13: Drums are for Everybody with Heather Thomas

Heather Thomas
Drummer, Singer, Songwriter, Front Woman | Seattle, WA
Website | Facebook | Instagram | Spotify

Heather Thomas is a Seattle based drummer, singer, front woman, stone-cold hustler and sparkle wearer who has toured the country with multiple bands. We recorded her interview in her basement in West Seattle, surrounded by musical instruments. We talked about the exciting life of a touring musician playing in a new city every day and the best way to handle tour buses breaking down, and the importance of being a woman in the music industry playing drums, a powerful instrument that many girls shy away from or are dis-encouraged from touching, and her dream of playing drums on the moon one day. Heather understands her role in this world as a woman paving the road for other women to find their voice and power and she’s leading by example through her music, championing the drums as an instrument of power for self expression and confidence. I was so inspired by her possibility-geared mindset and determination to practice, improve her craft and make something seemingly impossible happen. After meeting with Heather, I purchased a drumstick and practice pad and I’m hitting sticks around my house everyday now and loving it.. ;) Thank you Heather. ❤ Cha

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BEST QUOTES

“I’m good at hustling. You kinda have to be. As a musician, there’s no job plan. Nobody gives you money because you’re good at what you do. You have to go out there and promote yourself. You have to be showing up to places. You have to be playing gigs that pay but you also can’t be just playing for money. That’s a black hole that sucks a lot of artists into gigs they don’t want to do...I’ve done a pretty good job of saying ‘no’ to opportunities I don’t want to do but that means I gotta be a little bit more scrappy, creative and clever. But we’re creatives. Any artist you know that’s making a living making art is scrappy and has figured out how to make their thing work.” — Heather Thomas

“I try not to do anything that feels like it’s taking away from what I want to do.”
— Heather Thomas

“As an artist, I need a lot of different outlets so playing in different bands isn’t distracting, it’s fulfilling.” — Heather Thomas

“Oh, there’s a way. There’s always a way. If it’s a thing that you want so bad that it hurts that you can’t have it, that means that maybe it hasn’t been done yet but if you want it that bad, it’s possible.” — Heather Thomas

”If you can see it in your head, it’s possible.” — Heather Thomas

“If you can communicate clearly enough your vision to someone else, you might not get exactly what you wanted but you might get something better.” — Heather Thomas

“More of what you like, less of what you don’t.” — Heather Thomas

“If you’re a young woman who wants to play the drums but your parents won’t buy you a drum kit or they sold your drum kit because it was too loud, REBEL.” — Heather Thomas

“Music hooks ya. Once you’re in it, it takes up your whole world and it’s very music a lifestyle more than it is a process or a thing or career. When music your life, it just continues. It feeds itself.“ — Heather Thomas

Chamonix Films for Wilde Musicians Podcast - Heather Thomas - March 2019-3_WEB.jpg

FEATURED TOPIC: Empowering Young Women to Play Drums

“It’s a mission of mine and duty to get really good at the drums. That’s important. I need to be achieving some excellence because I’ve been working at it for so long and because now is the time in society and our current culture where representation is really important and there haven’t historically been enough women represented in drumming. I want to be really badass at it… I’m doing pretty good in Seattle...but I want little girls in other places to be like ‘I want to grow up and be like that.’

Drumming is so cool and girls get discouraged in a lot of ways from a lot of things but drumming is one that is always like ‘girls don’t drum’. Literally, up until the last 50-60 years, women wouldn’t be allowed in orchestras and it was very uncommon to see women in a jazz band. Women would be told they didn’t belong here or you shouldn’t do this or they would get sexually harassed to the point where they didn’t want to be there. I want this to change. When there’s a better balance, overall everything is better. You get more voices, more experiences.

I feel a responsibility to pave the way, making sure that I’m  getting really good and putting myself in places where there aren’t as many women. There aren’t as many women in the upper echelons of any industry. There needs to be more. I have the means, the skills, the talent and the drive to do it. If I don’t do it, I’m neglecting that responsibility.

