Highly regarded as one of the top female drummers of today’s pop/rock scene, Jess Bowen paves the way for not only herself, but for other female musicians alike. Jess has been the woman behind the rhythm of pop band, “The Summer Set” since she was a teen. Snce then the band has released four EP’s, three full length albums and been on countless tours – including a spot in the lineup of the most recent iHeartRadio Festival. We asked Jess a few questions about TSS’ latest album “Legendary,” touring, what being the ‘only girl in the band’ is like, and more…
Entertwine: When did you begin playing the drums & what inspired you to start?
Jess Bowen: I started playing drums when I was 12 years old. My dad and my older brother were both drummers, but I was convinced I was going to play guitar. My dad told me that he would buy me a guitar as long as I played drums in the school band for at least a year. 12 years later and I still have no guitar. Thanks, Dad! 😉
Entertwine: Who would you say are your main influences when it comes to drumming?
JB: As stereotypical as it sounds, Blink 182 was THE band to listen to when I was in middle school, and Travis Barker was easily my main influence since my band started as a Blink cover band. While I was playing in the school jazz band I was influenced by drummers such as Buddy Rich and Tony Williams. As far as female influences go, obviously Sheila E was one of the most prominent female drummers of all time and I was a big fan of her work.
Entertwine: Probably the most anticipated question for everyone…What is it like being the only girl in the band, let alone most of the time when you’re on tour?
JB: Ah yes, the ‘only girl in the band’ question! It is interesting, exciting, fun, and sometimes lonely. It’s a little bit of everything to be honest, but I couldn’t imagine touring in a band with all girls. I think the best way to explain it is by comparing it to being the only girl in a fraternity. I was initiated a long time ago and now I just feel like one of the guys most of the time.
Entertwine: You all recently put out a new album Legendary in April of this year. What was the recording process like for this album? How do you go about writing your drum parts for most of TSS songs?
JB: This album and recording process for Legendary was different than our past albums. But usually someone has an idea for a song, whether it’s lyrical or musical, and we would all come together and write around that. For my drum parts I would listen to the songs over and over until I was happy with a rhythm I wanted to record, and write fills around the basic rhythms, if that makes sense. Essentially for this album, I didn’t record my drum parts but I get to experiment with the live aspect and make it my own, which has been extremely fun for me to do.
(The Summer Set – “Boomerang”)
Entertwine: You all recently played the iHeartRadio Music Festival, how incredible was that? it must have been unreal playing the same festival as artists like Justin Timberlake, Katy Perry, Elton John, Paul McCartney…just to name a few.
JB: It was the most surreal experience and feeling you could ever imagine. We were so busy leading up to the actual performance that it never really sunk in until after the whole night was over. I remember it sunk in a little after walking backstage and passing by Kate Hudson and thinking how I just walked past the real life Penny Lane. It was wild. It was incredible to be able to share the same stage as all of the amazing artists for that show. I can now say I have played a show with Elton John, so I can cross that off the bucket list! ☺
ET: Any notable moments on stage when a stick has gone flying, or there was a malfunction where you thought, “well, this is it, were done!”
JB: I have had a few crazy malfunction moments! There have been plenty of shows where I have smacked my face with my own drum stick, slammed my finger on my snare so it swells up like a golf ball, and a moment where I fell off of my drum throne. One specific moment was at a show a few years ago, I was sick and for some reason my nose started profusely bleeding on stage. I didn’t notice at first until I looked at some fans in the front row who looked so concerned and had their hands over their mouths and were pointing at me. Then I looked down at my snare and noticed there was blood everywhere. Pretty disgusting.
ET: What is it like being endorsed not only by the #1 stick company in the world, Vater, but also by SJC Custom Drums, one of the leading custom drum makers in the world?
JB: It is beyond an honor to be a part of such amazing companies. I grew up in a household full of drummers and we always played Vater, so being endorsed by them is honestly a dream come true. SJC Custom Drums has also been an amazing family to be a part of and I love having the ability to design custom kits with them. They are the best people to work with and are so talented at what they do.
ET: What in the world would you be doing if you weren’t playing drums in TSS?
JB: I was supposed to play college soccer, so I assume I would have done that and possibly tried to coach once I graduated. If not that, then I definitely would be doing something with animals because I am the biggest animal lover you will ever meet!
ET: If you could go on a tour with any three bands or artists, who would they be?
JB: Sara Bareilles would be my number one choice. I love her and her music; I think she is one of the most talented artists out there right now and she puts on quite an amazing live show. Other than her, I’d say Third Eye Blind and Tegan and Sara.
ET: What is your best piece of advice for up and coming drummers?
JB: Be persistent and never give up. I had to deal with facing stereotypes and had a lot of people doubt me and my ability to drum, but I didn’t let it phase me. You just have to believe in yourself. And of course, PRACTICE.
These questions were taken from our twitter account @EntertwineBlog. I hand picked three of the best questions from fans!
Jess Harder (@WhosThatGuh) “Whats your favorite part about touring?”
-Meeting friends in new cities
Lauren Daniels (@renstardan) “If you could spend your last five minutes on earth with someone dead (or alive) who would it be?”
-My girlfriend and my family
Melissa (@HlloThere) “Whats your favorite quote or saying?”
– “Eat, drink, and be merry.”
Johnny Marques (@JohnnyMarques93) “Is there a drummer that you would like to collaborate with sometime?”
-Travis Barker. That would be a dream come true.
Quick Q’s: What’s The First Thing That Comes To Mind?
Favorite Tour Snack: Hot Cheetos
Favorite City To Play In: San Francisco
Stick of Choice: Vater Universals
Cymbal of Choice: Sabian
Most Prized Possession (Besides Your Drumset): My puppy, Pippin