He’s most recognisable, perhaps, from his 2014 stint on The X-Factor, but Jason Heerah is a hugely talented and experienced drummer, as we shall see when he hits The Astor Theatre on Thursday, May 28, as part of Drumscene Live 2015. RAY DEEGAN has a word.
When did you first fall in love with the instrument?
I began playing when I was seven. I can safely say my love for drumming naturally came whilst hitting buckets and logs since grade one in primary school. I would always mimic a full kit set-up with whatever I could find that sounded like a drum. At home I was lucky enough to have my dad’s drum kit set up most of the time in our living area. So home time was really drum time! It used to drive my mum crazy!
Who did you listen to and who influenced you most in the early stages?
At that early stage, when I was jamming along to some of my favourite songs and grooves, I was unaware of the drummers on the records then. I was into bands like Earth Wind & Fire, The Commodores, Bob Marley and The Wailers, The Police, Santana, Stevie Wonder, Toto and Mint Condition to name a few.
Who do you listen to now for inspiration?
The type of drummer that really influences me these days are the ones that are real artists – masters of their craft – such as Chris ‘Daddy’ Dave, Tony Royster Jr, Jojo Mayer, Vinnie Calaiuta, Dave Weckl and Steve Gadd.
You’re also a past winner of Australia’s Best Up & Coming Drummer Competition?
Yes. Winning the Australia’s Best Up & Coming Comp at the age of 17 was a milestone for me. It was the turning point that influenced how seriously I took my drumming from then on as a career. After that, I knew I wouldn’t look back and I’m truly blessed that I’m still doing what I love as a profession.
As still a very young performer, you’ve had a great career to date. Can you talk about some of the great experiences and highlights so far?
I’ve had the chance to play some killer gigs overseas: Glastonbury festival (UK), Blue Note (Japan), recorded at Ocean Way Studios (LA), played for Jermaine Jackson from Jackson 5, flew to New York to audition for the Maxwell Gig on percussion. I played at the 2003 ARIA Awards with Disco Montego. I also got to sing with funk queen Cherry Lynn with my band Electric Empire, at the Sapporo Jazz Festival in Japan. I would actually love to have the opportunity to have some one on one time in a lesson scenario with some of the afore-mentioned artists and drummers who constantly inspire. This is something I haven’t done enough of and will definitely try and make happen in the near future.
Can you talk about some of the current projects your working on?
Last year before going on X-Factor I had completed a positive roots reggae project called Chosen Ones. These are songs I have co-written and recorded and produced at my Heerah St Studios and the E.P is out on iTunes. I’m Currently recording my very own singles which will be my first solo singles. Very exciting!