With MEINL since:
I think I am the longest U.S. Meinl Endorser. Since 1982
March 07, 1960
Place of birth:
Currently living in:
Favorite MEINL cymbal:
I was 4 years old
Car that you currently drive:
Not counting on drums what do you do for fun:
Hang with wife and kids
Lebanese food or sushi
A variety of different teachers
Highlight of your career so far:
Still earning a living and supporting three kids and a wife playing music for the last 28 years. Gig wise: Playing Red Rocks Ampitheatre. Music wise: Too many to mention
Groove, ears, and odd time. Plus great musical instincts
Drumming means to me:
Everything, it's my life
Advice for up and coming drummers:
Practice and don't ever give up the dream.
How would you describe yourself:
I'm basically crazy and some what of an asshole, but a good hearted one that has a great work ethic, and is always a pro. A welcome addition to any band or artists rhythm section.
When I look back on my life one day, I would like to be able to say:
I'm 47 years old. I already started looking back at my life ha!! All I can say is I have had a very blessed life and been a pro drummer for the majority of my life. I have played all over the world and spread happiness and joy through the love of music. I have earned a living as a drummer since I was in my 20's. What the fuck could be better than that.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- MEASURING SUCCESS (THE 3 BIG QUESTIONS) I travel around the world on a yearly basis doing concerts and recording for various artists. When I’m not on the road I am the Music Director and House Session Drummer at the Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences. Additionally, I am not one of those drummers who snub other drummers young or old. I make myself available to other drummers after concerts and am always around for young drummers at the Conservatory on a daily basis. If you have a question I will try and help you. It’s my way of giving back for the great life I have had playing drums for a living. (And no don’t call me for any free gear, that isn’t going to happen) ha!! I am asked all kinds of questions but there are a few that always come up. I would like to address these 3 very important questions once and for all. I think some drummers are either just confused or lack information. They are as follows: 1. How do I measure my success as a drummer? 2. How do I get endorsements? 3. I want to do what you do, how can I get on recording sessions and tours? AM I SUCCESSFUL? The main questions within this question are do you feel successful? How far did you expect your drumming career to go? Did you have goals you wanted to reach in the music business and have you achieved them? As usual I only have my personal experience to share with you. What brought this to mind is recently I did a show in Buffalo, NY at Rockwell Hall. A local company was supplying the back line and my drum tech for the gig was a local guy that I had not ever met before. I did talk to him on the phone once before the gig just to make sure my gear requirements were exactly what I asked for on the rider. (For some unknown reason to me if you ask for an 8” tom as your first rack it becomes a quest of some sort for local equipment companies. It would be easier to have a hooker waiting for me, but hey that’s another story) Anyway, the tech was helping me set up at sound check, he was an older gentlemen in his 60’s. I started checking the drums out before we put up the cymbals and was just flying around making sure everything was cool. When I got done the tech who’s name is Mike said “dam, I haven’t heard a drummer like you in a while, where did you get your start? I explained to him that I was actually born in Buffalo, and my uncle Bob Shiner was a drummer in the area so my mother used to take me to see him play. That inspired me at 4 years old to want to be a drummer. That’s were I had gotten the Fever!!! Well I looked over at Mike and he was silent and white as a ghost. He said to me “Your uncle played in a band called the “Quarter Notes” over at a club called The Big Apple in the 60’s and 70’s, I used to go see him play all the time”. “Your uncle was the shit back in the day, he was the best drummer around here, all the great drummers like Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich used to go see him when they were in town”. Then he paused and said Oh My God, YOUR JOEY!! Then Mike came over and just gave me a big bear hug!! It’s a small world for sure. I teared up then, and I’m still tearing up as I write this story. My uncle was very proud of my accomplishments as a drummer and talked about me whenever he was given an opportunity. I still have an autographed picture of Gene Krupa in my office that he got for me. I took Mike around and introduced him to the guys in the band telling them “hey man this cat used to go see my uncle play in the 60’s and 70’s. It was some deep stuff for me. So check out my point. Chances are you never even heard of Bob Shiner, but Buddy and Gene would go see him. I was to young to realize that my uncle was a heavy cat back in the day, and how lucky I was to hang with him and check out the scene. He sure as hell was my inspiration. He was the reason I became a drummer. So was my uncle successful? You bet your ass he was!!! His peers respected him for his craft. That is success to me. The hard line definition of being successful as a pro drummer is “if all you do is play the drums to earn a living you’re a pro and your successful”. That’s one way to look at it. All I ever wanted to do was not have a day job and totally support my family playing drums. I have had that blessing for the last 25 years. Do I feel successful, you bet your ass I do, but I am always striving for more. More notoriety, more money, and more respect. Having said all that, just remember that you measure your own success in your heart. No one can do it for you. If you’re happy with working a day gig and just playing music on weekends then you’re successful. You can only measure success. If you’re happy in your heart with where you’re at then enjoy it. It’s a hard road to earn a living and support yourself solely by playing drums. If that’s what you want then you shouldn’t even take time to read the rest of this article. Get your ass out there, you have work to do. Just remember success is in your heart, only you know where you want to be and what makes you happy.
