Welcome back to another episode of the Drummers I Like podcast! Today we are honored to have Craig Pilo of Frankie Valli on the show with us!
Craig has played with Frankie Valli for the past 11 years, and also with many other acts. Craig is the consummate professional, as well as a great guy to have a drumming conversation with. He also studied drums at the University of North Texas with greats like Ed Soph and as usual, there is a ton of drumming knowledge in this episode. So enough of my banter. Let’s get on with the show.
13:00 – 17:00: As always we get into how Craig found the drums and music in general. For Craig, it was really Buddy Rich that started the obsession. From there he soaked up as much music as he could get his hands on and wore out his dad’s big band records. He touches on his early influences and his first real taste of the drums.
17:00 – 22:00: Here Craig mentions being influenced my Maynard Ferguson the renowned trumpet player. Craig went on to play a tour with Maynard. He recalls some of those experiences which were some of his first as a touring drummer.
22:00 – 24:00: Now Craig talks about his journey leaving his hometown in Connecticut, studying with greats like Ed Soph at the University of North Texas, and how he got to Los Angeles. In this segment, we also learn that Craig and Rich live 5 minutes from each other. So look out for some Drummers I Like content featuring Craig sometime soon.
24:00 – 30:00: Craig gets into his long-time work with music legend Frankie Valli. He’s been on the gig for the past 11 years. That’s a long time to hold a single gig and that is a lot of Frankie Valli songs to learn so it was cool to hear some of his experiences with touring and playing with Frankie.
30:00 – 33:00: Here Rich gets into some of Craig’s practice routines and what materials he likes to practice. Practice time is pretty scarce for Craig. He is always either out playing with other musicians, performing in sessions, or working on writing and producing music for film and T.V. Craig says one of the most important things he does to keep up with drumming is to check out some of the hot upcoming drummers. We also chat a bit about metal in this spot so that’s fun too!
33:00 – 37:00: The last conversation runs into the next and we talk a bit about how important it is to be an open minded and diverse drummer throughout different styles of music. Also how important it is to be able to comfortably play in many different styles.
37:00 – 40:00: Now we start to get into some drum gear related chats, starting with a little about Craig’s approach to tuning. His toms sound awesome and we really wanted to hear about his tuning technique. He also talks a little about his Yamaha maple drums.
40:00 – 41:00: Here we get into some of Craig’s drum teaching. He teaches lightly at the California College of Music with a few students. He hopes to build that a bit once his home studio gets finished up. But because of his very busy playing schedule, it’s pretty hard for him to take on a lot of students.
41:00 – 49:00: Then we get into a talk about Craig’s composing skills and how he built them. As we’ve mentioned he created scores for film and T.V. After playing a lot of drumming gigs for T.V. he found it was pretty easy to create that type of music that was needed for these shows so he decided to take some advice and get into it.
49:00 – 54:00: That whole conversation turns into a talk about diversifying as a drummer to be able to keep your career going. But Craig stresses that no one should only do something in music just for the money. It’s important to keep passionate about everything we do. As well as again talking about the importance of not being close minded. This is a great chat that goes’s through several topics that include some good experiences from his studies with Ed Soph in North Texas. We bounce all around here so make sure to take a good listen.
54:00 – Rapid Singles
1. What was holding you back from becoming the successful drummer? – Being intimidated by other drummers around him.
2. What is the best piece of advice you have ever received? – Use the tools your drum teachers give you.
3. What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success? – Wearing a lot of different hats. Being a jack of all trades so to speak. Also reading skills.
4. Share a resource or tool that helps you survive as a drummer? – Again, wear a lot of hats.
5. Recommend just one book. what would it be and why? – Syncopation for the Modern Drummer by Ted Reed.
6. Imagine you woke up tomorrow in a world exactly like ours, you still had all the same knowledge and talent that you have as a drummer but you know no one. All you have is $500, a smartphone, and small portable drum set. What would you do first? – He would seek out music that he enjoys to start networking with other musicians. Through networking, you can find like-minded musicians to start that new project.
Well, that’s about it for our show this week. Craig Pilo is the man and we always enjoy that much needed drummer talk! We were very excited to have this chat today and the show it’s full of great knowledge. Craig was a real pleasure and we were honored to have him on. His experience in the drumming and music business gives our listeners some amazing insight this week and we hope everyone takes a lot away from this episode. Thanks again to all you listeners and don’t forget to stop by and leave us a review. It helps us out a lot. That’s it for this week. Talk to everyone soon. Ciao!
Craig Pilo’s links.
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