Elliot Jacobson is the drummer for Ingrid Michaelson and Jenny Owen Youngs. He was voted the #1 Up and Coming Drummer in Modern Drummer Magazine in 2010.
Elliot has drummed on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, Good Morning America, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and Live with Regis and Kelly amongst others.
After The Show: You’re currently on a US tour with Ingrid Michaelson. Any memorable shows or experiences on this run?
Elliot Jacobson: I think we all agree that Austin was hands down the best show so far. The audience was huge, loud and fun, but also respectful. It’s rare to have that balance. We played really well and connected with the audience in a very special way.
You’ve talked about Evans drumheads. How does your drum set-up differ for live shows versus recording in a studio? Do you alter your set at all when you tour with different musicians who play different styles of music?
You’re referring to a testimonial video I did for Evans about the heads that I use. My set up changes from tour to tour, artist to artist, session to session. I bring what’s necessary for the music. I’m using the biggest set up I’ve ever used on the current tour. I’m also running tracks with my laptop and Abelton Live for any parts on the new record that the six of us can’t cover.
I think on the surface, a basic drum beat is really simple, but there are so many styles and complex techniques too – there’s always more to learn. What do you do to keep your playing fresh and continue to grow and challenge yourself as a drummer?
There are endless ways to play a single beat, you’re exactly right. To do my job, I have to always play the right feel for the song, even if the beat itself is the same. I am always working on expanding my knowledge of the shuffle or swing that happens between hits. I also make sure I’m bringing the right touch to the drums for the song, artist and musical environment. My session work has made me very detail oriented. But I am always trying to play faster, like any drummer out there!
What inspired you to start your blog, The Healthy Musician? Is there a city or state that you’ve found the most challenging to stay healthy while traveling through?
I started the blog because I wish I had something like that to help me. I was on tour at the time, and had lost a bunch of weight prior to the tour. It’s a struggle to maintain any sort of balance on the road, let alone maintaining a healthy diet and workout routine. So I started posting information based on my own experiences. The smaller towns are always the most difficult because there are not as many options for gyms and food. But even in the bigger cities, the abundance of food makes it difficult to resist temptation.
When and how did you know that you wanted to make a career out of playing drums?
I had been drumming on the side for a long time before I made the leap and chose to make a career out of it. I was more of a music business guy, interning at labels, working at a music publishing company straight out of college. But when we started playing sold out shows with Ingrid, I saw an opportunity in performing for a living, and I made the leap. It was around the time “Breakable” was placed in an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. I wanted to take the risk and leave the full time job rather than pass up what would prove to be an opportunity of a lifetime. Not an easy decision at the time, but I’m happy with my choice.
Why do you think the number of female drummers is so small compared to the number of male drummers?
I think there are two reasons. Firstly, it’s because girls don’t have a lot of iconic female drummers to look up to in the way that men do. Sure, they’re out there. I could name about 30 right now without looking up any names. But to the common music lover, they know Travis Barker, Tommy Lee, Carter Beauford, and see a bunch of sweaty dudes in the background making ugly faces and beating the crap out of drums. Not very appealing to the majority of young aspiring female musicians when they see beautiful, powerful women commanding the stage. The other reason is that there is sexism in the drumming world. It’s generally a surprise to other drummers and musicians (male and female) when a female drummer can play well. And that’s a huge problem. I always encourage the female artists I work with to expand their knowledge of drums and to play them as well. I have taught a number of young females to play. Why can’t a female singer songwriter play guitar, sing and play drums very well too? I know a lot of guys who do it. We need more role models and more ladies seeking out those role models to move away from this stereotype.
The majority of touring musicians aren’t blogging about their travels, active on Twitter, posting behind the scenes videos on YouTube, and sharing their perspective and experiences being a musician. Where does your ambition/drive come from?
I just love what I do, I’m very busy and I love connecting with other musicians and fans by sharing my work and experiences. I find the social networking experience very rewarding.
Do you write your own music? What are your professional goals for the next several years?
I don’t write, but I’m starting to get back into producing again. I want to begin doing remixes this year and continue making good music with good people.
Check out Elliot’s site for his latest news, photos, and videos.