Nick Costa has been drumming for almost half of his life, and the drums aren’t his only expertise. Nick has been part of multiple music/percussion ensembles, and even regularly does music related charity work with kids in downtown Philadelphia. We caught up with this busy Philly native to ask him a few questions about his drumming history.
Entertwine: How long have you been playing, and what inspires you to play?
NC: I’ve been playing for over 16 years now. It’s vague, but I like to say anything and everything inspires me to play – like fellow musicians, friends, foes, music I like to listen to, my students, etc.
ET: What are your favorite styles to play?
NC: When I was at UArts in Philly, the other students use to call me the “rock guy” because almost all the groups I performed in prior to college were rock. UArts uses Jazz studies as their core curriculum for performance majors, so I gained an appetite for that too. Right now, I enjoy playing pop/punk, rock, jazz, and even hip-hop/R&B/pocket drumming.
ET: You post many videos and covers on Youtube of your drumming. Tell us what inspired you to do that.
NC: I just started getting into that. When youtube covers started to become a thing, I shrugged it off. Overtime I noticed A LOT of people were gaining audiences (being both positive and negative at times) and I figured I’d give it a shot. It’s actually helped me gain some gigs, recording sessions, private students, and auditions – so it definitely helps!
ET: You teach privately for underprivileged kids in the Philly area. What inspired you to do this and what has that experience shown you?
NC: It’s actually because of my studies at the University of the Arts. I was in an alternative ensemble where we played on non-traditional instruments like buckets and trash cans. I received a message from the Director of the School of Music in regards to teaching a bucket-drumming workshop for a local Philly organization called Art Sanctuary, and since I planned on becoming a teacher I figured it would be fun. That summer I taught 2 workshops – one for college students, and one for local underprivileged kids. Being that K-12 education is in a tough spot right now, a lot of families are scared to invest time, money, and resources for their children to learn an instrument. By teaching these bucket drumming workshops, I’m able to help show that anyone can learn music along with various skills needed for everyday life including motor skills (playing the bucket), communication skills (expressing themselves, listening and playing with others), critical thinking skills (how their part interacts with other parts), and more. The great thing about it is that a bucket and pair of sticks cost around $10, which can be spared with almost every type of budget. I’m even starting a similar bucket-drumming ensemble at Villanova University, and with my current job as a music teacher for the School District of Philadelphia I will be teaching percussion via bucket drumming. I’ve noticed it helps kids confidence, and can even have them forget about everyday troubles they might encounter. Plus seeing their faces light up when they receive positive reinforcement from an audience is amazing.
ET: Tell us about your endorsement with MCD Drums & the story behind the company.
NC: I was introduced to the crew at MCD when they endorsed one of my friends from college. He was the guy everyone went to when you had gear questions and/or needed recommendations, so when he recommended I talk to Mike (the owner of MCD) about getting my Tama Starclassic bearing edges recut, I called them immediately. Mike re-cut the bearing edges for the entire 6 piece kit at a super affordable price, and the drums sounded unreal. Tama is known for having attack heavy sounding drums, but after getting re-cut, they had tone for days. Since they could get that kind of sound out of another companies kit, I had to see what they were about. I started talking to Mike and his son about my kit design, and they recommended I go with solid shell maple for the shell pack for the warmth I described with a solid shell curly hickory snare for the high-end pop I was looking for. By being in conversations with Mike over my kit design as well as tossing around ideas for other drum designs, he asked if I would be interested in helping out as an A&R guy. I’ve always been a fan of custom drums thanks to Orange County having everyone on their roster when I was a teenager (Travis Barker, Adrian Young, Chad Sexton, John Otto, Ilan Rubin, etc), so it was something I was definitely interested in.
MCD is a Philly based drum company that specializes in solid shell exotic and domestic drums. They started in the late 90s/early 2000s and gained a pretty solid reputation with local drummers. Around the time I joined the MCD family was also the time we started pushing to gain a national presence, so its only been about 3 years that we started doing what drum companies should do – promote the brand with social media, advertising, attending trade shows like NAMM, etc. MCD is a very small operation, and every drum built is crafted by hand to make sure it comes out to Mike’s standard. Besides building ply, acrylic, hybrid, and metal drums, we really try to push solid shell drums so the customer gets a product that is unlike the other companies. We have gained recognition for our Optimal Sound Series (OSS) line, where every drum is constructed of a different species of wood. Since all types of wood have various sound characteristics, drummers can now get a wider sound spectrum by mix and matching different wood types, shell thicknesses, and bearing edge profiles so small drums have more open tones, and larger drums have powerful low-end timbre.
ET: If you could drum for any band right now, which would it be?
NC: PARAMORE! Ilan Rubin’s drumming on their latest album is phenomenal (as is everything else he is on) and playing a set of that combined with Zac Farro’s work would be a blast!
ET: What do you look to get out of your drumming career?
NC: I’ve been blessed with having the opportunity to study, play, and teach the drums full time, so my goal is to give back to the drumming community. Whether it’s educating others on the art of drumming, how a drum is built or why it sounds a particular way, or even giving them a feeling of bliss at a concert, I just want to have a positive impact on the drumming community in one way or another.
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