Kris Myers ’98, drummer of the rock band Umphrey’s McGee and a graduate of the Elmhurst College music program, has been a fan of Modern Drummer magazine since he was a kid. Now he’s made it to the cover.
Modern Drummer, known as the world’s most widely read magazine for drummers and percussionists, reaches more than 103,000 readers each month. Its first issue, in January of 1977, featured legendary jazz drummer and bandleader Buddy Rich.
When Myers learned that he was chosen for the July 2018 cover, he immediately told his mother, and then his girlfriend.
“It was monumental!” he said. “It’s a personal accomplishment I’ve wanted since I first got the magazine when I was 12 years old. I’ve dreamed of being one of those players.”
Twenty years after forming at University of Notre Dame, Umphrey’s McGee gives about 85 performances a year, touring across the country. Myers, who lives in Nashville, joined the band after the original drummer left in 2002. Myers also works with Goodnight Nurse, a production partnership that writes and licenses music for TV and film.
In the Modern Drummer article, Myers noted that many drummers play a leadership role in their band because they can have an almost photographic memory of the form of the songs. “That’s why we’re quarterbacks, so to speak, and the guitar players usually rely on us: You’re the heart and soul of the whole thing.”
Succeeding in that role also means continually developing one’s own skills. It’s a lesson Myers learned from one of his Elmhurst College instructors, Rob Berry. “When I was complaining about the drum kit, Rob said, ‘The best part of your creativity comes from utilizing the instrument you have to the best of your ability.’ I learned so much from Rob about making the best sound I could make. And doing it with pride.”
Myers’ advice for today’s music students is: “Manage your time as best you can. Enjoy yourself, but have a sense of focus. Don’t try to be impressive to everyone; be yourself. Practice and follow the instruction of the professors. Be respectful and grateful, too.”