What Is The Best?

Maintaining a website like this has its ups and downs. Just like life.

Lately I’ve been feeling guilty for not writing some interviews I’ve done over the past few months. Basically I’ve been busy drumming and touring and generally just living life. Some things have happened recently that I’m going to share with you for the purpose of making myself known to you, the person reading this.

It has to do with “being great” or being “the best.”

Basically, I never really thought this site would become the journey it has become, and most of the time I just do my things and stuff happens in life and I meet some people and I get inspired and I do an interview and learn things and do some gigs and work on things in my drumming and improve here and there and just basically “live my life.” There are some things that happen that I sometimes have a hard time understanding the significance of and they can sometimes stick in my head and sort of “jam up the works.”

This is a story about that.

As you may know, I play in a band called Led Zeppelin 2. And that means I get to get into the “character” of John Henry Bonham, arguably the greatest rock drummer of all time. It’s a beautiful challenge to do this. Here’s how I see it. I get to take on the role of another person who I only know through the products he created in his life. His product is music. And he was part of a group of people who created something together that is beyond this world, which all great music IS. Music is not a part of this world, it is something above it all. Call it manic, call it spiritual, call it life force, but if it’s great it touches something timeless inside you. So I get to adopt an identity that happened to bend space and time and transcend life and create something bigger. And doing this action for me allows me a vehicle to work certain things out for myself.

But my journey through life sometimes has things that I don’t always have perspective on at the time. And this year of 2013 had some that I’m just getting perspective on. I’ve owed you this story for a year.

Each year for about the past five years now, my band Led Zeppelin 2 (a band name as cocky as The Best Drummer In The World) has steadily grown bigger and bigger. In our hometown of Chicago, we sold out three nights at House of Blues. Almost 1,400 people a night times three nights was something I’m super proud of. Definitely a great year.

As I write this, I’m lying in bed on the morning of our first of three more sold out shows, one year later. But this is a story about last year’s shows.

On one of those nights, I invited Jimmy Chamberlin from Smashing Pumpkins to come on stage with me and do a co-drum solo. To my absolute joy and surprise, he said yes… which was followed by various degrees of “what the hell am I doing?” Of course, Jimmy is one of the greatest drummers of all time. And, like Bonham he was part of a great band that created music that had an enormous effect on a huge number of people. Again, great music is beyond this world, so I’m not going to try and qualify the music itself. My point here is that Jimmy was part of something that created greatness on a worldwide scale. Jimmy has a history with my guitar player, so there was an angle of comfort with him as a person that helped me to push myself into the situation where I found myself on stage with him, drumming back and forth.

The lesson I’m telling you here is not about technical skill, but of course it is a well-established reality that Jimmy has incredible technique and skill and there are many things I went through about this aspect of the story. Playing with someone who is very successful has a set of lessons for you. Playing with someone who has incredible skill is another set of lessons waiting to be learned.

And this is the curve in the story here. Because this story is actually about me and what I’ve learned this year. And since I started the year with this amazing experience with Jimmy, I figure I’d use it as a vehicle to lay out the lesson learned. And the lesson is about “being great.”

See, I expect greatness from myself and drumming has always been something that I felt I could be great at. Again, whether or not I’m great at it, not the point of the story, so bear with me.

Maintaining a website is something I’ve never felt at all that I’m great or even good at. I am not a webmaster. And this is another leg in this lesson. This year, I met Nick Koziupa. I know, not quite the household name that Jimmy Chamberlin is. I was working my un-rockstar day job and ran into this guy who happened to be a drummer and knew about websites and had designed video games and shot amazing photography and was just totally a great guy. One thing led to another and I recruited Nick to become my webmaster for this site. He re-designed it and made it look incredible and within weeks of meeting him, he got the site on page one of Google search. He was like the Jimmy Chamberlin of technology as far as I was concerned. And through this relationship with Nick, I now had a website that looked better than I ever imagined it could.

Now that I had this incredible website that I was totally proud of, I started reaching out more and more to drummers and doing more interviews. Nick is an amazing project manager and he set some rules on how the site should run. Rule number one, which I’ve fallen behind on recently, is “we need to get it to the point where we do one major post per week.” It’s so awesome to have someone like that involved in your life. So, through this relation with Nick, I’ve really started finding my feet as a writer. I’ve written lots of articles I’m proud of and I’ve found incredible joy in becoming a writer here.

Last night, I had dinner with Brad Elvis and his wife Chloe. I had interviewed Brad earlier this year and the response to the article was amazing. I’m at dinner with my beautiful girl, with these AMAZING people the night before I get to play the first of three sold out shows, a year after I had the honor of sharing the stage with Jimmy Chamberlin!!!

So here I sit in bed with the key lessons of an amazing year.

The question is, how did all this great stuff happen? Did I really make it happen? Or did it “just happen?”

The first lesson is, “don’t be afraid to call yourself great at something.” In the big scheme of things, this year was set in motion years ago when I believed enough in myself to buy a domain name which proclaimed me to be the best drummer in the world. That’s a lesson that takes balls to stick with. If you have a hint or spark that you might be even slightly able to become great at something, even if it’s only in your own estimation, fight to the death to make that a fucking reality. That’s a life lesson from my life to yours.

But the lesson I learned in 2013, with the help of Jimmy and Nick and Sarah, and Brad and Chloe, and Kenny, and the guys in Zeppelin 2 and The Bye Bye Blackbirds, and Jim Macpherson, and Gary Bender, and Robert Pollard, is a lesson I’ve been practicing all year.

Look for and SEE the greatness in other people. When you look for it, it’s always there.

Author: Ian

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