My very special guest, Steve Lyman (Stevely Man) is a brilliant drummer and a great all-around dude. Here is a bit from his Wikipedia page:
Stephen Richard Lyman (born January 22, 1982) is an American jazz drummer, composer, and educator.
Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, Lyman was exposed to music at an early age by his father, a classical guitarist. Lyman began to play professionally while in high school and eventually studied music at the University of Utah. He relocated to New York City in 2005 to continue his education at the New School where he began to study with drummer Ari Hoenig, whom he cites a musical influence and mentor.
Lyman worked extensively with vocalist José James in the mid-2000s and recorded on James’ critically acclaimed album, The Dreamer. He has also worked with artists including Aaron Parks, Gilad Hekselman, Nir Felder, Julian Pollack, Chase Baird, Bill McHenry, George Garzone, Ralph Alessi, Logan Richardson, Jaleel Shaw, Tyshawn Sorey, Dan Tepfer, Becca Stevens, and Corey Christiansen.
Lyman released his debut album Revolver in 2013. The album featured pianist Julian Pollack, guitarist Kenji Aihara, and bassist Chris Tordini.
As an educator, Lyman taught alongside drummer Billy Hart at Montclair State University in New Jersey in 2007. In 2013, he published his first book, A New Approach to Odd-Times for Drumset, through Mel Bay Publications. He currently serves on the faculties of the University of Utah and Snow College.
Rich [00:00:01] Ladies and gentlemen, drummers around the world. Mr. Steve Lyman. This conversation worked out perfectly because Steve was visiting from his home in Salt Lake City. He was coming to Chicago to spend a few days with the great Jimmy Chamberlain. And they just spent the last two days together. Three days. To that. You flew on Monday, right?
Steve [00:00:23] I flew on Monday. We had dinner Monday night. And then I was at his house Tuesday. So two days. Yeah.
Rich [00:00:29] That's pretty awesome. And it worked out perfectly. Jimmy was about 20 minutes from here. So Steve is staying with his brother. Maybe five minutes from here in the car. You walk.
Steve [00:00:39] I have a brother who is a doctor in Evanston. So he's able to spend some time with them. It's awesome.
Rich [00:00:44] Nice. Yeah. That's awesome. And Steve and I have been chatting for a long time, chat for a long time. Friends on Instagram, but met for the first time today. We had breakfast, and you may see some of that.
Steve [00:00:57] It was very good.
Rich [00:00:58] It was good.
Steve [00:00:59] It was very good.
Rich [00:01:00] We're on our second coffee because Steve is a coffee guy, too. But there's a lot of coffee. Yeah, espresso. And then the coffee.
Steve [00:01:09] I'll have to put this down. Don't fall on the drums. Yeah.
Rich [00:01:15] I want to dig deep. And I know that watching you on Instagram, watching you kind of dive, I feel like the whole world got to watch you kind of develop your sound. As you posted yourself, practicing exercises that kept on ramping up in like complexity and accuracy continued to align, and some of the things that you're doing. Very few people in the world can do, I think. I mean, mixing polymetric things with polyrhythmic things and swing style. It's super heavy. We talked at breakfast, and I think that's gonna be some footage that we'll use. But kind of your development into the growth of who you are now and kind of the path that you took of what you listened to. And all that. So I think I think we're good with that. Yeah. But what I want to know what I want to talk about is your approach to being an individual, your approach to centering yourself in a way that allows you to understand what that voice is that you're trying to develop as your unique voice.
Steve [00:02:45] So I'm pretty disciplined in my life. I think if I had to put it. If you were to say, like, maybe the ways that I'm successful outwardly are a manifestation of me trying to work inwardly. So like that, I would say there's a beautiful feedback loop that can happen when anybody can just sort of ask him or herself, like what are the truths you have and then you just do that. And that's kind of a scary terrain that, you know, a lot of us are not trained with them. And it's very easy to. And it's something that I at this point do. And that's the way I live. And sometimes it's scary and sometimes it's also really rewarding.
Steve [00:03:37] Like great opportunities can come out of it, but sometimes nothing comes out of it. You know you'll put stuff online thinking it's great, and it's going to get a lot of feedback. And it doesn't just kind of the point that the point is that you're just being you.
Steve [00:03:58] So I think for me, I would say I'm still a student of asking myself on a daily basis from a centering perspective. Just listening. What are the truths of me and then just doing that? And then life gets simple like practice becomes sacred. It's always been sacred, but it's become more efficient. And I'm more capable of editing out things. I need to work on things. Why I want to work on them, not working on things and choosing to not work on other elements and also putting myself out there in a vulnerable, visible quality and maybe moving towards things that I want to work towards that maybe I have a fear of. Does that make sense? So it's just a daily discipline of listening.
Rich [00:04:57] Yeah. How do you start your day?
Steve [00:04:59] I usually wake up around 6:00 in the morning. I have a pretty intense dog because I'm an intense guy. So it's just me and my dog where I live in Salt Lake. And I wake up at 6:00. I make a coffee, and then I meditate for two hours.
Rich [00:05:16] Two hours. Wow. Yeah, that's a long time. Y.
Steve [00:05:22] Yeah, but it's not for me. It's necessary.
Rich [00:05:25] Yeah. Are you able to talk about meditation?
Steve [00:05:27] In fact, I'm a Zen Buddhist, and so most of the time I go to my Zendo, which is where I and my community practice.
Rich [00:05:36] So you go in the morning to a place.
