There is no mistaking this man’s style while he’s playing his chops with utmost purpose on a drum kit. He moved to Los Angelesfrom Mexicoand he’s created quite a name for himself already. With a bunch of endorsements in the bag, his career is only set to grow. Jose Luis Campos talks to Indian Drummer about his various bands, his DVD and a lot more in this interview.
ID – Hey Luis! How’ve you been doing lately?
Luis - I’m doing great, keeping my self really, really busy with all my music stuff.
Luis - Yeah man!! Aquiles is a super humble and really nice guy. I got to meet him at the Paiste Day inLos Angeles since we are endorsed by the same Cymbal Company. I also got to meet Thomas Lang, Franklin Vanderbilt (Lenny Kravitz), Lux (Nekromantix) and some other people from the Paiste team that I didn’t know before. It was a great experience.
ID – Did you guys indulge in a lot of drum talk?
Luis - It was more like Hi man how’s the Paiste team treating you? Cool nice to meet ya see ya around. It was short you know. He performed along Eloy Casagrande so it was more their night with people around. It was nice to meet both of them though.
ID – You put out a DVD titled ‘Not Just Drumming’ some time back. Can you tell us a bit about what that was all about?
Luis - Well basically that was a dream I had since I started watching Dave Weckl and Mike Portnoy’s instructional DVDs and thanks to MIP MUSIC GROUP that dream became reality. I was planning on doing this DVD as independent artist but then when I was half way on the process I met the people from MIP and they showed a lot of interest in my project, we sat and talk about it and they signed me to their team. MIP is a Label/Management company that loves music. Then the project got in hands of Don Lombardi (DW drums owner) and moved to DrumChannel which was something I had not idea was going to happen. I got to meet Don “founder of DrumChannel” and things happened really fast. My DVD was going to be more an instructional DVD but then I changed my mind and made it more like a performance with my jazz trio/Collinz Room/interview drum DVD.
ID – How are things going with Collinz Room?
Luis - This is gonna be a long answer so you guys ready? Lol!! It’s going great, let me explain what happened with the band in 2011. We had a lot of changes in the band that year, our bass player Jay left the band to focus on his studio production and other personal stuff, our guitar player Jonny decided to go to school full time so me and Ric Amieva (Collinz Room’s singer) had to take the hit and move forward, I would be lying to you if I tell you it was easy to get the band back on track. It was really tough to find the right members, we auditioned like 10 bass players with no success until we found Kris Campbell, he’s been stepping up for the band like you have no idea, he’s a really strong member of the band not to mention he’s super talented too. Then our nightmare came when we were trying to find the right guitar player for the band, we almost lost our heads. We auditioned probably like 40 guitar players on a period of 9 months. We had shredders, rocker, nerds, young, old, rockstars and all kind of dudes and ladies, I even got on fights with some dudes, a guy called me unprofessional, others just said. ohh really!! you guys are passing on me? Like they were all that (I’m not surprise though, I live in Hollywood, where vanity and ego spreads like air. lol) we had some guys getting to the audition and ask how much they were going to get paid, I was like dude learn your parts then we start talking about money, I’ve been tearing my ass off for this band for the last 7 years and you just wanna come, audition and ask us to pay you to play? Seriously am I crazy guys? Lol. We even had Phil Buckman from the rock band Filter as our bass player for a short time in the band and he wasn’t even asking for money like other amateurs musicians and that guy is a pro. At the end didn’t work out with Phil since he was to busy with Filter touring too much.
But anyways the light came up when we found our official guitar player Lew! I’m really happy with Lew cause he has all the passion and courage to take this band to the next level as a team and that means a lot to me. Let me tell you something cool about Lew, this guy shreds like a beast and he always play what the song needs and nothing else. I remember he came and play with us like we were playing for years. It was obvious to me he was the one since the first time but you can’t tell until you get to play and meet with the person for a few months. The funny thing about Lew is that this guy came and play his parts really good never showed any shredding skills and after a while one day we were at practice and he started to shred like a beast, we were like ok this fucker also shreds? Lol. It feels really good to know you have a guitar player that can back you up with a bad ass solo or keep it simple when need it, Lew is more like a guy who will play simple stuff all the time vs complicated stuff and that’s exactly what we need in the band, he’s a really mellow guy and I really dig that big time. He’s also very professional and he doesn’t see him self doing anything else but being aroundmusic his entire life just like us, so that complete Collinz Room really good, so far it seems it’s gonna be a great year for the band but we’ll see where life take us, anything can change fast in life you know. I won’t be surprise if we blow up like incubus next year or we disappear in 4 months who knows. For now we’re gonna be playing at Las Vegas Music Fest on April 28th at the Henderson Pavilion Theatre which is the biggest theatre in Vegas so we are really excited and hungry to show the new music to people and the new line up.