It’s also important to me to teach and to pass this knowledge on to people. If I’m not practicing and getting better it’s hard for me to expect my students to do it because it’s a lifestyle and I have to be modeling it in order to tell someone else that’s what they should be doing. Because that’s what it takes. You have to practice a lot, you have to work really hard and you have to not quit just because you’re a couple decades in and it’s hard still.”


“Being good at something cool does wonders for (young girls’) self esteem. There are so many things people can judge you for and make fun of you for but if you’re good at something cool you can fall back on that and be like, ‘Alright, whatever. I’m a cool drummer.’ It’s important for young girls, giving them something to work hard at, to get good at, that people can look at and go ‘wow, that’s cool’. -- Heather Thomas

But what’s cool?
“It’s cool if it makes you happy and you feel strong. Drums are a strong instrument. Anything that makes you feel like you have something to say. Holding an instrument is a powerful thing. When you’re holding an instrument, you get to make sound and people can’t take that away from you. They can take your instrument away but they can’t take away your ability or your desire to play it. There are a lot of places in the world where currently or until recently girls would not be allowed to play music. That’s a reality in a lot of places. It’s an incredible privilege to be in a place where that isn’t dangerous. Because we have that ability, it’s an act of courage to practice it and not to take for granted that that is something that has been earned by people who came before you. Women were not allowed to vote until recently. Women were treated as property and still are in a lot of place. Music is a powerful way to reclaim a voice and power. Music is incredibly important. Music is always at the forefront of social change and more than ever, women need to be represented and speaking and making change.” — Heather Thomas

QUESTIONS FROM OTHER MUSICIANS

QUESTION from Emily McVicker (Episode #8: When You Sing the Word Condom on a Cruise Ship)
“How do you serve the community and what do you do for other musicians?”

HEATHER THOMAS: ”I offer drum lessons. It’s really important to keep people getting good at their instruments... I teach at Mode Music, Seattle Drum School, I offer private lessons, I teach with Jazz Ed or we’ll go to the elementary schools and play jazz for them. I think education is really important and we’re lucky in Seattle that there are outlets for that. You gotta keep doing it, continue to put things in front of other people. For other musicians, I will talk to people about their goals...and I’m very challenging. If one of my wonderful beautiful musicians friends is spending too much time complaining about their day job, I will poke at them… I’ve gotten a lot of my friends to quit their day jobs… I really try and connect people. As a drummer in Seattle I get more offers than I can take timewise. I know so many great drummers...I’ve hooked a lot of people up with other musicians.”

QUESTION from Bug Hunter (Episode #10: I Have a New Confidence I Never Had Before)
“How do you measure success?'“

HEATHER THOMAS:
“I don’t measure it. If you’re doing what you like and you’re happy more than you’re not, you’re doing pretty good. As far as success goes, I don’t think you can measure it.  The way I see my life and my career trajectory, I’m this big musician that’s going to play music my whole life. I don’t think about moments as being successful, I think about what am I building overall. What is my creative output? Who am I? What am I doing? I don’t think about money or accomplishments or things like that. I don’t know. I don’t really measure success. I just kinda do what I want.”

HEATHER ASKS OTHER MUSICIANS

“What should you be doing less of? What should you be doing more of?”

Chamonix Films for Wilde Musicians Podcast - Heather Thomas - March 2019-14_WEB.jpg

HOW TO BE A GOOD FAN

“Give me money. Come to my shows. Buy my merch. Buy my CDs. Share my videos. Artists need help from other people. We need support. We can’t do all of our promotion. If you see something and you like it, share it, tell people about it. Get excited about what you’re excited about. Be a part of it.” -- Heather Thomas

FOLLOW HEATHER THOMAS
Website | Facebook | Instagram | Spotify


FULL TRANSCRIPT | EPISODE 13: DRUMS ARE FOR EVERYBODY WITH HEATHER THOMAS

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0-10 MINUTES
Leah T
Emily McVicker
Sunset Tavern
La Fonda

General Mojo’s (Heather is front-woman of this band)

Heather has played in 50-60 bands in Seattle.