Steve [00:05:38] Yeah. From like seven to like 8:15 when I get home and I may sit for another 20, 30 minutes, and then I take my dog on like I'm like an hour hike, and then I go practice. Then I teach for a few hours, some Skype lessons, then I work on business stuff, and then I practice a little bit more. But it changes like the past few months. I will. Well, my life is kind of like I go through times where I'm doing not a lot, where I'm just at home in Salt Lake, and I'm teaching, and I'm practicing. But then I'll have like huge projects.
Steve [00:06:12] I was recently on Drumeo, and I taught a modern jazz curriculum. So that was really prepping for that. I'm going on tour next week in a pretty intense band. So I'm preparing that music. I wanted to be in good shape to hang with my hero, Jimmy. So I practiced a lot for that. So I have like very specific targeted ways of practicing.
Steve [00:06:34] But my day is, but whether I'm in Salt Lake or I'm traveling, it's pretty regimented. I wake up really early and I meditate and then try to find some time to practice. But I don't practice like my practice is. I would say I meditate more assiduously than I' practiced. And I'm not trying to say like I don't practice. I definitely practice, but I practice in intervals. So, like, maybe I'll practice maybe two or three periods per day. Maybe you like forty-five minutes on something then I'll take a break. I'll do something maybe like an hour on something else. And maybe sometimes I only get like 15 minutes but it's like really focused. I don't really practice... I went through a long period of time where I would practice hours on end and then sometimes I wouldn't practice enough. You know, like I should have practice hours on end where I only put in an hour. I'm a better musician and more focused now because I think I learn best in intervallic practice, right? Yeah.
Rich [00:07:44] Yeah, I agree. I love little segments throughout the day.
Steve [00:07:49] Yeah. Philly. Joe Jones is to practice that way. When he was saying that, I was like, yes,.
Rich [00:07:54] Well, there's only so long that a person can concentrate. And I would think that you probably are able to concentrate better than many because of your meditation practice.
Steve [00:08:04] I mean, maybe I'm still nuts. I mean, I'm like an over-caffeinated nutso dude. I mean, I mean, so one of the things that I mean, pain with Jimmy is probably among the more meaningful experiences in my life. He's like my hero, period. But we were talking about a few different topics. And one thing was he did this research about how the brain learns. And basically you have like two hours in a day based on anybody's circadian rhythm or that's like your peak time of like learning and other times like you're going to get more in those two hours in a day than you are like six hours in a different context.
Rich [00:08:47] Right.
Steve [00:08:47] So everyone's practice should sort of be different.
Rich [00:08:51] You have to figure out how to find that sweet spot. Where in the day is that sweet spot where each individual.
Steve [00:08:58] Where is the balance between discipline and joy? If it's all discipline, you're going to sound shitty. If you're all joy, you're going to have like I always practice from the standpoint of joy, and then from there where my weak spots, which are many hidden from my weak spots, I can come up with things that I really work. And they're usually related to musical goals like things that I need. I know I need to improve my playing.
Rich [00:09:28] So when you say you you start your practice and do you start your practice with an intention to work on something or do you start with a fluid kind of playing and then you start to analyze and go, Oh...
Steve [00:09:42] Lately, Well, I mean, I mean. So it's like there's usually like big sweeping things. So like, I'm going to go on this tour next week and I know that my tendency will be able to rush because I'll be excited. So what I have I have a fair amount of facility of a fair amount of independence. Like, I'm not worried about my technique. I'm worried like the thing that I'm worried about is like, I really want to be seated in my ideas in my timekeeping. And so I read the big thing that I want to work on for this tour is how do I make my time just more, down here.
Steve [00:10:16] So I'm working on a lot of metronome studies that keep me rooted to that downward polarity. And then from there I come. It's different. Like most of the time I just get to the studio, put on music that I'm into. I'm really into like, there's a lot of great electronic music from UK that I'm super inspired by.
Steve [00:10:42] Lately, I've been really into Tigran's music, but the electronic medium helps me just because I can lock into something that's like right on the money, right? And the music that I'm into. Harmonically, it opens me up.
Steve [00:10:54] So like I'll put something on and then I'll like I suck at like groupings of seven. So like I'll work on like some grouping of seven, I'm, like, man, my paradiddles suck too.
Rich [00:11:06] So you may be playing along to something and then you go, you.
Steve [00:11:11] Just playing along the music that makes me feel good. And then from there, like.
Rich [00:11:16] Then you may notice that something didn't come out the way that you wanted it to.
Steve [00:11:19] I ask myself, what am I into that I can't do? Like, how do I, like, turn like pick, I pick one to two things per session that I can't do.
Rich [00:11:31] Like, let's say groupings of seven.
Steve [00:11:34] Or like put the metronome on like 20.
Rich [00:11:36] Right.
Steve [00:11:36] And like trade fours with yourself.
Rich [00:11:39] Right.
Steve [00:11:39] And like see how much that rush.
Rich [00:11:41] Right.
Steve [00:11:42] Like at 20. Yeah. And then from there I can see you start to analyze. I can reverse engineer on rushing or dragging based on OK. So like this is not aligned. So then I'll come up with like, you know, independence patterns or like sticking, or like I'll work on technique from the standpoint of I know what I want to achieve. I know kind of what the goal is. So then I'll create a warm-up pattern based on the needs of that day.
