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Nick Hayes

Nick Hayes

Nick Hayes is a professional touring drummer with the Eric Gales Band. Nick’s drumming career started at a young age when drumming gravitated to him as opposed to him gravitating to the drums. Nick has a keen ability to take life as it comes and keep an open heart to learning. He notices the subtle aspects of life, taking a perspective that comes from selfless observation as opposed to ego driven views. From early on his learning was quick and constant. Securing his first touring gig before he even owned a drum set Nick has had great opportunities come into his life because of his keen ability to learn, humble attitude and willingness to let things happen. I learned a lot speaking with Nick the other week. Following is some of our conversation:

Gary: When did you start playing drums? 

Nick: Actually my step dad was a drummer so at an early age, watching him play is what inspired me to want to play myself. I started taking heavy interest in it at 4 or 5 years old. From that point, it was kinda, okay, I’m a small kid, wanting to play drums, beating on pots and pans. I was going to church, watching other drummers play and trying to see if I really had a true interest in it. Surprisingly I stuck with it for awhile then I stopped. At the age of 11 or 12 I actually went from drums to playing violin. I played violin for a couple of years and then ended up going back to drums because I got into the middle school concert band. During that time my parents decided to get me drum set lessons at a local music store. I went to about 4 or 5 lessons and everything was going cool until one day I show up for the lesson, I was all prepared for what I had learned from the previous week, and the instructor said to me and my parents, “well, I think this may be his last day.” I was looking kind of confused and he said, “because it’s so natural for him that I don’t think I can teach him anymore.” My parents said, “what do you mean?” He said, “Nick’s at the part of his journey to where it’s now up to him to listen to all the different styles and grasp for himself his own style and direction.” 

Gary: You were 12 years old? 

Nick: Yes. About that. 

Gary: Did you have a drum set in the house to practice on? 

Nick: Actually. No I didn’t. What I did is I had a practice pad so I practiced all the rudiments and everything. I was able to transition what I was doing on the pad to the drum kit. 

Gary: So you were excelling very well without even having a drum set to play on. 

Nick: Well, not to fast forward too much, but I actually didn’t get my first kit of my own until I was 19 years old. 

Gary: Wow. So between that time when you were 12 to the age of 19, when you got your own kit, how did you practice?


Nick: Well, quite naturally I was going to church so I would learn from the more experienced drummers in the church so even after rehearsals or before rehearsals and after services is when I’d get on the drums and practice as often as I could. And then by the time I got to high school, age 14, we had a jazz band and a steel drum band. James B. Dudley High School in Greensboro, NC, actually had a drum kit. So what I would do is during lunch period instead of eating lunch I’d go to the kit and practice along with me and a few others. That was very instrumental in my learning, along with being a part of the high school jazz band, the steel drum band, the marching band and the concert band. 

Gary: So you were in a few different school bands at the same time? 

Nick: Yes. Even though the majority of that time was not the full drum kit it was still utilizing the dynamics and working the rudiments. That played a major part in me being able to transition from one percussion instrument to another. 

Gary: Was your family musical? 

Nick: My step dad was actually a drummer and my mother played piano. My grandfather was a saxophone player. Then I have a couple of cousins that sing and a couple that play drums, lead guitar and bass. So I come from a very musical, church oriented, family background. 

Gary: What happened with the violin? 

Nick: It was kind of a phase. I just stopped and ended up going back to the drums because, I don’t know the words I’m looking for exactly, but it’s like the drums were calling me. 

Gary: So drums were an instrument that moved you? 

Nick: Yes. But the thing is they were gravitating to me more so than I was to them. It’s funny, when I share that with some people they say, “Oh, that’s really strange.” To be honest I never envisioned myself being a musician professionally at all! 

Amazing Drum and Bass solo with Eric Gales Band: 

Gary: So you never had a career goal or when you were younger thought to yourself, “I’m going to be a drummer.” 

