At one point or another, I had decided that my goal for DrumGAB was to have conversations with drummers about their lives and get to know them as people rather than talking about drumming. Don’t get me wrong, drumming is the hinge to the door of DrumGAB, but that is all. I want to explore the life experiences, wisdom and general knowledge of each guest to gain a multitude of unique perspectives from each and every person who appears on the show.
I have to admit that this episode with Tom Knight in many ways is the interview I have been waiting for. I don’t want to sound like I don’t enjoy my other episodes, because they all have their place with valuable insights, information and in general I feel that most of them are entertaining to listen to but I am a person who is drawn to history and legacy and I have yet been fortunate enough to speak with someone with at least 30 years of professional experience in this industry, with the exception of Ramy Antoun. It is these style of interviews where stories are found and if the person is well spoken and descriptive, it can make podcast gold. This episode is exactly that, and it is exceptional listening.
Tom Knight has a colorful career filled with larger than life stories and he captures these tales with incredibly vivid detail. Tom is a great story teller. It also doesn’t hurt that he is a seasoned professional in the VO (Voice Over) industry, so along with having a high-quality microphone for recording, what he says into it is simply great to listen to. We riff some VO bits for fun and discuss how he found himself in this industry, which was basically by mistake. He tells us the story of how Don LaFontaine produced a wedding gift on Valentine’s Day for Tom’s wife and how he got to know him very well in the last couple of years of his life. In this segment of the interview, there are a lot of laughs, stories and we learn a side of Tom's career that is possibly even better to him than his drumming career.
While I was preparing for this interview, I stumbled across a name that immediately caught my attention and I knew we had to talk about….none other than Dave Weckl. Yes, Tom studied under Dave and developed a friendship with him over the years and he tells us stories about Dave that are so personal and would seem to border on fiction if it weren’t told from a person who experienced it firsthand. The stories and how Tom vicariously describes Weckl is a true pleasure to listen to and a definite highlight in this episode.
Next, we discuss how Tom almost blew it with Zildjian. Let this be a cautionary tale to any cocky, overly confident players out there that thinks their shit don’t stink. Tom explains that the head of AR at Zildjian would field between 75 to 150 endorsement applications PER DAY! This is the reality of the matter. This is one of the most realistic and valuable pieces of advice, told through his own near fatal move with Zildjian. The main thing that held the Zildjian deal together was the fact that he was about to hit the road with TLC and obviously TLC being an international sensation, it was in their interest all along to sign Tom, but first, he had to be knocked down a peg.
So what is road life like with a major act? Well as Tom describes it, “utterly boring for 22 hours of the day and earth shatteringly amazing for 2 hours.” The truths that arise about Tom’s true feelings towards touring is so refreshing and only because I feel that many people would imagine him to respond with unwavering positivity. Instead, his perspective is one where the novelty has worn off and he has to factor in living away from family, the local business relationships he forged and all of the physical and mental struggles of touring. He makes it clear that this was how he viewed it but that others may LOVE the nomadic nature of touring but that he wasn’t really wired for it and now that he has three children and a marriage to nurture, the money would have to be of epic proportions for him to leave his family these days. He has no plans for touring in other words. However, it seems to me that he has no regrets about touring and that perhaps it needed to happen in order for him to gain the perspective he needed for down the road.
Tom shared this concept of neurobics on his Instagram recently and it really caught my interest, which led me down a rabbit hole of research to learn more about this incredible learning tool. It is essentially aerobics for your brain. Keep that muscle sharp with certain exercises so that your brain doesn’t turn to mush is the general message here. We review different methods to train yo’ brain and the importance of neurobics. Are you noticing yet that drums like never came up in the chat we had?
Before we get into concluding statements, the conversation takes a turn into left field and Tom shares with us how he conquered fear and how people should just do the shit they don’t want to do. Break old habits, forge new pathways in their lifestyle and live out their true potential. Both of us agree that we are not saying this stuff to appear like we are “perfect”, hell I can speak personally that I have a lot of growing to do and that I make mistakes all the time and Tom expresses himself in a similar fashion, but that we have a better understanding of what we CAN do and that we are working on it while encouraging other people in the process.
Overall, this is an episode that acts as a true snapshot of a person that I now admire more than ever after speaking to him. An episode filled with tales of an illustrious past and how to adapt to your situations in life to remain busy and employable in what is a very competitive industry, especially these days. This is an episode that will rank high in the DrumGAB podcast library and I am so eternally grateful for Tom’s time in creating this fantastic episode.