Catching up with Steve Moore, the 'drummer at the wrong gig'

No joke

No joke

A year ago, Steve Moore went viral. A video of his band, Rick K. & the Allnighters, had lain dormant on YouTube for years before an enterprising joker retitled it "this drummer is at the wrong gig." As of this writing, the video has been viewed 10,685,489 times.

Shortly after the video broke, Gimme Noise spoke to Steve Moore about his story and the odd sensation of going viral, and we were rather floored by Moore's positive attitude toward the whole crazy thing.

Well, it's been a year, and Steve Moore is doing better than ever. We caught up with the Mad Drummer last week to see how it all feels...

[jump] It's been a while!

Yeah it has man, yes it has!

It seems like you've had quite a ride...

Steve and his idol-slash-friend, Mike Portnoy

Steve and his idol-slash-friend, Mike Portnoy

Yeah it's been really good, man. New things seem to happen every month, it just gets better and better and better. It's awesome.

The last time we spoke, you were dead-tired, operating on no sleep, answering thousands of emails, and you had actually shut down your website because of the spike in demand for your DVDs.

[Laughs] I almost forgot about shutting down the website. It was hectic, man.

About how long after the video broke did it take for you to catch up?

It honestly took me about four and a half months to get caught up on emails. Now, that doesn't mean it ever really stopped, I'm still getting hundreds now. But as far as that initial period, to where I at least felt decent getting back to the people I really needed to get in touch with, it took about four and a half months.

It's funny though, but it was just really, really important for me to do that. About a year prior to that, I had sent out an email to one of my favorite drummers named Marco Minnemann. I just asked him a question about bass drum pedals, the typical fan kind of question, and I didn't expect to get anything from him. But about two weeks later, I got a response from him. I went through the ceiling, it was fantastic, getting an email back from Marco. So that feeling that he gave me, a year later, whenever the video went viral, and everyone was asking me similar questions... I felt it was really important for me to return that favor. Give that feeling back to everyone that Marco had given to me. It was really, really, important to me to do that, and I'm glad I did.

The world's a big circle man, and if you put it out there I totally believe it'll come back to you.

Were there any email exchanges between you and some young drummers? Anything stick out?

I had emails from your typical old ladies who just thought the video was funny, to eight-year-old kids wondering what kind of drum heads I used. And then of course I got a lot of emails from peers, a lot of famous drummers who were basically my heros. You name it, I just got emails from everyone. It was really difficult to get back to everybody but on the same token, it was an awesome feeling to get that much attention. And it was also such a good feeling not to just get the attention, but that for whatever reason, people seemed to really get something out of the video. Not just that they thought it was funny, but that it gave them a step in their day, or reignited some passion they had for a musical instrument, you know what I mean? It touched people on a different level, and that was really cool.

Last time we talked about how, a few weeks before the video went viral, you had decided to just kind of "let things happen." I'm wondering if you've stuck to that philosophy, and how it's going.

It's funny you mention that. It's a work in progress, honestly. It's something that's very unnatural for me. I tend to be extremely analytical, almost procrastinating because I rethink and rethink, and try to control things. Which brings us to the conversation you're referring to, I had finally gotten to a point where I said to myself "I can't do this anymore." As a result from that, I've grown to learn in the past year, if you believe things will happen, they will happen. However: Things don't happen the way you think they're going to happen.

So in other words, I've always wanted to be a famous drummer since I was six years old... but I never in a million years dreamed that I would become well-known through playing a ZZ Top song on YouTube. I would've never thought that. So I really had to adopt the philosophy that great things can happen to you, but it doesn't always happen the way you had it planned out in your head. So what you have to be able top do is recognize and seize your opportunities.

I've always been a band drummer, I've never really been interested in instructional videos and clinics and festivals and things, but as a result of the video I got involved with different drum festivals (which was petrifying for me). One was in Seattle last fall, and in April they flew me to Belgium to headline the Adams Drummers Festival, which is huge. The greatest drummers in the world were there -- I actually went on after Thomas Flag. To accept that, it was really hard for me, it really was. That's intimidating.

So what I'm getting at is that all of these things are things that I normally wouldn't want in my life, but they're they're. So I'm going after them.

Being a professional, or just being a grown-up, it would just be stupid to turn down these opportunities, right?


At the end of the day, if you want it bad enough, you just have to force yourself to step up to the plate. It's much easier to just go, "Eh, you know, I don't think I'm into that. Thanks anyways." Then you can go sit on the couch, eat some donuts, and watch Law & Order. That's a lot easier than it is to step up to the plate and go, "here's something that I really don't want to do, but I need to do it." If you want it, you gotta either make yourself do it, or be happy with where you're at.

Talking about some of these opportunities, last year we spoke about Mike Portnoy, from Dream Theater, being one of your favorite drummers. And I know you recently got the chance to meet with him and play with him, right?

I actually just got off the phone with him yesterday.

How crazy is that?

Oh, he's killer. I don't want to gush, and just go on and on and on and on and on... but at the same time he deserves it. It's just as simple as that. He deserves to be gushed over. [Laughs]

I remember last year when we spoke, the video was pretty popular at that point, but I don't think you had any idea you'd be casually chatting with Mike Portnoy a year later.