HOW DO I GET ENDORSEMENTS? How do I get some free equipment? If that’s what your
really asking then shame on you!!! Having an equipment endorsement is not about getting free gear; it’s about a commitment on your part to promote the product as much as you can. (Plus you actually should like the product) It also entails a commitment on the company’s part to give you product support and now and then place you in promotional adds for the gear. I was an endorsement freak early in my career and started getting equipment endorsements solely on my playing ability. (Not to mention my wonderful personality) ha!! The times have changed since then and now in 2007-2008 it’s a totally new ballgame for endorsements. It’s much harder to have a solid endorsement these days due to a few factors. The main reason is the number of drummers who lied, ripped companies off, just wanted free gear and would jump from company to company like football players in free agency. The term loyalty went right out the window. Drum manufacturers can’t take the hit of just giving out free gear to everyone anymore. Other factors are common sense stuff like the cost of living, and more overheads for these companies, but in my opinion the unethical drummers ruined it for the good guys. Some other huge advice I can offer you about endorsements is the ARTIST REP. FACTOR. Your artist rep. is your key to good (or bad) experience with a certain company. In some cases artist rep’s move around like strippers from club to club. (So I’ve heard anyway!!) Ok, having said all that here are some of my personal thoughts and experiences and hopefully you can learn about the business through my little stories. Through my whole career I have only had official endorsements with 2 drum companies. The first 10 to 12 years I was with a lesser-known drum company but the people that owned it were some of the nicest human beings you would ever want to meet. Just really good-hearted people who actually thought I had talent. So even though at times I had to “re-do” some of my gear (just little stuff like putting wood hoops on the kick), the drums were not made out of wood, I stayed with that company. I stayed because they believed in me and they were cool, but after a while I wanted to go back to playing wood drums. I left that company with a heavy heart and it really was a tough decision for me. An artist rep that I knew from the drumming scene found out I left and started trying to get me to use this other company’s drums. He was working for a new drum company and really wanted me to check out their drums. Well it just so happened I had a quick TV gig come up on the show with Dick Clark and Danny Bonaduce as hosts. I can’t remember the name for the life of me; it was the male version of the show “The View”. Anyway the taping was in Los Angeles and so was this drum company. Long story short they brought a kit for me, I used it and I liked it. So after that experience I signed on to endorse their drums. I was promised drums, full page adds in Modern Drummer Magazine and good product support. Everything was going well for about a year, and then my artist rep that initially got me to play those drums was let go by the company. Everything went to shit after that. I never got my ads, and it was really hard to communicate with anyone. They just didn’t have an artist rep anymore and totally dropped the ball. I kept up my end of the deal and gave the company some great exposure. I have the power of Television working for me so they got on National TV 50 times a day with the Esteban infomercial, not to mention live TV appearances, and DVD’s of live concerts. You guys would be amazed at the politics that even go into “what you have on your front bass drum head”. I battled for that company to have their logo head on my kick many, many times. Well check this out. We were shooting a live concert DVD from Red Rocks. If you’re not familiar Red Rocks is a very prestigious venue to play. It was on my list of places someday I would like to play at, let alone shoot a concert DVD there. Anyway, I wanted to add a few toms to my setup for the shoot. I just wanted an 8” and 10” short stack toms. Short stack as in their depth would be about 5 inches, sort of like a snare drum shell. So I called my drum company and talked to the new artist rep, which just got the job like a month before my call. We never had met or spoken before. I told him about the shoot and asked for the drums. He said he would have to check into it and call me back. In about a week he calls back and says, “Well you can buy the drums”. I said dude, I just want them for the shoot, and I will send them back when I’m done if you want. I only want two short stack toms. Plus, my deal with that company was my drums were free. He said he would have to call me back again. In about another week he calls back and says “ok, if you send me your 8”rack tom and your 10” rack tom we will send you the short stacks”. Honest to god I almost shit my pants. I said bro, are you fucking kidding me or what. I thought he was putting me on. My toms are regular size toms; I just want the stacks for solo’s and stuff. He was dead serious, and to this day it pisses me off. A live DVD at Red Rocks and this guy won’t send me to effect toms. I said ok so if I need a snare drum do I have to send you my floor toms, what the hell is this Swap Mart. Dam by the end of the year my drum set will be a 2 piece. Needless to say, I never