Steve [00:12:12] I rarely do like 20 minutes just like stick control and go because I feel like while it's helpful, it also kills inspiration. So as long as I meet the quota of like moving towards things that I'm into, but I make sure I'm open and I'm really asking the question, what can't I do from a context of where I truly want to go?
Rich [00:12:35] Yeah.
Steve [00:12:36] I usually hit the targets that I should hit. That makes sense.
Rich [00:12:40] Yeah. So.
Steve [00:12:42] That works for me. Yeah. It might not work for everyone.
Rich [00:12:44] No, that's great. So you're you start your practice session in enjoyment of playing along to something perhaps.
Steve [00:12:53] In objective awareness.
Rich [00:12:56] With an awareness of things that aren't quite coming out the way that you think you want them to musically.
Steve [00:13:04] Or like and just like my upstrokes suck. Like, wow. Like, wow, man.
Rich [00:13:12] So you may stop the music now and create some kind of exercise for yourself to work on something that you notice is.
Steve [00:13:18] Or all like leave like a track that I'm into like I'll play like a musician that I'm really into is a guy named Clark who is a Bristol-based musician, who now lives in Germany. But like, I love his music. So it allows me to sort of, like, chill and relax. But then I always make sure that I'm practicing, practicing, practicing like I'm in practice mode. So I'll do like some basic sticking pattern to warm up my hands that I'm aware of where the muscle groups are tight, know what rudimental exercises I need to work on. So I try to always practice with physical awareness.
Steve [00:13:57] And then I came up with like a pretty intense like jazz independence exercise. So I also develop a lot of my curriculum through teaching where I work with a lot of people that are interested in what I have to offer, and then through that, I find better methodologies of like, oh yeah, well this would be a really great way of working on this. And then I ask myself, can I do that? It's like, no. Yeah. So I mean, it's different each day. But I do it each day. Does that make any sense?
Rich [00:14:28] Sure. Do you find yourself in natural movement and natural improvisation defaulting, um, probably the answer is yes. You're you're doing things that's like, dang it! I always do that.
Steve [00:14:42] I basically know only one, which is like a six-stroke roll. I basically just know a six-stroke and everything. Yeah. I totally have patterns. I have tons of patterns. But then I try to really see if I can do those patterns in ways that I can't normally do them. Yeah, I would say my best practice time is holding both being inspired by an idea and equally holding, you know, trying to move t towards and having the awareness that there are legitimate things that I can't do. So as long as my inspiration meets my discipline, you know, if I can find any exercise, I mean, this is really where my practice comes from. If I could find any exercise that is both inspirational for me, gets me to love the instrument each day and also has a good portion, you know, like, can you do these or are these things that you want to be doing? Are they functional? For me, you have to be aware of what you practice because you'll yield. That becomes part of your life. But as long as I hold these two streams, good stuff usually comes out.
Steve [00:16:08] So let's take, for instance, like you mentioned earlier, of seven strokes sticking seven-stroke expression. Will you write out that seven-stroke expression and come up with different combinations and then should each one reduce that to yourself? Seven strokes?
Steve [00:16:25] I probably wouldn't write out, but I definitely there are certain things that I definitely do write out. Most of the things that I write out are independence stuff. So like I created this concept of like stacking rhythms that if you're interested, you can message me and I have like these little SD cards and I can send them to for a fee. And basically it's play any of these on a jazz context. I like the jazz context because I like the polarity of constants and variables and I kind of learn that from my teacher Ari, also, Bill Stewart is kind of like the guide of that because his independence is amazing. Yes. And his ideas are amazing. But it's always serving like some really deep creative.
Rich [00:17:12] Right.
Steve [00:17:12] It's like so primal. It's like it's mathy, but it's not.
Rich [00:17:16] It's so organic.
Steve [00:17:17] It's super organic.
Rich [00:17:18] But yes heavy, indeed.
Steve [00:17:20] But it's in it. And it's like precise as F. Yeah. If you know, it's like. So that's kind of like that's like for me that's like the benchmark. Yeah. Because it's it's hitting me on a really gut level. It's not cerebral for the sake of being cerebral. Right. It's cerebral from the standpoint of. Yeah. These are ideas I need to work on. But if I can understand them, I can have the capacity to develop ideas that I otherwise wouldn't do. So like, for instance, like I have this whole grid, which is like I'm playing time and I'm playing time and there's like basic rhythm. So like quarter note triplets
Rich [00:18:26] I think this is the thing that I, is this is the thing that I sent you of what you did? It seems familiar.
Steve [00:18:33] I mean, this is pretty recent. This is like two months ago. This came after my drum camp.
Steve [00:18:38] So basically, like so I do these rhythms along with my snare, too, with my bass. And then can I verdict? Like every combination, then can I do like singles between each of those rhythms, you can do doubles and paradiddles, and then can I stack them. So like can I do like quarter note triplets with like my left hand then like trips with my bass drum. And that sounds easy, but.
Rich [00:19:03] I remember seeing you do that. It's not. I practice that stuff.
Steve [00:19:05] It's actually been doing it's super not because like but in my mind I would think it's easy, but it's really not because the trip is like really, it's not in there is like notes that are really like so for instance like quarter like dotted quarter notes and half-note triplets.
Rich [00:19:20] Yeah, those don't fall together. It's a three measure.
Steve [00:19:22] So but anyway there's a phrase, right. Yeah but like that's like a rhythm I'm like super into because for me it's functional. But the whole point of it is the music that I would like to play. So the band I'm going to be touring with is really, really interactive. So I want to make sure, like so what these are training me to do from a nervous system standpoint is that I have a fair amount of command to both produce ideas in any juncture on the kit.
