why? Todd Sucherman is one of my influences. He is majorly aggressive being his kit. He is very sure as to what he wants to do and he makes sure he is comfortable. 
Mike Clemons is another one of my favorites. Going from R&B and then hitting the gospel scene. He knows how to be discipline in both genres of music. He knows when to lay it back and knows when to come out. He is also aggressive behind his kit. 
Terry Baker taught me a valuable lesson. Bigger cymbals keep the gigs coming in. 
Chris Coleman is another influence I would love to have a sit down talk with and pick his brain. He fills up the music so much. His feel behind the kit is amazing. He makes all the music feel good. Something to dance to. 

Name an inspiring concert that made you want to go home and start shedding? 
I went to go see Snarky Puppy a couple years ago. That changed my life, but went to see them a second time a year later and made a decision to start practicing more to things that make me uncomfortable to get me out of a comfort zone.

The "Comfort Zone" what types of things take you out of your comfort zone? is Time Signatures, Tempos, Arrangements...???

I like to take artist songs and actually learn the songs. When I get that major tour call, I want to be ready to go. Have the discipline to sit down and learn what I am hearing. The challenge comes when you have to find sounds. Especially with this pop and R&B and other types of music with all the sounds in there. You have to find those sounds and play them. After I learn the song, I would take them and arrange them to be tasteful and put enough of myself in there to where it doesn’t take away from the show and make sure it something the artist would like added to their show. 

How much time do you practice? 

I take at least a couple hours out of my week to practice. I also have gigs that I do when I can get practice in. Using more of my pocket and making music fell better to play with other musicians 

What types of things do you work on, in those sessions? 

I like to work on my feel. Making everything very clean as I execute them. I’m not a great chopper at all. I am known for making my pocket work for me.

Do you record drum videos of yourself? if so, how has it helped you? 
I haven’t recorded any drum videos of me. I have a couple good friends that do it and they constantly push me to do drum videos. One of them even went as far as to even show me how to get started recording myself in logic. I know its something that will help me in the long run.

Mr.E. Worldwide - Secret Room (Live at 3 Shades of Soul ATL)

Have you been doing any studio work? 
Yes. My band, The 442 Band has just recorded some promo for our social media. And I always record for a band that I work with called Mr. E. Worldwide (above)
 I have done at least 12 records with them. I also do other sideline work in the studio for various artist in Atlanta. I have been told that my studio work is excellent. Of course, you are your worse critic.

Looks like you have a strong studio career happening. Are you enjoying that creative space? 
I enjoy my creative space in more of a live setting. Creating arrangements and getting everybody’s input to build a great show. I love being in the studio, but when I am in the studio I want the artist to be satisfied with what the music feels and sounds like other than myself being satisfied. Not saying that there is no creative space in the studio, but most of my studio time was with an artist that wanted something specific. 

Aside from playing at church, do you like doing the sideman gigs? 

I love doing sideman gigs. I helps with building connections wherever you are. I love doing sideman gigs more than I like doing my gig. Build relationships and your catalog for people to call if you need them. 

Do you have a crazy or interesting gig you can share with us? 

Yes! Me and my friends were doing the Jackson R&B Festival not too long ago, and we had the worst time preparing for it and everything. First off, the artist had a manager that knew nothing about music and would just talk to us and we had no idea what was supposed to be done. Keep in mind, we can’t reach the artist at all. So we get to our first rehearsal and its in a room where you can hear an echo from here to Texas. So we begin to do the rehearsal and we begin the track and the track has a live band already recorded into it. 

What are your words of wisdom for your fellow drummers out there? 

Study your craft and be the best you can be at it. Do whatever you can to develop good meaningful relationships with people that only want to see you succeed. Always do things the right way. Never cut any corners because it will always be something in the end to mess everything up. 

Last Words, Links, Hashtags and Thank You’s??? 
Let me first say thank you to DeHaven Carrington for giving me this opportunity, and Andre Boyd for the introduction. I Love to play drums and want nothing more than to be great and successful at it. You can find me on Facebook as Mike Spencer. My Instagram is mk_guts. Please find a befriend and follow me, inbox me. Ask questions. I’m and open book.

Well, there you have it peeps...Mike Spence in all of his drumming glory. It's always a pleasure to help promote katz who are really doing things and making it happen in various ways.
Mike, Thx so much for being a part of TC and sharing your drum life with all of us. Respect & Appreciation.


Remember, if you or someone you know needs some attention in the drum world...Hit Me Up!

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