Most young musicians growing up might dream of playing on stage with a famous band, meeting their idols, or even being a YouTube star, for Briggs Akers these kinds of dreams have already become a reality, and get this: he is only 11 years old. Briggs started playing drums at the age of 6 and and immediately started taking lessons from clinician/online instructor Mike Johnston. He soon started posting drum covers on YouTube which quickly gained notoriety: so much notoriety that his videos have been commented on by stars like Bruno Mars, Hayley Williams (Paramore), B.o.B., Josh Devine (drummer, One Direction), Luke Holland (The Word Alive), Taking Back Sunday, New Found Glory and more. Aside from featuring his talent online, he also provides beginner/intermediate online drum lessons for all ages on his own website, KidsDrummingLessons.com. So what’s in the future for Briggs? We had the opportunity to ask this drumming whiz kid a few questions about his start and where he is headed in the drumming world for years to come.
Entertwine: Briggs! Thanks so much for answering a few questions for Entertwine, we are delighted to have you. I guess first we can start with the obvious question that everyone might want to know…
When did you start drumming, and why did you choose the drums over other instruments?
Briggs: I really thought it was a really cool instrument to play. When I started playing Rock Band (the video game) and I heard the songs and heard how cool the drum beats were, I thought, “That’s what I want to do.” After a while my parents got me a real kit, and that’s when I started playing drums.
ET: What sparked the desire to start filming covers on YouTube?
Briggs: Honestly my dad started making videos of me playing drums before I really knew what YouTube was. Then when I saw that people liked them, I thought “Hey let’s do some more.” Now we make drum covers about every other week.
ET: Who are a few of your favorite drummers, and why?
Briggs: Buddy Rich, Travis Barker, Animal you know all the classics. Haha! I recently met Chris Coleman and he was playing at a clinic with JP Bouvet and Juan Mendoza and even they were in awe of him. He was shedding with Brent Easton and Chris never ran out of chops. Eventually Brent just gave up and Brent is a beast. Chris is definitely on my list. I love Travis Barker for the look and attitude and Buddy Rich for all the amazing things he did. He really made drums a cool instrument in everyone’s eyes. Of course I love Mike Johnston he even makes teaching drums cool.
ET: Yes! Mike is an awesome guy. Which leads me to my next question…How did you come up with the idea to begin offering lessons specifically catered towards kids your age? Do you plan on continuing the lessons into your teen years? Did Mike have an impact on this decision?
Briggs: Yes, I learned to play drums online from Mike Johnston’s site when I was 6 years old I thought Mike was really cool. Mike’s so good at teaching and I really wanted to do what he was doing. I knew that I couldn’t give advanced lessons yet, but I could really help a lot of kids my age. I knew that if they could see me doing it, they could know that they could do it too! So I told my dad I wanted to do it and we launched kidsdrumminglessons.com last year. We have 350 students it’s so cool knowing kids are learning drums and getting better and that I had something to do with it. I got an email from someone who is 22 and watches our lessons. That was really amazing. I definitely want to do it for a long time. I want this to be big!
(Briggs Cover of Bruno Mars’ Drum Solo From The 2014 Superbowl Halftime Show)
ET: What was it like to see your drum cover of Bruno Mars’ halftime show solo tweeted out by Bruno himself?
Briggs: Wow I was really star struck when I saw his tweet and I thought it was pretty amazing that my drumming was seen by someone so famous! Of course my twitter and Facebook page really went into hyper-drive. Hopefully it won’t be the last time.
ET: Are there any companies that you’d be interested in endorsing? How about any bands or artists that you’d love to play for?
Brigs: I’ve always used Vater sticks so that would be pretty cool. If someone wants to call me about endorsements I would love that. As far as bands go I’d love to do a Travis Barker thing with Skrillex, Zomboy or Knife Party that would be awesome! I also love the Roots but I’m not going to be replacing Questlove anytime soon.
ET: What does the future hold for Briggs Akers?
Briggs: I just played the halftime for the Charlotte Bobcats here in Charlotte it was a talent competition and I won. Michael Jordan was there and my sister told me he was tapping his foot and bobbing his head while I played! It was awesome! I love playing in front of people I get so pumped up! So we are trying to do some shows and festivals this summer. I also really want to give drum lessons to as many people as possible like 10,000 people! I hope maybe I’ll be a hybrid between Travis Barker and Mike Johnston teaching drum lessons from the road. Different cities, different arenas that would be awesome!! Giving my online students a look at life as a touring pro drummer. That’s my dream!