"Coast to Coast interview"

Today Stage Life Magazine is interviewing a Super Star Drummer - Jon Wilkes !

Jon Wilkes has been on both coasts playing his heart out for the fans - 
We had a chance to catch up with him between his busy schedule for a few questions.

Wow , we did some research on you - you have some very good credentials in the industry already !
As a teenager , growing up in Jacksonville Florida - you started playing drums early in life.
What made you decide on drums verses a guitar ?

Jon's Answer -  When I was  6 years old my father tried to hand me a guitar but I simply handed it right back.
Then a few weeks after that my dad said that I went missing and they searched the whole house to finally find me in his closet -
I was hitting a old tambourine with pencils. That's when the whole family knew I was a drummer! 

Wow , as a young student - you graduated from the prestigious "Douglas Anderson School of Arts", -
and also had a paid scholarship to the famous "Berklee College of Music" - That's a very good accomplishment in itself !
Any highlights from those high school days ?  Played any special shows ?  Memories of school ?

Jon's Answer - DASOTA was amazing!  
I learned the art of hustling and was able to fine tune my drumming along with learning so much about music -
- and business that I still use today.  In high school , I was in about 6 different local bands as well -
We played around the North Florida area . So my life revolved around music 24/7 !
After graduating from DASOTA , I did 1 semester at FCCJ community college , with a full paid scholarship as their Jazz Drummer.  
One of my friends was already attending Berklee and called me to say that I should  apply -
- because he felt like I would be top of the class there with him.  I've always loved non stop hustle and playing drums 24/7 - 
So I made a business card because Jacksonville had an amazing local scene and every band needs a good drummer. 
I became the guy that bands would call when their drummer was sick, hurt or had a wedding or family function -
- they could not miss to fill in. Well, destiny came knocking in 2005. 
I had just finished being accepted to Berklee when I was introduced to Ronnie Winter the lead singer of The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus.
I gave him my card and said if your drummer hurts himself or has a family emergency give me a call and I'll fill in on drums. 
2 weeks later he called and the rest is history !  When destiny comes knocking you must ACT and make it a reality ! 

Before graduating high school -  you had been playing in many bands around Florida - That had to be fun !
Was all the bands up to this point Rock and Roll ?  Any other genres of music ?  Highlights of those years ?

Jon's Answer -  For me its always been about being none stop.  
My first band was called Disarmed and we played jackrabbits when I was 13. 
I also did church gigs with my Dad every Sunday from 12-19 years old. 
I made around $100 a Sunday and bought my first car with gig money !
Later on I was in many progressive bands like  Ex Best Friends, Far From Eden and InnerVibe.  
We were recording full albums back then with little to no budgets and touring all over Florida in our bass player's mom van ! 
I also did a few jazz albums and was able to jam with one of my favorite solo jazz bassists Jon Reshard. 
Jon was Victor Wooten's protege and helped open my mind to a whole other side of music. 
Jon and I ended up performing in Anaheim together for The Namm music conference but that a story for another day ! 

Now , the phone rings and you get the chance to join another band - "Red Jumpsuit Apparatus" - 
This means College will be put on hold - emotions must have been mixed !
What was your thoughts on this  - dropping school - and joining this new band ?

Jon's Answer -  I never thought twice about it !
I knew it was right from the beginning and we were on a plane to go showcase for major labels like 6 months after I joined.
It was an amazing time and destiny was upon us.

You started in 2005 as the drummer for "RJA" - and carried on with them another six years till 2011.
The band created some great songs over the years - with big time hit producers - 
David Bendeth ( Paramore , Papa Roach, Underoath ), also Howard Benson ( Daughtry, Kelly Clarkston,  All American Rejects ).
And finally with John Feldman, ( Goldfinger, Good Charlotte, and The Used ).
How was the experience in the studio with these famous producers ?

Jon's Answer -  I swear I could write a book on everything I learned. 
I was a sponge for the whole recording process of our first album "Don't You Fake It' - I treated it like music boot camp ! 
Every morning I would go into the studio 2 hours early and practice practice practice. 
We recorded all the drums in 3 days then I continued to practice every morning for months while the rest of the record was made.  
I became obsessed with being a perfect timing drummer when it comes to a computer. 
I wanted to be a machine and a monster of a drummer. This obsession lead me to the drummer I am today. 
The 2nd Album "Lonely Road" = I was ready and we did all the drums in 2 takes or less in 2 days. 
The 3rd album "Am I The Enemy" - all the drums for 14 songs were done in one day from 9 am-2 pm.
I had finally become the monster drummer I had always dreamed of being ! 
Hard work paid off and I felt like I finally mastered my art .

Now , that you are in this new band - the band makes some catchy tunes -
- industry reps immediately take notice and book the band for touring.
The hard work in the studio, and working with other professionals in the studio had to be thrilling !
The very first album "Don't You Fake It" with the band in 2005 - had to be exciting to hear on the radio airwaves ?