Nick: No honestly I didn’t. During the time I was in the school bands I was also playing sports. I was also playing baseball and basketball which I was excelling pretty well in. So, that’s why I was like, “Okay, I have this gift over here but I really want to do this right here.” So I started focusing more on the sports but I was still playing in church and school bands. Then there were discussions of, “What happens when you play sports? What if you get injured? What do you have to fall back on?” So I started pursuing the music a little more. By the time my senior year in high school came around we had a band called the Piedmont All Star Jazz Band. So all the kids in the regular band would audition for this particular jazz band. I remember the try out as if were yesterday. They called out various styles in the try out, which was again, the tutelage from my instructor saying, “take it to the next level as far as listening to different genres on your own.” That stuck with me and helped me prepare for this particular high school audition. In the audition they asked, “can you play a jazz swing?” I was able to play a jazz swing. “Can you play a ¾ swing?” I played a ¾ swing. “Can you play something in 5/4?” I started playing and actually ended up playing 3 different variations in 5/4. They say, “Can you play a 6/8?” Well, because of church I actually knew a couple variations of 6/8 timing. 

Drum Solo: 

Gary: Sure. With some of the gospel music there’s a lot of 6/8 in there. 

Nick: Yeah, well with gospel music it’s a combination of everything. 

Gary: So, you aced this audition for the high school jazz band but you still didn’t have a drum set at this point. So most of your learning was on the practice pad and at the church and school on the drum set? 

Nick: Yes. Pretty much. I was accepted in the All Star Jazz Band, so what I started doing again was going into the band room at lunch time. I would be the only one in there and I would sit on the kit and just practice my whole lunch period, everyday. This is every single day. And then during the summer, during band camp, I’d show up at the school and do the same thing. Between the school and church I had access to a kit. By the time I was graduating, 18 years old, I still didn’t have a kit at the time. I started getting calls to play theater gigs and luckily the theater companies actually had equipment. So, with that I could start playing out a little because the people that were hiring me already had gear that I could use. That was a whole different world. Having to read charted music but having to project a natural feel. 

Gary: I find that amazing. It took me years to be able to learn how to read and play naturally and play with bands as opposed to playing just on the practice pad. To you that came very quickly. 

Nick: Yes. And by that point my 19th birthday came and my parents surprised me with a drum kit! So at that point, during the summer, I’ll never forget, I’d set the drum kit up outside. The reason I play Pearl now is that kit was actually a Pearl Forum kit. And so with me playing on that Pearl kit for a few years it got me used to the sound and the set up. I would sit at home and practice tuning drums, checking out the various sounds I could get. Up to that point I didn’t have a personal kit of my own so I wanted to see what I could do with it. During the summer months I was set up in the front yard everyday and just practiced. 

Gary: I’ll bet you the neighbors loved that. 

Nick: Oh, they actually were encouraging it. Because the city where I grew up, the city of Greensboro, was really a heavily urban drug traffic area. So to see a young person doing something positive was kind of an uplifting thing in my particular neighborhood. 

Gary: That’s really great. That also probably helped you to not fall into the wrong crowd. 

Nick: Yes. As much as possible. And at that point I had received a call from my first tour/traveling gig. It was with a steel drum band of young people. It was 6 of us called The Sons of Steel. It was headed up by a well known steel pan player by the name of Tracy Thorton. He asked me if I wanted to be a part and I said, sure. I was semi-familiar with some steel pan playing because of being a part of the steel drum band in high school. But he actually taught me the next level of it. 

Gary: How did he discover you to call you?

Nick: He lived in my area and the other guys who were part of the band, their parents knew me because they were at some of the theater productions I was playing at. So that’s how that came to be. Word of mouth. They said, “Nick conducts himself very well. His attitude is great. He’s teachable, He’s humble, I think you should give him a chance.” So with Tracy’s teaching he taught me, besides being able to sight read and play with a natural feel, to still be able to hear all of the other instrument parts. It’s okay to listen to every instrument that’s involved, every voicing that’s involved. Because you know as drummer, most of the times you lock in with the bass player and set the foundation. Bass and drums. But with this situation I had to play melody lines and some of the guitar riffs on the steel drums so it taught me how to listen to every part and the ability to accent this or that particular person. 

