FROM ASPIRING DRUM TECH TO TOURING DRUMMER FOR BIG & RICH
NASHVILLE SINCE 2000
Professional drummer Keio Stroud didn’t think he’d get to play music. “I hated college and liked music so I moved to Nashville because I wanted to be around music,” he says. “I didn’t think I was gonna get to play, I just wanted to be around it.” His goal was to be a drum tech on tours. “I’m a failure,” he says jokingly.
Keio grew up in Athens, Georgia. His dad is a musician, and had a friend who had a cover band in Nashville. “The deal was I could come here and play in that cover band until I got a gig as a tech,” he says. He was playing one night at Fiddle & Steel and a guy approached him afterwards and asked if he wanted to join him on his summer tour. It was 90’s icon Wade Hayes. Keio hit the road, and one gig led to another. Now, you can catch him onstage with Big & Rich.
If you were handed a list of the country artists Keio has worked with, you’d probably mistake it for a list of country artists, period. He’s set the pace for artists from Florida Georgia Line to Keith Urban, Emmylou Harris to the Nashville Star show.
Though it might sound like a breeze once you’re in the door, Keio shares that it’s an incredibly volatile industry. Because you’re in close proximity with everyone on tour, including the artist, it’s very easy for professional situations to become personal, and complicated, quickly. On the flip side, being a good person to be around on tour ensures you’ll have strong opportunities after the gig ends.
“Every gig I’ve ever gotten has been from that,” Keio says. “Almost every gig I’ve auditioned for I’ve not gotten. And the two I did get from auditions I got fired from. Which is fine. You get there and you’re like ah, I’m not the right person, they’re gonna fire me. That’s part of it. Because the other part of being you is that you’re not for everybody.”
It also requires a lot of versatility. Keio was once asked to fill in for four dates last minute because the drummer had appendicitis. He was at a White Snake concert when he got the call, and grabbed a bag from his car, had a friend move it to a garage, and was on the bus that night.
Though it requires a fair share of flexibility and patience, it’s in many ways a dream gig. “You’re meeting people that are like you,” Keio says. “Most of us grow up with people who aren’t like us and feel kind of like the outsider, the loner. Then you move away or come to a place like Nashville and there are a lot of people just like you that have moved here to pursue a dream.”
“When I’m at a festival if I’m in the first band or the last band,” he continues, “I hang out all day because I want to watch everybody play, I want to meet everybody, and I want to enjoy people.”
Hear more from Keio here.
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