Domo arigato, Mr. Todd Sucherman.
The saying in Japanese for "thank you very much" made famous by the band Styx is what Brian Altman of Springfield Township felt after leaving a free drum clinic at Hubbard (Ohio) Music which featured the band's drummer.
"I'm a huge fan of Styx," Altman said. Sucherman joined Styx in 1995, but the band was famous in the late '70s and early '80s with hits like "Babe," "Lady," "Come Sail Away," and "Mr. Roboto."
When Altman, 29, arrived at the clinic Dec. 1 and saw about 100 others filling up the store, he ended up getting the last seat just five feet from the famous guest. "I got the best seat in the house," he said.
Altman also won the grand prize, a Pearl snare drum, his favorite brand name in music.
Hubbard Music gave extra tickets for the drawing per purchase, and Altman had about 20 in hand, along with the others who bought more stuff - "But I had the only one that really mattered," he said, laughing.
Other big prizes were four Sabian cymbals, and small items like drumsticks and practice pads.
The win was an experience that renewed his faith. Altman's had his ups and downs in that department, and didn't feel he'd deserve the grand prize, so when he drew the winning ticket, "I felt like God was saying, 'You're forgiven,'" he said. "It was a very spiritual experience for me."
A Pearl representative told Altman to stay after the clinic to have a photo taken with Sucherman, which was a thrill, especially since the photo may end up being among Pearl's official media.
Altman had one of Sucherman's instructional drumming DVDs, which he autographed for his fan and wrote "Enjoy."
"(The Pearl rep) said to give them my press kit," added Altman, who grew up in Grove City and has drummed in bands for 12 years; the last eight with local metal band, She's in Pain.
"For as long as I've been playing and how many shows my band has played, he said I'd probably be eligible for discounts and sponsorship," he added.
"That would get me on websites and magazines as a drummer who only uses Pearl gear. It'd be really cool. I actually own two Pearl drum set. I'm a legit user of and fan of the company."
The owner of Hubbard Music is a Pearl-endorsed artist, Mark Tirabassi.
Since joining Styx, Sucherman "is now one of the top 30 drummers in the world," Altman stated. "His love for drums is unmatched."
At the 2½-hour clinic, he gave tips about being on the road away from family, and advanced drumming techniques. "You had to be playing for years to pick up on this stuff," Altman said. "He gave a lot of positive thoughts, like, how if you drop a stick to not letting it affect the show. His influence is to get people to play drums, to be creative."
Altman has played drums for 17 years. "Being in a clinic like this, it makes you love your drumming more, to take you to next level, to practice more, which is what I've been doing. He's really inspired me to be passionate for drums and music in general."
She's in Pain has since talked about tightening up their act and getting more serious about what they do, if they want to make it in the music business.
On Dec. 14, the band played at Stage AE in Pittsburgh "and it was one of the best shows. We crushed it," he said. Five bands played that evening and She's in Pain got in because one of them canceled.
Stage AE is a premier venue in Pittsburgh. "It could be the start of us making an impact," Altman said.
"Our new emphasis is having a concrete home in Pittsburgh as one of the closest major cities. We have to have a strong pull and represent the region. I haven't felt this good about our band since 2007. I'm on a new high right now."
Learning music as a hobby or doing it professionally is unparalleled, he believes.
"You're never too old to play music," Altman said. "I want to tour and be a professional. I believe I have talents and abilities to go further because I believe in myself. I don't need anyone to tell me if I can make it."
His repertoire is more diverse than "just metal," he said, noting he plays hand drums for Eden's Grace, a worship band at Faith Gospel Fellowship in Springfield Township. He's also looking to give drum lessons in Grove City.
A short video of Altman doing a drum solo can be seen on Youtube by searching "Brian Altman drumoff solo."
"I've loved my drums more than ever," Altman said. "When we believe anything is possible in your mind and heart, anything can happen. The clinic affirmed to me that drumming is something I want to do."
Brian Altman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can friend him on www.facebook.com/drummeraltman. The band She's in Pain also has its own Facebook page, with additional networking links.
Published Dec. 22, 2012, in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201 A Erie St., Grove City.
Domo arigato, Mr. Todd Sucherman.
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