37278_139378812746384_6257834_nDemian Arriaga (INFJ), of the Music Mentor Podcast, is one of the best drummers I know and an all-around great guy.

Originally from Venezuela, he moved to the U.S. to pursue a career as a musician and has gone on to be remarkable successful in a relatively short period of time.

As a drummer and percussionist he’s been fortunate to play with some huge names like The Jonas Brothers, Iggy Azalea & Victoria Justice as well as some of his musical idols like Gary Cherone and Richie Kotzen. So I sat down with him to learn more about how he got those gigs and what it’s like playing big-budget tours to sold-out arenas.

So Demian, let’s take it from the top. How did you end up becoming a musician?

When I was in high school, I had two passions. They were music and soccer. And over time I was getting better at music than I was at soccer.

I didn’t have that sort of drive and dedication and the whole “leaving it all on the field” mentality. I just liked the glory of it, the nice plays here and there and just having fun with friends.

I was taking music much more seriously and it became my passion.

I come from a family where higher education is a requirement. There’s no option. You could be a cook, you could be a chemical engineer, but whatever you do, you have to go to school for it. Just to be a better musician, a better person, and educate yourself.

Also, living in a city abroad was a very, very much promoted in my household.

Anyhow I had to pick what I wanted to do. I tried sociology and I hated it, and then I literally just sat down and realized that I was wasting my time doing something that wasn’t music, which is what I love the most. And all my dreams, and all these aspirations I had of playing with a lot of different musicians and playing different venues and touring.

So I went to school for it and I graduated and then it was just a matter of “You do this, then you do this, then you do this and you do that”. Thankfully I’ve been able to make it a career.

Now in doing that, when you went to school, you went to school out of the country (Venezuela)?

Yes. In Boston, Massachusetts.

So what was that experience like for you at that time?

It was incredible. I was very lucky in that my family has a very deep connection with the city of Boston. My dad went to MIT and my grandfather went to BU,  my dad lived with my grandfather there as well.

When my grandfather was doing a masters in BU my dad was going to high school. I actually went to the same high school as my dad in Boston for a couple of years.

So you actually went to high school in Boston?

Two years. Yeah, my sister got accepted to a college in Boston and we as a family decided to move there so she could get settled and I could get an education in an U.S high school which we thought would be cool. So we did that for a couple of years and then my sister was an adult and she could hang for herself and handle her duties as a student and a human being on her own.

And my mom and I and my dad we went back to Venezuela. so when I went back to Berklee was like going back home. I knew everything. I knew the train system, I went to the town where I used to live, Brookline, which was a few miles– five, six miles from Berklee or whatever.

So I knew everything. I knew the ins and outs. I knew where to potentially move and where to buy the cheap food, where to do anything. So I kind of hacked my way through college in a way, hacked as in I hacked the system, you know what I mean? So it was a beautiful thing.

I was always encouraged to try to step out of my comfort zone and learn, and I’m fascinated and have always been fascinated by the American culture.

I love the slang, I love the language, I love the people, I love the infrastructure, I love the weather, I loved everything about it as much as I love Venezuela.

Once I was a bona fide student and I had sort of goals and dreams in mind, I realized that the people that I wanted to work with were American or lived in America. So there was no thought of going back home or going to any other country. It was always staying here.

Was there any apprehension the first time you went, like when you moved there for high school? Was that scary at all?

No. I had been speaking English virtually my whole life and that’s what most people get scared of,  the language. And I knew it. And I had a couple of friends that and lived in America for a year and came back, and so on and so forth. I thought that was pretty cool.

In all the stories they would tell me about the high schools, they were like, “Dude, it’s just like Saved By the Bell [laughter],” or “It’s just like 90210 and places like that.” I would say to myself: “I want that as well.”

I would fantasize about it all– I would watch movies like Mallrats and Bio-Dome and Airheads and Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey and Excellent Adventure. Those movies, I was just like, “American high school.” All the cheesy American high school movies, I was fascinated by that. “I want to experience that.” So when my parents say, “We might move to America,” I was like, “Yeah, let’s do it.” I fell in love with the country.

You mentioned you’d fantasize about it. How important would you say is visualization overall to you?

