Industry Feature Friday: Weston Blatz (Freelance Musician/Drummer)
Welcome to Industry Feature Friday, putting the spotlight on the people behind the music! From producers, radio DJ's and radio trackers, to photographers, managers and everything in between. These are the music business professionals who work hard to help put your favourite artists (emerging, independent and hit makers) on the charts, DSP's, radio and on the map through their work behind the scenes!
In the spotlight this week is, Lethbridge's Freelance Musician/Drummer Weston Blatz. I've had the absolute pleasure of know this guy for a few years now. He is talented, down to earth, knowledgeable and a good hang!
Get to know Weston here:
Sarah Scott (SS): Tell me how you got your start playing drums and how you became a session musician.
Weston Blatz (WB): Hey all, I'm Weston Blatz. I started out drumming, or at least the idea of drumming, when I was 4 years old. I’d bring out my parents pots and pans, and bang on those pots and pans with wooden mixing spoons. I’m surprised they didn’t kill me from all of that noise haha! Lets skip ahead a few years from there…. How it all came to be is, my parents knew I had an interest in drumming, and they took me to this local bands house in my hometown of Lethbridge, Alberta, when I was around 9 years old. They taught me my first beat, which was KICK KICK SNARE, KICK KICK SNARE. I caught on right away and we ended up jamming We Will Rock You by Queen. The very next morning, I got on this tiny drum set from Zellers (I do believe) that I had, which had a small bass drum, snare, one tom, and one tiny crash. I now added Quarter Notes on the Crash along with that KICK KICK SNARE, and that is when my whole world changed. It was such an unreal feeling.
That very same year my parents bought me my first kit, and there was no turning back. Throughout the younger years I would learn everything by ear, and I would not consider a song fully learned until I had it fill for fill, to perfection, with fine details such as hi-hat openings. Believe it or not, I still carry that out to this day when learning songs for every artist.
Everything changed once I turned 18, I knew music was something I wanted pursue, and I had the mindset that there were no other options in life for me. This was the only thing I wanted. A couple years after that, I showcased with an Artist from Lethbridge, at Cowboy’s Casino in Calgary, Alberta, and there I met the host jam band at Ranchmans Cookhouse and Dancehall. They liked what they saw and invited me out to the jam, so I’d drive the 2.5 hours from Lethbridge, as often as I could, on Saturday’s, and got up to play 4-5 songs and then drive back home. From there, I made a lot of musical connections with Artists and Musicians that eventually landed me where I am today. Word of mouth, and doing a great job on shows I was hired on is how things really got rolling. It’s been a long road, a lot of hard work, a lot of late nights, but I will be forever grateful for everything that has come my way.
SS: What is a common misconception that artists may have when booking a session musician and how can they avoid this?
WB: A very common misconception when dealing with artists from a Freelance Musicians perspective, are the need for rehearsals. 95% of the time, when hiring out musicians, rehearsals are extremely rare. The artists send us their set lists, and any original material, and we learn them on our own time, show up to the venue, and nail every song to the best of our ability. You get that one chance to make an impression, and to nail the show, so as a freelancer, you best do your homework! Any details or changes that differ from the recordings of the songs are usually talked about or ran through at soundcheck or afterwards before the show. As an artist, the best way to deal with this and not worry about having rehearsals, is to be sure to hire musicians who have a very good reputation on learning songs, professional on and off stage, and a good hang all around. Reputation is huge!
SS: When deciding to work with an artist, what do you look for in them and what makes you want to work with an artist?
WB: When deciding to work for an artist, there are a few considerations that come to mind. Reputation again, is a big one. You want to back artists with a good reputation, meaning paying their players on time, and paying them fairly and to that of the agreed upon price, and an artist that has a great personality and easy to work with as well. Organization is also a key factor. You want to back artists who have their set lists put together, with the correct keys, and sent out in a timely manner. And you want artists who have all of the details needed before booking the show. Such as length of the show, location, travel plans, start time, and also if backline is provided.
SS: Who have you worked with?
WB: Since doing music full-time in 2016, I’ve had the honour and pleasure of backing close to 50 different artists from BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and PEI. I’ve worked with artists such as: Julian Austin, Lisa Brokop, Jaydee Bixby, Marlee Scott, Donny Lee, Ben Chase, Greg Rider, Jerry Sereda, Armond Duck Chief, and Karac Hendriks, just to name a few.
SS: Who are your inspirations?
WB: Throughout the years I’ve had quite a few inspirations. Rich Redmond (Jason Aldean/Nashville Sessions) has been one of the biggest, along with Kevin Murphy (Randy Houser/Jon Pardi). Each have their own style of playing that I admire, and it really reflects the way I approach drumming for live shows and studio work. I recently became a huge fan of another Nashville Session guy by the name of Nick Buda. Unreal drummer and definitely someone I’ve been stealing ideas off of recently!