The saying “hard work pays off” is thrown around too often, but most people tend to take it for granted. To succeed in any type of art form you require a very specific kind of mettle and the dedication to keep pursuing your goals. Our interviewed this time, Casey Grillo, is a great example of this: after more than ten years with the band Kamelot, he parted ways with them and went on to become Queensrÿche’s new drummer–all the while creating his own drumhead business. Can’t say the guy doesn’t like to work, huh?
We sat down with Casey and we discussed several different aspects of his career, plus his views of how to stay fresh in the music business.
It’s a pleasure to have you with us, Casey. Thank you for this.
Thanks for having me!
Well, I guess congratulations are in order for your drumhead business. How do you feel about taking such an important enterprise?
Thank you so much! It’s been an amazing journey. I started it as a side thing and didn’t think much of it. Now it’s grown beyond my expectations. We have made drumheads for some of the world’s biggest stars. It’s just crazy how it all worked out.
How does your experience as a musician influence the way you handle this business?
Being a musician and in the business has helped me out tremendously. As a drummer and being endorsed by some of the largest companies in the drum industry I have learned a lot from them. I really take pride in my Artist Relation skills and have learned them from the best A&R men and women in the biz.
Some of your clients include KISS and Madonna. That has to be quite the honor for you.
Ohh yeah… It has been an honor to work with Kiss! They really wanted the craziest drumhead ever made. I have an amazing team of friends that helped the Kiss heads led heads become reality. Big shout out to John and Gary from Wac’d Drums!
How are you juggling your career as a musician and the new one with this drumhead business?
Well, it’s not easy but if you don’t sleep you can do anything hahaha
Now focusing on more musical aspects, what made you want to become a drummer to begin with? Where the inspiration came from?
My brother was a drummer and there was always a drum kit around the house. My sister even started playing. I was inspired by anyone and everyone back then. My brother was my biggest inspiration for sure.
Who are the drummers and albums that inspired you the most?
Well, there are some that inspire all us drummers. Like Buddy Rich, John Bonham, Neil Peart, Steve Smith and Ginger Baker. I was really crazy about Dean Castronova when I started getting into double bass stuff. The albums would be Led Zeppelin IV, Operation Mindcrime, Tony MacAlpine’s Maximum Security, and Vinnie Moore’s Mind’s Eye. I just loved the guitar albums.
After being part of the music business for so long, how do you keep yourself motivated? How do you keep striving for more?
Well, it’s been 31 years now for me. It’s so crazy to think that and it seems like yesterday when I started. I think for me I really love what I do. I have never really done much of anything else. Sure, I started the drumhead thing but that was just a crazy side thing. I really love playing music, though. I dig the people that I work with and that really helps.
You were obviously the drummer for Kamelot for more than a decade and you’re now playing for Queensrÿche. How does it feel to change of that nature after playing for so long with the same group of people?
Yeah, I played with Kamelot for twenty years. That went by super-fast as well. I have kind of always played around with different bands. Maybe recording CDs or some local gigs. It wasn’t too hard to adapt to the Queensrÿche gig. Those guys are amazing musicians and now family. So it’s a blast to do that gig.
What are the main differences in playing for Kamelot and Queensrÿche?
Well, for one is the double bass stuff. There is only a small bit that I play with Queensrÿche and with Kamelot it was all night. That stuff made me fit lol.
The other major thing is that I have to play like someone else. So that’s a challenge from time to time.
Looking back on your career, of which album do you feel most proud of and why?
Wow, so many to think of. I think The Black Halo Was such a turning point for Kamelot. The band started to sound like something special. I really like that album.
Now that 2018 is almost over, was this year positive for you? What expectations do you have for the next year?
Yeah, this year has been amazing. My best ever. For the next year it looks to be just a busy. The drumhead biz is not slowing done and I will be doing some touring with the Rÿche boys.
Besides music and your drumhead business, do you have any other interests?
I really love spending time with my wife. She is my rock and makes me smile all the time. I kind of work too much to really have any other hobbies. It sucks to say that but that’s been my life for a lot of years.
What can we expect from Queensrÿche and from you in the coming months?
Well, Queensrÿche will be putting out a new record in March of 2019 and then the tour will start. I will play with them as long as they need me. I will keep my drumhead company going and watch it grow and grow.
It has been a pleasure, Casey. Thank you for this opportunity. A few last words to our readers?
Thank you as well! Thank you to all the fans and new fans out there!! Without you we can’t make the music we dream of making. Thanks for everything!