Man, for me it’s what rules my life, in a way. My whole life I’ve been visualizing things. I’m lucky that I have had parents and people around me that support chasing dreams, and whatever you think about, you bring about. That whole “law of attraction” mentality, without knowing what it was.

I’m not a religious person, so I don’t pray to an entity. I wish that it’ll happen and I envision myself doing a lot of those things and I do it in the most vivid way possible. At some point I started reading about visual motor rehearsal, and again, law of attraction, quantum physics and stuff like that where if you place yourself in the right wavelength, things will start happening, and what you think about, you bring about.

Like I said, where your attention goes, energy grows. To me, it’s massive. A lot of my goals and dreams that I’ve been able to accomplish, I’ve vividly thought about them in this very, very specific way. And I’ve had even déjà vus where I remember things that have happened, and years later I’m doing it. And I’ll think, “What is going on?”

So, I believe in the importance of visualizing from a esoteric perspective of wishing upon things, and all that stuff, and also the physical act of visualizing sitting down as far as practice and preparation, and all those things. I think it’s massive in my life. And as a teacher, that’s one of the main keys that I try to instil in my students, or at least just plant a seed like, “Hey. You know you can visualize things,” and maybe you don’t realize you’re doing it already and it’s happening.

So for me it’s big.

Demian Arriaga

Do you visualize in a disciplined way? Do you do it at certain times? Are there certain things that’s, “Okay, now I’m going to visualize it,” before you practice, or is it just random?

I think it’s out of necessity as well. What I mean by that is, for example,  If today’s Thursday and I have a gig on Saturday and I can’t rehearse today for whatever reason – my hand hurts let’s just say – instead of practicing, I sit down and visualize. So I do it. I sit down, or I lay back or I listen to music and I literally visualize in real time.

I don’t picture myself just playing music or playing drums in this case – I imagine what my body feels like, what my feet feel like, what the room feels like, if I’m in my room. I visualize the practice as well as the actual performance.

I also try to visualize for the gig. So, if I’m playing let’s say in front of Dave Mustaine, from Megadeth – that’s one of my idols – and I know I’m going to be nervous about it or I think I’m going to be nervous about it, I play imagining that he’s in the crowd, that I’m looking at him, that he’s looking at me, that we’re interacting in a way. So that it’s a much more interesting practice in visualization.

I don’t do it at every single day. Before I go to bed I try to visualize. At some point in my life when I was… not down, or depressed, because I’ve never been that, but when I wasn’t getting gigs let’s just say, I was doing much more of that. Much more actively, and things started happening – getting gigs and tours and stuff.

I try to do it as much as I can before I go to bed. And usually when I sit down to practice, I listen to a song – it can be any number of bands – and I just take a a few deep breaths and try to just say how grateful I am that this is what I do for a living and visualize the performance, or the gig, or the recording.

A lot of it has to do with how nervous I think I might be — as a tool to battle stage fright in a way and nerves, do you know what I mean? That’s how I started using it. That’s how I was aware of visualization. It was because of that, to tackle that.

Besides from visualizing to get to where you’re at, what concrete decisions did you make along the way that, looking back, that you feel were really important in terms of getting you from music school to touring arenas?

I think the conscious effort that I made was that I wanted to be happy and I knew that music made me happy so it did that but it was too open, too broad. I wasn’t as happy as I knew I could be playing just any music.

I was doing a lot of Latin Jazz and R&B and stuff like that in Boston. That was cool, and you get people telling you like, “Oh, you sound great. Great solo,” and you’re playing with that trumpet player, this or that, but I wasn’t playing with my musical idols and stuff like that, which I always knew that I wanted.

And then after I met– I was lucky enough to play with Gary Cherone from Extreme which was my favorite band, my favorite singer. At that moment I made a conscious effort that I wanted to play with big names or names that I admired and I respected. And there was a level of discipline that had to be abnormal, a level of practicing commitment that had to be abnormal. I had to do more than most, play more, be more professional, show up on time, learn everything as much as I can, be over-prepared.

So I made– I would like to say like, “Oh, that’s part of my personality.” No. That’s b.s. I learned those things. I wasn’t always committed, I never usually finished what I started, I wasn’t disciplined, I didn’t have patience.

