We had the good fortune of connecting with Lisa Marie Maestas and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lisa Marie, do you have some perspective or insight you can share with us on the question of when someone should give up versus when they should keep going?
At a very young age is when I first heard music. The rhythm, the pulse, the magical melodies were so mesmerizing to me. As a toddler, pots, pans, plastic serving bowls were my favorite drums on the kitchen floor while my beautiful mama cooked up our favorite meals. I loved listening to music and would often sing throughout my days. I started snare drum in the 5th-grade concert band. In the beginning, I heard girls were not supposed to play drums, that it was a boy thing. It made me want it even more. I should have given up then, according to who? The boys in the band who saw me getting better and faster than them? I had to keep going. Always, no matter what, there has been music in my life. I know it is cliché to say that music chose me as I have been chasing the perfect song for most of my life. As a songwriter, it is the best outlet for me being my therapy essentially a child with a tangible dream, as long as I kept going. My Capricorn climb has been a steady, solid do-it way of making sure music has always been a part of who I am. Through drums, I approach playing them as an extension of my pain, joy, love, grief, and healing meditation. Singing and drumming came naturally. I’ve filled up journals, and they became songs. This ritual of streaming consciousness, a free pen flowing, letting it all go from the pain of family death to the protest of my people, to the love lost and the child that never was. I could only channel and truly express these feelings through my music, my song with my rhythm and pulse moving it along. It is medicine and madness, sadness, and all eternal joy. It gives me the feeling I get when the sun shines on my face at the beach. Influenced by the sounds all around me, the music inside me will never allow me to give up. It didn’t matter to me that it wasn’t a common thing for females to be drummers. Being a female drummer is a pretty popular thing now but, growing up, I was a rare sight in my small Colorado town, feeding the drive inside of me to continue the pursuit of my musical dreams. I had corporate jobs that gave me little time to nurture my love of music and made me very sad. I made good money and so little from stages to living rooms. The performance was always the gateway to that place in my heart, the beat that rocks me to sleep late at night when my breath dances with my inner pulse. It is about finding your passion then your job becomes love. I remember the elders telling us to make sure we love our job so our job will not feel like work. As long as I can make a living with my craft, then I am rich beyond measure. I will not give up on life. Music is life to me. I would say, never give up. If it is your dream, your wish, your passion, you can never give it up. If it is a matter of feeding your family and keeping your house, you might have to find other work or multiple income streams. I know many musicians that will work any job, just so that they can feed their musical passion. When people listen to my songs, they tell me they hope I make it. As long as I live doing what I love and pass on some musical magic to the future of rock, I have made it. I can now say that I understand the term struggling artist all too well. Have there been days that I wanted to throw in the towel and change careers? Then when would I have time for music? I have no choice. I am lucky enough to be able to play and to teach music for a living. It brings me great happiness and fulfillment. I never thought I would be teaching rock band zoom classes and was fearful of the change. One year later, proving it done. Now I’m going to go crank Don’t Stop Believing by Journey and sing along at the top of my lungs.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
The only way for me to write a song is from my experience, what I live. I’ve had songs that were so personal. It would take me years to take them off the shelf, dust them off and finish the music. All families have secrets. Addictions poisoned the leaves on the family tree. Some are born with silver spoons, and some cups are full from hand-me-downs, leftovers, and never really knowing you are poor because you never went without. My clothes might’ve been unbranded, but my father sewed my first pair of skinny jeans on my grandma’s sewing machine he loved to work. My big Dad and his huge hands worked magic with those rags. I knew riches of all sorts. I, supported by those hands and that big heart along with my proud Lil mama who always makes us happy. The Taurus kept the peace among the beasts as we ran through the living room, setting up instruments and moving furniture to make room for the stage. Pops would call the family up before we knew it, the guys were there, we were jamming, and my family from my Grandma and Grandpa to my Tias and Tios and my Lil cousins in diapers too, dancing and rocking out to our groove. They supported me being a drummer, and my Dad loved to call me his Lil drummer girl. It always made me feel so special and different. It made me stand out in my mind in that small town.
Praise the dead is a power duo. I play drums and sing lead, and Tracey “Spacey T” plays the 8-string guitar. I think that our musical experience gives us the advantage that we can read each other so well. When we play together, it is almost like E.S.P. We have a strong connection. We have a full sound, and we love to use a loop station and record backtracks to play to, creating a soundscape that I can sing my heart out. We are also good at breaking our songs down acoustically and making them impactful. I love the diversity of the songs we’ve written and how we can weave around influenced styles at a whim. I am excited to play with him as his musical abilities push me to play and sing my best. I am most proud of our independently released ep, The Heavy, and I am most excited for our upcoming single release from our second ep, The Deep entitled, Dead to Me. We recorded the song with our dear friend and musical hero of ours, dUg Pinnick of King’s X, who engineered and mixed Tracey’s guitar and bass parts for the new single. The final mix and mastering by our dear friend Bill Metoyer, who has worked with Slayer, Deliverance, Hirax, Morbid Angel, Trouble, Tourniquet, and has also worked at Metal Blade Records for several years as a house producer. He currently works as A&R and Alpha Omega Management as A&R. Thanks to Bill, we recently filmed on a sound stage for the first time in over a year since the pandemic for an upcoming show called The Hood’s Got Talent. I am super excited to see the footage.
