Dr. Phillips native Chris Kamrada builds career as professional drummer
Dr. Phillips native Chris Kamrada turned his love for drumming into a professional career and travels the world with various bands as a freelance drummer.
| 12:00 a.m. October 27, 2016
DR. PHILLIPS For Dr. Phillips native and professional drummer Chris Kamrada, there’s nothing like seeing a dim venue suddenly light up with phones and a screaming crowd as he begins drumming.
At 28, Kamrada already has traveled the world playing with bands such as Sleepwave, Young Guns, Before You Exit and Saints of Valory. Most recently, he made a trip to New York to record drums for a band’s upcoming album, and the credits just keep rolling in as his career continues to thrive.
A Dr. Phillips High graduate, Kamrada wasn’t always a musician. He grew up being “pretty hyper,” an athletic child who loved being outdoors and playing sports.
“I did the same most young kids would do — try different sports and play football, baseball, skate and surf,” he said. “Finally as I was in middle school, I kind of fell out of being into sports and fell in love with music. I did more extreme sports with friends, and I kind of was playing in the middle-school band, playing drums and percussion. I picked it as an elective but never took it seriously.”
After that his mother suggested he try drum lessons to see if he liked it. At school, Kamrada was mainly playing xylophone or learning rudiments on a practice pad. But the minute he started drum lessons, he fell in love with it.
He started off learning some of his favorite bands’ songs on a Costco-brand drum pad. It wasn’t ideal, but it was enough for him to learn where his hands and feet should be playing and to get muscle memory down. A few months into lessons, he received his first real drum set for Christmas.
Things took off from there, and two months later Kamrada and some friends formed the alternative rock band There For Tomorrow.
“I met musicians, and we were immediately playing cover songs together, and that’s the biggest reason I stuck with it for so long — it wasn’t just a hobby,” he said. “To me, that says it all right there — I met a lot of people at a young age that took it as (seriously) as I did. It turned a lot of heads in the local scene, and people knew we were young and had a lot of developing to do. We definitely took it to our heads but at the same time were focused on being the best band we could be.”
Having formed right in the heart of the MySpace era, TFT ended up with multiple record offers. Kamrada and his friends built it from the ground up, even self-funding an EP with a major producer in Orlando. All the hard work paid off, and the band was touring full time by the time the members were 18.
“From the ages of 18 to 23, that band alone, we went all over the U.S. and Canada dozens of times, the U.K. and Europe at least five times, Japan three times and Australia once,” Kamrada said. “That band went global and sold hundreds of thousands of records. What we accomplished was pretty unbelievable. That’s the whole reason I’m still able to do this for a living.”
Although TFT officially disbanded in 2014, Kamrada and former TFT lead singer Maika Maile regrouped in 2015 under the name AFTRHR (Afterhour) and currently are working on new music.
As a freelance drummer, Kamrada already has been involved in tour experiences that most musicians only dream about. Early this year, he played drums for Before You Exit in Manila for a crowd of 20,000 people. In summer 2015, he played with a band that opened for the Rolling Stones.
“The whole vibe around that is insane,” he said. “Any big show like that is so much fun. I’ve been very spoiled in the past years to play cool events.”
Keeping busy and versatile is another large aspect of his career. If he’s not actively touring, he’s usually in the studio recording a project.
This summer, he toured with Before You Exit for a month in May before heading off to Vans Warped Tour with Young Guns for two months. Following that, he did a five-week run with Young Guns in the U.K., headed home to Orlando for a few days and left again for a weekend tour with Sleepwave.
“I’ve tried to become as versatile as I can and stay up on practicing, so I don’t have to worry about my abilities when it comes to taking a job,” he said. “That’s the great thing about touring so much — you get really confident at your instrument.”
Touring means that he spends a good amount of time away from home. But having been on and off the road for nearly a decade now, the touring process is second nature for Kamrada.
“Being away is a compromise you make, but when you really love music, when it’s not too rough on the road, you sometimes don’t even think about it,” he said. “The Dr. Phillips and Windermere areas are always a great place to come back to to get inspired.”
And although he was concerned about the direction of his career a few years ago, staying busy and focused paid off. Having a positive perception and good work ethic translates to job opportunities.
“It’s never going to be about being the best; it’s about being the right person for the job,” he said. “It’s about creating a huge network of friends, colleagues and people that respect and know you. It’s about putting it out there on every outlet you can that you’re good at what you do, you’re professional, you care and you’re always working. The biggest thing you can do is not give up and not stop. If that’s your attitude, great things are always going to happen.”