So when little by little things started happening, I realized that those things paid off – more than if I was just good at drumming. If I was showing up on time and always prepared – obviously they’re interrelated, being prepared and practicing and being good at the instrument – but as far as conscious decisions, one of them is a global thing, like I want to do this for my life. This is what I want to do, play with my idols, play with people that I admire.

The other conscious decision was moving to Los Angeles because this is where those people are, my idols, that you and I grew up listening to. They live here.

If I walk into to the Starbucks and I see a table of Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Pat Matheny and at the table next door I see Duff Mckagan, and I see Nuno Bettencourt, and I see Jordan Rudess. I’m going to sit there and I’m going to talk to those guys.

Those other guys are “better” musicians and blah blah blah and I studied the jazz thing… They don’t tickle my fancy. I never dreamed of playing with those guys. I never dreamed of playing at the Blue Note in Japan. Would it be great? Yeah, but I dreamed of playing with those hair metal dudes or metal guys or rock dudes. They’re in L.A so I moved.

It wasn’t just my decision. I asked a few people that were my mentors, Gary being one of them and my buddy Leo Mellace. I said, “Look, I want to get somewhere higher in my career.” I’m playing once a year with Gary. This is not enough. It’s great but I want more of this and Gary said, “Dude, move to L.A. That’s where everybody is.” That was in November and a month later I was moving to L.A.

So that’s a conscious decision. There’s a physical decision of moving to L.A but prior to that I had identified what my plan A was, which you’ve heard me speak about before, which was my happiness. Not be a musician, period. My happiness translated to playing in a very specific way, playing with musicians I admired and doing the kinds of tours that I always dreamed and visualized when I was young in my bean bag staring at my posters in my room.

So it’s all connected going back to what you were saying about visualizing. The first sort of act of visualization was listening to Countdown to Extinction. Sitting down thinking you’re Nick Menza playing with Marty Friedman and then for whatever reason years later you get to play with Marty Friedman, which I haven’t, but that’s where it came from. I planted a seed.

1040663_10151510411352636_1647493343_o

So how did you get some of these gigs? Starting with Gary Cherone, how did it actually happen? What are the stories behind how you ended up in some of these bands in some of these tours?

One of the ways how I see music is that it’s a communal thing. My career has also been a communal thing. I’ve had people that have helped me, starting obviously with my parents who’ve helped me – supported my career and all that stuff and helping me through college.

And when I graduated, I did this audition and I bombed. I sucked. It was just awful. I got there all cocky thinking that I knew it because I knew the band guys. They were all some Venezuelans, Latinos. I’m like, “Oh, I got this. I know the songs.” Thinking the hang would be enough, you know? And this kid walked right after me – three years younger, white kid, skinny kid, and just destroyed it. He was like an Afro-Cuban master. Unbelievable.

They said, “We’re going to go with this kid. Sorry. We could be friends, but you don’t know your shit. You don’t know anything.” So I went home and I was pretty bummed, pretty depressed.  I called one of my teachers and I was told him: if you know of any gigs, let me know.” He said: “Look, why don’t you come roadie for me? I’ll give you 50 bucks; I’ll buy you lunch,” So I did.

He introduced me at that gig to this guitar player. His name is Leo Mellace. Leo had a studio, and Leo was working with Cherone at that time. We exchanged bands that we liked, and he heard me say Extreme, and he said, “Great, come to the studio.” And I got to the studio, and I met Cherone, and I got to play with him, and it was the greatest. It changed my life.

So there was a direct line of hookup. It wasn’t because I was a great musician, because Leo never heard me play. I got along with him in person, so he decided to give me a break; throw me a bone.

So that happened, and then when I moved to LA, Leo also moved to LA, and we were having lunch, and he got a call from this guy, now a dear friend, Carl Restivo, who was running the School of Rock in LA, and they needed a drum sub. And I was literally in front of Leo, having dinner, he’s like, “Oh, my buddy Demian’s here.” Carl asked “Who has he played with?” Leo said  “Oh he’s played with Cherone.” Then Carl said: “Okay, great. So he’s legit. He’s vetted. Send him over.”