Early on, I realized I had to go for my dream, or I would always wonder “what if”? I did not want to continue the groundhog day of my former life. I knew what I wanted, and I went for it. I rolled my truck and injured myself on the way to my dream. I totaled my truck and didn’t listen to the psychic whose reading told me to stay in Seattle, where I was working as a drummer at the time, and wait to move to LA. I didn’t take heed. I knew I had to be in California. I bullheadedly stubbornly knew. My drive to keep going is what gave me the tenacity. I seem to learn the hard way, but is it the wrong way? Who is to say? I wouldn’t have it any other way. This experience couldn’t have been better or worse, the pain and joy, the emptiness and loneliness, the broken pocket, and the over-filled cups. I would crush doubt, scream at negativity and scribble on torn paper on my way to do what I knew my soul needed. Whatever way to make music, any way to be a part of music anyway to be around people who made music all of the time. That was my path. I announced to all of my friends in Colorado that I would move to LA and meet the rock stars on my plastered walls and that I would get to work with them in some way because the music was my only way to my heart song. It happened too, manifested for the most part I’ve met who I’ve wanted to meet and work with a few of them. I have goals set and am working online towards my audio engineering certificate and learning more chords on the guitar and keyboards. I am still learning, and that has been an important thing to keep my mind open to learning and to know that I am a master of nothing. I still have plenty of room for success. I keep climbing a steady, solid path so that I can grow and learn from my mistakes, keeping humble and helping whoever I can along the way. How do we measure success? Millions of albums sold or giving someone the courage to come out of their shell and share their song with us? It is reciprocity at its best. The energy exchanged created from our spirits desiring to connect.
I felt that I had to move out of my small town to a bigger city to work in the music industry. I played shows in my home state and taught lessons but, I knew I would eventually end up in California. It was hard, but I moved away from my very close family. I missed out on my brother, niece, and my cousins growing up. I missed out on so many family gatherings and birthdays. I went after my dream. As a determined young lady, I set out after a dream to play my drums and sing my songs. I’d be a one-woman show if I had to. I’ve gone weeks without days off, and I’ve been able to travel and spend time with family because of the hard work. I always remained close with my family and continue to this day. Social media has made it easier to see each other and keep up with each other. Zooming with my Mom so she can see her grandchildren has been priceless. Anything worth it is never easy. I am still striving to take care of my loved ones so that they do not have to worry financially. My life is my art, and we all know that life isn’t easy for most of us. I am constantly working on bettering myself, and sometimes I scream loud into a pillow. Drumming is so therapeutic that it helps me overcome many challenges in my life and has helped me make better choices.
One lesson is not to take things personally, which was difficult for me because I am a sensitive artist. Hard work will always pay off. Perseverance will bring desired results. If you want it bad enough, nothing can stop you from fulfilling your dreams. Not everyone has good intentions. Some people are not good. Let it go and move on but keep it positive. Equated to a cleaning lady from my Beverly hills clients because they could not see me as their drum teacher, I let the subtle racism roll off my back in a mansion with tact. Private lessons have kept me afloat. I learned to be so strong. That strength made it easy for me to turn down the proposition offered by a famous producer who promised to make me a star. I knew better because my Grandma taught me how to read bad intentions behind the eyes. I want you in my life if you live your truth. It matters not what the truth is as someone believes their own made-up story, nothing will change their minds. Let them go. Let them have belief in their lies and be the bigger person. If a split ensues, be motivated. It is best to get the toxic people out of your life. Especially if they do not understand struggle since they have never had to work for anything in their lives, only the kind of success money can buy. Reviews are empty words when you pay for the story. In this world, there are a lot of people who try to be coat tail riders. They never pay their dues and feel they can ride on the success of others. You have to learn not to dwell. I have also given years to people, teaching them how to play music, sing, write songs, and record in a studio but have been taken advantage of and not paid my worth for what I helped them create. Will it stop me from working with another young artist? Never. Children learn what they live, and cannot help how their parents raised them. I remain transparent. I know my worth, and I am not afraid to ask for it. I will never expect anything for nothing. I learned to always lead with love and to live authentically. Parents are so important. I know always to call my parents. It was a highlight for my Father to have a phone call or video call every day during those last painful months of his battle with bone cancer. I count all of the little things as precious memories and record and document as much of my loved ones as I can, and I am not afraid to ask them what their wishes are when they transition out of this life. We have so many choices in life. I hope to make the best ones.
