#WCW Sammi Bishop on Motley Crue Tributes, Teaching, and Playing Upside-Down
AUGUST 22, 2018
Sammi Bishop has been playing drums for over ten years, most recently as a hired gun around the Dallas Fort Worth area, and with a Motley Crue Tribute band called Crued & Tattooed. She’s toured nationally and internationally, and also teaches full time at the Dallas School of Rock.
Women are underrepresented in the percussion world. Our weekly series, Woman Crush Wednesday (#WCW), aims to recognize, celebrate, and inspire female percussionists of all stripes. Each Wednesday we’ll feature a profile of a drummer, who will share tips, advice, and videos.
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WHAT IS YOUR CITY, COUNTRY, AND AGE?
Dallas, Texas. Age 27.
WHAT KIND OF GEAR DO YOU USE? WHAT’S YOUR SETUP?
I use and have endorsements with Trick Drums, Trick Pedals, Sabian cymbals, Scorpion sticks, Aquarian heads, and Sweet Spots Drum Dampeners.
WHAT BANDS/GROUPS DO YOU PERFORM WITH, IF ANY?
I mostly do the hired gun thing around Dallas-Fort Worth. Currently, I’m traveling with a Motley Crue tribute band called Crued & Tattooed and an original group called Sonar Lights.
WHAT LED YOU TO YOUR INSTRUMENT? WHAT’S YOUR ORIGIN STORY?
I wasn’t a very popular kid in school and was searching for my home in creativity. My parents, both being rockers, turned on VH1 for me and the music video for “Wild Side” by Motley Crue happened to be on. I saw Tommy Lee spinning upside down while playing drums and was immediately sold. Funny enough, the tribute I play for has a roller coaster too! It’s pretty cool!
WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE DRUMMER AND WHY?
Aside from Tommy Lee, I am a huge Shannon Larkin fan. He’s a true hard-hitter, showman, and entertainer, his approach makes you rethink rhythm. He looks cool, he makes crazy cool faces, and defies gravity when he plays. He looks like a space alien superhero back there! I love that guy!
HOW DO YOU PRACTICE? DO YOU HAVE A ROUTINE?
I love to jam to my favorite bands. I think playing to tunes helps with timing quite a bit and gives you ideas. I also workout on a drum pad with essential rudiments, which I feel really opens up your playing. Jamming with other drummers and musicians is a big bonus, too.
ARE THERE ANY SPECIFIC PLAYING TIPS OR TECHNIQUES, OR ADVICE, EXERCISES, OR DISCOVERIES YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE WITH DRUM! READERS?
I find that repetition is key, especially when learning something new or creating something of your own. Also, playing everything slowly and gradually, building your speed, really helps muscle memory, which is a big deal in establishing independence.
WHAT’S SOMETHING YOU BELIEVE ABOUT DRUMMING OR MUSIC THAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK IS CRAZY?
I believe music sets you free. It’s essential for the unity of mankind, as the ego cannot possibly resist the high frequency of music. Drumming goes right along with that as it sets the tempo, rhythm, and makes you move. It’s what you feel.
AS ARTISTS, THE GOAL POST FOR “SUCCESS” IS ALWAYS MOVING. THERE’S NOT ONE “I MADE IT!” POINT. HOW DO YOU THINK ABOUT AND DEFINE SUCCESS?
To me, success is defined by how you feel doing what you’re doing and who you’re doing it with. I feel successful when I’m productive and surrounded by people who hold the same values. I feel even better when I’m making a positive impact on people in the space around me. Success is defined by you alone and not in comparison with others.
DO YOU HAVE ANY QUOTES OR SAYINGS THAT YOU LIVE BY?
“Free will creates opportunity.”
“If you align the heart and the mind, you will open the doors.”
WHEN YOU SIT DOWN TO MAKE MUSIC AND ARE STARTING WITH A BLANK CANVAS, WHAT’S YOUR PROCESS LIKE?
My approach starts with absorbing the vibe of what I’m creating. I also refer to what influenced me in the past and what my influences are now.
HOW IMPORTANT IS FAILURE IN MAKING MUSIC/PERFORMING?
Although it’s not always easy, failure is a teacher. The sweet isn’t as sweet without the bitter. You learn and you grow. How can you know success without knowing failure? It’s the necessary balance.
ANY ADVICE FOR GIRLS CONTEMPLATING GETTING STARTED AND MAKING IT IN THIS ARENA?
If you look around, you’ll see female drummers are kicking butt right now! However, decide what you want and just go for it with laser focus. Don’t get distracted by anything. You’ll hear a lot of negative BS but don’t let it stop you. Use it as motivation and don’t be defined by it. Be what you want to see. Remember to have fun, be nice, make friends, and play with as many people as possible. All of these elements will make you memorable, which will drive you forward. Step into your power and own it.
IF YOU HAD TO PUT TOGETHER A SCHOOL OR RESOURCES FOR WOULD-BE DRUMMERS, WHAT WOULD THE TRAINING INCLUDE?
During the day, I am a drum instructor at the School of Rock in Dallas, Texas. I, of course, prefer to include the essentials such as rudiments, technique, etc. Mostly, my goal is to create a positive atmosphere and move my training toward the strengths of my students. Fun is the best resource.