I went the next day, I subbed, and my life changed forever. School of Rock was the most beautiful period of my life. And the first couple of years– within the first year of me being there, we did a tribute to Van Halen, and one of the guests was Richie Kotzen.

So the day before the show, they had a rehearsal and Carl calls me and he says, “Hey man, you gotta come meet Richie Kotzen,” and I said, “Fuck, yeah, man. I love him.” Posters on my wall, growing up. I had Cherone, I had Richie Kotzen, I had Mustaine, I had all those, yeah.

So I go to the school, and he comes out and asks me “Are you the drum teacher?”, I said “Yeah.” And he’s like, “Dude, these kids are killing it.” And I was like, “Oh, my God, thank you, but It’s not like I did it, it was the kids!”

Richie then said: “Cool! hey man, I might be looking for a drummer, if you’re interested in maybe coming by the house and jamming.” I’m like, “Oh, yeah, sure. Yeah, sure. Here’s my number.” Dude, I lost it. I went home, I couldn’t believe it.

You lost his number?!

No, no, no. I lost my shit. [laughter] I couldn’t believe it. I went home– because it had been like a good year and a half since I have experienced– since Cherone, that sort of thrill.

So, dude, he called me up or sent me a text message, I forget, or emailed me, and he was like, “Hey, man, do you want to come by the house and play some tunes?” I said, “Absolutely.”

I get to his house and I literally had to remove Pat Torpey’s drumsticks from the drumhead – from Mr. Big, one of my favorite drummers. My first two albums were Pornograffiti by Extreme and Lean Into It by Mr. Big. And I was literally– his signature sticks that I knew he had played– I was sorta replacing him on the tour, if there was a tour. And we jammed, and I played well enough, and he asked me to do this gig.

We recruited our buddy Dave Felice on bass. That was kind of a master stroke. Richie asked me if I knew any good bass players because he wanted to try a new guy.  I knew that Dave had played with Brett Michaels. So there was that Poison connection between Richie and Dave– so I was like, “I’m going to gamble this. I’m going to see if they hit it off.”

And they did, having cigarettes and they just talked for like 45 minutes and I’m just sitting there thinking to myself “Good move…” We jammed and it sounded great. A month later we were in Lithuania, playing, and we did around 30 shows, man, in that particular run. And then I ended up doing like five tours with Richie, pretty much.

Nice.

Yeah. It was beautiful, man. The single greatest musician I have ever met and will ever work with.

So that must have been your first time touring Europe?

1928742_54757357635_6519822_nYes. It was my first tour really. My first tour, big or small, and I was there sitting in that Sprinter van going all over Europe with the Richie Kotzen. I remember the moment when I heard him sing on “Get Over It”, the Mr. Big record after Paul Gilbert left the band … when I heard him sing Static – that song, I was like, “What is– who is this dude?”

And I was there playing with the guy, man. It was the most surreal– like today this day– of course, I’m good at my instrument, if not I couldn’t be in that position, but I have no idea how I was able to do that. And I did.

And we played Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Slovenia, Poland, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Austria. It was unreal, just stupid, playing all these songs and the greatest guitar playing night after night, the greatest singing night after night, the greatest hang, it was great dude, and I consider him a great friend and a mentor as well. Just surreal that I’m even telling you about this, it’s stupid.

Awesome.

[chuckles] Yeah, it’s crazy.  Looking back it it, it’s insane.

So then, I imagine after that, it was probably a little bit easier to get gigs, after having the credibility and experience?

Yeah, it was, definitely. I didn’t want that gig to go anywhere. It was my dream gig, I wouldn’t have traded it for anything in the world. Until [chuckles], we were in Costa Rica, and I’m sitting in my room learning, going over his music, and I get a phone call.

And at the other end is this guy, John Taylor said “Hey man, my name is John, we actually went to Berklee together, you don’t remember me. And I was here playing FIFA with my buddy Bill…  I’m the music director for the Jonas Brothers, and we were looking for a percussionist, and Bill recommended you a couple of days ago, and I saw your videos; they sent them to the boys. They love you. You’re in the band if you want the tour.” [laughter]

I told him I was on tour with Richie, a musician he respected but he said: “Sorry to do this, but I’m gonna send you an email so you know what this is about.” He sent me an email with where we were rehearsing, how many times a day, how long, they pay, the calendar, the venues we were playing, and it was just a once in a lifetime thing.

