I’ve known a lot of drummers, but have to say that Garrett P. Tyler is hands down the most studied drummer I’ve met to date. In addition to hitting the skins at Church, he’s got a Bachelor’s degree in Instrumental Music Education, and a Masters in Commercial Drumset Performance. This guy, is serious! Even better, he’s got a heart for the Lord and as much as he’s got crazy regrouping and odd-metered chops, he’s more than content to lay down a big fat groove.
I got a chance to catch up with Garrett just after Local Sound’s second date on the Heaven tour, and we’ll be doing way more drum hangs coming up, so stay tuned for more worship drum talk. In the mean time, I encourage you to invite all your drum buddies to come hang with us ‘cause it’s gonna get funky up in here with a side of chops to go!
[WM] Garrett, great to meet you!
[Garrett P. Tyler] It is so great to meet you too!
[WM] In addition to your session work and touring with the likes of Christy Nockels, Judah and the Lion, Fleurie, and R.LUM.R, you’re also a member of Local Sound. How did you connect with them?
[Garrett] I originally met Justin Amundrud through Fleurie, and he invited me to this college ministry, My Local. This is where I originally met everyone. After that I attended regularly, served when I could, and began to make relationships with the Pastor and Jared. Soon after, they began working on the record and asked me to be a part of it, programming and recording drums. Since then we have just become family.
[WM] You and Justin Amundrud aren’t just band mates in Local Sound, you also work with him on the production front with acts including Elevation Worship. Can you tell us about this connection?
[Garrett] We first met by playing a show with Fleurie at RCA Studio A. Since then we have become dear friends and production partners. We are pretty much working together on a daily basis from music licensing projects, to Pop artists in Nashville and L.A., to Church projects such as Elevation, and more. Justin is the best!
[WM] You’re one of those musicians that I like to think of as a grid-crosser. You have a B.A. in Instrumental Music Education from Arkansas State University and a Masters in Commercial Drumset Performance from Belmont University. Given that you to studied under the tutelage of Chester Thompson for your Masters, as much as you’re a groove-meister, you also have a ton of chops which you use sparingly. As a ‘working drummer’ wearing many hats goes with the territory. What I find somewhat rare is that you’re also a member of a touring Worship band. Does finding the balance between work for hire and ministry ever get a bit complicated?
[Garrett] Wow, thank you for the kind words! Something I always prayed about and have sought out as a musician is to constantly be growing and to be in as many environments as I can. Thankfully, all the gigs I have had and artists I play for haven’t really conflicted. Occasionally, I will have to get a sub, but for the most part the transition from gig to gig is seamless. I love being in a band and taking on the sacrifices and time that come along with it, but it is the other music and creative outlets that I have that feel those sacrifices. So, while it is a lot of work to manage, it’s not too complicated and it allows me to grow as a person and musician.
[WM] Your drum videos, holy cow! Let’s start with the basics here. One of the things you do is craft ‘programming-infused’ drum parts and play them over popular recordings like “Don’t Kill My Vibe” by SIGRID. What was the inspiration to start doing this?
[Garrett] So I honestly just love playing to songs and after seeing other drummers on YouTube, I thought, “Why not?” So, if there is a song that is really inspiring me, I just drum to it and just play what comes to mind. Sometimes that is a simple groove and sometimes it is a metric modulation or and unique sounding beat. My only desire is to inspire others to create and feel confident to try new ideas.
[WM] In addition to playing bass and keys on some of your videos, Tilman Acker also sings and plays keys on the “Wild” remix you did for the Hotel Sessions with Local Sound. It looks like your connection goes deeper than drums and bass. How did you guys meet up, and is that the case?
[Garrett] Yeah, Tilman is incredible and plays/MDs for a Country artist, Abbey Anderson. We originally met through the Local Sound team and he started playing bass with us live for events. This sparked our relationship and he has become a dear friend. The two of us actually arranged and produced the Wild Hotel Sessions together. He is one of those people that brings endless amounts of quality and value to anything he is apart of, so I am extremely thankful for him.
