[By Mike Thompson, Drums of Thunder]
The first time I ever played solo in front of an audience was not planned at all.
It was my 7th-grade talent show and it was an entirely full gymnasium. I was doing a few things for the show already such as performing a couple songs with the school band, which was about 15 kids. Also, some friends and I were taking turns MC’ing the whole show as well as working on the stage crew. There were all sorts of acts; comedy skits, music, and I remember a karate demonstration. I don’t remember what songs the school band played, but I do remember there was a vibraslap in it, and that I got to play my private teacher, Paul Marcil’s, drum kit which he graciously lent to the school for the show. In fact, it was a Ludwig Silver Sparkle kit. The same kind I play to this day, ha.
Toward the end of the show, one of the acts dropped off or something. They needed to fill time and I jokingly said “I could go play a solo or something.” My buddies got all excited and were like “yeah – yeah! Go do it!” and the guy in charge was like, “yeah – go ahead do whatever you want”. So, I did.
I hadn’t planned on performing. I’d only been taking lessons for about two years. I just made something up. I played as loud and as fast as I could, and it was awesome. I was pretty fired up and played for about a couple minutes, which is a long time in drum solo talk, but it feels like it goes by in a flash. It felt like there was no crowd, just me and the drums, and it was like I was just lost for two minutes.
That was the first time that everyone saw me play as just me, like besides playing in the school band. It was like I had a little secret power that no one knew about; a hidden talent. It was pretty crazy and there was a lot of cheering and even a standing ovation if memory serves me correctly.
I was laughing hysterically because I couldn’t believe it was even happening. After that, I was totally wired and the adrenaline lasted for a while.
It made quite an impression on me and I needed to have more of it immediately. So after that, all I ever wanted to do was play in front of people, so I made it my lifelong mission to do so. Playing in front of an audience is so different than playing alone or at a rehearsal with your bandmates. Playing in front of an audience pushes you to play better. I like to get people fired up. I like to see people having a good time, enjoying themselves and know I had something to do with that. It’s a good feeling when people appreciate your hard work, knowing you’ve inspired them. And that’s still what I continually strive for.