Rich [00:19:56] Right.
Steve [00:19:56] And I'm also deepening my rhythmic, I'm also creating new ideas that I would have not otherwise heard. But I'm also able to just like play time, and if someone's if I'm playing with Chris Potter or something like that, you know, like. You know, I'm gonna be able to know where I'm at right now versus like, where the hell am I? Because his time is better than mine. I've only played with them once. I was like a long, long time ago. To play with them ever again I hope that...
Rich [00:20:31] There's some amazing saxophone players with ridiculous time.
Steve [00:20:36] There's a lot of saxophones who don't have the time now.
Rich [00:20:40] Yeah, of course. But Potter, Brecker...
Steve [00:20:44] Yeah.
Rich [00:20:45] When I. A long time ago, I was transcribing a Vinnie thing from a John Patittuci album and it was Pattituci, Michael Brecker, and Vinnie.
Steve [00:20:55] That's Heavy.
Rich [00:20:56] And I slowed it down to be able to tell what Vinnie was doing and his stuff was so crazy. But Brecker was blowing at the same time and I realized that was when I realized records time is insane and that is what I used as my benchmarks of what was Vinnie doing because Brecker was so reliable that you could go, oh, this is a little grouping of five and here's a little thing, a flutter of this and that. And Brecker's time. I was like, oh my gosh, his time is insane.
Steve [00:21:32] So I played with Chris Potter once. Like when I was a student, it was a lesson for format. I went to the New School, but this is an NYU and this is for someone's lesson. And this is before like so I have a ride cymbal feel, which I thought was the best. It was really not great, but it was one, right. You know. And he starts playing and immediately he starts playing a different feel. And I know that what he's doing makes sense to me, but I just completely lacked the ability to make his feel simple swing and resonate like that was a really good learning experience because I need to have the I need to really be able to adapt at all times to the musicians around me.
Rich [00:22:18] Yeah.
Steve [00:22:19] So. Yeah. I mean, those are the things that I'm into.
Rich [00:22:22] Yeah. I mean, we talked about breakfast. You mentioned that the term micro subdivisions or micro.
Steve [00:22:29] I just wanted to sound cool.
Rich [00:22:31] Yeah. It sounded cool. And I think that those vehicles of studying, you know, any kind of rhythmic complexity is going to give you a more centered sense of time. Of course. And also, the deeper you understand how a polymeter functions, how polyrhythm functions and how micro subdivisions function, like 32nd-note, 32nd-note triplet kind of motion...
Steve [00:22:57] Mark's kind of the man at that stuff because he focuses on the really small stuff.
Rich [00:23:01] Right. Yeah. When you can hear when you understand those levels, then you can kind of cue into what someone else is doing and understand how to adjust to that which probably in college you weren't quite at that point yet.
Steve [00:23:18] Oh, I thought I was the best. Yeah. Yeah. But now. Yeah, I would say now. I think I think it's really important to know where you're going. So like, what kind of gigs do you want to be? You know, like that kind of stuff is really important for the kind of music that I'm trying to move towards.
Rich [00:23:41] Sure.
Steve [00:23:45] But there are certain things like, but I'm not practicing, you know, like if I wanted to be like a great like a pocket player, like country player, like Jimmy said, I have a good pocket, which felt great but like, I think you must be smoking something. I think I have a good pocket for the way that I play music. But like, there are people like Carter has, you know, like if it's like a groove gig, you're probably gonna want to hire him. Like he loves that music more than I do. So he's gonna sound better doing it. I'm a little bit kind of into schizophrenic metal jazz. Yeah. I mean, I don't know. I mean, knowing where you want to go is the first step. And then you have to also kind of like know what you're not focusing on. Like you don't want to hire me for like a country gig. I would hate it and I would sound terrible. And I would be a dick. I hopefully wouldn't be. No, I wouldn't be a dick but I mean like there's just so many guys that love that music so deeply that you need to hire them like. Right.
Rich [00:25:01] Yeah. I mean, there's a I definitely grew up in an era and I don't know if it's true now with people who were in college as much, but kind of the belief was you need to be able do everything. You need to play a pit gig, you need to build a play, you know, a foxtrot and a waltz. And, you know, this and this and this and a bossa nova and a Cuban thing. And so that was kind of how I grew up, thinking you need to be ready for anything that comes to you. And I think that you know, you playing with people for a long time will give you the experience of melding with the unit. Like you're about to go on tour with Chase. Who else is in that band?
Steve [00:25:52] Pretty heavy band. So it's Chase and he's the saxophonist for Antonio Sanchez. And then it's a guy named John Eskreet on piano, and he's the pianist in that band, a bassist named Daniel Chmielinksi who played, do you know that young Asian pianist? What's his name? Joey. Something like a sensation. He's like 12. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. He's his bassist. Okay. And then the guitarist by the name of Nir Felder who's an old friend. Just like one of the monsters guitar. So it's like a serious band.
Rich [00:26:25] Super heavy band. And you don't you have a logged too many miles with you. Not logged any miles with the band.
Steve [00:26:33] Not with that particular, John the pianist and I years ago played a lot together. Nir and I used to play a lot together. And I have him come to, he's actually a pretty good friend of mine. And I had gigs in New York that I hired him on recently and then I flew him out Salt Lake a couple of times. I mean, we're we have a pretty good connection. But no, I mean, this is like it's these are the bassist and I, I mean, everyone we've played with each other in some form or another. But this is a different animal. And so, yeah, like I need to show up. And Antonio was the drummer on the parts and it's like there's some kind of responsibility.