Gary: What a great musical experience. Ultimately the best musicians have big ears, listening to everything. I’m sure having had that experience makes you a much more musical drummer. 

Nick: Yes. And going back to the high school teaching of being able to apply dynamics. And along with the steel drumming, being able to apply dynamics but still keeping the same energy all the way through. 

Gary: So  you attribute that to listening more and having to play different musical parts on the drums? 

Nick: Yes. On the drum set I could be playing a piece of music that starts off really rock heavy but before you know it on a particular verse or the vamp of a song I could be minimizing all the way down to using brushes. So the constant adapting dynamically during the steel drum band really helped me to be able to work with those attributes and develop them. 

Gary: Yes. I think dynamics are some of the most important attributes on the drum set. So how long did you play with the Sons of Steel Band? Did you guys tour or only play local? 

Nick: We actually fully toured. We did a residency at Disney. For about 5 months we were on the road with the reggae band Burning Spear. We were out with Bob Marley’s Wailers band. We did shows with a pop artist by the name of Machel Montano. We were also on a TV show on the univision network. 

Gary: What an experience. And at this point you’re still only 19 years old? 

Nick: Yep. 19 to 21 years old during the  whole course of this. During that time we recorded 2 albums. The first was called “Out of the Blue” and the next was called “Carpe Diem” which was produced by world renowned steel pannist by the name of Andy Narell

Gary: Wow. What a great start! Let’s move forward a little bit. So you played in the steel drum band from what years? 

Nick: That was from 1998 until 2004. 

Gary: In that time you were also playing with other bands? 

Nick: Yes. I was playing with local jazz and R & B bands and also some theater stuff as my schedule would permit. And I was still playing at church as well. 

Gary: Did playing in the church influence your timing and sense of groove? 

Nick: It had a huge impact on my playing and playing style. And also learning to play along with a click was very important in church, even back in the 90’s because they had keyboards that were sequenced so you’d have to play along with a metronome. Or we would play particular songs off the radio and you’d have to play along to them. So that was very instrumental in developing my timing. 

Gary: What happened after your steel drum band?

Nick: After that I started doing quite a bit of session work with different people. Mostly on the gospel. That was interesting because in some of those sessions I had to play without a click. The amazing part was on the many sessions I played on I never had to go back and do any overdubs. 

Gary: That is amazing. I know now days, with pro tools and all that, you’re pretty much required to be on a click. 

Nick: Back then they were just running tape so you couldn’t just punch it in. You had to have it right the first time. 

Gary: You were doing a lot of studio work and getting calls from people who knew you through local playing? 

Nick: Through local playing and national playing because, and this is for younger musicians, if you get a chance to be on the national scale that gives you validation at home and other areas. People will be like,”this guys playing pro with this or that person so we know he’s more than capable of coming in and handling our situation as well.” 

Nick: So at that point I was 24-25 years old. After the steel drum band I was still doing a lot of R & B and contemporary jazz along with some traveling but not much. Because during that particular time I was faced with a hard decision. My mother took really ill. So during that time I had to make the decision, “do I stay and help my mother or do I still continue with these opportunities and go ahead with my life?” So I said to myself, “gifts can come and go but I only have 1 mother.” So I made the decision to stay and make sure my mother was okay and was given the health care and help she needed at that time. So during that time many opportunities came up and people said, “it can’t wait!” and I’m like, “If it was meant to happen it’ll happen again.” So during  those years I just played around town and stayed home to make sure she and my family was okay. I would still gig and work a regular job and do some session stuff. But that time helped me to evolve myself. I had more time so I was able to dig deeper. I started getting more in tune with my sound selection. Like if I was going to play a heavy rock gig I wouldn’t use my piccolo snare drum as my main snare. Or I wouldn’t take small cymbals to a high volume situation. Or I wouldn’t use my heavier cymbals or “beater” drums to play jazz. 

