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Sucker for Donuts

John Hermsmeier, a.k.a. Josh Herms, is a local drummer for hire. "I came to San Diego in 1996 to begin my freshman year at Point Loma Nazarene University," he says. "I developed a number of great relationships with a number of popular musicians from San Diego and Los Angeles that went to school there, including Greg Laswell, Ryan Calhoun, Leon Sandoval, Molly Jenson, Derren Raser, Evan Bethany, and Terrence Hale. We were all busy with our studies and didn't devote much time to making a run for it until after we finished college. I went to SDSU and earned my M.A. in history. By then I had already lived in San Diego for six years and fell in love with it, and it's not that far from Los Angeles or Orange County. It is a great place to live as long as you don't mind making the drive north when music calls."

But L.A. isn't always the land of milk and honey. "There is a club in Hollywood famous among tourists, and for different reasons, among musicians," Josh explains. "Tourists love it, and we hate it! It is a microcosm of a much bigger problem with live venues. The powers-that-be run that place like a McDonald's drive-through. They want music on and off the stage quicker than you can order the number-five combo meal. One night they gave us 'seven minutes' to get our gear from the sidewalk -- oh yeah, they don't provide a green room and there is no backstage -- into the venue, set up, and line-check. When we were done the stage manager said, 'That was great! We love it when bands come in here and are very professional and put on a good show. Now, do you think you can be offstage in 90 seconds?' "

BEST/WORST GIG?

"My worst gig has to be when my college band Sandova played for a youth event that turned out to be about seven sixth graders who sat in the half-court circle at the gym and were uninterested, to say the least. The event leaders had to actually go up to the 'crowd' and tell them to stop playing on their Game Boys and pay attention to us. Now I can laugh about it with my former bandmates, but at the time it left quite a sting...probably like how Elizabeth felt when Rosie dissed her on The View. My best gig had to be when I played drums for Greg Laswell at a showcase show at the Troubadour in West Hollywood a couple of years ago. Besides the coats and ties from the record labels, some of my favorite musicians, including Pete Yorn and members of the Smashing Pumpkins, also came to see Greg. It was a big night for him, and we all wanted to see him do well and get what he deserved. He was flawless. In fact, I don't think any of the band members made a single mistake that night. It was one of those surreal shows musicians dream about, and I got to be a part of it."

IF YOU COULD HAVE DINNER WITH ANYONE...

"I would love to have dinner with Martin Luther King Jr. I studied history in college and even taught as an adjunct professor for a time at some of the local colleges. My main interest was and always will be race relations in the U.S. and, more specifically, how predominantly white Christian churches responded to black people during the Civil Rights movement. Martin Luther King Jr.'s background with Christianity, combined with the fact that he was such an articulate speaker, would definitely make for an incredible dinner conversation. If he was up for it, I would want to stick around for dessert and coffee as well."

LAST BOOK READ?

"This summer I found myself on a John Steinbeck kick. I read several of his books. I don't recall the exact one I read last, but it was probably Cannery Row. Currently I am reading On the Road, Bob Dylan's Chronicles, Bill and Hillary Clinton's autobiographies...oh yeah, and the Bible."

GUILTY PLEASURE?

"Well, I am a sucker for donuts and also ice cream. When I was in grade school, my mom would take my older sister and I to the local donut shop with friends several times a week before school. We would also have ice cream almost every night before bed, which is bizarre because our meals were actually very nutritious --

like something June Cleaver would have made for Wally and the Beav."

BEST ADVICE I EVER RECEIVED...