Rich [00:27:13] Yeah, well there'll be rehearsals?
Steve [00:27:16] No, we have we're doing. I go to L.A. next Tuesday. The good thing is so what we're doing is we're doing a master class in the afternoon and we're kind of viewing that as a rehearsal. And then we play at this place called the Blue Whale. And then we have two dates in Oregon in the next two days. So by that time, like, you know, by the last gig, you'll be like killing.
Rich [00:27:41] By the time it's over, you're like, I'm ready.
Steve [00:27:44] Yeah. Stupid. And then that band's going to be doing more touring in the US and I think in Europe in March.
Rich [00:27:53] Nice. Yeah. Yeah. I feel like this year has been a big year for you.
Steve [00:28:02] It's huge.
Rich [00:28:05] And I and I feel like I've watched you kind of just make a decision and make it happen. You set it intention, "I'm gonna do a drum camp.".
Steve [00:28:15] It was the craziest.
Rich [00:28:17] That was insane.
Steve [00:28:18] That was the most. That was the hardest thing I've ever done.
Rich [00:28:24] What was hard about it?
Steve [00:28:26] I mean, it was successful.
Rich [00:28:27] Yeah.
Steve [00:28:27] But it was.
Rich [00:28:30] The preparation. Getting people to come.
Steve [00:28:32] The amount of work. So like, yeah, I mean,.
Rich [00:28:35] The organization.
Steve [00:28:36] I originally wanted 20 people to come because then I could just like have enough money to go to December and I have to think about anything. I got like eight people, but that's like a lot of people. For six days. So I modeled it after like a Zen meditation retreat. So it's like six week intensive. So the way that I did it, because I've done day camps before and what I noticed after three hours, everyone's brains, like recent with Jimmy, like we were both working on some stuff and after three hours were just like done like let's go get some food, you know?
Steve [00:29:10] So like three hours is like, good, then you're just, you know. And then it was a three-hour break and then three hours. And during the three-hour break, you know, everyone's just like resting and eating. But I didn't. I did everything. So I was in charge of the food. I was in charge of making sure we had enough food when we ran out I had to go to Costco and get food. And I had a dog. And I was like, it was I mean, it was just nuts.
Rich [00:29:38] Was it in a church?
Steve [00:29:39] Yeah. I rented a Unitarian church and I paid for it. It was great. But everybody was great. You know, one of the things that you learn is like and I'm sure you know this too, is like you're gonna come up with conflict where some people are gonna be really happy, some people are gonna be nitpicky about other things. And you ultimately you're not gonna make everyone happy. You know, there's "why we do three hours here, three hours there?" It's like because I have to make this work for me. Because your nervous system gets nuts. It's cool because like I came up with that independence grid because of that I just like that was a creative thing that I could do. Like we could go into really deep stuff, you know like everybody felt fried. I had one student that was like, "this didn't really feel like an intensive to me" like this is pretty intensive, you know. So, yeah, I mean, I'll definitely do it again at some point, but I'll probably charge a little bit more to e honest because it's a lot of work.
Rich [00:30:41] Yeah, it's six days is a long time.
Steve [00:30:43] It's a lot of work. And it's like I kind of gave like everything I got. But I would definitely hire like at least one maybe if not two people like one person to run food and then like one person just like in logistics because it kind of compromises you as a teacher. So yeah, this year's been great. Like Drumeo was huge.
Rich [00:31:05] Yeah. Let's look at all the big things that happened. So did the camp. Then you got then you did drumming. Oh yeah. Which is insane.
Steve [00:31:12] So what I'm gonna do is I'm going to play that dotted eighth-note pattern but I'm gonna break it up by having my feet play a half time feel where the bass drum plays 1 3 1 2 3. And it's trickier than it sounds.
Rich [00:31:24] Of course this tour with chases is a big deal. It's talked about a lot. And your time with Jimmy. I mean, there are other things I feel like those are like these big milestones that kind of happen.
Steve [00:31:36] In the beginning of the year I went to the UK.
Rich [00:31:40] That's right. You did a little clinic tour.
Steve [00:31:43] Then I did some. I did a tour. I did another tour. Yeah. It's not like I'm doing like six months of craziness, but I definitely there's been pockets of pretty insane stuff. Yeah, yeah, it's been. It's also I'm not gonna go into details. This was like the hardest year like that I've ever had. Like I'm just a personal level and somebody said to me, that's how life is like that. So I've had these successes, There was like a month at the beginning of the year spring that was like the hardest month of my life. And then I had to, like, focus on Drumeo at the same time. But I mean, maybe that's the way to be. I don't know. I mean, life is like that.
Rich [00:32:36] I mean, I think that anytime that something amazing happens. Yeah. These extremes kind of pop out.
Steve [00:32:43] Yeah, they do. Yeah. Sorry. Go ahead. Yeah.
Rich [00:32:47] It was just I was thinking about meditation and then when, you know, I definitely don't meditate for two hours a day. I do it as often as I can remember. And when I do, it's short. And a lot of times I have to fight myself. Sometimes I just catch myself sitting and thinking and I'm like, this is not productive because you're just you're playing something over in your mind,.
Steve [00:33:16] Yeah, you're in your head,.