[WM] Speaking of “Wild”, it’s probably my favorite Local Sound song. You also did a drum play video for that as well as the other songs from the WWJD EP. Funny to say, but seeing you play what is in fact a Worship song was really entertaining. It is also great for other drummers to be able to watch, listen, and learn from what you’re doing. To me, it doesn’t look like a performance, so I’m curious how you view toggling between for hire work where performing can be part of the gig vs. worship where it’s about pointing people upward.
[Garrett] This is such a great question. Just to be honest and candid, I love the contemporary Worship community, but the majority of the musicians aren’t trained professionals. A lot of them came up playing in the Church and have the naturally contemporary worship approach to their playing. For me, developing my craft as far as I can is always the most important, and I feel like is glorifying to God. I am taking the passion he has placed in me and I want to pursue endless excellence. So, with our music and when I lead worship I am only responding to the music in the moment and trying to glorify Him with my craft, no matter the genre. If you see a show live, you will notice I am doing something different every night and that is a response to the spirit and the moment at that given time! I just think it is okay and important to know that you can present more than the basics in Church.
[WM] It’s kind of funny, but one of the comments I made in the Local Sound interview I did with Jared in this issue was that you guys kind of remind me of LANY with a purpose. Seeing your LANY cover confirmed that they are at least on your radar. Can you tell us about your approach for combining digital sounds with an analog kit?
[Garrett] Wow, this is great. The LANY guys are actually friends! Jake, the drummer is a fellow Arkansan and dear friend. As far as merging digital sounds and the acoustic drums, it is fascinating and something I do with almost every gig I play, especially with Local Sound. I use a Roland SPD-SX and triggers running to my acoustic snare, acoustic kick, as well as drum pad on my side, and an electronic kick pedal. This is so important because you are able to take the iconic sounds from the record and play them with a live feel and layer them on top of your real drums. This allows you to change things up live while also capturing the essence of the originally drum part. I would love to share more about this if anyone is interested.
[WM] In the Hotel Sessions video for “Shepherd” in addition to the lovely string trio, you’re playing keyboard bass. What other instruments do you play?
[Garrett] So, I play drums, all percussion (mallet, orchestral, world, etc.), piano, keys, and I sing BGVs. Wanting to learn bass and guitar next!
[WM] Jon at WorshipDrummer.com was kind enough to let us use the Drum Gear Run Down you did. I was a huge Beatles fan as a kid, so your vintage Ludwig set completely blew me away – wow! Can you tell us the story behind that kit, and did you take it on the road with you for the Heaven tour?
[Garrett] Jon is amazing. I love that guy! So, this kit is a dream. Unfortunately, it isn’t on the road with me for this tour because we are all sharing a kit. But, I take it out a ton if the gig needs that huge warm sound. This kit belonged to Bryson Nelson from Nelson Drum Shop in Nashville. It was his personal kit, but he was needing to sell it so I snatched it up. In fact, it was Paul Mabury’s favorite kit to play and record. He used it a ton in the studio on records, and for some of the I Want That Sound samples. It definitely has some history!
[WM] You have a number of endorsements, including Shy Baffles. Those look awesome, how did you find out about them?
[Garrett] Shy Baffles are amazing and are blowing up. William and his team are really changing the game because they are lightweight, sleek, and block enough bleed-age without choking the tone of the drums. Live performances need live drums and these give the engineers the control they need while still allowing the drummer to feel connected and a part of the stage. (I hate big drum shields!! LOL)
[WM] Thanks again for your time – is there anything else you’d like to add?
[Garrett] It has been an absolute pleasure and I just encourage everyone to work hard and stay true to themselves and your craft. At the end of the day what you do doesn’t make you who you are. So, value the relationships you make and it will make music and life way more fun!