There was a wild monkey-like scream. Right below me a surging mass of sweat and tattoos begins to part and reveals a sinewy beast in it’s epicenter. He screamed again and then proceeded to beat three colours of shit out of a floor tom. I can remember the sharp taste of electricity and blood. Storm “Awesome” Thomas is not your average drummer.
“I believe one of the important things in life is to be open minded and have a wide perception,” he tells me in a recent internet conversation. “Funny enough, I remember sitting in my garage behind my drum kit about 10 years ago. We were having band practice and things seemed so different back then. Since that point I have played with so many bands, so many people and done so many shows.”
He’s been known to be one of the hardest working musicians in South Africa, once playing 7 shows in 3 days. “There have been late nights, fatigue and doubts, but when I look back on this road that I have traveled there isn't a thing that I would change. I feel fortunate and blessed that through hard work and perseverance, I finally got out of the garage.”
Persistence is the key, listening to the inner critic and learning not only from your influences but from yourself. In Storm’s words “Even when your mind says stop, never let your heart hear it.”
When it comes to keeping his skills in check he is not afraid to stretch into other styles and genres. “I am fortunate in the sense that I listen to a lot of different music and so when I approach a piece of music or my practice routine, I can approach it with an open mind and its good for building muscle memory by always challenging yourself with things you would normally never play. My drumming influences are mainly drummers who maintain a strong groove, play for the song, keep things original and fresh, portray their energy and feeling into what they are playing and are generally good guys that work hard.”
“I have been self taught for the most part of my drumming career. When I was 14 I learn't the basic 4/4 beat on a bongo drum. Two years later I moved onto the drum kit and watched endless concerts of my favorite bands on VHS. I studied the drummers I saw and learn't my instrument. It was only until this year that I enrolled in Georg Voros School of Drumming. I do feel that it made me a better player because I got to find my style first and now at this point in time, I am perfecting my style and with that, learning more in depth about my craft from an outside source.”
When it comes to his gear it seems that it’s the bigger the better. “I have always had a weakness for big drumkits. I also love a lot of percussion built into a kit. Timbales, roto-drums and a gong!!!”
And your closing message to all the young drummers out there?
“This music thing is hard and heavy at times and there will be days when you want to give it all up. On those days, that is when you have to work at it a little harder. This life ain't easy but it can rewarding if we work hard and persevere. And remember that in everything you do, you are Awesome!!!!”