By the age of nine, I studied with local jazzer Charlie Wolfgang in Rome, N.Y. Then I bought my first "real" kit, a 1960s-era Ludwig five-piece from a G.I. who was being relocated. It was $100, and I shoveled all winter to pay back my dad. I wish I still had that sparkling silver set. It was LOUD.
My early influences were Charlie Watts, Neil Peart, Phil Collins, John Bonham, Chester Thompson and Steve Gadd. Although these guys span the drumming spectrum, they have one enormous commonality: You know exactly who they are when you hear them play. It was Bonzo, Watts and Chester who made me rip open that first set of Ludwigs and tear out all the dampers.
Today, my influences range much further, but those early ones have stuck with me. As jazz is my first love in drumming, I like to bring the wide-open sound of Bonham and Watts, but aspire to mix it with the tone of Joe Morello and Brian Blade.