by Janelle Landauer

How and when did your first big break in the music industry come about?

I moved to Nashville in March of 1997 from Dallas, Texas.  I auditioned with Trisha Yearwood, Deana Carter and Barbara Mandrell in February of 97’.  (I later toured with Deana in 2004, which was amazing)!  The bands were very impressed with my drumming, but were hesitant to hire me because I didn’t live in Nashville.  That was the catalyst for my move to Nashville in March of 97’.  I gave my Dallas based band 2 weeks notice, packed up my drums and my little black cat and drove boldly into the night!  It’s my opinion that if you are making money in the music business, you are already successful.  It’s a very tough business!  I moved to Nashville on a Tuesday and had a gig playing with a wedding band by Saturday.  Relationships are the key to any successful business and I just started shaking hands and taking every gig that came along.  My first tour was with a great artist named Amy Dalley.  I just recently played drums on her new record called ‘It’s Time’ that I am very proud of.  You should pick it up on ITUNES or CD BABY!  My second tour was for a cat named Rick Orozco who was signed to Arista Records.  I backed up Rick, Ronna Reeves and country icon Gene Watson on a series of military shows in Japan, Korea, Sarajevo and Bosnia.  Since then I have worked with Lit, Jason Aldean, Miranda Lambert, Jewel, The Pointer Sisters, Rushlow, Pam Tillis, Gene Watson, Susan Ashton, John Anderson, Doc Walker, The Roadhammers, Deana Carter, Jedd Hughes, Andy Griggs, Earl Thomas Conley, Hank Williams III, Mindy McCready, Robbie Nevil, Emily West, Jo El Sonnier, and many others.

What are some of the things you are still hoping to accomplish in the music biz?

After a successful and satisfying 12 years in Nashville, I am setting my sights on working more in the NY and LA markets.  It’s coming along nicely.  Each day more and more doors are opening for me.  It comes from being persistent and determined.  I also have a production company with 3 other partners called New Voice Entertainment.  We are working with rock, country and rap/rock acts to develop their careers. I look forward to achieving great success with this company.

Can you talk more about playing at the Grand Ole Opry with Jason Aldean or any other artists?

Ahh…The Grand Ole Opry!  I played the Opry with Susan Ashton and then a million times with Pam Tillis.  I was in Pam’s touring band from 1999-2001.  I played drums with her the night Marty Stuart inducted her into the Opry.  It was a big party.  I have also played the Opry several times with Aldean.  We are a bit edgy for that stage, but they keep asking us back!  Ha!  The Opry is a slice of history that continues to reinvent itself as an institution searching to remain relevant.  I’m proud to have played that stage. Not everyone gets to do that!!!

Who is the biggest influence in your life?

My parents of course!!!  My parents taught me the big stuff: The difference between right and wrong, the value of hard work, the importance in having a direction and purpose in life, setting goals, being kind, the importance of having a firm hand shake, etc.  Most importantly, they supported my passion for music very early on.  They bought that first set of drums, signed me up for lessons and put up with the noise for years.  If I ever get to say something at The Grammy Awards, they will be the first people I thank!!!

Is there anyone you would like to collaborate with musically?

My wife to be, Cindy Kaza is an awesome singer and it would be great to finally get to do a project together.  We met on her recording session.  She was recording a record in Nashville and I was hired by the producer to be her session drummer.  Sparks flew and the rest is history.  I have a feeling I will work with many of my heroes, so doing a record she can proud of will be satisfying.  She is also a celebrity hair stylist.  If you are in Nashville and looking for a world class, but affordable stylist, check out Cindy at

What advice would you give to those who plan to get into the music business?

I’ll begin my answer with a joke.  How do you make a million dollars in the music business?  Answer: Start with two million! Ha! That’s an old music business joke.  Music is art.  Art and business don’t usually mix, but they have to if you want to make any money.  If you aren’t interested in making money, just play music as a hobby.  It’s a massively competitive industry and you have to fall in love with rejection.  I achieved my goals simply because failure was not an option for me and because I was ridiculously persistent!!!  You have to have relationships with many people that champion your cause and want to help you succeed.  You also have to be able to play or sing VERY WELL!  That’s a given.

You’ve had amazing opportunities to play on Awards shows, a lot of the late night shows and many others.  Do any favorite memories come to mind from all of your appearances on the live TV shows like mentioned above?

Doing the Tonight Show With Jay Leno was a dream come true.  It’s very surreal to play those shows.  We had a blast doing Jimmy Kimmel as well.  He has a nice little ‘vibe room’ backstage and all of the guests get to mingle.  Very fun!!!  The ACM's and CMA's are always killer because you get to mingle and catch up with all of your pals and colleagues backstage.  Lots of high fives and hugs going on there!

You’ve played with several different country artists in the past…. Do you have any fond memories of being on the road with any artist in particular that you’d like to share?

My last band, RUSHLOW was the most famous band you have NEVER heard of.  We worked and worked and worked.  We visited every radio station in the country and rocked every dumpy honky tonk in the country!  We never had the full support of our label, so the band imploded after 2 Top 40 Singles.  However, the rhythm section of Kurt Allison (guitar), Tully Kennedy (bass) and myself quickly became the Jason Aldean rhythm section!  Talk about a Phoenix Rising!  Whew!  I have fond memories of every act I have toured with, but the last 5 years have been special because I have been traveling with my best friends, which is way more fun than traveling with groups that have been assembled by auditions and management companies.  There’s no comparison!

Do you have a certain brand of drums that you prefer to play and would recommend to others?