She started touring nationally with Mary Lambert.
Her own project is The Heather Thomas Band.
She’s starting to record her next album.
She’s mainly a drummer but she also likes to make art.

Heather recently started making buttons - it’s her way of making miniature collage art and tell jokes at the same time. Her buttons have people’s faces and say things like “Psychopaths are people too.” She’s selling buttons for $3 per button or 2 for $5.

Jack Nickelson
Elton John

“You can sell your ‘thing’, your music, your branding but you also are an artist and so people are interested in seeing (the other types of artwork you create, like buttons because it makes them) feel like they know you a little better because they see how your brain works.” -- Heather Thomas

Bill Murray
Jazz Muray

Heather has a tattoo on the back of her elbow that says “Babe” that is in Mary Lambert’s handwriting. They all got the tattoo after the Mary Lambert - Everybody is a Babe Tour. They were on tour with Gavin Degraw and Matt Nathenson and did big performances like Good Morning America.

Heather was known in Seattle as a drummer and when Mary Lambert advertised online for a drummer she applied via email with a video. Holis Wonwar and Andrew Joslyn (they had been on the Macklemore tour) put in a good word for her. Before Mary Lambert’s tour Heather had been on a shorter smaller tour but she was hooked.

“Once you start touring you have to keep going.” -- Heather Thomas

“You’re in a new city everyday...which is a whole whirlwind of excitement and then you meet people everywhere you go and you want to see them again. You want to play the venue down the street where people are like ‘Oh you shouldn’t be playing this dive bar, you should be playing on this stage.’ and you’re like ‘Cool, I’ll come back and play that stage.’ It’s really fun. I can’t get enough of it.” -- Heather Thomas

South By Southwest
Tree Fort

Heather’s band raised $4000 to fund their tour by doing a 24hr LIVE stream music jam. They collected musicians and sponsors and played for 24 hours straight! They donated ½ the funds. They used the money to buy the General Mojo’s van is called “Cat Bus” (from Totoro) or “The Merry Berry” van. They purchased their van from a berry farmer. They added carpet and bench seats to the van which was originally empty off the farm.

10-20 MINUTES

“I have been on 10 or 11 tours. I have never been on a tour where we didn’t have vehicle troubles except for the tours I was on which were tour buses (because) if there’s a problem, you don’t find out about it because they handle it while you’re at the venue.” -- Heather Thomas

“The difference between a van that’s going to break down and a van that’s not going to break down is like $20,000. The type of van that bands can afford is 2-6K range. It’s going to break down. It doesn't matter...Vans aren’t made to last that long unless you put a lot of maintenance into it. When you break down, you have to fix it. I’ve honestly been through 7 vans in my life, since I started driving. I’m a drummer. I need to have a van….They’re always going to be breaking down and you have to be ready for that. You have to not let it get you down. You have to budget for it. We’re going to have at least one or two breakdowns on the way. You’re going to have to spend at least $500 and that’s just part of it. And it eats a lot of gas money too.” -- Heather Thomas

“I’m good at hustling. You kinda have to be. As a musician, there’s no job plan. Nobody gives you money because you’re good at what you do. You have to go out there and promote yourself. You have to be showing up to places. You have to be playing gigs that pay but you also can’t be just playing for money. That’s a black hole that sucks a lot of artists into gigs they don’t want to do...I’ve done a pretty good job of saying ‘no’ to opportunities I don’t want to do but that means I gotta be a little bit more scrappy, creative and clever. But we’re creatives. Any artist you know that’s making a living making art is scrappy and has figured out how to make their thing work.” -- Heather Thomas

Dune from General Mojo’s

“You have to commit to it. If you can’t hack it on the scene you’re going to have to get a side job which is okay but then that’s taking a lot of your time and if you don’t want that you have to work really hard, you have to suffer through it sometimes and figure out a way to work through it that’s not sacrificing what you care about.” -- Heather Thomas

Heather earns money through gigs, drum lessons, recording sessions, selling buttons, a little modeling and acting. She makes most of her money through gigging. Teaching lessons provides slow and steady income. The recording sessions are icing on top, one or two a month.

