How long have you been playing music?
My introduction to music began with my older brother letting me beat on his drum kit as a youngster. He showed me the ropes and I took to drums and percussion fairly quickly. (I somehow acquired some bongos which I used to obsessively play along to Stevie Wonder and The Beach Boys) I got my first drum set at age eighteen, but it would be another couple years (2001) before joining Zomo, an original band in which I banged on my drums at local bars hoping to take the world by storm. It wasn’t long before I got the itch to start writing my own music. I picked up a decent Yamaha acoustic in 2002 and that began the start of my songwriting career. It wouldn’t be until after moving to New Jersey in 2004 that I would play my first solo acoustic show.
What instruments do you play?
The drums are my first instrument, then guitar. I play various percussion instruments, such as congas, bongos, djembe, etc., and also dabble in bass, mandolin and other oddball instruments, such as the didgeridoo and the saw, which are used mainly for color on recordings.
I know you have a couple side projects. What are they?
I am still in my first serious original band “Zomo“. I also play the drums in two projects; an original band called “The T.J. Fry Band” and a cover band called “Ravioli Shanker“. I do some electronica-esque dance music under the name “Fig and the Harmonious Hairloss“, and I am currently working with fellow musician/singer/songwriter Alex Siniari on some live shows and studio recordings.
How would you explain your style of music?
I have been both praised and criticized for having too many “styles”. But each experience that I write about calls for a different sound, as they are each unique. I write lyrics first and do my best to compliment the words with “colors” and “shapes”. This is how I see music; in colors and shapes, memories, smells, tastes. So I guess I can safely say I have no “style“. My style is dictated by the experiences I write about, and those are infinite.
What is your favorite and least favorite parts of an open mic?
My favorite part is getting a chance to hear new music. It doesn’t matter if it’s bad or good. It’s new. It’s original. It’s a treat to sit down with a cup of coffee and hear what others are writing about. Hearing their interpretations of life. The worst thing about open mic nights is usually either the sound system or the lack of organization. Very few open mics have a decent sound system and are usually poorly organized and maintained.
Do you have an embarrassing open mic story?
Well, I don’t really get embarrassed over anything! But there was this one time at a blues jam, when I was playing the drums, my one stick went flying out of my hand and just could not get back on top of the beat. Everyone was laughing pretty hard.
What is a tip you would give someone just getting into music or playing out?
Tip #1: Buy good equipment.
It’s worth the extra money to play something that looks, sounds and feels good. You’ll feel better about what you’re playing (or learning to play) and how it sounds, and the audience with find it more enjoyable, as it will be of higher quality sonically.
Tip #2: Take your time.
Editor’s note: If you’re interested in learning some more about Dustin’s side projects, you can check out their websites below: