Rob Wallis - It’s All True

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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.

Rob Wallis is a co-founder, along with Paul Seigel, of DCI Music Video, later to be Hudson Music. Rob being a longtime provider of content to the drumming community; Rob is the OG of video content. DCI Music Video was responsible for many legendary drum education videos that were great in their day and today holds a wonderful nostalgia. Titles such as “Bernard Purdie on studio drumming”, Steve Gadd’s “Up Close”, Dennis Chambers & John Scofield’s “Serious Moves”, Carter Beauford’s “Under the Table and Drumming” and mentioned in the podcast, “Modern Drummer Festival 2000”. These videos have been embedded for many years in my drumming life and I think back on them like you would your childhood. So huge thanks to Rob, Paul and the team with Hudson Music for making that content possible and delivering value to the drumming community for all these years.

A New Way

Whenever you are learning some style of music, a lot of drummers will suggest learning the history of players within that genre. It is always recommended to learn the roots and the history behind it. With so many drummers creating video content these days, is it important I wonder to study the history of video content? If it is, well...DCI is where you’d have to start. Rob talks about the truckloads of tape from recording festivals and the storage areas where they would keep it. We are talkin’ thousands of pounds of the shit. Tapes everywhere! Imagine where in order to create your live content, you have to hire catering services! The level of expense that went into this stuff was intense, man. Massive risk, and yet...a range of rewards. On one hand, no one else was doing it. On the other, you could lose your shirt if it flopped. But no matter how you sliced it, there was a huge gap in the industry and these guys forged the way. What they came up with would become the beginning of a new era for music education.

I want to focus on something for a minute…..

This “gap” is what everyone should be looking at. What makes that difficult is the fact that everyone has everything already. The delivery of information has improved immensely by looking better, sounding better, being more user friendly, and well you get the point, right? That all requires budget, experience, a facility, a network - and probably a bunch more stuff that I have no clue about to make it work really well….potentially. But back when Rob and Paul were getting into this, no one had ever seen anything like it before! It made a big impression and the ceiling was high to scale it. But again, the costs were MASSIVE back in those days, as Rob says in the interview. Renting 100k camera equipment for $1500 a day (in the early 80’s remember) is what’s on the menu. The cost of a mistake is on a whole other scale. “ It’s a different ballgame,” was the term we used in the conversation and it is all true.

A Slippery Slope

So, Hudson Music has produced a lot of the VHS tapes, DVD’s, and education books over the years. And by VHS and DVD was how you were going to receive that content for some twenty years…..until YouTube came along. It was a time for some people to strike while the iron was hot. Once again, there would have been huge costs involved, massive technical hurdles, less accessibility, and huge costs (yes I realize I repeated that).

So this was, yet again, a potential for a new era of education. And so the internet naturally became the focus for distribution. Since very early on, trusted providers such as Drumeo, Mike Johnston, Stephen Taylor, and Adam Tuminaro have all been chipping away and evolving in order to perfect online drum education. And to me it doesn’t look like there is a whole lot of room left to make this stuff exclusively. You could do it part-time, but likely you will be doing a lot of other stuff too to make ends meet. Music related or not.

It goes without saying that because it is easy to create a quick and easy lesson for Instagram or Facebook, anyone can do it. The internet is an amazing space to build a voice and brand. Hell, that’s what I am trying to do. It is all in how you handle that though. Is what you make any good? Is there really any value in it? Has it been said 10,000 times before and there any need to hear it some more? Are you doing it just to build a “brand”? Are you thoughtful with how you approach projects or content? Do you really love to do it, or do you feel pressure to do it? These are the things I would ask myself.

Rabbit holes…...

In any case, with lesser cost, lesser risks, better fidelity, and more access comes saturation. Inevitably.

Right, so tons of drummers are doing this. Some content looks great, some don’t. Some stuff sounds great, some don’t. Some lessons simply contain better information than others. But you know what it all has in common? I’ve seen it all thousands of times and I am bored now. I’m not suggesting that it needs to go away either. The great content, is great content! Keep that going for as long as possible. It needs to exist for drummers, of course, but when you combine all of what is out there….like I mean ALL of it! I am sorry folks but is it really needed?

The information coming into our phones and other devices are cruising along at overdose levels. I am not sure it is a good thing. Another angle to approach this is due to the fact that most of this content exists through social media and its design. So the question is whether or not we are attracted to our addictions or sharing great information? It is a blurry line if we really get real with ourselves. Likes, comments, more followers. All of it feeds the part of us that we associate with progress and esteem. And humans are drawn to progress and esteem...just look at the huge leaps forward as a species. That is a whole other kettle of fish that I may tackle another day but for now, let us all agree that we have come along way since we were banging rocks together and pounding our chests.

Point is, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and whatever else is out there, is meant to draw us in and keep us living there. It is up to our own discretion and discipline to monitor ourselves and maintain a healthy level of usage. This awareness ties in with my own abuse of social media, all with the notion that because I was growing a podcast, more metrics meant more growth. I felt that investing in the platform is a wise decision in order to scale my show. But ya know what? This show doesn’t actually grow much from social media. “But how is that Seamus!?”, you might be asking. Well, it is because people are on social media to be on social media. Not to find podcasts. That’s what Google’s for.

Side note: shares from super powerful and influential people/organizations on social media does help...a lot. But I am talking about, in my own experience, how the level of input vs output is disproportionate. However, with continued, regular investment, you will be on the minds of drummers/potential listeners and perhaps one day they may feel inclined to listen to a drumming podcast, and yours may be the one they choose. Also, you can easily create good relationships with people. This may have to be another blog at some point because there is something big to that. A subject that I find fascinating where people become currency to you….