Jon's Answer - I think I cried happy tears the first time I heard "FaceDown" on the radio ! It was insanely amazing for me. 

This album was certified Gold later the next year in 2006 selling over 500,000 copies in no time.
Also you recorded two more albums with "RJA" - "Lonely Road" and "I am the Enemy".
Any highlights in the studio for these three albums ?  

Jon's Answer -  Working with those amazing producers was the main highlight. 
The knowledge I received from them I am able to pass on to new artist/bands when I produce them

With the band - you traveled many Countries around the World - played many sold out shows.
Any highlights of touring oversea's ?  Like the food ?  Meet any celebrities ?

Jon's Answer - We were in Japan in 2007 in front of a sold out crowd of 26,000 people - 
- and I got to introduce us in japanese - "Hello Toyko". That is one of my fondest highlights ! 

In 2007, you started a side project - "Drummers verses D.J.'s" - a very cool concept I must say.
This is where the D.J. at the club plays whatever he decides and you as the drummer must play along with the music.
How challenging was it ?  The D.J.'s know many genre's of music - with much faster beats !

Jon's Answer -  It was always about improve ! 
Right there in your face off the cuff drum soloing to your favorite songs ! 
Honestly its one of my favorite things to do on the planet ! 
My first couple of club shows I tried to plan the whole show out -
- but then soon after , would throw the plan out the window right there on stage - and just go bananas.
I still do these shows as often as possible and actually am doing NYE2016 in Atlanta this year. 

In 2011, you stepped down as drummer for "RJA", to start other projects. This must have been nerve racking to do.
How did you gain the confidence to leave a established touring band to take another road in life ?

Jon's Answer - It was one of the toughest decisions I've ever faced but the right one. 
We had just finished a Canadian tour with Godsmack and I went back to Florida and decided it was time to step down. 
Still to this day I know it was the right decision and now being in LA I know that even more. 

Now , you work as a hired tour / studio drummer for "Your Project/Artist" - Sounds like fun !
Do you enjoy the new work ?  Miss the road ?  Highlights of the new stuff you're doing ?

Jon's Answer - Honestly after stepping down - I never got off the road !
I ended up doing the Halftime show for Monster Jam for a whole season with a project called Drummer Vs Emulator -
- here we battled face to face in insane light up costumes and did a whole production. 
That lead to me performing at Super Bowl 2013 as an aerial drummer -
- and doing NYE2014 live on National Television with a awesome massive artist Krewella. 
 That lead me to move out to LA and continue the dream! 

With all the genre's of music in your outstanding background - it's amazing to see you working with many artists.
You are producing bands , music tracks and recordings that are heard today on the air waves !
Artists like "Roscoe Dash" have had lots of requests for the remix you made for him on the song - "Turnt all the way up".
Also featuring "Soulja Boy" - two very well known hip hop artists.  You are working on many projects in many genre's.
How did it feel to be able to work another genre of music with other professionals ?

Jon's Answer - It felt amazing !
The people over at Interscope Records were amazing. 
I was head to head with Travis Barker from Blink 182 on this same track and the label chose mine over his. 
It was an honor to work with them and some of their amazing artist

Now with all this recording , producing - 
it must be getting easier to stay at the mixing board verses drumming ? 

Jon's Answer - Its about balance. I try to think about it from situation to situation. 
Sometimes its time to crush my drums and sometimes its time to share knowledge and get this amazing music to the world.

So , what brand of drums are you playing ?  Sponsors ?  Tell us about the set up !

Jon's Answer -  I've been playing DW Drums for many years. I am a DW for life kind of guy. 
Its a big family of us over at DW and I love them. It's the same thing with all the companies I work with. 
Meinl Cymbals, Promark Drum Sticks and Evan's Drumheads. Truly amazing companies that I love ! 

Jon , you have been the favorite drummer for many bands on both coasts - everybody wants to work with you.
What are your plans for 2016 ?  More studio work ? Touring with new bands ? 

Jon's Answer - Honestly that's a surprise but its coming and I can't wait 

We have enjoyed our interview with a much sought after artist - Jon Wilkes !
Any last words of reflection ?  Any requests from the fans ? New Tour News ?

Jon's Answer -  I just want to say to everyone.... be relentless about your dreams and make them a reality ! 
Much Much love for you guys 

Thanks Jon for the interview - Stagelife Magazine will be there for the "Concert Review" soon !

Here's a few links to Jon's personal websites - book him now !

*      - Jon's Personal Website !

*    - Jon's Facebook Page !

Please go "Like Us" on Stagelife Magazine's "Facebook" page and also Jon's "Facebook" page !

We can't wait to see him on tour again - make sure you stay connected with our magazine !
We'll be back soon with more updates on Jon - make sure you read our monthly magazine !
Had a great time today - 

Leon Jonjock