Sarah Thawer has been on the show once before. It’s coming up on two years in October and Sarah’s career has grown immensely since then. She has been involved in many things since then including international drum festivals and drum clinics, major video shoots for the companies she endorses, Drumeo, VF Jams, and international touring with Watsky. She even started her own jazz outfit called “Sarah Thawer and Friends”. It is absolutely crazy what she has been accomplishing. She is totally in it.
After our interview, Sarah performed at the Victoria Drum Festival and she absolutely killed it. I swear that she has improved greatly since the last time I saw her perform. It appears that there are no limits to what she wants to achieve as a musician and this episode really brings out the “hows and whys” to her success. She is incredibly diligent, hard-working, intelligent, musically educated, creative, passionate, unique and kind. I can’t see how anyone couldn’t love Sarah. She has captured an amazing audience to cheer her on and so I wanted to name this one after the many times during her tour with Watsky where the audience would chant “Go, Sarah, Go, Sarah, GO!!” during her drum solos every night.
When Sarah and I first chatted on the podcast, she had talked about her level of exhaustion and how her schedule was filling up fast. She was learning how to keep it all organized and together. The level of dedication and work she puts towards the instrument must have been tiring, and then for that to produce the big opportunities while trying to continue evolving with her drumming must have been tough for her. So with all of that in the back of my head going into this interview, I wondered how Sarah was feeling these days ‘cause it hasn’t slowed down much!
Interestingly, Sarah not only appeared to be more relaxed than before, but she also seemed more confident and in control. Everything that she spoke as a response happened so quickly and firmly. She had figured out a way to slow things down when she needed to. Meditation became a big part of her routine to calm herself and also be more present mentally during her performances. Even when stressful situations arise, such as the story where her parents’ car got towed just one hour prior to a gig, she still managed to focus and set the drama to one side for the sake of the gig.
The other thing is her scheduling habits and the spreadsheets she creates for music that she needs to listen to, or for practice related stuff. She is able to control that which is controllable and let go of what is not to be controlled. This is by far one of the most incredible revelations anyone can have about their lifestyle. It is scalable and realistic. Being well organized is so important, of course, but also allowing spontaneous moments to arise is important as well. A mixture of the two is what I am gathering from Sarah.
A big topic that we cover in the interview is directed toward attention seeking, social media-addicted, phony people who chase something for the wrong reasons. This may be a part of the episode that triggers a part of you that doesn’t sit very comfortably.
I think it is human nature to want to be seen. We want acknowledgment. We want praise. But for what?
That is the question that each and every person should be answering.
What if we don’t feel “cool” enough or that our lives aren’t constantly being packed with adventure? Can we compete with what we see online? How can we decorate our lives through social media to appear relevant and worth checking out? Personally, I think it is all about finding something that we can obsess over that brings us knowledge, experiences, skills, income and confidence, and through those things we can advance. But what if we think what we do isn’t exceptional and makes us feel insecure? What else can there be for us to feel confident to share with the world what we are doing?
I would suspect that there are many people who do feel a bit underwhelming compared to what they admire on social media, and so compensation enters the picture. Fortunately, social media has been designed to make our lives seem more exciting than ever! And we can put any filter we want on our reality, too! Insecurity combined with a desire to feel worthy is maybe one of the main reasons why this exists for so many of us and why we decide to live in our phones instead of our waking lives.
If we never have to face the world that we have represented through social media filtering, we are safe. All is well and we can continue to live out our “ideal” image – one that we create. But what if a social media account becomes influential? What if we get to a point where social media “you” and the real you collide in the flesh? Do you feel able to stack up to what you have portrayed?
When I created DrumGab, I hid behind it a lot. Due to myriad situations that cut away at my self worth, I really felt convinced that I didn’t stack up to how my podcast was being accepted. Like sure, DrumGab might be cool, but I am not. I won’t lie about the fact that I heavily edited my show because I hated the way I sounded. I would feel embarrassed if anyone heard the audio while I was editing it. I was terribly insecure about myself and yet I continued to make the show. When I think about it, I actually cannot believe how willing and obsessed I was making the podcast. It was an exercise of taking the raw audio (that I almost always thought was awful) and turn it into something I could really love. That was the experience for me over and over again. It wasn’t until I was sixty or so episodes deep that I was starting to enjoy the raw audio and I got excited about how much I could add production to make them even better!
