Benny Greb - Growing Pains


Manage episode 237599510 series 1423872
By Seamus Evely and Drumeo Gab. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Benny Greb is one of the most celebrated drummers over the last ten years. With his acclaimed educational content such as “The Art and Science of Groove” and “The Language of Drumming”, Benny has been opening up the minds of drummers in a unique way. He currently has another book that is due to launch in Q1 2020. Along with his educational content, Benny is well known for his original music with his Grebfruit albums and his fusion trio Moving Parts. Benny also holds clinics and camps worldwide to expand the knowledge and abilities of drummers. I would imagine it would be an amazing experience for anyone who attends.

A Big Opportunity

Since running this podcast I have always hoped that one day I would have an opportunity to interview Benny. Any content that I have viewed, Benny stands out to me as an exceptional communicator, teacher, and performer. He would bring up concepts that went further than simply the mechanics of drumming by also implementing the psychological and scientific aspects of how we play. He breaks these concepts down into very understandable smaller parts so that literally anyone can understand it. Looking at Benny’s performances will also very quickly indicate to you that he is very methodical and intentional about his musical decisions and execution. So with all of these ingredients, you might imagine that an interview with Benny would be very eye-opening and an event that I would be very excited to present to all of you. And you would be right — mostly.

If you have been listening to DrumeoGab, or in its earlier days, DrumGab, you will know that I like to promote the idea of pursuing your work with integrity and to push yourself to reach greater heights with your art. Stagnation usually leads to boredom. So, I think it is important to step out of your comfort zone and do things to the best of your abilities. With Benny’s interview, I prepped a lot and tried my best to design something a bit different for listeners that would challenge myself with being able to host it. It was all really deep subject matter that brought curiosities forward but I hadn’t fully established my own thoughts on it yet. Instead, I wanted to see what Benny would bring forward and discover what kind of conversation could be had from the questions I had. I also enjoy challenging my guests with these deeper subjects as well.

All was going quite well I thought and then towards the end, I asked a question that would end on one word that would essentially ruin the question. The question was whether a drummer should spend their time mastering one to three styles of music or if it is better to know a lot of styles — but just a little bit. Nothing too in-depth or “masterful” so to speak. We as drummers hear a lot of people suggesting that in order to have a better shot at a stable career that we should learn as many styles of music as possible. But how is that information being handled? This is my curiosity. Are people just dipping their toe in styles or are they spending a great deal of time in a style of music and as a result finding their own voice within that style? So the question seemed pretty interesting to me when it is phrased that way. It seems like something people may want some clarification on but I really flubbed the question. I said, “should you half-ass it all?” which is absolutely horrible wording. It also contradicts how I approach this podcast and I personally don’t think that anything should be half-assed whatsoever. But I said it. And instantly, I regretted it.

During the interview with Benny, I felt what was best was to just let it pass and try to continue with the interview without having to defend myself at that moment, even though my ego felt the need to pipe up to try and regain some worth. It was tough making a big mistake on the podcast with Benny. I don’t know why the word came out of my mouth. It just kinda popped out of there and before I thought to stutter a bit and readjust my question, I committed instead. It was this type of catastrophe that I used to worry about happening when I first got into doing this podcast. It is the kind of event that I never wanted to have happened because I am not good at feeling embarrassed and I have a perfectionistic approach with this show. Whenever embarrassment happens I have a tendency to ruminate on my embarrassment and it cuts away at my confidence quite a lot. So what did I learn from this?

Growing Pains

The episode is titled “Growing Pains” because that is what I had experienced making this one. It connected me again with the fragile side of my ego that has always been a bit soft.

Before I continue though, I need to hit rewind a little bit.