Nick with Eric Gales: 

Gary: So you developed your knowledge of which drums to use with certain musical situations. 

Nick: Yeah. From depth of sound to volume. During that time I realized I had 1 kit and 1 set of cymbals that I used for everything. Sometimes I’d be able to make that work. So I started digging deep into sounds and listening more to Miles Davis and John Coletrane to really hear the tuning and the nuances. I took that down period to work on the things I hadn’t had a chance to work on due to my schedule being so busy prior to that. 

I bought quite a few different drums and cymbals to experiment with. 

Gary: At this point do you use various cymbals or stick to a particular brand?

Nick: I’m not presently endorsed with a cymbal company because I like to switch sounds depending on the gig. I might say, “Okay, this Sabian ride is perfect for this gig but the Zildjian hats sound best. And this Paiste crash will go perfect with this Sabian and this Meinl splash sounds perfect paired with this or that.” So I like to have a wide array of sounds. Many companies make great products but if you combine them with other things you can have a wonderful masterpiece of a set up. 

Gary: How long did you take care of your mom for? 

Nick: It was a pretty long stretch. About 4 years. During that time I was still doing session stuff and still buying gear. I bought a few DW snares and some Yamaha stuff. Also, at this point I started working with some gospel producers and learning more on the gospel side. My thing is this, no matter what level I think I’ve attained or reached I’m still always on a life long musical journey. I still will always have room to evolve and learn. There’s so much out here. We can never learn it all. The only thing I can do is learn as much as I can. Learn different producers perspectives, different musicians perspectives, soak it all in and apply it to what I currently am doing. 

Gary: Do you have a pinnacle learning experience, maybe when you were touring or on a gig, where there was a hurdle you crossed or an “ah ha” moment? 

Nick: Actually, with the current situation I’m in now. I’ll start by telling you how my current gig with Eric Gales came into play. When I was playing in the local gospel stuff in the mid to late 90’s me and Eric’s wife, LaDonna Gales, used to be in a particular gospel group together where she was a singer and I was the drummer. Well, years later in 2012 she said, “I’m dating this guy and getting married. He’s a musician and great player. He wants to move to North Carolina from Memphis and he’s looking for a band. He thinks you’d be a good fit.” I said, “He hasn’t heard me play” and she said, “Yes he has.” And I said, “How did he hear me play? I don’t know him and he doesn’t know me.” This is in 2012. She had showed him a video of me playing in a church service from 1997. He saw a VHS video of me playing from 1997 and asked her if she had a way to get in touch with me. She said, “Yeah, I can reach out to Nick on Facebook.” So at that time they invited me to come over to their house, bring my kit, to audition. Me and a local bass player. So we did that. I actually knew the bass player, Orlando Thompson, and Eric said, “You all know each other. Let’s just jam and see what happens.” We jammed for about 5 minutes and he said, “Hey guys, you all want to go on the road?” So in September of this year I will have been with Eric for 7 years! 

Nick Hayes with Eric Gales:

Gary: Wow. Out the 7 years you’ve been with him how often do you guys tour. 

Nick: Phew...out the 7 years I’ve been with him we’re basically touring 70% to 80% of the year. And the pinnacle for me in this situation is, all the past stuff, the steel drum band, learning all the different nuances, experimenting with drum sounds, playing gospel, all that ended up applying to this situation right here. So all of the years of learning have ended up applying to my current gig. Eric’s considered a blues rock artist but clearly, to those who may know his work, he’s not all blues rock. It’s a culmination of everything. Even now it’s making me dig deeper in my set up because of the different subtleties. 

Gary: So even though you’ve been with Eric for 7 years you’re still learning. 

Nick: Yeah. Still perfecting my setup because of the various styles and trying make the styles, even within the songs, as authentic as possible. 

Gary: How do you do that? Do you go back and listen to the original artists for the styles? 