“I try not to do anything that feels like it’s taking away from what I want to do.” -- Heather Thomas

“As an artist, I need a lot of different outlets so playing in different bands isn’t distracting, it’s fulfilling.” -- Heather Thomas

Heather plays in the Badnews Botanists which is where she really gets to ‘shred’ on drums and she also plays the ukulele and songwrites which is a totally different vibe but equally important to her. If she doesn’t do enough of one, she misses it.

Cha shares her experience juggling different jobs (music and photography) and the challenge of switching between industries, gears or energy spaces. By photographing musicians it allows Cha to stay in the music world while enjoying different disciplines.

We discuss Cha’s videography and her music videos -- the difference between making music videos for other people verses for herself.

“Oh, there’s a way. There’s always a way. If it’s a thing that you want so bad that it hurts that you can’t have it, that means that maybe it hasn’t been done yet but if you want it that bad, it’s possible.” -- Heather Thomas

Heather challenges Cha’s limiting beliefs about videography and brainstorms possibilities for how we could make it happen.

20-30 MINUTES

“You’ve got a robot system. I always start there...I always go straight for ‘what’s the psy-fi version of this. I’ve got goals. I want to play drums on the moon. I want to sing songs in the International Space Station. I like fun things like that because you could. It’s right there. You could see it. I like to follow the trail of ‘what if?’ What if technology could cover the thing you’re imagining because there’s always a way.” -- Heather Thomas

“I like people that make me think about possibilities.” -- Cha Wilde

“If you can see it in your head, it’s possible.” -- Heather Thomas

“If you can communicate clearly enough your vision to someone else, you might not get exactly what you wanted but you might get something better.” -- Heather Thomas

Indiana Jones
South By Southwest

Heather agrees with Tyler Hamilton that it makes sense to record your albums before and after tours. Recording before a tour means you can push new fans to listen to it. Recording after means you’ll be very well rehearsed.

WHO has inspired you the most?
“I’m really inspired right now by all the women in Seattle making music. Everyone’s killin’ it. So that’s really inspiring.” -- Heather Thomas

Eva Walker
Whitney Monge
Claire Michael
Leah T
Marina Christopher
Janelle Monae

30-40 MINUTES

WHAT inspirations are you drawing from these women?
“It takes a lot of courage and boldness to be a woman in an industry that has been male dominated for a long time. Women using their voices and being themselves and being unapologetic is what we need right now… I know how hard it is and I know that it’s challenging and you deal with a lot of rejection and a lot of not wanting to do the things that you have to do. I’m just inspired that everyone is still doing it and keeping it up. It’s so bad ass. It’s cool to be part of it.” -- Heather Thomas

“Unless you have a lot of money, it takes a long time to build a successful music career that feels like ‘I’m doing exactly what I mean to do’. I’ve always been really driven to do music. I decided when I was in 5th grade, ‘I’m going to be a drummer.’ I’m really fortunate. I didn’t have a big questioning. I always knew that I had to do this. There are all sorts of reasons why but I can’t not. I can’t not do it. I’m a drummer.” -- Heather Thomas

“The keep going, keep doing it, spirit is inspiring to me.” -- Heather Thomas

WHEN you’re clear on being a drummer, do you still have moments when you feel like it’s hard to keep going?

“Yes, definitely but it doesn’t last very long. You can throw tantrums with yourself, like “I don’t want to practice” or “I suck at this and I don’t want to put in the hours it’s going to take to get better’ or ‘I just played another show at this venue I always play at and no one showed up’ and that still happens. It’s a little tough to keep your spirits up when things aren’t working but you just gotta keep figuring out what works because sometimes it’s great.” -- Heather Thomas

“More of what you like, less of what you don’t.” -- Heather Thomas (her motto)

“If you’re going with the flow, if you’re following your own direction, it seems like things are easy. If you notice things are getting hard, you’re just doing too much of something you don’t need to be doing. Clear away the things that don’t bring you joy. If you get bogged down with something, what’s bogging you down, because it’s not music.” -- Heather Thomas

WHERE do you want to go so badly that you’re willing to dig your car out of the snow to make sure you get there?