I was so torn, because I was finally in that circle of American musicians – 80s, 90s rock idols. I was hanging out with Richie, and we were having barbeques with Jerry Cantrell, Tom Morello – the most bizarre shit.

But, this opportunity–

I wanted to tour, and the tour bus, and the venues, and he said, “You’ll get any endorsement you want.” and I was like, “I’m doing it.”

So, Richie had just finished a long run, and he called me and said, “Hey man, I’m not going to do anything for a while.” And I said, “Great. I need your blessing on something.” And I went to his house and I sat him down, and I said, “Look, before I say yes to these kids,” – at the time they were kids – I was like, “I need your blessing. Are you okay with this?”

He’s like, “Yeah, man. Go do it. This is once in a lifetime thing.” And he said, “If you don’t take this gig, I’m firing you today,” [laughter] “so you take it.”

So I was like, “Okay, man.” And I knew, the back of my mind I knew, I would never play with him again, or that that was the end of that. And effectively, I haven’t played with him since – that was 2009, but I talk to him all the time, and he’s a friend and I see him very often. Every tour he does, wherever I am, he has a ticket for me. Always. VIP passes, Winery Dogs, the solo stuff, anything, everything, he always hooks me up. He is a beautiful human being, his family is great. And then the Jonas thing, that’s a whole different life-changing thing, man.

1074908_10151551317692636_1979987889_o-2


So those must have been some pretty big arenas. How big were the venues you guys were playing on that tour?

First of all, when you get that call and they ask: so what gear do you want? What are you going to need? Don’t worry about it. Just tell me– just put a list together. And you have no budget. You can do any pair of congas, anything you want. That’s one of the greatest feelings as a musician that you could ever get – as far as that side of it – the business side – not the, oh, I just played with Chick Corea and we played– whatever. That’s great as well, but this is like the shit you want to do. That was mind-blowing, so I literally sent that list, dude, and I got to center staging and we’re rehearsing next to like Sting or some absurd thing. And I walk in and everything is set up like I had seen in all those magazines, Modern Drummer, and videos of those percussion shakers and water bottles and towels. It was the most bizarre thing in a good way.

So we played the biggest venues in America as far as – you know the amphitheaters – PNC in New York and Jones Beach. We did the ones in Boston. It used to be called Great Woods, where I saw Megadeth, and Dream Theater, and Sting and all those bands. Yeah, so I was there playing those venues. It was beautiful.

Then South America and Central America were out of control. We played the greatest show I’ve ever played and will ever play at the River Plate Soccer Stadium to 60 thousand people.

The loudness… I took my in-ears off at some point just to hear the crowd. It was like the most beautiful thing. I’ll never forget that.

They’re two separate things. You can not put a price on playing with Richie Kotzen in a 500 seater venue or 300, 200 people in Hamburg Germany to 50 people. It’s a beautiful thing, but also that that adreneline rush in playing in front of so many people. And the pyro, the lights, all that production, catering, free food, five star hotels, getting escorted – we’d do U-turns in like Times Square, we were escorted by police.

We had a softball team where we would play on our days off, and you would play in a minor league stadium, or little league stadium, and you would have people chanting your name – and the most surreal experience.

I needed to live that. It was a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful thing. And I wish everybody would do it. And I was young enough where we could do the sports thing, and hang out, and hang out with the dancers and the rest of the crew. It was just great, it was a beautiful family.

 

What was it like going back home to Venezuala after that? I imagine that a lot of people back home are following what you were doing…

Yeah. It was a beautiful thing, man. I was known. I’d get recognized in the mall. People knew me as the Venezualian Jonas, or the Latin Jonas. Because the Jonas Brothers, they embraced whoever comes in the band as one of their own. You get the same treatment, they eat with you at catering – everybody. You get all-star treatment. It was great, man, going home I did many– I had a lot of friends in the media – TV, and press, and newspapers, and radio – I had a lot of friends, but while I was on tour I got all these calls and emails from people, “We want an interview. We want to do this. We want to do that.”

