Garrett Goodwin is the Drummer for the Grammy Award-winning artist, Carrie Underwood. He got voted the #1 Up and Coming Drummer in the Modern Drummer Readers Poll in 2013. We had a chat with Garrett about his career and what he does when he is not on the road with Carrie, his fantastic non-profit organization called KMLM.org, as well as his company called Nashville Sampling co.
Hey, Garrett. How are things going? Are you currently on tour?
Things are great! I am not currently on tour. It is more of an off-year with just some spot dates, festivals, private events, award shows, etc. It’s great, though, because it allows me to play with some other artists, and do a lot more sessions, lessons, and clinics.
Who were your main influences when you got into playing, and who are your current influences?
I grew up listening to a lot of Christian music, so I was definitely influenced by the session drummers in Nashville, like Scott Williamson, Steve Brewster. As I got older, I started getting into John Bonham, Abe Laboriel Jr., and I would say those are my biggest influences still to this day.
How did you land the gig with Carrie Underwood, and who did you play for before landing this gig?
I landed the gig by networking, being in the right place at the right time, and it fell into place. I randomly did a gig that I was dreading, and thank God I did because the guitar player on the gig asked me what I was doing with music, etc., and he threw my name in the hat for a tryout. Crazy how things fall into place when and how they are supposed to.
How is it to work with Carrie?
She is absolutely great. I am honored to play behind an artist who is so talented and such a great person.
Besides Carrie, you have worked with some other significant names and have played at some major shows and award events. Can you tell us more about this?
I have had some fantastic opportunities to share the stage with artists like Lindsey Buckingham, Steven Tyler, Keith Urban. It’s pretty crazy when I sit and think about the list! The very first tv show I did with Carrie was when she did a song with Lindsey Buckingham, and we played go your own way. I’ll never forget him turning around at the end of the song during the solo section and rocking out! It was surreal!
Being on the road a lot, do you still find time to practice, and if so, what is your focus?
I always find the time, if it’s a practice pad or anything I can get my hands on. Although, when we get off of a long tour, it takes me about three weeks until I even want to pick up sticks again.
I always tell guys that when I sit and practice, I still put on a metronome and sit with it until it disappears. I believe this is something you can’t do enough.
What is your take on just playing drums vs. playing music on the drums?
I always find playing drums to be “music on the drums”… even if I’m not playing to music, there is always a song going on in my head. I believe if you keep this at the front of your mind, then you will always be musical when you play. It’s not about being a one-man show. It’s about being musical with the other people you are playing with. That’s what it’s all about.
Social media was a hard thing for me to grasp. But I believe it is vital and powerful in this day and age.– Garrett Goodwin
I see that you are not only a working drummer but also an author and educator. Can you give us more insight into this?
I have a book called “Music Pro Book.” It is currently not for sale because I am revamping it and making it a little more personal with experiences I have had and other musicians that I am close to. It is a book on navigating the music industry. I believe if anyone can gain some insight and not have to go through some of the hard things I had to go through, then I am doing my part. That is what a lot of the book is about. I also apply that same concept to lessons, coaching, and clinics. I never thought I would give lessons or do clinics, but now I think I enjoy those the most. It’s so cool to inspire and see growth and progress. I love being a part of that.
When you are teaching, what do you feel are the most important things you can give your students in terms of exercises and knowledge?
I always take each student from where they are. I like to see where they are as a player and a person and go from there. I think every student is entirely different, so for me, it’s hard to stick to a specific curriculum. I have guys who we sit and talk about life, drums, and technique. We may barely even touch a set of sticks that day, or I have guys that I record to track, and we listen and talk through them. I put them on the spot to let them feel different scenarios they will experience, and then I have guys who come in, and I really can’t show them anything because they are great players, but they need advice on the industry, etc. I have also connected a good amount of students with some pretty prominent gigs.
You are very active on social media. How important do you feel it is for musicians to grasp the powerful concept of social media in today’s day and age?
Social media was a hard thing for me to grasp. But I believe it is vital and powerful in this day and age. We have to use the tool and learn the tool just like any other aspect of the industry. I have come to know how amazing it is that you can reach out to someone who you look up to, and you will more than likely receive a response. That’s pretty unreal to me. You also never know who may see a video of yours and reach out to you. One of my favorite things to do is go through Instagram and watch random videos of drummers; it’s inspiring.