Heather observed that how the recent snowstorm in Seattle revealed people’s priorities.

“If you needed to do something or you really wanted to go somewhere, you would still find a way to get there (despite snow)....Pay attention to the things that you don’t want to do when there’s an obstacle in the way, those are the things you can probably do less of or that don’t matter as much to you.” -- Heather Thomas

“When you don’t do it (play drums) for a couple days you get loose and I’ve got progress I’m trying to make and so too much time away from it, I have to work to recover that time (but not exactly because) your practice lasts your whole life. There will be times when you practice more and times when you practice less. I try not to feel too bad about if I haven’t practiced in a couple days because I’ve been doing other things. You can always come back to it.”

40-50 MINUTES

“It’s a mission of mine and duty to get really good at the drums. That’s important. I need to be achieving some excellence because I’ve been working at it for so long and because now is the time in society and our current culture where representation is really important and there haven’t historically been enough women represented in drumming. I want to be really badass at it… I want people to be like ‘Heather Thomas is killin it.’ I’m doing pretty good in Seattle...but I want little girls in other places to be like ‘I want to grow up and be like that.’ Drumming is so cool and girls get discouraged in a lot of ways from a lot of things but drumming is one that is always like ‘girls don’t drum’. Literally, up until the last 50-60 years, women wouldn’t be allowed in orchestras and it was very uncommon to see women in a jazz band. Women would be told they didn’t belong here or you shouldn’t do this or they would get sexually harassed to the point where they didn’t want to be there. I want this to change. When there’s a better balance, overall everything is better. You get more voices, more experiences. I feel a responsibility to pave the way, making sure that I’m  getting really good and putting myself in places where there aren’t as many women. There aren’t as many women in the upper echelons of any industry. There needs to be more. I have the means, the skills, the talent and the drive to do it. If I don’t do it, I’m neglecting that responsibility. It’s also important to me to teach and to pass this knowledge on to people. If I’m not practicing and getting better it’s hard for me to expect my students to do it because it’s a lifestyle and I have to be modeling it in order to tell someone else that’s what they should be doing. Because that’s what it takes. You have to practice a lot, you have to work really hard and you have to not quit just because you’re a couple decades in and it’s hard still.” -- Heather Thomas

Heather gets comments all the time from well-meaning people who are saying things that they don’t realize sexist or misogynistic.

“No matter what stage I get on, if there are hundreds of people in the room, some people in the room will watch a woman get up on to the drumset and they’ll go, ‘Ah, chick drummer.’ That’s a thing. That’s what you’re up against to start so you gotta be confident and powerful from the start or those people won’t experience that shift. There needs to be a shift where women are not seen as weaker or less skilled. That only happens if skilled women put themselves in that position and speak up. It’s important to me to be on stage and be a powerful presence because that’s what I want to see in the world, more women being powerful prescenes in any industry.” -- Heather Thomas

General Mojo’s donated 50% of their 2019 tour funds to Techbridge Girls -- Provides STEM engineering and in 2018 they gave to ANEW -- Funds training & apprenticeship for women in construction & building.

“As a musician, this is where I am, this is what I do so I feel a need to be pushing and making strides but just as I hope women in their own other industries are doing that as well. It’s just better all around if women are killin’ it. It’s cool to be part of it.” -- Heather Thomas

La Fonda

“I’ve travelled a lot recently to other cities with big music scenes. I’m really interested in getting involved with other scenes because I don’t want to just be a little Seattle thing. I want to go move throughout the world and be who I am.” -- Heather Thomas

Seattle music scene is very supportive and collaborative. You don’t see much competition here. Almost every band member has their own band. In New Orleans, everyone is really good. The bar is higher for quality of musicianship but you don’t see as much original music or collaboration to make new things. They constantly making new things out of their well-kept tradition. In Seattle, we have musicians from lots of different influences. In Austin, there is a lot of cover music. In Nashville, it’s all about songwriters and people recording hit songs. LA sucks. The LA scene is not supportive, connected or friendly. It’s isolated and competitive. People go to LA to make it big and when there are so many people there doing that, it can be more cut throat.