Nick: Sometimes. Like if we’re playing blues I’ll go back and listen to BB King or Stevie Ray Vaughan. Or if we’re playing Jimi Hendrix stuff I’ll go back to those original songs to get the sounds. Many times, because on tour we’re backlined, I’ll try to make that happen within the confines of the gear that I have available. 

Gary: Since you’re on the road so much you probably don’t get a chance to just sit and practice alone? 

Nick: Honestly, I try to tap around a little bit during sound checks but I don’t get much time to just sit at a kit. 

Gary: During a show is it set in stone what you are going to play or do you have a freedom? 

Nick: We have certain song formats that we do but a lot of times, if you come to a show, you could come to a weeks worth of shows in a row and you’d realize that every show is not the same even though it may be the same set of songs. I believe in a higher power and sometimes that takes us into another phase in another area. Musically, where we might want to do something particular, it may shift to something else in the same song. 

Nick with Eric Gales. Little Wing: 

Gary: That’s interesting. That brings me to something I want to ask you about. I can tell you have a deep spirituality that moves through your playing. Can you talk about how that may influence your drumming? 

Nick: To be honest with you, and this is not an ego answer, I think a lot of what happened with my drumming happened because I never asked for it. I was never driven to be a famous musician. I was never driven to the money of it. I didn’t even have an ambition to become a professional musician. It just happened. So, I’m in a place in my life where I believe I’m a vessel. Through the music, messages and inspiration are being given without my control. 

Gary: So it moves through you as opposed to you moving it…..

Nick: Yes. As opposed to me trying to dictate what's going to happen. 

Gary: Do you use a metronome on stage? 

Nick: I typically don’t. We actually run backing vocal tracks on a Yamaha DTX with a trigger but there is no click. 

Gary: So how do you get it timed correctly? 

Nick: Knowing the arrangement. In rehearsal we would hit the vocal track when it’s suppose to come in. So we are familiar with the vocal track and how the phrasing comes out. I just use a wedge monitor and I’m familiar with where the tracks come in. Now there is one song where I use a metronome and that’s because the timing isn’t a rounded off timing. On this particular track the tempo is 87. It’s 87 on the dot. So, you know, physically, you can’t just ace that exact. So I have to know where that is. You can’t find it by feel. Like, 100, I can tell where 100 is or where 130 is, but 87? (laughs)

Gary: Yeah, that’s quite an in between tempo. Do the other players have in ear monitors? 

Nick: No. We all use wedges.

Gary: As far as the backing vocal track goes does someone just punch it in when it comes up? 

Nick: The percussion player, Eric’s wife, is physically hitting the drum pad with the vocals on it. So she’s physically playing the samples. A lot of people look around and are like, “He’s not using a click. How’s he keeping up?” The reason for that is because if Eric decides to change the arrangement on the fly he can do that because it’s not a track run. She’s physically hitting it. 

Gary: I’m assuming you don’t have time to teach drum students?

Nick: Actually I do have a few drum students. The parents already know my hectic schedule so what I usually do is teach a lot of rudiments. That way they learn the foundation. The rudiments are the foundation to all of it. So a lot of my students are able to fall right into marching band. 

Gary: That makes sense. And that was your foundation, since you didn’t have a drum set until you were older. 

Nick: Yeah, the rudiments were my main foundation and they are the foundation so that’s what I primarily teach. 

Gary: What would you say is the most important thing to learn, besides rudiments, for a beginning drummer? 

Nick: In my opinion, body independence. You can learn all the rudiments but fully applying them to using the kick, ride, snare and hi hat. I like showing variations like playing grooves with a paradiddle between the kick, hi hat and snare. Incorporating the paradiddle between the kick, tom, ride or kick, tom, hat and ride. For me, I like to use them as warm up techniques. Also, I teach, as opposed to traditional rudiments, what I call “rudiments with an edge.” If you’re playing a paradiddle accent in between the paradiddles, ghost note wise. Like a rudiment with a flair to it. Play a rudiment and make 2 of the notes silent instead of hearing all of them. Almost like ghost notes. 