ID – You’re obviously well versed in a lot of different styles of drumming, how do you sort of merge all that together to create the sounds that you do for Collinz Room?
Luis - I honestly just get together with the band and bring to the table what my soul thinks the guys’ musical ideas need, then a song and sound is born.
ID – You guys have been around for quite a while now, how has the ride been so far?
Luis - It’s been fun and tough. Being in a band is like a marriage or being with a girlfriend. There’s drama all the time, you can’t live with or without them. You have to be very patience and you definitely need to have a really strong communication otherwise I don’t think a band gets too far. It’s almost impossible to get 4 heads on the same track, notice I said almost impossible but not impossible. lol.
ID – You also play with your latin-jazz trio, how different is the atmosphere in these bands of yours?
Luis - Well I’m the one in charge of everything with my trio; obviously it’s my own trio. I have the freedom to do whatever I want so that’s a good feeling. I have a little surprise with my new quartet in a few months but I don’t wanna say anything until the right day to spread the word comes. All I can say is that the line up is gonna blow up some people minds and the shows we’re gonna have are gonna be intense.
Luis - Yeah man, for some reason I like using more rock style clothes than simple stuff. I’ve been like that since forever; I grew up in a really small town called Culiacan Sin,Mexico where rockers were not really the standard. I was always the guy with the woman earring, long hair and Eddie Vedder’s shorts style/Dr Martins boots! Kind of weird for a town where people wears mostly Vaquero boots, jeans, and cowboy hats (not sure in 2012 but that’s how it was 15 years ago there, not sure now). My friends even used to ask me “hey man no big deal, are you gay?” (I think I proved my point to them after nailing their hot girlfriends. lol). I even used to go to school with a Mohawk as big as Travis Barker’s hair cut. Everybody at the school was like what the hell is wrong with you. Till now I don’t know why is it but even if I’m by my self I like seeing my hair red or blonde with tattoos and earrings. It’s just who I am, it’s not about trying to be anybody else.
ID – I’ve watched your videos and I’ve got to say that you’ve got one of the finest left hands I’ve seen. Were there any particular methods or techniques you focussed on to achieve this level of dexterity?
Luis - Thanks a lot for your kind words man. I think being exposed to so many styles has helped me to approach some kind of sweet touch that you might be able to see when I play drums.
ID – While switching to traditional gripping from matched gripping, what do you think is the most important thing one must keep in mind?
Luis - To play the way you feel more comfortable. I usually prefer playing heavy with match grip and softer with traditional grip.
ID – Any other pointers you’d like to give when it comes to traditional gripping?
Luis - Don’t play traditional grip just because it looks cool lol.
ID – Tell us a bit about how this journey for you as a drummer began.
Luis - Well everything started when my older brother introduced me to Pearl Jam, that’s the truth. I fell in love with that band since the first time I heard TEN “their first album”. I remember always trying to emulate their drummer Dave even I had no idea what he was doing. Then one time I could hear a band kind of close from my house playing Jeremy and I was like wow that sounds like Pearl Jam Live, I went outside and followed the music to find out it was my long time friend’s house where this band was rehearsing, I knocked the door and ask my buddy hey man I didn’t know you play in a band he said yeah I’m the drummer do you wanna watch the band while practicing? I said yes obviously. I watched them rehearsing for a little while then the band left and my friend told me hey Choche (my original nickname) can you do me a favor man I have to run this errand and I don’t wanna leave the house alone can you stay here and watch the house until I come back? You can play guitar or drums in the meantime. I was like hell yeah I’ll stay here. The first thing I did is jump to his drum set it was a white Ludwig with Sabian Cymbals I still remember the feeling of sitting on a drum set for the first time in my life. I started playing Why Go by Pearl Jam and that was it, I played for almost 2 hours the same beat over and over I was like oh my god I love playing drums. Then my friend came back and watch me playing he said ohh you like playing drums ahhh. I told him “Hey dude I wanna buy a drum set are they really expensive? And he said are you serious? I was like yeah man I’m serious!! He told me you let me know when you have the money and I’ll help you finding a good one. A month later I had my first drum set and the rest is history. I’ve been tearing my ass off to continue to reach my dream for almost 16 years now, so I can play drums until I die, I honestly feel I haven’t reach no even 15% of what I really want to accomplish as a drummer but I’m working on it.
ID – Who were you influences early on?
Luis - Dave Abruzzesse (Pearl Jam), Dave Weckl (Band), Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater) and Alex Gonzalez (Mana) are the ones who I used to emulate the most in my young days.