No way, no way. Things like the magazines and endorsements and all the opportunities are great, and I don't take any of it for granted. However: I would trade all of that in a heartbeat to have what you're talking about. To be able to call up Marco Minneman or Johhny Rabb or Mike Portnoy or Kenny Aronoff or Carmine Appice, all these legendary, giant drummers. I mean, I like to consider that I'm friends with most of them now, and nothing can touch that. It's the biggest thing in the world, because at the end of the day I'm just a fan. I'm just a drumming fan like anyone else, and I love these guys and think they're magnificent. So to be able to have access to them, to be able to drop someone an email, and say, "Hey I got this project cookin, what d'you think?" "Well, you need this guy, and I'd do this." Like you'd email your uncle or something. It's really cool, man.

But as far as Portnoy himself, that's absolutely been one of the coolest. He actually ended up getting me a Sabian cymbal endorsement! I went and saw him in Dream Theater and then a few months later saw him in Avenged Sevenfold, then he had me go backstage, and we were on the practice kit together, and he introduced me to all the guys in Avenged Sevenfold (they were all super cool, great guys), and just all that. But when I played the Adams Drummers Festival, Portnoy was there for a signing, and at the end of the show we closed with "Wipeout" and Portnoy got up onstage with me! It was surreal. Now granted, "Wipeout" isn't exactly a Dream Theater song, I get that [Laughs], but still, to be playing drums literally side-by-side with one of your heros... that was pretty cool. Only a year later to be doing that... I mean, just to get a phone call from Mike Portnoy is cool, but to actually be playing drums with him?!

In Belgium!

In Belgium! At one of the biggest drummers festivals in the world! There's just not a lot of people that can say that. And I don't say that out of arrogance, I say it from sheer gratitude. I never take that for granted. Never. Never never never.

There's been a lot of positives, but has there been any downsides to all the attention?

That's a good question, man. The only downside, and this probably sounds cheesy and corny and like a fake, plastic thing to say, but it's the truth. The only downside has been having time to do everything. That immediate rush of getting 5,000 emails in a couple hours, that's settled down obviously, but they're still pouring in. And it's really, really hard to get back to everybody. I feel bad about that.

We'll play a show and I'll open up my inbox and in the last couple hours there's two hundred emails. And you're going, "Oh, man!" Not meaning I don't want to see that...

Well, just logistically, it's got to be tough.

And on top of that, I've gotta call back all these business associates and do that stuff. And you just feel so bad, because you don't want to categorize people into "this is an important email" and "this is not an important email." Because they're all important. That's probably the worst thing of it, just finding the time to get back to everybody. Other than that, no way man, everything's great! [Laughs]

Considering how busy you are, have you had to turn down any opportunities?

Some, yeah. There's been some scheduling conflicts, because obviously I'm still with Rick K. & the Allnighters, and we're doing close to 200 shows a year...

That's eleven years now with Rick K.?

Something like that, and of course the schedule is just insane. It's hard to squeeze a lot of extra stuff in there, but I'm getting as much of it in as I can.

Are you on tour with Rick K. right now?

We're in Hinckley, Minnesota, right now. Then Indiana, and Michigan I believe. I could be wrong. Honestly, when you do it for so long, you just kinda go.

When's the last time you were home?

We had some downtime about a month ago. I mean we never have like, two weeks off, that just doesn't happen, but downtime is having like five days in a row at the house.

I saw this really funny advertisement on your website for Pintech, how did that come about? I thought that was a great way to use your character.

Honestly it was just an idea I had at the last minute. I had to have a photo shoot and plug the stuff somehow, and I didn't want to have the standard, standing there, looking badass with arms crossed kind of shot. Just something different. So I gave them a standard shot and that crazy one, and they loved it.

What do you have planned for the next year?

The one on the immediate burner is the instructional video with Carmine, I'm also probably going to be doing an album with Freddy Nelson. He did an album with Paul Gilbert a few years ago, and he's the guy I took to Belgium with me. And on top of that, another thing that I'm excited about, is a Mad Drummer show that hopefully will be touring in 2012. I can't give out too much about it, but it's kinda going to be like a twenty-first century Martin & Lewis where we take the whole 'this drummer's at the wrong gig' and really expand on that. It's gonna be a big production. I'm really really excited about that.

One last question. What would you say in the most important thing you've learned over the past year?

Honestly, for me, and I'm certainly not trying to regurgitate what I already said, but probably the biggest thing that I've learned goes back to the old philosophy of "keep doing the same things, keep getting the same results." It's so, so easy to stay in your comfort zone. In general, that's difficult for me because I'm sort of a creature of habit, and I'm really really analytical. I've learned how important it is to act on your opportunities. "I'm not really the guy for that." Then you need to become the guy for that.

That's probably the biggest thing I've learned. Especially in my case, when something happens so quickly, it's like you get one shot at it. You really can't take five or ten years to think about something and then go "you know what? I think I'll make that instructional DVD." Well, too late nobody cares about you now. Things don't always happen exactly like how you think they're going to happen.