Gary: Do you have a recommendation to develop a strong sense of timing?

Nick: Since we have access to all this technology I’d suggest practicing to a metronome as much as you can. Or if you’re playing to a song on the radio, find the BPM to the song and play to it and you get use to that. 

Gary: Even with great time some drummers play either ahead or behind the beat. How would you say your groove falls? 

Nick: I’d say for me, being able to be programmable as a musician is important. Almost like a drum machine. If a particular artist wants something played a particular way program me to play that way. A lot of times, as drummers, what we forget is, we’re there to serve the  music, we’re there to serve the artist and sometimes our own interpretation of a song is not called for at that point. What I mean by that is, if the artist wants me to play off the groove a little bit then I just have to program myself to adapt to that. Or if he/she wants me to rush it a little bit I program myself to adapt to that. It may feel weird but it’s what the artist wants. So you have to put yourself in situations and practice stuff that you normally wouldn’t practice just so if you’re asked to do this, no matter how crazy musically it is, you have some comfortability in playing it. 

Gary: Absolutely. That’s great advice. 

Can you relate a funny experience you’ve had on tour?

Nick: I’ll never forget one show we did, it was an outdoor festival. It was being videoed and everything. And it started out fine but after the first song my drum monitor went out. I played a whole 75 minute set not hearing anything at all. All I was getting was stage ambience and it was a large stage. I went back and looked at the video and I couldn’t tell that’s what happened. 

Another funny situation that occured is the backlined kit had a double pedal. I play a single pedal. The main pedal I was using, the plate broke, so I had to turn sideways and play with the left pedal. So I’m sitting sideways on the whole kit. 

Gary: I’m sure in using a lot of backlined kits you sometimes run into wonky gear? 

Nick: Yeah, but the cool part of that is I still have to play. I still have a job to do. So I think, “What are all the sounds that I can get from this and what sounds I can’t?” So during the sound check I can determine that. I can determine what sounds are going to work. If the toms are too unsalvageable then I just mainly use the kick and snare. When situations are like that I start to think about what are the percussive sounds I can use. Maybe I can use a rim in a clave style groove. Maximize all the sounds. 

Gary: Yeah. I bought my son a CB kids drum set when he was 5. It’s actually solidly constructed and it sounds good for small gigs. Plus it’s easy to haul. I use that kit many times. It forces me to work with sounds that aren’t perfect. 

Gary: So you’re playing with Eric Gales. Is there any end in sight? Are you planning on sticking with that for awhile? 

Nick: Yeah, you know, no gig lasts forever. Either until I retire or if he wants to transition. 

Gary: Does that give you the opportunity to play with other bands or is that your only gig? 

Nick: Right now it’s my main thing. I still get calls from other artists that let me know if I get free time they’d like me to play. Even though I’ve turned down a lot of gigs I haven’t burned any bridges. 

Gary: Do you write any music yourself?

Nick: Actually I’m working on being a contemporary jazz artist myself. 

Gary: Great. Can you tell me a bit about that? 

Nick: Well, I’ll tell you where the inspiration came from. I’m a huge Dave Wekel fan. But in my own vision for my material, I’d like to be an artist like Dave but without as much, how should I put it, musical difficulty. I’d like it to be enjoyable for everyone, even the  most non-musical person. I’ve also been listening to relaxation music because I want to be able to give a relaxing experience. I want someone to be able to come home from work and decompress by listening to my music. 

Gary: Do you write by thinking of a groove on the drums first or do you begin melodically? 

Nick: Thinking of a groove from a drummers perspective first. I think about how I want it to convey dynamically. The groove sets the tone for the whole piece. Whether is a groove using brushes or hotrods. Whether it’s a full back beat or a subtle snare ride groove. To me that’s the foundation of a picture that I’m trying to convey. Everything else falls into place along with that. Typically I start with the groove of the song then, it’s kind of weird, then I put in the softest instruments first because that sets the background.

