Amy Hall is drummer based in Raleigh, North Carolina, with more than 30 years behind the kit. Her current primary bands are Bad Incorporated, a tribute to Bad Company, and performs with the country-rock group, the Johnny Orr Band. She’s also played in a Heart/Led Zeppelin tribute band.
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What is your city, country, and age?
Raleigh, North Carolina, 45 years old.
What kind of gear do you use? What’s your setup?
With my Bad Company tribute band, I play a set of 1978 Ludwig six-ply Classics in black cortex, sizes 13”, 16”, and 22”, with a 14″ x 6.5″ LM402 Supraphonic and Paiste 2002 cymbals.
With my other bands, I play a set of 2006 Ludwig Classic Maples in green sparkle, sizes 13”, 16”, 18”, 22”, with either a matching 14″ x 6.5″ Classic maple snare drum, 14″ x 6.5″ Black Beauty, or 14″ x 6.5″ re-issued Acrolite, along with a mix of Paiste 2002 and Giant Beat cymbals.
I also endorse Los Cabos Drumsticks (using their 5A Intense model) and Drumdots.
What bands/groups do you perform with, if any?
Playing in Bad Incorporated (Bad Inc., a tribute band to Bad Company/Paul Rodgers) is an absolute blast and it’s an honor to pay tribute to Simon Kirke. I’ve also played in a Heart/Led Zeppelin tribute band. Playing in tribute bands has allowed me to really become a student of those drummers because you’re studying their styles in-depth.
I also play with country-rock band Johnny Orr Band. Johnny is an amazingly talented singer/songwriter who has appeared on Fox & Friends for his song, “We’ll Get By (The Autism Song).” He has assembled a great band, which includes two-time Grammy Award nominee Ricky Keen on dobro. And I play and record with rockers Arrow Beach — we just released our first album.
Not only do these bands consist of very talented musicians, they’re also great people. I’m grateful for the opportunity to play with them all.
What led you to your instrument? What’s your origin story?
Although I grew up also playing piano and flute, I can’t remember not loving the drums. To this day, my passion for drumming is just as strong as it was back then. Until I was 12 years old, I constructed my own “drum set” out of pots, tubs, Tupperware bowls, whatever I could find that made a drum-like sound, and I played along to my mom’s records.
During this time, my family camped at a nearby campground that offered live music on Saturday nights. The boy who played the drums was probably a few years older than I was, and I watched his every move. He made a big impression on me. Finally at age 12, I received my first drum kit, and by age 18, I joined my first band and played every weekend.
Who is your favorite drummer and why?
It’s difficult to choose just one! I’ve always admired Michael Derosier, formerly of Heart, for his authoritative and effortless playing. His parts always fit the songs perfectly. I’m such a fan that I own one of his Ludwig Supraphonic snare drums he used with Heart. Also John Bonham, Doug Clifford, and Simon Kirke are three other favorites who played with taste and authority.
How do you practice? Do you have a routine?
Typically I’m practicing songs to build muscle memory, so when I get onstage I’m confident I know my parts and can relax and just have fun. I also like to practice doubles, paradiddles, and anything else to help my left hand, which is naturally weaker. It’s always a work in progress!
Are there any specific playing tips or techniques, or advice, exercises, or discoveries you’d like to share with Drum readers?
Surround yourself with good people who support you and build you up. Life is too short to spend it with those who are negative. Also, with so much emphasis on playing perfectly to a click track these days, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that drumming is music, and music is art. While it’s certainly important to have good time, don’t forget to be musical. Don’t let the click intimidate you to the point it stifles your creativity.
As artists, the goal post for “success” is always moving. There’s not one “I made it!” point. How do you think about and define success?
Defining success is different for each person. As long as I am happy doing what I’m doing, then I’m being successful. At the same time, it’s important to set goals and constantly be improving. While I’ve reached many goals of playing certain venues I always wanted to play, I’m always reassessing my playing and striving to get better.
Do you have any quotes or sayings that you live by?
Try to take every opportunity you can, because you never know where it will lead or who you’ll meet.
When you sit down to make music and are starting with a blank canvas, what’s your process like?
First I chart out the song arrangement. Then I like to lay down a rhythmic foundation that not only supports the overall song, but especially supports the lyrics. My playing shouldn’t distract from the lyrics, it should complement them and the rest of the band. So I try to play tasteful fills and play for the song.
How important is failure in making music/performing?
Whether it’s an audition, performance, or band situation that didn’t work out the way you’d hoped, it’s not a failure, but a learning and improvement opportunity. If it’s something you can control, then figure out what went wrong and work to correct it. In my experience, those situations have always worked out for the better — either a better opportunity comes along, or my playing improves. So looking back, those times have been pivotal.
Any advice for girls contemplating getting started and making it in this arena?
Today there are so many more female drummers than when I was young, which is great to see. My advice is if it’s something you want bad enough, find a way to do it and don’t let anyone take away your passion. Learn as much as you can about the instrument. Not just how to play well, but the history, how the drums fit into the overall music, the role of a drummer. Take a drum apart and put it back together, learn what each piece is called and used for. Listen to all kinds of music. And of course, practice! Be a true student of the instrument. Get involved in the local drumming community and have a good attitude. Be easy to work with, flexible, kind. When you know your instrument, can play it well, and have a positive attitude, your phone will ring.
If you had to put together a school or resources for would-be drummers, what would the training include?
I’ve learned the most by playing along to great drummers, so I would include some big band/swing recordings, Carmine Appice’s Realistic Rock, and Jim Riley’s Survival Guide for the Modern Drummer.
Where else to find Amy: