I grew up playing guitar and listening to Green Day. I thought I wanted to be in an original band, but the older I got, the more I realized how much I liked playing other people’s music.
There are so many genres, there’s just something about jumping into different gigs with different people. My dream was to play for a major artist, so I moved out to LA from Chicago in 2017.
As a kid, you hear “LA is where you need to be for music”. I didn’t know anybody or have a definite plan – I just knew I wanted to start getting gigs. If it didn’t work out, at least I’d be in a place where I loved the weather and the vibe.
I started going to these weekly jam nights on the Sunset Strip and got myself a little studio lockout space because of course, being a drummer, you can’t play a full acoustic kit in an apartment.
I started making videos for Instagram not really knowing what was going to come of it. I’d play random grooves or cover other people’s music. I knew how crucial it was to be active on social media because that’s where a lot of people find new talent.
I would connect with musical directors who were working with big pop artists, and by consistently posting videos I got the attention of a few of them, resulting in one of my first gigs with an artist named Meg Myers. I felt like I was on my way.
It took a few years of living in LA before all of the hard work started to pay off.
January 2022 rolled around. I had the winter blues – touring with Meg was awesome, but the run had concluded, and I was wondering what was going to come next. I would get together with my friend Leanne and talk about how stressful this industry can be.
It’s so expensive living in Los Angeles and paying for a lockout space on top of rent and everything else. I was hardly bringing in any money, and multiple times I thought maybe I’ll just do drums as a hobby and find some kind of day job.
“I’ve been out here for four years. I don’t know if I’m getting anywhere. I have a gig right now with Meg Myers, but is anything else going to come from it?”
Leanne’s career was progressing the same as mine was. We met at a jam at the Viper room – she was also getting smaller gigs and working her way up.
It’s so important to have a solid group of friends – find one or two people in the industry you get along with – someone you can share things with. It’s such a niche career; without a good support system, it can be so much harder, and not many people outside of the industry will understand all of the ins and outs quite the same way. Plus, you can refer gigs to each other and grow together.
Leanne’s become my best friend out here – we’ve had many lunch and dinner dates discussing the ups and downs of this industry, and how rad it would be to one day be on a gig together.
Soon enough, I got linked up with an artist by the name of Royal And The Serpent for what would be my first real tour.
It was a Sprinter van tour, and I was worried about being gone that long – I had never done it before. As much as I love being a touring musician, I’m a homebody and I was nervous about being in a van with people I just met for six weeks.
Surprise: it was the most fun I’ve ever had in my life. From then on, I knew this was for me. But sure enough, when that tour wrapped, I was like “Oh my God…now what?”
You create this family on the road for two months, and you get home and you’re back to square one. As a hired drummer, it’s pretty rare to get a long term gig with one band or artist. I was back in nervous mode of what am I gonna do?
One day, out of the blue, Heather reached out to me. “Hey, Stacy Jones is putting together a band for an artist and I threw your name in. He should be reaching out soon.” I was like, “Great – okay! Thanks so much!”
I didn’t hear anything for the next week or two. That’s the story of hired guns: Is anything going to come of this? Maybe not.
But then I got a call from Stacy. He said, “It’s a major pop artist, but they’re switching to more of a rock sound, and I think you’d be great for it.”
I guess years of uploading videos to social media paid off: my Instagram was my resume. I sent him a few videos of me playing in the vein of what they were looking for, and soon found out the artist was Demi Lovato.
A big chunk of advice I learned over the course of living out here in LA is how important it can be to go the extra mile – so I listened to Demi’s discography and found some more rock-influenced tunes in her catalog, made a drum cover of one of the songs, and sent it to Stacy so he could see me actually playing the artist’s music.
Fast forward, I ended up getting the gig. I felt like I finally got into the next tier of my music journey.
I called Leanne and filled her in on everything. She was in the UK with Marina and the Diamonds and she expressed her excitement for me.
A few weeks later, she told me that Stacy asked to get on a call with her about the Demi band.
Leanne and I both moved to LA in 2017 and our careers had been growing at the same rate. We’d both been on super small local performances for the hell of it, slowly moving to bigger opportunities, referring each other along the way. Fast forward a few years and here we are, like we always talked about and hoped for – we ended up on the same gig together.
In this industry – especially being female – there’s no place for being catty and unsupportive. The more you can genuinely cheer on your friends, the better. There’s room for everyone. Plus, it’s only going to benefit you later because you’ll have a stronger circle.
Rewind to the Royal and the Serpent tour. At one point, a friend of mine who is good friends with Demi’s boyfriend, without giving anything away, told me that it’s rad I’m drumming for Royal as she might be doing something with Demi Lovato in the future.
I thought to myself…how fun would that be?
Fast forward to the Holy Fvck tour in Fall of 2022 and I’m drumming for Demi and get to be out on the road again with Royal. It’s crazy how it all came full circle.