Rich [00:33:17] And nothing is getting done. You know, you're all here. So I. So I try to take myself in. I want to hear your meditation practice because I think that big successes come from clarity, focus, intention.
Steve [00:33:34] As soon as I started really meditating, my life became I mean, I still have a lot of challenges cause and I still have things I'm frustrated. But I would say like really like my life has started to flow in a pretty more in a more significant way that outwardly seems successful based on my inner work. And I root it all to meditation.
Rich [00:33:58] Yeah. I absolutely agree.
Steve [00:33:59] And it's like, you know, if I didn't honestly, if I didn't meditate, I would probably not be a very functional human being now, like, really. So it's like sometimes I do it for music and for a career but at its core, it's like, how do I just be like, I mean, music at this point you know, Jimmy and I were talking about like, you know, that's like it's like our mission. Like you. Same with you. You know, all the drummers we're talking about. But like, you know, I mean, he's also a really great dad. He's a good person. You know, he's like a full human being, you know? And. Pretty good example. And yeah, I mean, I think meditation just allows a person to be their best selves because sometimes when you're practicing, I mean, how many times a week practice where you're just you're you just know you're not making any progress.
Rich [00:35:00] Right.
Steve [00:35:00] Right. I think the way that you can think of meditation is. Yeah. It's literally, so a common quote is, "the mind is a great tool, but it's a terrible master." And so the practice is really, you know, by cuing into your breath moment after moment, the monkey mind can sort of relax and a deeper intuition can start to manifest. And you don't have to agree with that terminology or not, but it's helpful for me. But the way you can think about is if you just have to practice two hours a day at all. Sometimes I only do it for half an hour, but I usually do it at least an hour. Base line. In chunks like half an hour. Half an hour.
Rich [00:35:48] Meditation practice.
Steve [00:35:51] Meditation practice. Meditation practice. You're not supposed to. There's a general saying that you shouldn't meditate more than thirty-five minutes because then it becomes stale. But the practice is to not be in your brain, It's to be in your breath and then just watch if you just do that like 20 minutes a day. Just watch how the rest of your day might have like 10 percent more ease. Like a little bit more levity just like that much more. But that's enough. Like that's enough.
Rich [00:36:25] Yeah. The way I kind of think about it is when you're just in your life, you've got all the things that you can see and all the things that you're thinking. And there's just, you know, there's details. And in your mind, you're just thinking things over and over, the same things. And when you're able to just stop, focus on your breath, sit quietly, allow your thinking to come and go in a meditation. What I like to think of it as is I always have this visualization of what meditation to me is you get a slingshot and when you decide to meditate, you pull that slingshot back. And what that's doing is it's bringing you deeper than the level of this. Obviously, you're going into a more kind of cosmic connection to the universe or how you look at.
Steve [00:37:26] Yourself.
Rich [00:37:26] Yourself. And then that slingshot. So your meditation is happening. And then when you come out of meditation, bang, you're going to be laser-focused.
Steve [00:37:37] Yeah, that's a really good analogy. .
Rich [00:37:39] You're less like in your head. You're ready to take care of business. I mean, every time I do it, I come out and in yoga, you know, I try to do yoga. And that is a form of meditation. Anything that causes you to be completely present is a meditation.
Steve [00:37:56] In your body. Yeah.
Rich [00:37:57] Yeah. Where you have to be there. And fortunate for musicians when we're playing if we're doing the right. If we're doing it right, we're present. It's a practice in presence. It's a different kind of presence than meditation, which is kind of the removal of things
Steve [00:38:16] The self.
Rich [00:38:17] And the self. But this is often as we can be completely present and not like doing this, but thinking about this, we're more purely aligned with what we're doing, our intention.
Steve [00:38:32] We can be more available to here and right now. And so like that's why being an improvised or musicians really is a really it's a really good analogy because, you know, in life I can be more available to this and that and on very subtle levels, you know, but in music and I can be more available to, "We're gonna go to this meter now. Oh, now, I should play time now I need to lay out" you know. I could be really available to what this particular moment right now, right now what that needs. So in a certain way, you know, your ability to focus on, you know, you the fan right now, all these things like you are going to be a better musician because you're coming from a fresh perspective. Moment after moment. You know what I mean?
Steve [00:39:31] So in a certain way, going back to like, that's the alarm. So in a certain way, like I think Mark said this once, other people said it to, like you don't know what's going to happen but you can prepare for the unknown. So in my practice regiment, I like to consciously practice efficient ideas that inspire, that keep me loving the instrument that are going to be related to where I want to go musically for me. And so, I mean, a lot of people say play a lot. I'm kind of more in the Jimmy school. Like Jimmy is really good at being Jimmy. And I've always been like someone who's always had a very unique sound. I've always like I've always heard that. And he even told me like there was like this moment we're outside and it was is really weird. Like, I mean, you're like my hero. Like, we're friends and there could be times where I'm going to, like, freak out because you're my hero. We'll talk about, you know, other concepts. And then he even said, like, yes, it's weird for me too. I hear you hear me in you. So there's like this weird moment, like, whoa, yeah, it was really beautiful. But he's done really well by embracing his truth in that way. Like he would tell you like there's a lot of gigs that you just he's just completely and he's had some major opportunities offered like other drummers, but just couldn't believe that he's just not going to name. But like that wasn't in his alignment. And that's why he's great at that. You know, he's also in a position to do that. You know, I'm not in that same boat, you know, but like. I know for me, I'm like, I'm less of a jack of all trades kind of person. And you know where I live in a smaller town right now. Like I'm a professor at a university. And, you know, I want to instill those things. Like I've played on a ton of gigs. I've played like Latin gigs, have played jazz gigs and obviously rock gigs. But at this point, I think my sound is so part of me that I can't like even if I'm just fully present. Me being my best self is I'm going to have some type of me there. You know, it's not me trying to be me. It's like it's just who I am. And that's why so many musicians really like to play with me, and I'm also other people's not, that's not their preference. But that's really more my way.