The music industry is down in LA. Seattle has a lot of musicians and bands and places to play music and recording studios but not a lot of money for music, managers, or agents. There isn’t much of a music industry in Seattle. It’s more of a DIY independent style up here.

50-60 MINUTES

Heather started tap dancing when she was 7. She was rhythmically inclined and her dad was a drummer when he was in high school. She watched him get back into drumming when he started playing at their church. When she decided to join band in 5th grade, she took an aptitude test and was given permission to play any instrument she wanted. She chose drums. She had a knack for it. She could pick out a back beat when she listened to songs.

“I think anyone can learn to play music. You just have to find your fit.” -- Heather Thomas

When people start learning drums they are intimidated by using the feet. It’s mostly just a mental block. You have to learn how to do the feet but you’re totally capable of it, just like hands. It just takes practice.

“Being good at something cool does wonders for (young girls’) self esteem. There are so many things people can judge you for and make fun of you for but if you’re good at something cool you can fall back on that and be like, ‘Alright, whatever. I’m a cool drummer.’ It’s important for young girls, giving them something to work hard at, to get good at, that people can look at and go ‘wow, that’s cool’. -- Heather Thomas

But what’s cool?

“It’s cool if it makes you happy and you feel strong. Drums are a strong instrument. Anything that makes you feel like you have something to say. Holding an instrument is a powerful thing. When you’re holding an instrument, you get to make sound and people can’t take that away from you. They can take your instrument away but they can’t take away your ability or your desire to play it. There are a lot of places in the world where currently or until recently girls would not be allowed to play music. That’s a reality in a lot of places. It’s an incredible privilege to be in a place where that isn’t dangerous. Because we have that ability, it’s an act of courage to practice it and not to take for granted that that is something that has been earned by people who came before you. Women were not allowed to vote until recently. Women were treated as property and still are in a lot of place. Music is a powerful way to reclaim a voice and power. Music is incredibly important. Music is always at the forefront of social change and more than ever, women need to be represented and speaking and making change.” -- Heather Thomas

“I am responsible for so many adults picking up instruments. Especially, women and drums... I’m always trying to convince people to try it. So many women are drummers that were told early on that they couldn’t do it. There would be way more women in the world playing drums. I hear it all the time. ‘I wanted to play when I was in junior high and then my mom told me girls shouldn’t play drums.’ Or ‘It was too loud and my mom gave away my drums.’ I had a drum student once whose mom said, ‘I don’t know, the drums don’t seem very feminine.’  and I was like ‘Cool, we need to talk about that.’ Women who are older than I am are always like, “That’s so cool. I always wanted to play the drums.” and I’m like, “Well, do you want to? We could do it. If you actually want to do it, it’s super fun.” -- Heather Thomas

“You don’t have to commit to being great at an instrument. You can have fun. One of the coolest things about the drums. You don't have to be very skilled at it, you don’t have to know a lot to just bang around. I try and do that in my first drum lesson with everyone regardless of their skill level. (After I teach them some things I get them to just hit the drums.) Watching people’s faces light up as they’re just playing around. Go animal on it. Drums have been around for a long time and that feeling brings back something people have had for ages.” -- Heather Thomas

60-70 MINUTES

“If you’re a young woman who wants to play the drums but your parents won’t by your a drum kit or they sold your drum kit because it was too loud, REBEL.” -- Heather Thomas

“If you can’t have a drum kit, get some drumsticks. Get yourself a practice pad. Find your friend who has a drum kit and go to their house everyday after school. Don’t let someone else tell you what you can’t do.” -- Heather Thomas

“Do it anyways. Fight for it.” -- Heather Thomas

“Parents, please let your girls play drums. It’s one of the best things you could do for them. It’s so cool and the world needs more drummers.” -- Heather Thomas