When I started the podcast people were saying, “it’s really good considering you have practically no experience! Keep doing it!” What does that really mean? Well, I guess translated it means, “it isn’t very good yet but I think it will be good once you learn more about how to do it. Definitely stick with it.” So even from the beginning when I was incredibly uncertain about myself doing this kind of work, people were very gentle with their feedback. As the show grew and I felt that the content was becoming much better, I felt that the feedback was far more natural sounding. People were telling me often how much they look forward to it, that it was making a big difference in their personal lives and with their approach to drumming. The feedback has been really great, with only a few small comments stating otherwise. But that is the thing, I haven’t had much “bad” stuff to deal with while making this show. It has all been very good and it has been easy to feel positive about the work.

To clarify, I have also been very careful not to get too comfortable or confident either. Believe me, I still get nervous butterflies with every interview. I always want to hit a home run. It is very tough for me if I feel that I didn’t. This is why I prep so much and pour so much love into the work because I am actually really afraid to fail. That feeling of embarrassment is one of my biggest fears.

For my listeners, you must know the following about me. I grew up being incredibly self-conscious. Even something as insignificant as playing a game of basketball as a kid was stressful because I wouldn’t want to trip over the ball, miss a shot, miss a pass, or anything that put me in a place of inferiority to my peers. I didn’t want my teammates to say I was the reason why they lost the game. Overall, I wanted to be accepted. This mental strain actually caused a lot of these “misses” to happen and I felt like the loser on the team. In school, I was always the last person to be picked to be on a team for gym class because most of the kids didn’t like me much. And that became my truth.

Fast forward a few years later — I was always in a band, playing a lot of shows and having a lot of fun with music. I would come off the bandstand and my bandmates would tell me how tight the show was, and some members of the audience would say how they dug my playing. I got told this all the time. Hugs all around and everything is alright! I felt like I was competent at something! I was being accepted for a skill that I had.

Once I packed in playing music, due to Harrison arriving soon and needing something different for myself, I decided that I would start up a podcast. And again, I found something that really worked with me. I have felt a bit embarrassed or self-conscious a few times for sure, but I knew it was all part of growing with the show. The difference was that it was always in micro-doses, never a full blast of it. And that all changed with this episode. The thing I was trying to protect myself from by over preparing, over-editing, and playing it a bit safe with questions lead me to what I needed. A big jolt of something that would force me to make a decision that would test my comfort levels like no other time in this podcast. Do I keep the part of the podcast that I cringe at when I hear it? Or do I remove it and continue to be safe from humiliation?

Making A Tougher Decision Always Has A Better Outcome

Even writing this article took me about a week to visit. The reason being that I have to relive the bad feeling. As you heard in the intro to this episode I confronted it once already, and it felt GREAT when I faced my fear. I felt so uplifted and proud that I decided to keep something in the show that I felt was as embarrassing as running down my neighborhood naked with a cowboy hat on. But coming up to the release of this episode I am once again feeling a bit worried about what people might think when they hear it. Will any credibility I had built be lost? Will people make fun of me when they are listening to it and praise Benny for pointing it out? Is it going to be spread around on the internet as the big highlight to this episode? Will fans of the show email me about it to ask what went wrong this time? So now as I observe it again, I am hoping I can let go a bit.

As you build something and the momentum grows as this podcast has experienced, you feel even more need to protect it. It can become this thing that you place on a pedestal. Like a game of Jenga, you are more reckless at the beginning of that game than you are towards the end when you know it could all fall down. With the relationships I have formed, the wide listener base that comes here to get their weekly dose of podcasting goodness, and the growing sense of responsibility to everyone above, I am feeling the imposter syndrome more than ever.

I was told once by a good friend, Ned Burwell, that a decision should be looked at as a circle with a line running through the center. The center line represents a neutral state. On the right side of the circle starting in the middle is the hard decision. It is a vertical climb to get to the top and then an easy fall to get back to neutral again. An easy decision is represented on the left side of center on the circle. You can fall down the edge of the circle but it is a hard climb to return to neutral. This concept has become one of the most influential things to me when I need to make a decision. In this case, I felt it was no different. I had to make the hard decision in order to live with myself easier. I also had to do it not just for me but to inspire you too. I want people to make decisions that challenge them for the right reasons. I could have removed that part of the show and avoid my humiliation but instead, I thought it would be best if I just owned it instead. It is what I promote after all.

