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So how did you get involved in Vic Firth at an artist relations level. What ultimately led you to where you are?

Man this is a long answer but I’ll attempt to shorten it up….basically I was going to MI at the time, just graduated from PIT and was about to finish the RIT program (Percussion Inst, Recording Inst). A friend called me from Austin, TX who was working at a place called eSessions and said that an artist they work with, Pat Mastelotto, needed a guy who knew drums and engineering. He mentioned my name to Pat and that I would be graduating soon. I moved to Austin and worked with Pat for a little over 6 months and doing 100+ tracks/sessions along with other random things. The PASIC convention happens every year in November and coincidently going on in Austin that year! I lived in town while Pat lived about 45 minutes out of Austin out in Dripping Springs. The rep at the time, Marco, was coming into town and wanted to hang with Pat so I said I’d pick him up at the hotel and drive him out on my way to his house. We chatted and I let him know that he sounded so busy that he could use some help. Marco was super nice and said that if anything opened up, he’d call me. Of course I hoped he would but didn’t expect to hear anything really. Sure enough, a few months later he called Pat and asked if I would be interested in a job. It wasn’t that simple…there was over 500 applicants, at least this is what I was told, some being close friends of Marcos’. So Pat prepared in that its kind of a high profile gig and they might go with someone who has been in the industry for years….I didn’t hear from Marco for another few weeks so I thought I didn’t get the gig. Then he called my cell out of the blue and let me know it was down to me and two other guys. I flew to Boston, interviewed with Marco, Vic and Tracy and as they say, The rest is history! Of course there’s a lot more to what led me to music school, RIT and Pat but it could take days to type….

If you are able to say, how many different artists do you work with and across what genres? Who are your most well known? Who has been with you the longest? Have any of them influenced you to get into a certain style of music that you may otherwise have not?

We have over 1500 artists worldwide that span EVERY genre! Its impossible to say who’s more important as in my eyes every person is on the same level in some degree. The guys who play local bars have as much influence and in some ways maybe more influence than the people on the bigger stages. BUT the guys touring the world are reaching a much larger audience…difference being that they can sometimes be harder to get to while the guy who just played your local bar is hanging after the show, can buy him a beer and ask about the gear he uses. Obviously Steve Gadd, Dave Weckl, Peter Erskine, Billy Cobham, Buddy Rich, and on and on and on are legendary guys that we all look up to as drummers. They are what shaped our ideas and ways of thinking on the drums. Steve Gadd was Vics first artist to endorse the sticks back in 1983.

As far as endorsing a band goes, what qualities do you look for? Does personal taste factor in or is a lot of it based on what you see will ultimately help the company? And when you endorse someone, what qualities do you see in those that stay with you the longest or continue on a path of success in a pretty competitive industry?

First thing I look at when a guy wants to be with us or if we want a guy is, Do they play our sticks already? We believe that you should like the product first and foremost. I know there’s a lot of “what deal can you give me or how much do I get free” out there which is unfortunate. How can a company expect someone to be an ambassador for them if the main reason for playing that product is that they’re given it for free!? It doesn’t really make a strong argument for a product if someone tells you, “yeah the product is ok, but hey I get em for free so I’m happy”. Now if someone says, “this is so good that I’m willing to pay for it”, wouldn’t you look into that product based on the fact that a well known person who you would think gets anything they want for free, is willing to buy it!? A strange thing has seemed to creep into the music industry when it comes to endorsements. It seems that some people think that by having an endorsement on any level, this somehow legitimizes your band or playing. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The MUSIC is what makes a band legit and that’s it! Of course personal taste has to play a role BUT its not about me, its about whats good for the company. As far as what qualities we see in people that show longevity…that’s tough. Sometimes the most talented, nicest guy in the world is sitting at home on a saturday night doing nothing while someone who you can’t stand and thinks “time is just a magazine” is out playing to thousands of people! I have to credit Marco Soccoli with that saying BTW…I think the guys who are motivated to continute to learn their craft, try to be involved in the business side of their band, have thick skin, a good attitude and know how to interact with various types of people/egos will have the longest career in this industry.

When a band emails you, what do you look for? Can a bad email automatically disqualify someone from consideration? What are some common errors potential endorsees should avoid?

There’s nothing a person can do to completely turn off a rep easier than to claim they love your products, have used them their whole life only to look at their Myspace page or something of that nature and see all the pics with another product. Or when you get an email that was clearly copied/pasted to every company under the sun BUT they forgot to change one of the names in the body of that email. I’ve actually had emails come to me that the person CC’d both me and a guy from a competing company! Now that’s just dumb! I would almost avoid telling people this solely on the fact that we can weed those people out of the pile right off the top. There’s no need for lying and being shady just to get a deal. When did it go from, I wanna be with X company because I love their products and will play nothing else to, I’ll take anything I can get my hands on and whoever offers me the best deal I’ll go with!? If you’re 16 and have been playing your instrument for 6 months, its not time for an endorsement deal. Its almost a slap in the face to the people who have worked their butt off for YEARS just to get that deal with their dream companies. I do believe that its partially our fault as companies for allowing these people onto our rosters….

Free sticks. What do those 2 words mean to you?
Free Sticks….lemme tell ya something, I LOVE playing drums…these words can’t describe the way I feel about playing drums! If I could give every person in the world that plays drums free sticks, I would! Being able to make someones day by the simple act of giving them a great deal or ultimately free sticks is awesome but there’s a downside. I also have to say no to people which can sometimes be confusing to them. Some people have friends that all get X deal and in turn think they should have that same deal. Having said that, there’s people who deserve free sticks and people who think they deserve them. At the end of the day its our decision as a company, which can be extremely difficult, as to what people do and don’t get for free.

Any other good last words of Davies wisdom
I feel very fortunate to work for such a great company like Vic Firth! I had the opportunity to learn this world of AR from an amazing guy, Marco Soccoli. He is like a big brother, 2nd father and best friend rolled into one. He recently took a hi-profile gig with another company and now I have the opportunity to work with another great rep in this industry, Joe Testa, who was the Director of Aritst Relations for Yamaha for the past 12 years. Two completely different people and styles of doing this gig which I think in the end will benefit me the most. Sorry to make this about me…deal with it!

Lastly, what is the generic artist email if people wanted to email you?

Nah, but they should be going to our website, under CONTACT, ADDRESS CONTACT INFO, there’s a .pdf that you can download. Its our Endorsement Application. Read thru it, if you feel that you’re ready, fill it out and mail it into us! We’ll review it and get back to ya!

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