Debi Pomeroy has been a drummer for five decades, first picking up the sticks when she was 14 years old. She has performed with many different bands in all genres, and has worked with Frank Sinatra, Jr., Daughters Of Eve (one of the first all-girl bands in Chicago), The Doobie Brothers’ Michael McDonald, Sugar, and many others.
Women are underrepresented in the percussion world. Our weekly series, Woman Crush Wednesday (#WCW), aims to recognize, celebrate, and inspire female percussionists of all stripes. Each Wednesday we’ll feature a profile of a drummer, who will share tips, advice, and videos.
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What is your city, country, and age?
Santa Clarita, California. I’m 68 years old.
What kind of gear do you use? What’s your setup?
I play a Pearl Session Select five-piece kit, with a Pearl brass snare, and a PDP maple snare with maple hoops, as well as various percussion instruments, including wind chimes, Panyard steel drum, and Meinl congas. I sing, so I use a SM58 mike and a boom stand. I also play guitar so I have an acoustic six string and also a Sawtooth electric with a Line 6 Spider amp with effects.
Do you have endorsements? If so, what are they?
I have had endorsements in the past when I was signed to a label. That was when I was very young. I was endorsed by Premier drums.
What bands/groups do you perform with, if any?
I am currently not with a band. I am semi-retired now. I have played with many when I was a road drummer. I stopped touring in 2006.
What led you to your instrument? What’s your origin story?
I was playing lead guitar in an all-boy surf band at age 14 when I first sat on the drum stool of the drummer’s kit and played a simple tom tom beat. I really liked how it felt when I played them.
The drummer left his drums in my parents’ basement where we used to practice one summer while he was away. It was a Rogers kit and, back then, one had to do set-up and tear down with a key. I first learned how to customize the drums to suit me, since I am very petite. Then I listened to the current rock tunes and studied the beats. A good friend who was a drummer taught me the basics and I applied that to my style.
Six months later I had the good fortune when a boy who was a drummer heard me jamming with my guitar-slinging brother and got me an audition with a teen girl band that was forming, Daughters Of Eve, which had an established manager, Carl Bonafede. He was known on radio as The Screaming Wildman in Chicago. He also managed a popular band called The Buckinghams. That was the beginning of my love affair with drums.
After three years with Daughters Of Eve, the band broke up. I was 18. I played with a local female country band until I left Chicago for Los Angeles the following year. I ended up meeting all kinds of musicians, male and female, who liked my drumming and hired me. I transferred to the musicians union in L.A., local 47, and met many players. I did radio commercials and joined a band that recorded demos for Criterion Publishing Co. in Hollywood. One of the players was Michael McDonald, who went on to play with the Doobie Brothers. And I was hired to play with a popular female rock group in Hawaii, called Sugar. I have traveled to many places, including Japan, Hawaii, Alaska, and several trips across the US.
Who’s your favorite drummer and why?
I have had many favorites in the past but my favorite right now is Go Go Ray. His style is a lot like mine.
How do you practice? Do you have a routine?
I have listened to many drummers and learned from many. I am self-taught but studied privately, also. I went to the PIT [Percussion Institute of Technology] section of Musicians Institute in Hollywood to learn and dabble in sightreading for drums.
Are there any specific playing tips or techniques, or advice, exercises, or discoveries you’d like to share with Drum readers?
When I play with others, I listen to the bass player and pick a groove with them. I have been drumming for such a long time that I just feel it naturally now. On my website, you can listen to all types of originals that I designed the drum part for, including The Jill Warhol Band and the all-female ’80s original band, Bevvy.
Any advice for girls contemplating getting started and making it in this arena?
I’d have them check out the Hit like a Girl drumming competition for girls, which is really helping to promote women and girls as drummers now. There are so many females playing the drums, young and old. It’s inspiring.
If you had to put together a school or resources for would-be drummers, what would the training include?
If I had a school for drummers, the first thing I would teach is how to set them up. I would introduce them to practicing with a metronome, as well as practicing rudiments for their hands, and simple beats to include with bass drum technique and fills — proper fills to fit the song.