Illusion Apparel: What’s your favorite thing about playing the drums?
Nathan Taitano: My absolute favorite thing about playing drums has got to be the opportunity to create really long-lasting friendships and relationships with a lot of like-minded people. A lot of the people that I consider my closest friends and mentors even, I met in a musical situation. So for that I’m so grateful for because without music or the opportunity to play behind my drums, the opportunity to play amongst other people that share the same values and goals that I have, that’s such a blessing and is something that I definitely don’t take for granted. I think the opportunity to create those friendships and also grow in my musical journey with people that are near and dear to me, that’s a huge thing for me and I’m really blessed and really glad that I’m able to do that on a regular. Also, another thing that I consider a big deal to me about playing the drums would be – most of my fondest memories and craziest experiences have happened while I’m sitting behind my drums. It’s insane what this instrument has done for me both mentally and physically. It’s an amazing feeling to know that all the work and time you put into learning something like the drums or any instrument, or any kind of art, allowed me for opportunities that I have today. So that’s a really big deal to me and definitely something that I think I’ll never take for granted.
IA: How long have you been playing the drums?
NT: I believe I got my first kit when I was 8. I’m 28 now, so I’ve been playing drums for 20 years. Man, I wish I was on some other stuff. 20 years is a long time. I wish I took my time as serious as I take it now. Back then when I was high school, I didn’t care about practicing drums. All I cared about was hanging out with my friends and riding our bikes and stuff. But if I knew how important this instrument will be to me later on in life, I would have spent every waking hour on my kit to be 10 times the drummer that I am today.
IA: How did you get started?
NT: It’s a bit cliché. Most drummers will tell you they started on pots and pans which is true nonetheless, so I did start playing drums on some pots and pans while my mom played Christmas music, whether it was Christmas or not. Frosty The Snowman was my jam. I would have her play it over and over again while I played to the song on pots and pans. I honestly believe that when I started taking drum serious, came from an arcade back home in Guam. There was an arcade back then, probably when I was 10 or 11, called GameWorks. They had this one area where it was like Dance, Dance Revolution, Guitar Hero, and Percussion Freaks was the name of the game. It was basically like Dance, Dance Revolution or Guitar Hero but just the drums. I would go there with a bunch of my friends every weekend and learn those songs note for note on this electronic drum set. And honestly from that, there was a group of older kids, like high school kids, and I was in middle school, that saw me playing, ripping on this video game, and asked me to be in their band for reals. I went out and bought a drum set, well my Mom bought me a drum set after begging her for months. Then I joined my first band at 13. It was kind of a big deal at the time. So that’s pretty much how I got started.
IA: Who or what are your current inspirations and why?
NT: I think, of course, all of my drum idols and drum icons and all that stuff is just a ridiculously long list to name. But, I mean, its just my fellow creatives and my fellow artists and musicians and comedians, and painters and videographers. The list goes on. I have so many people in my community and my circle that inspire me day to day that may not be big time or whatever. Some of them, yes, are extremely successful but most of them are just honest with their art and so passionate. To me, when I see people doing things with passion and really with so much heart, it keeps me humble and allows me to stay focused on my goal and continue to be creative and innovate. And I stay inspired because of my friends. I stay inspired because of my peers. It’s really just that. There’s no real big famous dude or famous people that inspire me. It’s my fellow musicians and artists that I get to interact with on a regular basis that keep me inspired and keep me driven, and quite honestly push me to be a better musician and a better person.
IA: What are your other interests?
NT: I truly enjoy a bunch of other things. Some are just light hobbies, and some are really serious ones. Audio engineering is a big deal for me. I find joy in sitting down and geeking out on some of these things. I love video editing. It’s something that I’ve been doing for a long time but never took it serious as I have been now with all the time on my hands due to our quarantine. But yeah, audio engineering, video editing, I love film – it’s just something that I wish I got into at an earlier age, but due to financial restrictions I wasn’t able to. But now’s a different time and I’m definitely diving in deeper to that world. Another thing that I really love to do is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I’m a purple belt out of Gracie Barra Pasadena with Professor Orlando Sanchez. Jiu Jitsu is just a great way for me to be physical and it’s definitely a lot more fun than running and working out at the gym, though I feel I should be doing that kind of stuff. There’s no workout like an hour session doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Unfortunately, due to the quarantine and how busy I’ve gotten, I haven’t really been able to get back in to the gym but it’s on my mind every day, and it’s definitely something that I hope to get back into as soon as possible.
IA: What advice do you have for others who want to get started with drums?
NT: The advice I have is so simple. It’s to just to go do it. Like anything else that you want to do, or you want to put your mind to – just do it. You won’t know if you can do anything unless you try. A couple days ago I was really thinking to myself, there are so many talents that people have that they don’t know of because they never had the opportunity to actually do it. What if you’re going to be the next awesome amazing big-time drummer or guitarist or painter, but you never were able to do those things or tried them. It’s kind of freaky to know that there are so many talented people who don’t know how talented they are. So, I think my best advice would be just to do it. For drums specifically, go take a lesson. Take a free lesson somewhere with someone, or online lessons somewhere, and see if its something that interests you. And if it does, just dive into it. Pretty straight forward.
IA: What was your best moment / most memorable event in your craft as a drummer?
NT: My favorite and most memorable moment was my trip, first time ever, overseas to play drums in Colombia. That was an experience for sure. Some I can probably talk about here, and some I probably can’t. We’ll leave that your imagination. Colombia was unreal. I went out there and played drums for 3 different bands for this festival out there. It was insane. We were at the top of this mountain at this first-time festival in Colombia, it was insane. I don’t really know what else to describe, but it was just being in a completely different country, yet again behind my drum set with some my closest friends playing music. It doesn’t get any better than that. So, that’s one really memorable moment. There are a million memorable moments that I’ve created behind my kit, but that’s just one that stands out to me.
IA: How do you define the word ‘illusion’?
NT: To me, an illusion is something that seems like its there, seems tangible, seems like its right in front of you, but its not quite what you think it is. To me, that’s pretty much my definition of what an illusion is.
IA: Illusion apparel stands for going beyond our current ‘reality’ and breaking any limited beliefs of oneself. How do you break illusions in your craft?
NT: Something about the word illusion, I keep on – in my mind – relating to maybe barriers or walls I’ve put up. And a lot of those walls and barriers were put up by my mind, my mental game. When it comes to playing drums in front of a ton of people or with people you really respect, you tend to get in your head about things. So, I think the question being “how do you break illusions in your craft?”, for me, it’s just making sure I mentally prepare prior to a gig. Mentally prepare prior to a rehearsal, or just try to allow myself to remember this is about serving the music or the artists I’m working with and to get out of my head. It’s a lot of pep-talk, it’s a lot of mind-games that I have to learn to overcome.
IA: Is there anything else you’d like to share with your fans?
NT: I think the only thing I’d love to share is just seriously surround yourself with people who are like-minded. Surround yourself with people who you’d like to become or aspire to be like. And always try to challenge yourself in whatever you decide you want to be amazing at, or great at. Keep yourself challenged!