When you’re learning drums, sometimes you need some motivation to keep practicing and stick with it. In our Drummers Stick Together series, veteran drummers share their stories and offer their advice and wisdom for beginners…
Dallas Ybarra is the drummer for the Los Angeles-based band The Public Trust (@). He has been drumming for over 20 years. Here, Dallas shares how he got started drumming and what keeps him motivated to continue to develop his craft.
How long have you been playing drums? What made you get started?
I actually started on guitar at age eight, then started learning drums when I was nine. My little brother started on drums first, and after watching how much fun he was having and learning a bit about the beats, I tried it out for a bit and decided to switch.
Twenty years later, here I am!
As a beginner, how often did you practice? What was challenging for you when you first started?
Hmm practice… in the early stages I mostly found myself in musical environments. Most of my time was spent playing the basic beats with the school jazz and concert bands, or in the garage with my buddy on guitar.
When I was by myself, I would be in my parents garage, always learning new and more complex beats.
The most challenging thing was playing with other new, beginner musicians, and trying to stay in time!
What do you love most about playing drums?
It’s an evolving relationship with the drums. First it was just banging on stuff, then it was jamming with my friends making music.
After years of playing, I would have to say the underlying layers of rhythm are the part I love most.
Which musicians inspire you, and why?
I’ve found a ton of inspiration from my band mates; we always try to push each other to the next level. My little brother Dustin was my original inspiration to start drumming. My little sister Darian is killing it on the piano as I write, and I remember when she just started learning. 10 years later, she runs up and down the piano like a mad scientist. She is currently working on “Sonata Pathetique” by Ludwig van Beethoven.
Another source of inspiration came from a book written by one of my favorite bass players, Victor Wooten. It’s called “The Music Lesson: A Spiritual Search for Growth Through Music.”
The list is always growing when it comes to inspiration. I’ve found inspiration can come from any aspect of music and life. Some from showmanship guys like Frank Zappa and Steve Vai and their variety of band mates. Other inspirations come from high-energy bands like Pantera, Meshuggah, or IWrestledABearOnce.
I started out learning how to play Nirvana, Green Day, and Metallica songs then moved on to more complex music. Then there are some amazing players that posses a sweet finesse on their instruments, guys like Vinnie Colaiuta, Steve Gadd, Bela Fleck, Jason Becker, and Jaco Pastorius.
As a member of a band, the drummer is looked to as the time keeper. How do you learn to take on this role?
Time keeping is definitely important. Over the years I’ve found it to be a split job between the bassist and drummer. There’s a time and place for “the shred” as opposed to keeping time, but it all should be within balance and the mood of the song.
An example would be a slow ballad. At the climax of the song, you wouldn’t play a bunch of fast notes across your 10-piece kit (but if the composer wants it then of course), but rather you would play more of a dynamic increase and more swelling of the cymbals, and that could be considered your “shred” for that particular song.
What advice do you have for anyone who wants to learn to play drums?
Just remember that the end result is music. Playing songs and studying things like technique, rudiments, and theory is important, but these things are learned over time. Just think of those as adding a fresh take on your vocabulary; it will help you articulate your desired voice.
What about advice for drummers who want to join a band?
Know your passion, play what you love as it will keep you inspired. Try to be a musically diverse drummer, jam with as many people as possible and in as many genres as possible. It will help you to develop your voice in the long run.
If you’re looking to start a band, definitely start with friends. You already have the most fun with them anyway, might as well keep it fun!
I hope my story can help not only drummers, but all musicians keep up the search for inspiration, fresh talent, and to have open ears to experiment and constantly evolve their musicianship!
Want to hear Dallas and his band mates in action? Listen to The Public Trust online.
Ready to turn your drumming dreams into reality? Sign up for lessons with a private drum instructor today!