Interview With Professional Drummer GEORGE MITCHELL

1. Where do you live?

I currently live in Little Rock, AR

2. What kind of gear do you use? What’s your setup?

I play a Gretsch Mahogany 6Piece kit. With SABIAN and Zildjian cymbals. L-R I have three sets of HiHats that I use 13” KZ – Zildjian, 14” HHX- Sabian & 13” HHX – Sabian. 1 -16” AAX CRASH, 1- 18”  HHX, 1 – 12” AAX Splash. Depending on the music I am doing, I go between a 20” K Custom (Zildjian) 20” Jack DeJohnette Custom Ride & 22” HHX Evolution Rides – Sabian, 18” HHX CRASH, 1 Neil Pert Paragon China. I have several back up snare drums from maple to brass to chrome. FOR WHATEVER THE MUSIC REQUIRES.

3. Do you have endorsements?

I am not an endorser at this time.

4. What bands/groups do you perform with, if any?

I’m not playing with a band at this time. Trying to spend as much time as possible recording my music. GeosPlace…”Where it’s Unusually Funky. I believe  

Duke Ellington was right, “Music is my mistress.”

5. What led you to your instrument? What’s your origin story?

Most kids are drawn to drums, because of all the things that you can hit. Lol And I was one of them. Being from the south, I was fortunate to see a lot of iconic R & B and Jazz drummers that played the chittling circuit. I was always curious until my Mom took me to my first concert. I had seen the local guys and most were very good, Lloyd Armon, Seymour, Robert Trezvant, Larry Ross,  Maurice Heygood and Jackie Morton. Serious cats. Then the first concert, Rufus “Speedy” Jones. Blew me away. Next up to seal the deal on being a drummer, Maurice White. That did it.
There was this local music store, Rosen Music. The owner, Marty Rosen (also a drummer) saw me sit in with some friends and asked if I had drums and I told him no. Marty loaned me a kit to continue my education on the drums. I was actually taught by Mrs. Sylvia Clay, an incredible teacher and the competition in the drum line was fierce. After her, one teacher I had Richard Comfort, would carry me with him, I guess to show me off. Whatever, Lol. By then, I was definitely going to be a drummer for life.

 

6. Who is your favorite drummer and why?

My favorite drummer? I really can’t say. I’ve seen so many. James GADSON took the time. He taught me the ropes in the studio and about life. How to relax and listen to the other players. Bernard Purdie, Jeff Pocaro, Dennis Chambers & new kid on the block ,Jonathan BURKS here in Little Rock. But, it was Waaaay to many to mention. I learned from every drummer I saw and still learning. Each one had this unique thing they did that made them great. The “clock”,  I think Victor Wooten said it best, “ You can’t have no GROOVE if you ain’t got no pocket.” Point taken and all of these guys have/had incredible pockets. 

 

7. How do you practice? Do you have a routine?

How I practice is weird, I’ll turn a click on and let it run for hours while I washed dishes. Do the laundry, etc. Lifting weights. Whatever…Then I would practice single and doubles. Then the practice would start. Practice independence. Do I have a routine? No I just practice staying in the groove with a click running and seeing how much I can put in it and then take it all out. Back to the basics. Practice usually starts with the tap around and blooms from there. 

8. Are there any specific playing tips or techniques, or advice, exercises, or discoveries you’d like to share with Drum readers?

For any young person that wants to pursue drums, practice listening to the other players, know their parts better than them. Lol That really works. Practice the groove. Develop a good sense of time. It will help you pay some bills. Real talk. It’s not how much you can play, it’s how can you keep the band together. Grooving & Listening

9. What’s something you believe about drumming or music that other people think is crazy?

I think the one thing that makes people nuts about drumming and music is how one can hear something that nobody else hears and turn it into an idea. I hear ideas all of the time. I guess that is the genius of being a drummer and a musician.

 

10. As artists, the goal post for “success” is always moving. There’s not one “I made it!” point. How do you think about and define success?

I think the success for a drummer and a musician happen when one day you can turn around and see your accomplishments. In this business, it doesn’t pay to be a jerk or envious. For those that have the I’m better than you attitude, an old drummer told me, “Enjoy it while you can, your replacement is already watching you.”

11. Do you have any quotes or sayings that you live by?

“Be kind to your fellow human being. It takes all of us to make this life work. If you don’t have something good to say about someone, don’t say nothing.”

12. When you sit down to make music and are starting with a blank canvas, what’s your process like?

The first thing I think about is what key, tempo do I want this to be. Once that is established, it’s magic.?

13. How important is a failure in making music/performing?

Failure develops fortitude. If you fall down, are you gonna stay ther or get up. Sure the bumps can hurt but don’t give up. Ever

14. Any advice for girls contemplating getting started and making it in this arena?

I’ve seen some incredible young ladies behind the drums. I encourage young people to explore music and the business of music. Not everyone gets the gig, but, this business is vast. If you have to take that fork in the road, don’t give up your instrument, you never know. I personally know of techs that had to play the show because the main guy/girl was sick or missed a flight. I’ve done that on several occasions. That when you shine bright. “You never know who’s watching.”

15. If you had to put together a school or resources for would-be drummers, what would the training include?

If I had to put a school together or resources for drummers to be, the main is thing don’t waste any time, yours or the instructor. The seat that individual holds could go to another that wants it bad. Be serious. Natural talent is awesome but you have to control. The school would take a diamond in the rough and polish it. Bottom line discipline. That may even include physical training. All part of being a drummer. I still lift weights for that reason. Discipline.

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