In a country like Venezuela, you can’t really live from music most of the time, so you do other stuff. Most of that other stuff is journalism or communications-based. So I had a lot of friends that were musician friends that were into it, and I got interviewed a lot, a lot of radio interviews, TV appearances, and I was going to nightclubs and bars and getting hooked up. And it was just like a dream. It was great.

I have a ton of followers on  Twitter and stuff like that, that are loyal. I was also lucky that they’re the most loyal fanbase, dude. They tweet me. They say, “Hi.” They remember my birthday. I went to the airport, and they were there with a Venezuelan flag, welcome home! They were screaming – like I’m a big big Arsenal fan – they were yelling: “Arsenal, Arsenal.” It was– it’s the craziest shit, man. It was beautiful.

I did a big fund raising event for a breast cancer foundation, and we raised the equivalent of $5000 – that for us it would be like 20 grand. So it was a great thing. I was able to use that attention for a good cause. And I did a lot of motivational speaking type stuff at my old high school, and drum clinics, and stuff like that. It was great.

I was putting my name out there, and unfortunately, the country has somewhat disintegrated so all for naught really. All the friends that I had that were in that world have fled the country basically.


Really?

Yeah. It’s that bad, but that’s a whole other story [laughter]. We could go dark pretty quickly. Yeah.


Well, so on a lighter note, you talked about working with kids and stuff in the School of Rock. What advice do you have for kids that age who want to become pro musicians? What’s something that a lot of kids might not realize when they’re 14, 15, 16 years old that they need to learn?

I think that’s a great question man. I think not being afraid to make a mistake or to fail, in a way, is important. A lot of kids play a song and they mess up, and they just think it’s the end of the world. And it’s like, no man, just keep going. You know?

Or a lot of them fixate on a minor thing, like on a drum fill, and they think because they don’t get the drum fill, they’re shut down and they don’t work on the rest of the song. Well the drum fill is like half a second. You can’t sacrifice 3:45 of a song because of that. Have fun.

There’s so many things [chuckles].

I think believing in yourself is huge. There’s a thing about when you play drums, and you’re convinced and you’re committed, where you sound good because of the intention behind each note.

One of my favorite soccer players, this guy Dennis Bergkamp, always says that behind every kick of the ball, there must be a thought.

And it’s not just kicking for the kicking of it. You get to pass, so then that guy passes to somebody else. So I think committing and believing in yourself and having intention behind what you’re doing is important, but that comes with age. That comes with somebody telling them in the practice space, “Believe in yourself.” Or, “Think about this. Think that you’re doing it right. Commit to it.”

So let’s talk about the Music Mentor Podcast. What prompted you to want to do it, what’s it about, and who’s it for?

Great. So, to also add to your last question, I’ve grown to know – in this business – that talent is not the only thing you need to make your dreams come true, or to have a successful life as a musician.

Defining success is a whole different thing. But, talent isn’t the only important thing. And there are many other things that you need that might come with experience, or paying your dues along the line, that you don’t need to live 1,000 years, or 100 years, or 50 years in the business to learn them. Things that have nothing to do with talent. And that’s why I created the podcast.

So that millennials, or the kids that want to become a professional musician, and they’re obsessed with technique, and obsessed with learning music and musicality, and they forget about social skills, and they forget about a million things, that’s why I created the podcast.

In it I try to educate, empower, motivate, and inspire up-and-coming musicians and people of all ages, or musicians that have gotten lost or are just starting out.

Again, I try to motivate, inspire, and empower them through anecdotes, through opinions, and through interviews, and hopefully cover things that aren’t the typical weapons in your arsenal that people think they need to become successful.

I touch upon practicing and visualization and my thoughts on regrets. I talk about auditioning. I talk about how important it is having a good relationship with members of the crew in a touring situation. I talk about touring. I talk about having a plan A vs. having a plan B. I talk about my perspective with things such as what people consider a sacrifice and what others consider an investment, and things like that that I think are very, very important.

I was thankful that I had people teaching me a lot of these things, but I’m also an anomaly that I had parents that taught me about a lot of those things, and a lot of musicians don’t. A lot of musicians don’t have the sort of emotional intelligence to deal with certain things.