I would want the world to know me through my songs. I want all of the little girls out there who want to rock out and play drums to do it and be whatever they want to be! I mean, come on, we have our very first female Vice-President of the U. S.! Girl Power, the future is female and all of that! I would want the world to know that I went against the odds and took off on that red road all by myself because I believed in myself that I was worthy of success in life, in music, worthy of love and true happiness. Some random facts about me are that I love butterflies and hummingbirds, dogs, cats and believe in Mother Nature. I like to make healing tonics out of flowers and herbs. I love natural products and am a hippy at heart and a homegrown Colorado girl. I am a mermaid out of the water. A hawk resides over a dolphin on my animal totem. I want to be vegan but a vegetarian most of the time. A well-done steak is on my plate sometimes. My story is unfinished. I have so many songs to share, students to teach, artists to record and produce, and so much music to create. I hope to continue with my Praise the Dead project and give my other projects wings because I have so many ways I would love to express my music to you. My song will always be for my Dad to rest in peace. I wear my heart on my sleeve and sometimes overshare. I used to declare that I’m a good person, now I let people see for themselves. I hope that someday you will be moved by my songs, that my words or melodies will help your day along.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Wow, so many great places to take them! We would hit up some local spots in the San Gabriel Valley where I live, like Hyper Coffee in Arcadia, and go to Dry Bar in Pasadena who does amazing blowouts on my curls. We’ll do some shopping at the Santa Anita Mall and grab some lunch at Mikoshi Sushi. We’ll see the amazing peacocks and beautiful gardens at The Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden. Another great spot to see a beautiful botanical garden is Descanso Gardens. If it is the winter Holidays, The Festival of Lights is a must-see! Pho-Licious is the spot for some dinner or maybe Hollywood Noodle for some Thai. Their tofu pad thai is delicious. We will most likely end up at Cabrera’s for Mexican food and margaritas or Xecora Gastronomia Urbana for their amazing vegetarian tacos and delicious tajin-rimmed cocktails! I’ll take them to The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art, Culture & Industry of the Riverside Art Museum because I haven’t been there yet! Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and the Griffith Observatory are always great places, too. We’ll do touristy stuff, like see the Hollywood sign and check out the strip. It is very different since 2020, but my hopes are for things to return to some normalcy, and we get to go back to all of our favorite places, which is happening quickly, so I’m going to go with that. I would love to have brunch at Chateau Marmont, just because and we would have to hit up some Melrose vintage shops and then head over to the Grove and the Farmer’s Market! We have to stock up on organic snacks and treats for the week! Maybe if we are lucky, Chef Raul Medina of @thevegantaqueria will have a pop-up somewhere in LA so we can chase him down! We would have to hit up Amoeba Music in Hollywood at their new location, a couple of live music spots like the legendary Whiskey and Rainbow, which also has delicious food! The Ultimate Jam Night at the Whiskey on Sunset is legendary, is free to get in, and a great place to see rock stars play some sweet jams. I can’t wait until that starts again. Another great free spot and a great spot to see rock stars, local bands, has yummy food and drinks is Soundcheck Live at Lucky Strike in Hollywood. I’ve been lucky enough to play drums and sing at these venues and share the stage with my musical heroes. We’ll go to The Troubador, The Hotel Cafe or a concert at the world-famous Hollywood Bowl. I’ll take them to our favorite beach spots in Malibu and Santa Monica. We love going to Leo Carillo dog beach in Malibu, too, and there are some great spots to eat on the Pacific Coast Highway like Duke’s or the Paradise Cove Beach Cafe. The Annenberg beach house in Santa Monica is another favorite place to swim and hang out at the beach. We saw Jack Black there and were super star struck! A great time is sure to be had at the Santa Monica Pier and the Venice Beach boardwalk. I would take them to Sidewalk Cafe for lunch and special cocktails. It has an incredible view and is perfect on a hot LA day! There is also a fantastic spot for lunch or dinner off Venice Blvd. away from the beach, called Golden China. They have the best vegetarian Chinese food. Try the Mongolia “beef” my favorite meat-free dish. How long? A week? One day for hanging out at the house, swimming, cooking our favorite meals, and jamming our favorite songs. Pool Party! I hope we can throw in Universal Studios, too! Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
A person I would like to dedicate my Shoutout story is to the love of my life, Tracey “Spacey T.” Singleton. His love and support mean the world to me. Spacey T. is known in Metal LA history for being in Sound Barrier, the first all-black metal band signed to a major label, MCA Records in the early 80s. I saw his video Rock w/out the Roll on MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball when I was in middle school in Colorado. I never saw him again until I met him years later at a co-headlining King’s X / Fishbone Concert in Denver, Co 2002. At this time he was the lead Guitarist for Fishbone. He tapped me on the shoulder after the show, we hung out, I played drums with Fishbone at the afterparty, I soon after moved in with him in LA, and here we are still rocking. He is also the other half of Praise the Dead and we teach rock band classes together for the LACER After School Programs who we have been teaching for almost 14 years. They are the organization that I would like to also Shoutout! LACER Afterschool Programs provides award-winning, FREE, live online classes and workshops at eight public schools in Los Angeles, California. Students’ and parents’ opportunities include Music, Fitness and Conditioning, Visual Art, Dance, Discussion Groups, Drivers Ed., Tutoring, Theater, College and Career support, Parent Workshops, Science Club, and much more! We are hoping to be resuming in-person classes in the fall.
Diego Negrete Tracey “Spacey T” Singleton