Industry Drivers - Garrison - Drum Workshop
You know the guys - the ones who are always effortlessly hanging around at the side of the stage at clinics, the ones who appear to have triple A access at any gig they go to? The one who the ultra famous drummers call on first name terms and greet with a hug? Who are they?
Well, this series looks at these guys and girls, the Artist Relations people for the big (and not so big) companies. These are the people who are the go-betweens for the artists and the industry, the soothers of problems, the passer-on of ideas.
Without these people the drum industry would grind to a halt in no time. How did they get there? What do you have to do to get into these hallowed positions? Well, in this series we talk to some of the most important people in the whole industry and find out how they found themselves in these lofty positions.
Want to get into the industry? Have a look at life from a slightly different angle...
Garrison DW artistís relations
(Garrison''s ''proper'' name is Scott Garrison, but everybody knows him in the industry as just Garrison. While he really does exist, no one - Garrison included- could provide a photo when this article originally went up on the site. The one one the right was specially taken for this piece at Frankfurt Musik Messe 2011)
What does your day-to-day job entail?
By definition if you looked at it, it says Artist Relations Manager, but there are no clear defining words for it. Itís not like you go to a book and go ''so youíre a mathematician, I can look that up in a dictionary''. Artist Relations is relating to the artist, helping the artist, taking care of the artist, being there for the artist, not being there for the artist, itís a relationship that develops from a hand shake and a phone call to their career developing and ups and downs, someone titled it a glorified babysitter, and I kind of equate it to a fireman because youíre putting out fires or youíre running alongside someone supporting them, or even at times youíre just there to talk to them, not even about drumming or their music career. Itís a relationship and it becomes a friendship and hopefully it lasts forever.
How long have you been at the company?
Iíve been with DW Drums for 15 years.
When you started you didnít come in as DW Artist Relations, you worked your way through the channels?
Prior to Drum Workshop I was a drum tech, engineer, security and all-round good guy for Tony Williams. After Tony had passed I spoke with John Good about moving to LA and he said if you do move to LA swing by the shop sometime. Shortly thereafter I received a phone call from DW saying they were looking for someone to head up artist relations. I was stunned. I thought about it for a minute and I said OK let me come down and meet everybody that works at DW because I want everyone there to be okay with me possibly coming on board. If someone new is joining a company, I think other employees should have a voice in the decision.
I flew down and met with Don and John and literally everybody at the factory at the time, I think we had 50 employees. So I met with everybody and basically asked them what they thought if I joined the team, everybody was cool with it and then my final interview was with John Good. I said I think everybody would be okay with it so long as you are okay with it. John was very quick about it, he said yeah that sounds great Iím glad you had a good time and he walked out of the office. I wasnít sure if I got the job or if I was just being considered.
What was happening that day for him, he was adopting Shauna, his daughter, she didnít have his last name and the day I showed up for my interview was the day he was going to the courts to officially adopt her. I was like sitting in his office as he walked out the door, thinking OK... did I just get the job??
I flew home the next day. I was living in San Francisco at that time. I thought about it and talked to some friends I called DW and said I would like to take the job, donít offer it to anybody else, I will make my way to LA, I will get down there in maybe 2 or 3 weeks. We talked about it for a few minutes and I looked at the calendar and I said how about if I start May 5th, it was a Monday and by May 5th I made it. I literally just packed up and moved out.
What is your background?
Prior to being Tony Williamsís tech I had worked with Narada Michael Walden, Michael Shrieve, Michael Carabello and others.
I wanted to be a drummer so I thought if I could work with these guys and watch them play every night Iíd become a better drummer, it turns out I was a better tech and engineer than I was a drummer. So drumming took a back seat and I ended up teching. I ended up touring the world with Tony.
My business background aside from getting my arse kicked on the road is, I went to San Francisco state between all this stuff so Iíve got a degree in classical piano, classic music, business administration, small business management and audio engineering.
What do you look for in a new artist?
Well itís a group of us that review, itís not solely me. It should be a group in my opinion, you need to have other people see what you donít see. In the artist room in my office thereís one other guy that helps me, Steve Vega. Steve sees things differently than I do, he listens to music that I normally donít listen to. He likes music that I normally donít gravitate towards, thatís why I want him there.
Then Scott Donnell, also major part of this as well because he comes from a different sense, he sees things differently because heís also doing the marketing side so heíll look at somebody or some situation and go ''wow not only are they playing this thing but I can see them possibly doing an ad''.
Itís a two way street. I can see how endorsements are perceived. I guess a lot of kids see sports endorsements where itís flash, people know thereís high end contracts and money. DW doesnít work that way, itís an agreement, weíre hoping that weíre producing gear for drummers who want to play our gear. When we meet them we go well youíre touring, thatís a consideration, youíre not touring, youíre a studio guy, okay tell me more about that. Itís a conversation of knowing and finding out about the person and what theyíre saying about themselves. You look at everything. You look at other endorsements, if theyíre touring, if theyíre not, what their potential could be, you take chances, sometimes, you donít.
The economy can change everything. You could have a list of 5 or 6 people and you go wow theyíre all young and all primed and then you could have a budget crisis and go, I canít take the chance. But you keep in contact with these people because you never know.
DW is a relatively new and small company, so how do you manage and keep all your artists happy? Do you let artists go?
Artists will leave us, unfortunately. Weíve had people just send us an email and say Iím out of here, Iím going to so and so, thank you for the time. We wish them all the best. We donít like to drop artists from the roster. Sometimes people need a change. Thereís a clause in our agreements, that states you cannot trash our gear and/or destroy it. It is the John Good Clause. Donít Wreck the Gear. John is so passionate about what heís building he puts his heart and soul into all the gear and, if you just wreck the gear and swing your feet at it and just start trashing it, youíre disrespecting an instrument that he put his heart and soul into so then youíre probably going to be called and then in the conversation you might be let go. Artist Relations is a lot of work, but you get to work with great drummers, great people.
Is there anything you would like to add?
If youíre a drummer out there and youíre putting your heart and soul into it, people will hear you. They might not instantly tell you that they heard what you were playing and they might not talk about it until 2 days later, donít be discouraged. If you enjoy what it is you do, no matter what it is, if youíre making doughnuts, and you enjoy making doughnuts, then fabulous. If you enjoy playing drums in a punk band in a bar and thereís some guy in the audience booing and saying thatís awful, at least you played that night. Push yourself. Endorsements are great, they help, but itís not necessarily who the drummer is.
You should be who you are and play what you want to play. I look forward to being in a bar or club and setting up my gear and playing and tearing it all down. There could be full house or no one. As long as I get up there and play.
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