We had the good fortune of connecting with Neal Daniels and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Neal, how do you think about risk?
I’m a firm believer in the “no risk, no reward” thought process. Being an artist or performer in the music industry is risky enough as it is, so you might as well go for gold!
One of the bigger risks that ended up changing my life was moving to Los Angeles from Chicago.
I didn’t know anybody in LA and I didn’t have a secure place to live, but you just have to figure it all out as you go along!
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Well, I’m a professional drummer located in Los Angeles, CA. I have a professional home studio called “WhiteFish Studios” where I record drums remotely for clients all around the world, but for the majority of my work, I tour with different artists for most of the year. Some artists I’m currently working with are LP and Liz Phair. Previously, I’ve worked and toured with Booker T Jones, Rachel Platten, Bea Miller, Daya, Léon, Post Malone, and Dua Lipa.
What sets me apart from others is simply knowing how to playing the part. Musically and personally. If people hire me, they know I’m going to be on-time, prepared, and will step in to rehearsal day 1, playing the right parts, 100% of the time.
One of my proudest moments was buying a house in Los Angeles at 29. I’m proud that I was able to do that from only playing drums, after years and years of hustling.
I got to where I am today by saying YES to every opportunity until I was in a position where I could afford to say no
When I first moved to LA in 2009, I didn’t have a car or a drum set. I used to borrow a friends drum kit, and rent a car, all to play a $50 craigslist gig. I did whatever it took to make some contacts in town. The more people you know, the more work you’ll get!
I’m still learning a ton of lessons, but one important one is that playing good drums is only about 10% of the reason you’ll get a gig. I’ve learned, over and over again, that being a cool person that people want to spend time with, showing up on time for EVERYTHING, calling people back, being prepared, and looking the part, easily makes up for the other 90%.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
All of my favorite places revolve around food.
1st Stop – My house. I have a ridiculous espresso machine, so we’ll first get jacked on unlimited oat milk lattes.
2nd Stop – Race to Langers Deli for a #19 Pastrami Sandwich. Best sandwich in the world. (Don’t skip the potato salad)
3rd Stop – Stop by Pro Drum in Hollywood and introduce your poor friend to Stan and Jerry. Buy your friend a T-Shirt.
4th Stop – Dinner! Steak and Gin Martinis at Musso & Frank in Hollywood.
5th Stop – Drinks at The Prince in K-Town.
6th Stop – Optional, but very fun. Walk to HMS Bounty, AND OR, walk to Toe Bang in K-Town, and have yourself a party.
Uber -> Home. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I have so many shoutouts! There are dozens of people that I could mention. A few would be my mom, for letting me practice drums in my childhood basement, all day, every day. My old drum teacher in Chicago, David Jennings, for giving me the courage to move to LA and to pursue a career here. My music friends in LA, who support me and call me for work! LA is a “personal recommendation” kind of town. Without great friends that respect what you do, it would be extremely hard to work here. And to my lovely Fiancé, Kate, who is cool with me touring over half the year, and then encouraging me come home and play drums at my home studio all day in between tours. She is the best.
Other: For all inquires, please email visit NealDaniels.com or email me at Nealdanielsmusic@gmail.com