With More Influence Comes More Responsibility

As you become someone that people look to for inspiration and advice I feel that it is absolutely crucial that you practice what you preach. That might seem incredibly obvious and it kind of is. But doing it can be tough especially if you think there is a chance to avoid it. It negatively affects your confidence if you know in your conscious that you aren’t living up to what you promote.

We live in a world now with social media influencers everywhere. The potential issue with that is simple. Social media doesn’t have to be real to be believed. We can edit and filter out all of the stuff we don’t like about ourselves through it. We can essentially lie to both our audience and ourselves and only we will truly know that. Personally, I don’t want to live with that burden. That also means that I have to grow to become a person that truly doesn’t care what people think about me. If I know myself that if I am being honest with myself and my audience, that is all I can do. I should feel liberated to show my scars and insecurities. I should also feel liberated to show my successes too. Overall, we need to accept what is. We need to practice what we preach.

Ned told me another amazing thing once about trajectory and influence. Let’s pretend that we are a ship setting sail. The trajectory is going to be one hundred miles. In order to get to our destination, we must sail perfectly forward on the trajectory to meet our destination. If our moral compass is off by one or two degrees, it has less impact if we have only traveled five miles. You may only be off center by a few feet and it is easy to get back on course. But if we are have traveled one hundred miles and haven’t checked our moral compass we could find ourselves off course by many miles. So what do the one hundred miles vs five miles represent? It represents influence. As we gain influence in the world we must be more aware of our moral compass because we are now affecting more and more people. The intention behind our actions has to come from the right place. Many things can have an effect on our moral compass and so we need to check in with it every so often. As an example, I have heard of some people falling into what is called “the messiah complex” by becoming really influential. It is a real thing, look it up if you don’t believe me.

I am always trying my best to stay humble and remember that loser kid that no one liked. I feel grateful that I have an audience that adores this podcast. You come here each and every week to get your weekly dose of quality media that I try so hard to ensure it is good for you. (Hence the catchphrase for this podcast has always been, “It’s good for you”) I don’t ever want to be misguided by my desires, for acceptance. I just want to make my show and learn more about how to be a better version of myself, have great experiences (like this one), grow the show in every way, and develop more relationships. In addition to that, if people are learning, growing, achieving, facing their fears, working hard and being respectful and kind to other people too — then I am very happy with that.

Face Your Fears

With this decision to leave in something that I am insecure about is the very thing I needed. I needed it to see for myself where I stand with my own growth as a person and to ensure that you, my audience, understand my intent with this media. I hope that after you hear this episode that you feel that it is a great thing to own your failures, observe them for what they are, and move on as soon as possible. It is all part of the process. I can also guarantee each and every one of you that growth lies on the other side of your fears. It is better to face them now and see what they really are instead of allowing them to fester in your mind.

You have to prove to yourself time and time again that your fears are not what your mind makes them seem. It is nothing more than something your mind has conjured up in order to prevent you from moving forward. I also think other people are wanting to see other people set the example of walking through their fears before they take their first step. So be the person that shows others the way. Be encouraging to your peers who you know to struggle with moving past their fears. Once fear turns to worry, it only becomes harder to move forward.

I hope you all have a tremendous week and thank you for coming along on this leg of the journey to finding more growth within myself and maybe even you too.

I also want to say a huge thank you to Benny for spending his time with me on this episode to provide some incredibly thoughtful insights in this interview. Also, with teaching me more about myself.

Music used in this episode:

“Barking” - Benny Greb Moving Parts

“Stabila” - Benny Greb Moving Parts

“Bunker” - Benny Greb Moving Parts

Benny’s Socials




Drumeo Gab’s Socials



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