Then one day I found myself on an airplane heading to Drumeo to meet and interview Todd Sucherman. I was initially very excited about it. I couldn’t believe where the podcast had taken me! As time went on, I began to realize that what I had become comfortable with was no longer present. I had to step into the now famous and iconic “Studio A” at Drumeo and proceed to interview drumming royalty. Me!! Well, I can tell you that the occasions have been few where I felt pressure like that in my life. All of my podcasts were crafted quietly, privately, and in the safety of my home. And all of that work was now amounting to this. I now had to host an interview in front of people who were fully convinced that I was the right person for this job.
So, how was it? Well, it was scary. Very scary. But I have only been that focused a few times in my life. I remember most of that interview by memory because of how involved I was in that moment with Todd. I also felt a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders when it was over. I actually managed to do what was expected of me. This may sound like I am being incredibly hard on myself, and you aren’t wrong. I rip my own work to shreds in my mind. I am always looking for how I can get better at this. I am incredibly picky with how I conduct interviews and what I am trying to achieve with them. But I also know about the edits I used to make. I know about how I feel before an interview. It is all a little bit shaky at times.
I feel that if I wasn’t editing the show and I always did face to face interviews, Todd’s wouldn’t have been as scary. But Skype interviews allow you some protection. Something to feel safer behind. And that is almost all I ever did.
I feel that with social media we can feel that safety as well. We edit stuff and then put it out. We give a lot of thought to our message or how we format captions to gain more engagement with our content. But if that is all you ever do, what are you like in person? Without naming names, there have been people I thought I knew over social media and then met in person and it was so different. It’s like, um, where is the person I was following on IG? Where is he at? ‘Cause this person in front of me right now seems uncomfortable and, well…different.
So use social media for the right reasons. Be real on it. Face the fear of being ignored, mocked, or posting less than perfection. If you are being real online, then you have nothing else to live up to but yourself. It makes everything much more comfortable and you will be happy you did it.
The last thing I want to cover regarding the episode is why you need to inject your passions into your life. These are the activities that you cannot wait to learn more about, practice, perform, and so on. It doesn’t even have to be drums. But let’s be honest, it probably is if you are reading this. Anyway, I think everyone should assess what they want out of their passions. Once that is done, decide how long you are willing to wait to become what you want to be within your given passion. Based on that, work accordingly while maintaining the obsession. Even the most incredibly interesting new thing that pops up in your life may fade into oblivion and fall into the “I used to be into that” category.
I feel that when we have our own “thing” to chip away at, it has the potential to fulfill us in a deep and meaningful way. I have always been the kind of guy who likes to have a couple of hobbies going at all times. One of those is Disc Golf. It gives me a chance to watch the flight of a disc, walk through a wooded course, have some level of competition with myself, and learn the technique. Plus, I have a few buddies who are into it, so it gives us a chance to catch up and hang out for an afternoon. Do I want to become a pro? Nope. I just want to have it in my life as something fun to do, and keep it being fun.
I think this is what drumming has been for most of my life as well. Although I did believe when I was young that I wanted to be a pro. But it was something that I felt my parents were not going to approve of, so I settled on just playing. Due to the fact that I had not believed that being a pro drummer was something that could be, drumming remained a passion. It actually did bother me a lot for many years that I didn’t pursue a life in music. Usually, this would be the commentary I would vocalize when I was having a terrible day in my construction job. Fortunately, that dream became revealed to me in the form of a drumming podcast which I must admit filled that void I had all those years.
I guess my point is that you should have some passions in your life to keep you from rotting your brain in front of a TV set. Keep sharpening the skills that make you feel unique and confident. I think that if you have your own thing to work on, all aspects of your life can benefit from it.
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