Hailing from Acapulco, Mexico. via Houston, Texas, drummer Isaias Gil has been making his rhythmic impact felt. He won 1st place in 2010 at the prestigious Guitar Center Drum Off and has been spotlighted in Modern Drummer Magazine. Isaias plans to continue his involvement in the music industry and dominating the world one groove at a time.
Let’s talk about your earliest influences and what led you on the path to where you are today.
My earliest influence was Vinnie Colaiuta. I had no idea who I was watching but he was playing with Alejandro Sanz on an MTV unplugged video. Oddly enough I was also listening to him play with Sting on Ten Summoner's Tales and other albums. I had no idea but he was on everything I was listening to and I was just in awe of how solid and flawless he sounded.
When I realized it was him playin I dove in and tried to study all he did. This was before YouTube or Google so I got a chance to really dig and do heavy research.
When you listen to another drummer, what do you listen for?
I try not to listen to another drummer critically. Sometimes it’s tough. Sometimes it isn’t. However, the thing that always sticks out is how balanced the playing is. Can I hear the hihat as loud as the snare? Is the bass drum cutting as well as the other cymbals? That kinda stuff sticks out and I love it. Dave Grohl is a master at this and it’s absolutely amazing to see and listen to. At least to me.
What makes a player a “legend” or “great”?
Gosh! I hope I find out one day. If I had to guess, I’d say if the parts stand the test of time. Again, Dave Grohl comes to mind. His simple fill at the intro of Nirvana’s Smells like teen spirit is one. Anything Ringo did with The Beatles, he just knew how to play something that had his own fingerprint that stands the test of time. Or Phil Collins’ with in the air tonight. Just sounds so good and so timeless. That differentiates a legend to me. There are tons of amazing players that are great at the craft but I’m not sure if I’d consider them legends. But what do I know? I just hit things.
Is there any one particular drummer that you would love to emulate or just really look up to?
I wanted to emulate so many as I was learning what they did. Some days I still do. Now I mainly just want to be friends with the guys I look up to so I can learn what they think about as they play. I want to know the inner workings of their thoughts more than to play like them. They already exist, I will never sound like them but I hope to think on a similar path to create my own voice on the instrument.
How often do you practice? If you don’t, why? If you do, what aspects of drumming do you practice the most often?
I practice as much as time and life allows. I don’t go for a timed thing though. I try to have focused practice. Going in and journaling has helped to track my progress. I’m working on grooves at different tempos and I’ll record it to see what sounds like a groove and what sounds like pulling teeth. I have more of that than what I want right now. After I’m done “working” and idea I try to throw on something and just jam. What made me want to play was how fun the drums looked so I try to have fun even when it feels like work.
You’ve played with a lot of different artists. Are there particular moments on stage that stand out above the rest?
So many! One that was super intimidating was playing in Colombia. This band I was working with played The Estadio Olimpico Pascual Guerrero. It holds something like 45,000 people and it was quite packed. The feeling of all those eyes on us overwhelmed me and I had to focus so hard on the band. It was so nuts but so cool.
Is there an artist that is on your bucket list that you would love to perform with?
Sting. That’s my bucket list artist since I started and still is. He just seems so cool and his tunes are timeless.
Musically, what else is happening with you right now?
I’m getting to work with a lot of folks that I have admired for decades. It feels surreal but I’m trying to take every moment and give thanks for it. I’m workin on some lesson concepts as time allows but more than anything I’m trying to be in the moment, learn how to time-manage better and enjoy the process that I get to be a part of for now.
How do you feel about the evolution of the industry today?
I think it’s doing what it needs to do. For a while now I have thought of music and the industry as a cyclical process. What’s old is new again and the cycle continues. I hope that with time we get back to some more raw talent rather than polished cookie cutter stuff but I think it’s all necessary. We can’t appreciate the good without the bad and vice versa. I try not to get too frustrated or caught up in the now but rather in the thought that it has the potential to turn around. That keeps me hopeful and enjoying it.
Anything else you wanna say to your fans?
Thank you guys for giving a hoot about what I’m doing. It means a lot and I don’t take a single bit of it for granted!