SO! I know I am digressing here but there is a point to this, trust me.

I want this podcast to be what connects me to you.

E-mails FTW! (hit me up at Seamus@drumeo.com if you want to share your drum story or anything you want to be heard by someone). That is what I would like with listeners over any like, any share, or any comment on socials. I like one on one interaction and preferably off social media. So I encourage everyone to reach me by email, please.

The Glue That Holds It All Together

Rob possesses what I admire in people. Honest to goodness passion and love for something. Anyone who has that superpower is my friend, even if we haven’t met yet. But it is the love for what he does that keeps him fired up about working on Hudson Music all these years after having started it. This kind of testimony is what makes me excited because what I feel is a total obsession and interest in what I do. I just want to make the next thing, after the next thing. And that is exactly what Rob has done over the years.

He expresses his connection to the instrument, and how the connection occurs off the kit as well. Drumming is a community. It is music and art as well, obviously, but on the grander scale, it is and should always be about community. One person’s success is a victory for the community and so we should encourage each other, not compete. We should share ideas and philosophies to help each other grow and become stronger. That has become a larger purpose for this podcast as time has gone on and the show’s level of reach and impact have evolved. So as a sidebar, thank you, everyone, who comes here for their dose of a realistic, honest, well-intentioned, open forum.

Something that I want to drive home….

I believe that when you have integrity, like Rob, you produce the results required for something to survive and hopefully thrive. Ups and downs will always come and go, but long term success is really about devotion.

Because Rob treated his career more like an adventure, he managed to gain many fantastic personal life experiences that he can call his own. He made something out of nothing and nearly 40 years later he is still evolving by means of autobiographical book publishing; And he is super proud of it, as he describes “the spine facing out and everything”. He crossed paths with the amazing ****SPOILER ALERT****...(clears throat) Mr. Marlon Brando by happenstance at a red light in Harlem! The story goes that Rob had randomly stumbled across Paul Siegel driving some 20 minutes after they had separated at a red light. Paul’s passenger yells to Rob, “Hey, the phone is for you!”....and it was the Godfather!! Yeah, just unreal shit.

Entrepreneurialism

It was a big topic in the episode towards the end and I have some more thoughts about it. Listen to the episode before you continue reading.

Do you think it is better to be an entrepreneur than not? If so, why? What is an entrepreneur today? Is a loose term these days? I mean….you can’t actually be one without risking money, right? And #sorrynotsorry, social media accounts with nice content isn’t a business.

But here is the thing, I feel like too many people are telling us to be an entrepreneur. Are people becoming guilty because they work for someone? Is life nothing more than a series of daydreams about becoming something you aren’t yet? Do we focus too much on trying to become something greater than we feel we really are online? Are we becoming numb to motivation and inspiration because we hear it all the fucking time? Rehashed messages with similar lingo, that I attempt to avoid but sometimes step on those landmines, that mean almost nothing anymore? What do you really want? Yeah, you!

There are countless messages of motivation, inspiration, dedication...it is basically the fucking “ation” nation hahaha. Like c’ mon man, do I really need to be motivated on social media? Chances are I am not going to do what the content was intended to “inspire” me to do in the first place. I get it though, that type of shit pings off of you and you get a little jolt of something. But then you probably swipe to the next thing. At the end of the day, it is just you staring at your phone. Imagine a third person version of you looking at you, looking at your phone while you read a motivating thing on Instagram. Is that scenario all that motivating? Personally, I love the idea that you are reading this on your laptop or iPad with a whiskey, alone, at night, uninterrupted, in a peaceful environment listening to Brian Eno “Music for Airports” 1/1. But you might just be on the shitter at work on your lunch break and you were done pooping five minutes ago. I dunno, a man can dream, right?

What I am getting at is that if you watch a particular video on YouTube every morning at 4 AM before you “rise and grind” and it actually helps you “crush” the day; then I guess that’s fuckin “lit” bruh. But if you are just reading that shit and not doing anything about it, then be WOKE!

Man, I keep getting off topic. I apologize for that...

Anyways, the reason I asked Rob what he thinks about the projection of what is out there is because he is of a generation that largely lived without this technology and was a proper entrepreneur. And so what does he think is good for people? It is simple. It is the non-digital, human stuff that makes life interesting and fun. He figures if you make money at something, you should appreciate that. If you don’t dig it, quit and move onto something else. Inject your passions into your life. Find out what they are. It is important to have things in your life for you, and you only. That is the essence of honoring yourself. And even though Rob claimed that parts of the interview were challenging, I think our conversation brought out a moment for him that he won’t soon forget, and that is what it is all about folks.

Make An Impact!

That is my advice to you. Make impactful things. Do what really matters to you. It becomes honest that way, and when it is honest work that you produce, it succeeds over time. But you have to have passion and vision to see the long term destination. It is having a vision that keeps your momentum on a high note.

And the beauty of it all is that wherever you stop along the way is either, not up to you, or you managed to put yourself in the right place at the right time with intent. But your effort will, at some point, lead you to those places that your heart wants. You also don’t need to go searching for it every time. Sometimes things intersect your path instead. This notion that you can “take what you want” is too forceful and fiercely focused on what you think you desire, in my opinion. Why not let go some? Let your focus be on your passion and work ethic. Your devotion to your craft. Maybe there is fortune along that path as well. I am willing to bet that there is.

I hope that you enjoyed the podcast episode and took a moment to read this blog. Give this article a share on any of the social media channels (buttons to share are on this page) to spread this message if you believe in it.

I have included a variety of DCI Music Video clips for this podcast.

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166 episodes