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Masterclass to help turn drumming into career

Frehley drummer Matt Starr to give tips at Sweetwater

Matt Starr will teach a drumming masterclass at Sweetwater Sound on Nov. 2.

Published October 26, 2022

Professional drummer Matt Starr is looking to give area drummers tips to become stars.

Ahead of playing with co-founding Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley at Eagles Theatre in Wabash on Thursday, Nov. 3, Starr will host a masterclass at Sweetwater Sound on Wednesday, Nov. 2.

“We’ll be talking drums and playing drums, but it’s really committed to giving musicians tools that will enable them to build a career,” Starr said in an interview with Whatzup.

finding success

Starr says he was drawn to the drums at about 10 years old for a simple reason.

“I liked the fact that I could make a lot of noise and was really physical.”

You can definitely make a lot of noise behind the kit, but that doesn’t really mean you sound good, according to Starr.

“Drummers sometimes learn these crazy pads, and it’s like, ‘That’s great, but it sounds like someone threw a TV down the stairs, and if you played that on a gig, you’d get fired,” he said. “Maybe you should be out shaking hands with the guy who sold out the club down the street from you, and see if you can play with him.”

Making connections is just one of the lessons Starr hopes to instill in young musicians at the class.

“We’re going to be covering the things that come up most when I talk to other musicians, and they’ll ask me, ‘How do you do this? How do you do that?’ ” Starr said. “It’s about finding out about auditions, and then actually getting the audition. We’ll also talk about overcoming stage fright, which is a big one. Also, getting endorsements and remote recording.”

playing ringleader

Starr has been doing the classes for a number of years and is getting the chance to do them live following more than a year of virtual sessions. When he’s not teaching, he’s working with artists such as Frehley, who Starr has been playing with off and on the past 10 years. Along with Frehley, Starr has worked with Mr. Big, George Lynch of Dokken, Joe Lynn Turner of Rainbow, and Kevin DuBow of Quiet Riot, among others.

Whomever who he’s playing with, Starr accepts a lot of responsibility, using his vantage point to know when everyone is ready to begin a song, as well as knowing that if he’s off, the entire set isn’t going to go well.

“You have to have a certain amount of humility, then a certain amount of assertiveness,” he said of a drummer’s mindset. “We run the whole thing. If I suck, the band is gonna suck. The guitar player can suck, and we can still pull it off. Without a great drummer, the show’s not going to be any good.”

And during his class, he stresses that it isn’t all about talent that makes a successful drummer.

“A lot of musicians who have not achieved their goals are thinking what I used to think, which is, ‘I don’t have the success I want because I’m not good enough.’ And that’s so rarely the truth,” he said.

inner peace

Saying drummers need an “inner calmness,” Starr does that very well, saying he doesn’t get worn out behind the kit, despite all the physicality involved.

“It’s almost mediative for me,” he said. “I play a lot of classic rock, those mid-tempo, big sounding grooves, but I like it. Now, if I was playing in Metallica, I might be more winded.”

While it might not be the metal of Metallica, expect for things to be amped up in Wabash.

“Very loud rock n’ roll,” he promised for the show at Eagles Theatre. “We do a lot of Kiss tunes and a lot of Ace’s songs from the Kiss era. So, a lot ’70s and early ’80s Ace stuff.”

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