Between the 3rd and 8th of August 2019, the town of Żywiec, Poland saw the third edition of Open Minded Drum Camp. The previous ones were organized by drummer/educator Szymon Fortuna and the internationally respected Moeller method master, Claus Hessler. This year, the pair made a significant addition to the bill – Claus Hessler’s former teacher and international drum education icon, Dom Famularo. Participating in the event for the second time as students, we obviously jumped at the opportunity to have a chat with Claus and Szymon last year (see: HERE). Now, it is time for Dom himself. See for yourselves what he has to say about the camp itself, the gear he had as a teenager, and the message he has for drum camp attendants the world over…
BeatIt: Let’s start with the Open Minded Drum Camp in Żywiec, Poland. What are your thoughts on the event?
Dom Famularo: First, thank you so much. beatit.tv is fantastic.
Dom Famularo: To return back to Poland and be a part of this Open Minded Drum Camp has been absolutely incredible. All the students that are here have this incredible desire to learn. When you get students of all ages, from young kids to mature adults, who really wanna learn, there’s something pretty special about that. When you share information with them, you can see it going into their minds, and you see them changing and growing. Even from day one of the camp until now (tomorrow’s the last day), you can see the growth and development of each student. This is incredible!
BeatIt: It’s not just about playing. It’s also about sharing stories and the history of drumming, your history and your stories. One of the stories you shared, i. e. being a student of Joe Morello’s, traveling long distances, not wanting to take any money off you parents to pursue your dreams. You were making your own money to do all that. You neglected to mention what kind of gear you had back then when you were a teenager.
Dom Famularo: Interesting question.
BeatIt: What were you able to afford at the time?
Dom Famularo: Not great equipment. I had two brothers and a sister and there wasn’t a lot of money to go around, but my parents sacrificed a lot to help us, which was amazing. I was working and playing with different bands. I started playing drums at 11. By the time I was 12, I was playing in bands. At the time, in 1965, the Beatles had hit America, there was so much music going on, there were clubs and private parties. So I was working with different bands. All the money I would make, I would then go out and buy some equipment.
My father was a fireman. The fire dept. of the town we lived in wasn’t using any of their musical equipment any more. They had an old bass drum, an old snare drum and another old snare drum that I used as a floor tom. I had this marching snare drum as a snare drum, a thin 26” x 12” bass drum. The snare functioning as a floor tom had no legs on it so my father helped me weld a bracket that I could put the drum on. Whatever worked. We grabbed whatever we could to make it work. I had a couple of old marching cymbals that they had, so I put them on. When I think back now, the sound of the drum set was terrible, but at the time we were more concerned about playing Beatles’ music. When I hit the cymbals a certain way, they didn’t sound good, but when I found a different way to hit them, it worked. It taught me about trying to pull the sound out of not good equipment to make the band sound good. So I learned a lot.
After a few performances, when I made some money, I went to the store to buy my first ride cymbal. This was incredible! They had four ride cymbals there! This was huge! I said: ’My gosh!’. I played them all to see which was the best one, I found the one I like. When I paid the money and I took that ride cymbal, I really earned it. I worked hard for that cymbal. When I put that cymbal on the drum set, the entire band sounded different. This cymbal helped create a feeling that made the song even more inspired and it lifted the band up a notch – just that one ride cymbal. In time, when I was able to buy a better snare drum with a modern sound, that again changed the sound of the band. So not only did it change my sound, but it helped the band to lift to a higher level. It was so exciting!
BeatIt: People who come to camps such as this one, not just the students you have but also camp attendants, are different kinds of people. Not just different walks of life but different types of drumming. Some are teachers, some want to get into teaching, some are active musicians, some are…
Dom Famularo: Hobbyists…
BeatIt: Some are completely fresh. Is there a kind of message you want to leave them with, no matter where they come from and what their background is? Technicalities aside – just the main message you want to leave them with after a camp.
Dom Famularo: Great question! This, to me, is the most important part of the camp. Because we have men and women, young and old, experienced and beginners, what bonds us together is drumming. I have performed and travelled to over 60 countries. I stopped counting at 60. It’s the same feeling worldwide. Drummers are a special fraternity – they get together, they have camps, they share information. I want everyone to understand that the first and most important of playing an instrument, specifically drums, is to have fun and really enjoy playing music. When you have fun and then learn a new idea and get better, it becomes more fun. Knowledge and the power of knowledge creates more fun because the enthusiasm of playing is important to maintain. Everybody is connected in that room – young, old, male, female, experienced or inexperienced. They’re all connected with their desire and their passion. Passion is the connection that brings us all together. If we speak of one idea of a stroke or a movement, or how to play a certain jazz feel or a funk feel, everyone relates to it in their own level. The beginner takes it in their way, so do the intermediate and the advanced students. The information is across the board and everyone takes out of it what they want and what speaks to their passion and adds to their level of fun. This is so fantastic!