Rich [00:42:26] Right. And it's not like I mean, this journey is a lifetime. Yeah. So you're going to continue to all of us continue to have our experiences and are our self develops as we are on this journey. And I think the important thing is that you're true to your practice.
Steve [00:42:45] Yeah. And it's different for everyone.
Rich [00:42:47] True to self. True to practice. Conscious, having an intention, being organized. I mean, all these things are what make a player become great. Yeah. When we're not wasting time, I think there's a lot of people out there.
Steve [00:43:04] Gratitude. Gratitude.
Rich [00:43:07] That's a huge one.
Steve [00:43:09] I'm learning to be more grateful.
Rich [00:43:12] Yeah, humility and gratitude.
Steve [00:43:14] I'm working on both of those.
Rich [00:43:15] Yeah, aren't we all...
Steve [00:43:15] They're really important.
Rich [00:43:17] Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Sometimes I try to actually to remember to kind of list of things that happened in the day. And just say I'm so grateful for this. And I played many, many gigs with a bass player in town and we drive to the gigs together and every gig we're like we are so lucky. So fortunate. To have so much work in this city.
Steve [00:43:46] Brene Brown is you know, she's a shame researcher, but she's like really huge. Like she has like a Netflix special and she's like Oprah and she's like all these national bestsellers, like she's big deal. And she does a lot of research like she and her team. I mean, she's just giant. Her TED talk is the most-watched TED talk of all time. But what she noticed in people who have like a documented way, like very full lives, like across the board, like these people like maybe have more fulfilling lives than others. One thing that you see a stark difference in is the people that have maybe a more fuller experience than others have a gratitude practice as part of their experience. And so like this week has been a very surreal week. So Jimmy's like my, without question is the most, like it's Jimmy, Tony Williams, like Jorge Rossi like Mark. But it started with Jim. I mean, he's like my hero. Yeah. So, like, I got to spend like two days. I was like, is this going to happen? Know. And like it's unbelievable. It's insane. It's weird. Yeah. But like I noticed, I was like, freaking out. And then I kind of got to a point of I'm going to just practice gratitude. And then I just noticed by practicing gratitude that I was available more and my heart got bigger. I was more comfortable with him.
Rich [00:45:28] Yeah. You used the term a couple of times this morning. Imposter syndrome.
Steve [00:45:34] Yeah, that's a huge.
Rich [00:45:35] I think that when you are with the imposter syndrome makes you feel like you don't belong where you're where you are. How is this happening? How am I Jimmy Chamberlin's house? But.
Steve [00:45:49] Which is a rational thing to say, right?
Rich [00:45:51] Exactly. But when you start to go. This is completely right. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to, you know, to have this expression in this experience. It just opens it up. It makes the playing field feel normal.
Steve [00:46:10] And then I can be in that moment and I can appreciate the short life that I have. Right. This very unique connection can take place fully, because if I'm not there, then I'm also not receiving it.
Rich [00:46:22] But also being having gratitude allows you to recognize those things. Instead of just flying through life, you actually are able to stop and go, "I'm really grateful for this opportunity" and that there's something in that changes your trajectory energetically, I think where whereas just like that path opens even more and even more cool things happen.
Steve [00:46:50] Yeah. I mean, I think I mean, I wouldn't say I've been great at gratitude practice, but I've noticed. But this just seemed above my pay grade. And Drumeo to that was like another thing. I was like, you know, like, really, it's a pretty huge. But like this one this hit me pretty deep.
Rich [00:47:13] Yeah, it's amazing.
Steve [00:47:14] Yeah. Hit me really, really deep in my nerve. I've maybe it's all the training that I've done, but I got to a point where my nervous system kicked in. We're gonna go to gratitude practice right now. And you know, that's above my pay grade. And it works. You know, I mean, and you could do that each day. I try to on a small level, I approach my drums each day like I have a Craviotto like I'm gonna order I'm ordering a walnut kit. But I have a beautiful maple Craviotto, you know, and I get to like, go and play them, you know, like I'm gonna play different. You know, and then if I'm playing music with people, then you're going to feel it. So when? Now I'm at a point where I'm very careful of the gigs that I do, I don't like play in Salt Lake all that much. I'm focused a little bit more, like I might move to LA. Like, I want to play with my world is getting a little smaller, but that's a conscious choice for me. And then when I want to play with other people to open up in different terrains like I just I want to be in a situation for me. Where. Like Mark talks about this and this I resonate with like I want to protect that. Like there's a relational quality to it. Like when Mark first said that I was like, what do you need to protect? But then that I'm at a phase now where I actually kind of register what he's saying, because there's like my heart's connected to this and there's kind of a relationship there that, you know, these things are imperfect. Like if you get stolen, they can get burned. Your life is inperfect, mine is you know. But like while it's here, it's like. Yeah. And want to take care of it.
Rich [00:49:23] Yeah. Not taking anything for granted. Honoring all things now being in the moment.
Steve [00:49:32] You get to play with great musicians.