"A few years ago I thought a lot about moving to Nashville to be in an environment saturated with music. I met Aaron Redfield, a fellow San Diego drummer, for breakfast to ask him how he liked his time spent living and working there. He told me how he went about getting work there, and it has completely changed my view of my role of being a hired musician. He said, 'If you're working at McDonald's and the manager tells you to make a hamburger a certain way, you aren't going to say, "But I have a better idea -- let's try it this way." That's how you should approach working as a drummer for somebody. It's their project, and they are the boss, so do it how they want it even if it's not how you would choose to do it. And make sure you are easy to work with.' "

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John Hermsmeier, a.k.a. Josh Herms, is a local drummer for hire. "I came to San Diego in 1996 to begin my freshman year at Point Loma Nazarene University," he says. "I developed a number of great relationships with a number of popular musicians from San Diego and Los Angeles that went to school there, including Greg Laswell, Ryan Calhoun, Leon Sandoval, Molly Jenson, Derren Raser, Evan Bethany, and Terrence Hale. We were all busy with our studies and didn't devote much time to making a run for it until after we finished college. I went to SDSU and earned my M.A. in history. By then I had already lived in San Diego for six years and fell in love with it, and it's not that far from Los Angeles or Orange County. It is a great place to live as long as you don't mind making the drive north when music calls."

But L.A. isn't always the land of milk and honey. "There is a club in Hollywood famous among tourists, and for different reasons, among musicians," Josh explains. "Tourists love it, and we hate it! It is a microcosm of a much bigger problem with live venues. The powers-that-be run that place like a McDonald's drive-through. They want music on and off the stage quicker than you can order the number-five combo meal. One night they gave us 'seven minutes' to get our gear from the sidewalk -- oh yeah, they don't provide a green room and there is no backstage -- into the venue, set up, and line-check. When we were done the stage manager said, 'That was great! We love it when bands come in here and are very professional and put on a good show. Now, do you think you can be offstage in 90 seconds?' "

BEST/WORST GIG?

"My worst gig has to be when my college band Sandova played for a youth event that turned out to be about seven sixth graders who sat in the half-court circle at the gym and were uninterested, to say the least. The event leaders had to actually go up to the 'crowd' and tell them to stop playing on their Game Boys and pay attention to us. Now I can laugh about it with my former bandmates, but at the time it left quite a sting...probably like how Elizabeth felt when Rosie dissed her on The View. My best gig had to be when I played drums for Greg Laswell at a showcase show at the Troubadour in West Hollywood a couple of years ago. Besides the coats and ties from the record labels, some of my favorite musicians, including Pete Yorn and members of the Smashing Pumpkins, also came to see Greg. It was a big night for him, and we all wanted to see him do well and get what he deserved. He was flawless. In fact, I don't think any of the band members made a single mistake that night. It was one of those surreal shows musicians dream about, and I got to be a part of it."

IF YOU COULD HAVE DINNER WITH ANYONE...

"I would love to have dinner with Martin Luther King Jr. I studied history in college and even taught as an adjunct professor for a time at some of the local colleges. My main interest was and always will be race relations in the U.S. and, more specifically, how predominantly white Christian churches responded to black people during the Civil Rights movement. Martin Luther King Jr.'s background with Christianity, combined with the fact that he was such an articulate speaker, would definitely make for an incredible dinner conversation. If he was up for it, I would want to stick around for dessert and coffee as well."

LAST BOOK READ?

"This summer I found myself on a John Steinbeck kick. I read several of his books. I don't recall the exact one I read last, but it was probably Cannery Row. Currently I am reading On the Road, Bob Dylan's Chronicles, Bill and Hillary Clinton's autobiographies...oh yeah, and the Bible."

GUILTY PLEASURE?

"Well, I am a sucker for donuts and also ice cream. When I was in grade school, my mom would take my older sister and I to the local donut shop with friends several times a week before school. We would also have ice cream almost every night before bed, which is bizarre because our meals were actually very nutritious --

like something June Cleaver would have made for Wally and the Beav."

BEST ADVICE I EVER RECEIVED...

"A few years ago I thought a lot about moving to Nashville to be in an environment saturated with music. I met Aaron Redfield, a fellow San Diego drummer, for breakfast to ask him how he liked his time spent living and working there. He told me how he went about getting work there, and it has completely changed my view of my role of being a hired musician. He said, 'If you're working at McDonald's and the manager tells you to make a hamburger a certain way, you aren't going to say, "But I have a better idea -- let's try it this way." That's how you should approach working as a drummer for somebody. It's their project, and they are the boss, so do it how they want it even if it's not how you would choose to do it. And make sure you are easy to work with.' "

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