“If I didn’t have access to a drum kit, I would spend a lot of time on YouTube watching drum videos. You learn a lot just by watching other people do things well. That’s one thing you can always do. You can always look up YouTube videos whether it’s drum lessons or drummers you like. You have to do it so you might as well start. And just have sticks. If you have sticks you can practice on your legs, flip them around and practice on your hands, you can practice holding the stick or moving or stretching. Get a practice pad. It’s a piece of rubber on a piece of wood. You’re going to have to do a lot of practice pad work in your life as a drummer… If you really want to convince your parents to get you a drumset, spend hours on your practice pad getting good at your simple rudiments, your single strokes, your double strokes, your paradiddles, all of the basics… Practice. Find music that you really like and play along to it. Find friends that also are interested in music. Music doesn’t exist on its own. People make music on their own but as a drummer when it’s really fun is when you can link up with (friends who play other instruments).” -- Heather Thomas

Stick Control -- Heather’s Drum Practice Book

WHAT is your songwriting process?
Heather writes the melody attached to lyrics. She’ll sing it over and over until something else comes to her. She writes very groove based songs. She has to figure out chords next but that’s more challenging. It’s different every time for her.

WHEN you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A tap-dancing drummer.

WHERE do you dream of performing?
Everywhere. All the different continents and countries. The moon. Superbowl (because when she was a kid she said she wanted to).

“I do want to get to the moon. I’m giving myself 15-20 years to make that one a reality. I think it’s going to take some time.” -- Heather Thomas

WHY do you play music?

“Music hooks ya. Once you’re in it, it takes up your whole world and it’s very music a lifestyle more than it is a process or a thing or career. When music your life, it just continues. It feeds itself. There’s a whole world there that’s always happening so when you’re involved in it, you don’t really have to question it. I don’t question it that much. If I felt like I needed to I would. But it’s always been very apparent to me. I’m a musician. That’s what I do.” -- Heather Thomas

Can you think of a mistake that you’ve made in your career or a lesson learned the hard way?

“I think it was a mistake to not do any audio recording or video editing when I was in college. I felt like I would have benefited a lot from learning some basic skills when I was learning all the musical skills. If you’re starting music...make sure you’re getting some of the skill that surround music in with your practice of your instrument. Also, it would have been nice if I had sung in choir.” -- Heather Thomas

70-80 MINUTES

QUESTION FOR OTHER MUSICIANS

Question from Emily McVicker
“How do you serve the community and what do you do for other musicians?”

Answer from Heather Thomas

“I offer drum lessons. It’s really important to keep people getting good at their instruments... I teach at Mode Music, Seattle Drum School, I offer private lessons, I teach with Jazz Ed or we’ll go to the elementary schools and play jazz for them. I think education is really important and we’re lucky in Seattle that there are outlets for that. You gotta keep doing it, continue to put things in front of other people. For other musicians, I will talk to people about their goals...and I’m very challenging. If one of my wonderful beautiful musicians friends is spending too much time complaining about their day job, I will poke at them… I’ve gotten a lot of my friends to quit their day jobs… I really try and connect people. As a drummer in Seattle I get more offers than I can take timewise. I know so many great drummers...I’ve hooked a lot of people up with other musicians.”

Question from Bug Hunter
“How do you measure success?

Answer from Heather Thomas
“I don’t measure it. If you’re doing what you like and you’re happy more than you’re not, you’re doing pretty good. As far as success goes, I don’t think you can measure it.  The way I see my life and my career trajectory, I’m this big musician that’s going to play music my whole life. I don’t think about moments as being successful, I think about what am I building overall. What is my creative output? Who am I? What am I doing? I don’t think about money or accomplishments or things like that. I don’t know. I don’t really measure success. I just kinda do what I want.” -- Heather Thomas

Heather’s Question for Other Musicians
What should you be doing less of? What should you be doing more of?

“There are always excuses or reason why you can’t do the thing that you really want to do. There are always obstacles. I’m just a pusher. Let’s figure it out. It works a lot of the time.” -- Heather Thomas

HOW TO BE A GOOD FAN

“Give me money. Come to my shows. Buy my merch. Buy my CDs. Share my videos. Artists need help from other people. We need support. We can’t do all of our promotion. If you see something and you like it, share it, tell people about it. Get excited about what you’re excited about. Be a part of it.” -- Heather Thomas

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