The first thing we did together as a band was performing live on Jimmy Fallon. As Leanne and I were flying out to New York, we talked about how surreal this was – that we’d been talking about doing this since day one, and now we were doing it. I grew up seeing Jimmy Fallon on TV!
I’d never had a gig this big before. Never played TV before. Never had a drum tech before. Never been on a tour bus before. But here was everything at once.
I remember pulling up to Rockefeller Center, walking upstairs and settling into the dressing room. Leanne and I just looked at each other.
“Oh my God. We’re here together doing this.”
In the same building that hosts SNL.
You don’t really process it. You just kind of do it and then before you know it, it’s done.
I went out to look at the stage where my kit was set up. We did a couple of run throughs with the cameras, and being the first thing we’d be doing with Demi, it was intimidating. We’d never performed outside of the rehearsal studio with her, and I wanted to be confident and professional. It was an overwhelming situation – in a good way. This is exactly what I’ve dreamed of doing.
I also felt major imposter syndrome. Even though I had put in years of playing gigs for no money, creating content on Instagram, practicing for hours on end in my rehearsal space – you’d think this would be enough to make me believe I deserved it, but I don’t think anything will ever really make that feeling go away completely. It’s the nature of it – and it keeps you striving to always do better. It’s all about the balance.
It’s crazy – I was way more nervous playing on TV than I was playing to 80,000 people at Rock In Rio a month later. Playing a show is more about just being yourself and going wild up there behind the kit – being an authentic rock drummer. Playing for cameras can feel so unnatural and almost too organized.
We wrapped around 5 pm. The other girls were in the room talking and I just remember thinking to myself like oh my God – I feel like I fucked that up. I could’ve done so much better. I’m going to feel so uneasy until it airs in five hours, and then it’s out there forever for the entire world to see.
I was freaking myself out. I’m a perfectionist, which can be both a weakness and a strength. It makes me work hard and helps me improve, but it can also prevent you from just “being” and it becomes hard not to overanalyze every little thing I do.
Leanne and I went out to dinner together and watched the episode in the hotel room after.
Oh my God, what’s this going to sound like?
And it was great.
Zero wrong with it. It was a song we’d played a million times.
Get out of your head and be confident. I know how to do this. I’ve been doing this for years. Don’t let that mental game ruin the experience for you. Our mind is powerful and can get in the way, whether it’s imposter syndrome or overthinking before you get on stage. It really can determine so much of the outcome of our actions.
Thankfully female drummers are way more prevalent these days, but even ten years ago, there weren’t as many who were out there and visible. You couldn’t go on Instagram and see girls drumming all over the world.
Stay consistent and don’t give up. That’s the simplest way to put it. It’s like going to the gym – you won’t suddenly see muscle definition, but you’ll look back in two years and see the progression.
If you get bummed or deterred or aren’t seeing progress, don’t stop. Something will happen, and you’ll end up looking back and know all of this happened for a reason. If you love it and know you want to do it, don’t let roadblocks get in your way.
I look at where I was in 2017: I didn’t know anyone, I didn’t have one gig, and I was just throwing out videos. Now I’ve done so many of the things I had always dreamed of doing.
When I first moved to LA, I had a roommate, also a musician, who’d moved out from the east coast. We were inseparable for the first six months. But she slowly started to change and be really mean to me and say things condescendingly like “I know you never get gigs, but it’ll happen eventually” and “you’ll get there one day”.
She was the biggest narcissist I had ever met. Eventually she would insult my abilities and say horrible things to me. “Did you tell your friend that you got the audition? Oh, wait that’s right – you never get auditions.” It was such a toxic environment and I had to move out.
It really bummed me out that someone I thought was one of my closest friends – and really my only close girl friend out here – was not at all the person I thought I knew. I could’ve easily said “She’s right – maybe this isn’t going to work.” But it only fueled me more to prove her wrong.
When I got the Royal and the Serpent gig, a friend came out to see me on the first night of the tour. “You’ll never believe who just came up to me.”
“Who?” I said.
“Your old roommate.”
Apparently she said, “I’m sure you won’t pass the message to Britt, but let her know I’m really proud of her and how far she’s come.”
It was mind-blowing. I remember at that moment how happy I felt. It sounds dark, but I was so glad she was there because it was my first show on my first real tour. The person who used to tell me I’d never get anywhere saw me up there at a show she went to go see.
There are lyrics in one of Demi’s songs I remember taking to heart while playing our set at Rock In Rio:
I know how bad it must hurt to see me like this
but it gets worse
I’m sorry (I’m not sorry)
The whole time I was thinking about my roommate. Damn, just three or four years ago this girl was telling me I’d never get anywhere. But here I am, playing in front of 80,000 people, with an artist whose music I love, doing exactly what I always dreamed I’d be doing.
A lot can try to stop you along the way, but if you truly have the heart for it, you’ll overcome those obstacles and it will only make your journey that much better.
Don’t let anything or anybody stop you. Be supportive of your community. There’s room for everyone.
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