I mean, it sounds like I’m implying that I have it, but that’s not what I mean. I’m saying that I was surrounded by that positivity and people helping me. I think that we’re human beings at the end of the day. We’re not just a musician. We’re not just a drummer or a guitar player, or a keyboard player. We’re people with principles, with ethics, with – I feel – a responsibility to bring something positive in this world. I felt it and I lived it hands-on.

If I were to compare seeing myself playing the tonight show, or touring with whoever playing in a stadium, how I felt then and how I feel when one of my students calls me, “Hey man, I got a gig playing in Toronto” or “I’m touring with so and so” it’s not even a comparison. When my students accomplish one of their dreams it’s greater than anything I’ve ever experienced. And I’m not just saying that. It feels really, really good, so I’m addicted to that. I might be doing it almost for a self-serving purpose, but it’s ultimately serving somebody else. You know what I mean?

So, if a 100 people listen to the podcast, a 1000 people, 3000, great. But if one kid says, “You know what dude? I’m going to try this visualizing thing. And maybe not for music, but I’m going to try it because I want to try out for my soccer team. And I’m going go practice, and I’m going to visualize a positive outcome in getting picked, in getting selected, and how I’m on the field and ball up.” And it works. He feels it works. That’s it man.

One kid, one person. A young adult, older, whatever. I mean, my dad called me the other day, and he’s the first one to ever listen to the podcast– or always listen to the podcast. He said, “It’s like I’m getting to know you more. Which is ironic because he tells me everything. That’s one thing I’ll say about Richie. He allowed my dad to come on tour with us for about 20 days all over Europe in the van.

Yeah, he was like, “Dude, have him come.” And he was paying for his meals and all that stuff, so I’m always grateful for that. So yeah, the podcast was for the sort of road cuts  and tricks and things, and planting seeds, and challenging the student. Maybe you should go to college, or maybe not. I think you should, and maybe I think you shouldn’t. Maybe I don’t mean that. You know, that kind of stuff. And it’s five minutes – 10 minutes long.

Millennials don’t have the longest attention span. Everybody’s busy. I don’t want to keep them, so it’s quick and to the point. My interviews are usually an hour long. But yeah man, that’s the story behind the Music Mentor Podcast, and I dream of potentially making it more of a formal thing, speaking to people about it. Monetizing it in a way, and having that to be more of my livelihood.

So where do people find the podcast? What’s the best way for them to get to it?

The best way is It’s available on SoundCloud, iTunes, TuneIn Radio, Podcast Addict and now on Stitcher Radio.

Any final thoughts?

I think that what you’re doing and what you’re trying to do to help us fellow musicians and people in general, is very inspiring. And without a doubt you are one of the reasons, if I had to list some of the people that inspire me to do the podcast, what you have always tried to do and the conversations we’ve had through the years is a big part of that. So I want to take this time and also thank you, not just blow smoke up your you know what. But just thank you for it. I think it’s great. I think that– you know, musicians are very misunderstood people and they also take themselves way too seriously. Not for me, I’ve never felt misunderstood and all that stuff – but a lot of them are. And I think sources like what yours is, and to a smaller degree mine is, I think it’s helpful.

So I encourage whomever’s reading this who’s an established musician, or anyone who has a positive message to give it. None of this jaded bullshit like, “Ah, well, we’re not getting paid.” Like, “Yeah, no shit. We’re getting fucked from Spotify and all those things. We get it.” Bring something positive to it.

That’s why I love your stuff, man. If you ever mention something “negative”, there’s a reason for it. There’s a reason around it, and it stops being negative. It’s like the fuel for positivity. So much so that I can’t even remember the last time I read something that you posted that had any inkling of being nothing that’s not comedy, or tongue-in-cheek, or something like that. There’s not enough of that. There’s not enough of that selfless, like, “This is not for me.”

So, yeah, that’s what I would say. Keep that positivity, not only within you and for you, but for other people as well. Not because I’m doing it and I’m patting myself on the back, but it’s greater than anything that you can accomplish for yourself. It just feels good. It’s like I have a secret and I want the world to know it. Have fun.