Gary: Do you have this all thought or written out or do you just record the groove/dynamics and then get inspired to lay something on top.

Nick: I can usually hear the melody line I’m reaching for but I’ll lay down the bass and keyboards last. What I’ve been doing, since I haven’t had a chance to go into the studio yet, I’ll go into a church that has a keyboard with a sequencer on it. I’ll sequence the light part in a loop mode and then get on the drums and start painting the groove. Then I record sample tracks on my phone. I’ll have that in an archive and I then sit down and think about what I want to build upon. 

Gary: So eventually you plan on putting that all together and getting into the studio? 

Nick: Yes. As of right now I’m looking at the later part of November to go into the studio and do that. One song I’m going to revisit, a well known cover song that I want to put my own interpretation on, is Dave Brubeck's Take 5. Instead of it just being a swing I have a vision of a groove version with a back beat. 

Gary: You have some time off the road where you’re able to plan that out?


Nick: Yes. From November 20th until January the 4th so I’m maximizing that time to record and get a single done to release the 1st of the year. A lot of people say, “are you going to leave your current situation?” I say, “No. The way I look at it is, I can still put out my own music and create my own legacy while still working too.”

Eric Gales "Smoke Stack Lightning"

Gary: Touring so much, living out of hotel rooms, etc. you must enjoy it? 

Nick: A lot of people ask me that. I’m going to give you an honest answer. It takes a special person to be a touring musician. Everybody isn’t built and designed for it. If you’re a person that’s used to being a homebody or a person that’s super family oriented this might not be the greatest career choice for you. (laughs) Because you go through periods where you do have a lot of time to yourself. It helps to be able to self reflect. It’s just you and the music. You do get somewhat of a mental break from the outside world. Touring has great advantages. You get to see the world. You meet new, cool people. You get to see life through a whole different set of eyes than normally. When you’re traveling year around you get exposed to see the inner workings of the world. With that, to be honest, I think that’s more priceless than even the money or the music. 

Gary: Do you have any other musical endeavors you would like people to know about? 

Nick: In the future I’m going to give clinics and workshops to empower and teach other musicians, younger musicians, what touring life is really about. The importance of having a passport. How to get insurance. How to get a musical job and be able to stay on it. How to be professional in a touring situation. Also, the importance of knowing what you can or can’t afford to do. Do not accept a gig that you can’t afford to do. Don’t take a situation because of the opportunity if you can’t afford to cover all your bills off of it. And I also talk about taking advantage of the social media platforms for branding and self promotion. Another very important thing is to be grateful for any sponsorships no matter how big or small they are. Loyalty carries a lot. Loyalty carries beyond just wanting stuff for free. You have to love the product and the people who are attached to the product. You have to care about it as a whole package. Not just gimme gimme gimme. 

Gary: Nick, it’s been an absolute pleasure and learning experience speaking with you. I really appreciate your time and look forward to your future music projects.

Nick Hayes Endorsements:

Vic Firth

Lewitt Microphones


Pearl Drums

Essential Links:

Nicks Facebook

Nicks Facebook/Eric Gales

Nicks Instagram

Eric Gales

High School Band Directors:

Brian Millsapp

Doug Powell 

Forrest Munden

John C. Gill

Nick’s Mentors: 

John C. Gill

Vergil Brooks

Rischard Jenkins

Junie Wallace

Chaun Williams

Calvin Napper

Corey Burch

Joe Riley

Desmond “DJ” Yarborough

Nick’s High Schools: 

James B. Dudley High School

Grimsley High School


  • That was an inspirational interview of a great artist!

    Jerome Robertson
  • Wow! Another great interview. I look forward to seeing Nick play when the Eric Gales Band tour lands in the North Bay!

  • Nick is an amazing drummer. His professionalism and humility is not only appreciated but is the example aspiring musicians need to see.

    Valerie Johnson

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