got the drums; I still used their drums with their logo on the DVD. Why? Cause I’m a man of my word and a pro. When the DVD was over I quit the company the next week. I did hear through the grapevine that this guy who worked there was fired about 6 months after that. So the short version of my endorsement stuff is like this: If your not familiar with my credits check my web site www.joemorris.net, but the short version is I have played on over 60 cd’s, hit the billboard charts on a monthly basis including the number one cd under new age, I played on major motion pictures and TV shows plus offer my companies tons of free national television air time. To this day I don’t have a drum company endorsement. I have had a few offers but nothing that I took. Go figure!! Plus I’m in no hurry and it would have to be certain drum companies for me to even consider it. All the other endorsements I have had for over 20 years are still in place. I will give kudos out here for sure. Some of the companies I haven’t talked to in years but others are my favorites by far. Why? Because the artist reps are awesome and the companies are always striving to be better and have great products. Kudos to Marco Soccoli at Vic Firth. We don’t talk that much but when I need help or sticks Marco is always on it. Kudos to Roy Burns and Chris Brady at Aquarian Drum heads, Kudos to Tom Schultz TJS Snare Drums, Kudos to Pam at Rhythm Tech but my biggest kudos goes to (and I’m not kissing ass here either) is Norbert Saemann my Meinl Rep. If I had a model rep to clone the rest of my reps Norbert would be the guy. Trust me just ask him, we had it rough when we first met. He was like my 5th rep in just a few years. I had to prove myself to him and I was tired of doing it, but he put up with my bullshit and bad mouth (hey he called me a mother fucker on the phone) ha!! And now many years later we are good friends and I just love the guy. Plus the Meinl Company is putting out some of the best cymbals I have ever heard. The new lines just kick some serious ass and their percussion products are simply the best in my opinion. Huge Kudos to Norbert and Meinl for setting the bar on the way a company and artist rep should be. It’s all about relationships guys, and how you relate to your rep and your company. So how do you get endorsements? How the heck should I know I don’t even have a drum company!!! Seriously, few tips: Know your place as a player. Either you’re in a popular band or you’re a player that is a notch above everyone else. Example: I was talking with Thomas Lang a few months back. The conversation went to something about me opening up for him on some drum clinics. I replied “sure I will open up for you maybe I could tell a few jokes”. Are you kidding me, I would never want to open up for Thomas Lang or one thing is for sure follow him. The guy is a monster player, be would just smoke my ass. That’s what I mean by know your place. Get a web site up, put promo pack together including a picture, your bio, your resume, cd’s or dvd’s you are on. Network yourself and get out and play whenever you can. Exposure is the key. You need to show the company one of two things. A. How well you play! B. What can you do for them to get their product exposure? My best advise to you is be honest and ethical in your business dealings and have a sense of loyalty. Good things usually happen to good people.
How do I get Sessions and Tours? Its not rocket science everyone. I’ll tell you one thing don’t sit around the house waiting for “THE CALL”. Get out in your local area and play, play and play some more. Network yourself. You’re a product so sell yourself. Another thing to remember is being humble and be nice. No one wants to tour or work with an asshole. Be open to ideas from producers and other musicians. Just be willing to try anything. Have good drum sounds, be prepared, be on time, have a good work ethic. You never know what you will have to do in order to please a client in the studio. Example. (Yes it’s a true story) A few years back I was recording a cd with a famous artist. We had been in the studio for about 15 hours trying to knock out a double cd. We hit this tune where the only thing I had to play was a light deep tone on beats one and three. Simple right? Check this shit out. He didn’t like the bass drum, the rack toms were pitched to high but he liked the floor tom tone. I hit it with a stick, (to much attack) I hit it with a brush (not enough tone), I hit it with a mallet (almost but a little to much attack) I hit it with my dick (THAT’S IT!!!) I tracked the entire tune with my manhood. Needless to say on pro tools The waveform got bigger as the tune went on. Ha!!!!!!! And once again yes it’s a true story. I have some witness on that one. The keyboard player and bass player could hardly track there were crying from laughing. The artist could not see me but I could see him on a close circuit TV. So yea, be prepared. Ha!! You have to work for what you want in this business. Everyday I get up and earn a living playing drums. Am I successful? My answer would be yes, I am successful plus lucky, and blessed but I worked my ass off for everything I have and I never bitch about going to work. I love my job. I love my life. If I can do it, anyone can do it, so all you guys and girls who are striving for more in your drumming career I hope you have learned something here and I wish you all the best. Never give up your dreams!!!