Rich [00:49:33] Yeah, right. Having an intention and focus, being grateful. I mean these are all things that you wouldn't think have anything to do with drumming. And I really hope that people watching this and listening to this who are drummers realize that so much ""success", but an experience of fullness and richness comes from more than just sitting down and learning some chops. I mean, that's like that's so low on the totem pole compared to all all the things that make a rich and beautiful experience. The drumming is almost the smallest part of it.
Steve [00:50:18] It's a vehicle. I mean, it's a vehicle. And, you know, we're lucky to love this and have some proclivity to drive nurtured. We've worked really, really hard. But I mean, it's just you know, some people like my brothers are really great doctor and he's really good at his job. You know, I couldn't do that. Dealing like people like who are sick. That's hard. Like telling people like.
Rich [00:50:47] This is it.
Steve [00:50:48] Yeah. He has to do that.
Rich [00:50:49] Yeah. Different strokes for different folks.
Steve [00:50:52] Yeah. I mean like. Yeah,.
Rich [00:50:58] I think that we're so lucky to be in an in a culture, the drumming culture or, you know, it's so fortunate to find something that you truly love. That you're ready and willing happily to dedicate your entire life to. No question.
Steve [00:51:17] And you kind of don't have a choice.
Rich [00:51:19] You don't have a choice. But, man. There are people that don't ever get the opportunity to realize that there's something out there for them. And I think that.
Steve [00:51:28] Or there are people that know what it is that they didn't do it and that it's some pain.
Rich [00:51:36] Yeah. It's like follow your gut, but do it with so many levels of... Like with name all these qualities that that really connect you to the vehicle and allow you to grow over the trajectory of an entire lifetime.
Steve [00:51:55] I remember. Mark. Mark I'm sure I've bugged him because I've tagged him too many times. But now he's a deep, dude. He's like a year older than me, but he's like a lifetime older than me. But like, know he said something that was resonated when I was in the UK doing clinic tour was really cool because he was playing at uh, my friend/student who set up the tour got us tickets to Ronnie Scott's. That was the night that Mark's band was playing. We've been touch through the years, and we messaged each other and a little bit after that. He just said something that was very simple, "trust your gut and follow your bliss." And it's like if you listen to like all the great sages of everyone that you really respect, it's kind of the same vibe. If you listen like Vinnie's, have you checked out Vinnie's podcast.
Rich [00:52:53] I haven't listened to it.
Steve [00:52:55] I mean, like, can name a drummer. Have you in a minute. You know, and he's kind of talking about like not chops. He actually said like one thing. He's like my gratitude all the time. He's talking about, I don't know if you should really even transcribe Elvin's solos. I think it's the second episode. Vinnie was talking about going to a master class with like heavy drummers, like really, really heavy drum. This is like when he was a little bit younger. But I mean, he was, you know, killing. And he flew from LA or something to Boston. I think it's episode two might be one or one or two. Yeah, and this guy had everybody, like really heavy drummers start playing. Play me and Groove. Play me a groove and everybody's just like played a groove. Everybody's groove is good. And this guy had I don't know who it is. This guy played a groove and it was just like immediate. Like the difference between like having like a Starbucks coffee versus like an espresso. It's just like it's obvious that this is on a different plane of existence. Like we don't need to talk about it. And then he said to everyone, OK, I'll see you guys in a week. Write me a paper on what you learned today and then Vinnie's outside. He's probably smoking. He's just like, I got it. And then one of his friends is like, an I going to see you next week? And he's like, nope, I got it. And what it was is like. There are certain things that can't be taught. Like, I can learn this in a book, but I'm not like there's something else there. You know, like Jimmy was saying some to me, it's like I can teach you to hit the notes, but I can't teach you to have a beautiful voice. I don't know how or on this tangent, but I guess the reason I bring that up is because, you know, we're talking about these kind of more esoteric terms, but it's like the people that hit you the hardest. You know, they they think about this stuff, Herbie, like.
Rich [00:55:15] Yeah, yeah, yeah. I think musicians are very deep thinkers.
Steve [00:55:21] They better be.
Rich [00:55:22] Philosophers. Very in tune. Very fortunate to be in that in that world. Man, I think we could talk all day. We already have. We've talked for several hours. You've got a plane to catch you. One thing that we talked about earlier and hopefully we're gonna get this dialed in is having you come up with a little lesson pack that we're going to put into the DrumMantra page, which would be amazing because I need something to work on. I need some Stevely to work on.
Steve [00:55:56] Oh, man.
Rich [00:55:58] Every time I see you when you're videos, I'm like, dang it. And I save it. Things to learn in my phone. Things to learn.
Steve [00:56:05] You're a brilliant musician.
Rich [00:56:06] And I will. I'll pull it up and I'll. Here we go. In fact, if we went into my computer right now, there is actually a folder, says Steve Lyman. Because like I told you, the way I practice is I will program the exercises when they're very complex and then play along on the pad so I hear it perfectly and just mimic as much as possible. YoI definitely made him my Ableton file.
Steve [00:56:33] I am. I respect you immensely. I love. I love your very focused and targeted and meaningful practice and I love of the videos that you posted, you're a marvelous musician. Thank you.
Rich [00:56:42] Thanks, man. All right.
Steve [00:56:45] Gonna catch this plane.
Rich [00:56:45] Cool.
Steve [00:56:46] Thanks, guys.
Rich [00:56:47] Take care. Thank you.
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