The companies that sponsor me are amazing!!!!  I play Sonor drums, Sabian cymbals, Remo drumheads, Promark sticks, Rhythm Tech percussion, Grover percussion, Danmar percussion, DDRUM triggers, Robokey tuning torques, Woodshed Percussion Bass Drum Artwork, Hansenfutz practice pedals, Real Feel practice pads,  Qwikstix stick holders, Reign Fall fashion and DrumStar drumming apparel.   Amazing people, amazing quality, amazing support.  I couldn’t do my job without their support.  Their instruments are inspiring and help me reach new heights every night.

What is your favorite song of Jason’s to perform live?

I love playing every one of Aldean’s tunes.  We usually pick up the tempo and add a bit more ‘muscle’ to the songs when we play live.  It’s a rock show out there.  Very fun!  We take it up a notch live!!!!  Come see us!  We’ll make you a fan!

Do you have a favorite memory of being on the road with Jason and the other band members so far?

Each day is another opportunity to create more lasting memories.  My talent is a gift and my job is a ‘dream come true’.  Whether it’s a TV taping in front of 2 camera guys, a small club, a radio visit, an arena, or a recording studio, we always bleed passion and give 200 percent!!!  We have so much fun…it should be illegal!

What do you like about touring? What do you dislike?

Touring is a great way to see the world for free.  I actually get paid to see the world.  I’ve been to 11 countries and every state except Hawaii!  You have to be open minded and flexible on the road.  Things have a tendency to change last minute.  My patience has really improved since I started touring in 97’!  You see extreme highs and extreme lows with travel.  Great hotels and rat traps.…  Amazing cuisine on one day and then a deli tray with sweaty cheese on the next.  Nice people…mean people…You get the picture.  I pack lots of my own food…protein bars, nuts, etc.

What do you like to do on the road in your free time?

Between travel, sound checks, making it to the gym, and maintaining my business, there is NO free time.  I also fit in speaking engagements, drum clinics and private lessons in on the road if I can.

While you’re on the road so much, how do you balance your career with your family and friends?

What’s balance?  Ha!  My best friends are on the road with me, and I see them way more than I do my parents, relatives and soon to be wife.  We are our own little road family.  I take the time to see my parents and relatives every Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas without fail.  My wife to be is amazing and supportive.  The loves of our lives spend lots of time away from us, but we use fun stuff like texting, picture messaging and Skype to keep things fresh and sexy!  Ha!  These are cool tools that we didn’t have a few years back and we make great use of them.  Our wives and girlfriends get treated like royalty when we do ‘wives weekend’ getaways, working vacations, etc.  There’s also preferential treatment at clubs and shows, fancy meals, limos, etc. We try to make it up to them!  I also buy lots of shoes for my future bride!

You've had the chance to play drums on several albums by different artists.  How would you describe the whole process of being in the studio and what is a typical day like for you in the studio?

Every artist I work with in the studio brings a different energy and work ethic to the table.  Nonetheless, my job is to get in, be creative and get the job done quickly.  Time is money in the studio. I recently played on a record called ‘Beautiful Life’ for the popular Canadian country pop band, Doc Walker.  That was a really fun time.  We knocked it out in 3 or 4 days.  They swept the Canadian Country Awards by winning every award and also won a Juno Award.  It’s always satisfying to have fans and critics appreciate your work.

On a typical day, we get drum sounds, hear the songs and are off to the races quickly.  I use my musical instincts and follow my gut to get the right sound, attitude and feel for the songs at hand.  I also am open, flexible and willing to take direction from the producer, the artist and my fellow musicians.  It’s always a party on a recording session!

Have you worked on any new projects lately that you'd like to tell us about?

As I mentioned previously, I have an entertainment company called New Voice Entertainment that I started with my band mates Kurt Allison, Tully Kennedy and our fourth partner, David Fanning.  We just acquired an office in a historic building on world famous Music Row in Nashville.  We have several acts we are developing.  A killer rap rocker cat named Finesse, David’s own rock pop music and a new songstress named Natalie Ann.  Writing, recording and developing the careers of these acts keeps us very busy!  In addition, I teach privately at my studio, do drum clinics and guest artist appearances with colleges and high schools and sessions for other artists.  I love being productive and focused!

I believe you worked on Jason’s upcoming release, Wide Open?  If so, can you talk more about that experience?  What can the fans expect from this CD?  Do you have a favorite song from the album?

Yes!!!!  Great question because Wide Open will be available tomorrow as I right this…Tues, April 7th!  I believe it is Jason’s most cohesive collection of songs yet.  The first single, ‘She’s Country’ has already had 500,000 downloads from ITUNES and it is one of the top selling ring tones on the planet.  I have appeared in 6 Aldean videos and this one is by far, my favorite!  The economy will most likely affect record sales, but I believe Jason’s true fans will find a way to get a copy.  I dig every track.  We cut Jason’s records very fast, so we get an initial impression of the song and it’s message and immediately create a part.  I’m always proud of that.  I think you’ll dig this one!!!

Finally, is there anything you would like to say to all the country music fans and all our readers?

In closing, I would like to thank you very much for asking me to be part of this online community!  Country fans are ravenously loyal and I appreciate your commitment.  I respect your devotion and loyalty immensely!  I hope to see you on the road this year and in the years to come.  We will be doing tons of our own headlining shows this year as well as opening slots on 7 Keith Urban shows this summer!  Check and regularly for tour dates and news. If you are a collector of fan memorabilia, I have signed drumsticks and drumheads that were actually used to record and tour available for sale at  Simply click on my name to view the available items.  A full line of my own shirts and hats will be available later this year as well.  Thanks again for having me!  Many Cheers!  I hope to see you all on the road! I love to hear from everyone.

Please feel free to visit me at:
Also look for me on Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter! Thanks again!
Copyright © - All Rights Reserved - Disclaimer
Added: May 2009

Feature  |  Interview  |  Photos  |  YouTube Videos
Official Site  |  MySpace  |  Buy Merchandise