ID – You wrote about creating opportunities and working hard in an article for us, you’ve been inLos Angeles making music for a while now. Does it get any easier as time progresses?
Luis - I think so. Obviously I’m growing as a person and as a drummer. I notice I’m gaining more respect from people as I keep reaching my goals. Now I make phone calls and people answer. Before it used to be a struggle just to get a hold from a big guy, though I still make phone calls and don’t hear back too, it’s the way it is. You have to work it!! I believe it’s getting a bit easier as I go, no question about it. To be honest I think working hard is kind of paying off a little bit.
Luis - I’m proudly endorsed by Paiste Cymbals, Kopf Percussion Cajones, Ddrum, MIP Signature Drumsticks, Protection Racket Drum Cases.
My set up looks like this.
PAISTE: (14” Hihats, 17” Crash and 8”,10” Splashes Signature Series). (22” Ride, 17” Crash, 18” China Twenty). (18”s Alpha Swiss and thin crashes).
DDRUM: 14” snare, 10” 12” 14” toms, 20” and 22” bass drum Reflex Series and Dominion Ash Series.
PROTECTION RACKET DRUM CASES: Custom Soft Cases.
KOPF PERCUSSION: S-Series DeUno and S-Series Snare Cajon, Bongo snare cajon Hybrid Series.
DRUMSTICKS: MIP Artist Signature 5A/5B series.
ID – How’s the local music scene like inLos Angeles?
Luis - It’s cool man, you can walk into the gym and have Justin Timberlake waiting for you to finish drinking water from the water fountain or you can have a birthday party at your apartment and have Paris Hilton show up (it’s true she came to my 28th birthday party along with some dancing with the stars artists! Though with all the respect I’m not impressed with her work). I also ended up having a drum DVD with Mr. Don Lombardi DW drums owner. I got endorsed by Paiste Cymbals, MIP Music Group and the list keep going and going. So far I think there’s a lot of opportunityaround California. Obviously you have to go out there and show your face otherwise I don’t think anything big might happen. There is a lot of jealousy around too. Vanity and ego is on the top of this city. I have walked to people who I sort of know and say hi with the coolest intention from my side and they look at me like who cares and walk out (that has happen to me many times but that’s the ego thing, people love thinking they’re somebody). The reality to me is we all are humans so I could care less if I have a name or not, it’s simple to me you come to me I will say Hi the same to you even if I sold out the Hollywood Bowl Stadium but that’s how I am. I know not everybody is like me!
ID – What advice would you like to give all the young drummers out there?
Luis - Stay positive and never give up. Good things come to those who wait and from working hard. Never ever, ever let anybody bring you down and every time somebody close the door on you, go and show them you could open another 10 doors instead. There are no limits in this world. Look at us, we designed a plane so we can fly. What’s next, cars that fly? Sometimes when I’m driving I think my self wow I imagine if I was born millions of years back and picture my self naked with no language and knowledge. “How the hell could I dream to have a machine that would drive me 150 mph on a freeway (CAR)” it sounds ridiculous insane to me that we accomplished that. But let’s not get deeper I can get really crazy with my thoughts. lol.
Luis - Yes I’m gonna be playing The Vegas Music Fest on April 28 at the Henderson Pavillion Theatre with Collinz Room. I’m also gonna be doing a photo shoot for Protection Racket Drum Cases this weekend, I’ll be playing the Laguna Drum Fest in Mexico on October 2012 with my new Jazz quartet and possibly Collinz Room. Next month I’m gonna be tracking the new album with Collinz Room inventuraCalifornia. And I’m working on releasing a series of videos in support of KOPF Percussion Cajones, it’s a surprise.
ID – This is you space Luis. Feel free to say anything to your friends, family, fans, students, etc.
Luis - I wanna thank the people who love me and support me no matter what!! Blanca, Collinz Room, Campos’ Family, Terri and Christie. Andrew and the Paiste Team, Felix and the Ddrum team, the MIP team, Alex Viveros, Steve at Kopf Percussion, Dean at Protection Racket Drum Cases for giving me a shot, Indian drummer for being so kind to me and to the few fans that keep following me, I promise you I won’t let you down. Also thanks to all the people who keep closing the door on me (you’re making me stronger). LikeArnold said “I’ll be back” with a Mexican accent. lol).
ID – It was great to have you write an article for us a while ago and it’s been an honour to have you on the site again doing this interview. Looking forward to talk again soon. Take Care.
Luis - Thanks a lot guys. I’m really proud of everything you guys are doing with Indian Drummer. You have my vote up and support.
Indian Drummer wishes you the very best in all of your projects.
Luis - Wish you the same and more guys!!