How To Start Playing Drums On YouTube - My Story

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In this blog we're taking a look at my first YouTube video: a drum cover of Corruption by Northlane, from May 2012. I'll tell you how the video happened, put it into some personal context, and share some things I learned in the process, starting with: think before you get a mullet haircut.


My first YouTube video: Corruption - Northlane

I Started Playing Drums At School In 2008

In year 10 at school, I took contemporary music as a subject. We studied music theory, technology, and history as a class, and were required to learn an instrument in order to be put into bands and learn how to play with others.

I chose drums, despite never playing before, because I had always dreamed about it and somehow knew it was my instrument. I quickly took this interest outside of the classroom, using a much earlier version of YouTube to teach myself, and started a band with some friends.

Mike Johnston and Cobus were the flavour of that year for me, and some of the only people putting themselves into this niche at the time, and I gained so much in my early days from both of these proficient teachers. After I had the basics down, along came Luke Holland in 2009, and suddenly the inspiration shifted gears.

Luke Holland's first YouTube video: Meddler - August Burns Red

This video from Luke really opened my eyes to the potential of YouTube and the drum video niche, and to the potential of my own abilities: driving me to question what I was capable of doing with this newly discovered talent. I became totally obsessed with Luke's videos and learned many of the same songs, creating my own stick tricks in order to try and emulate the visual appeal which Luke creates so effortlessly.

I continued learning from YouTube and playing at school, eventually joining more co-curricular projects and performing at shows. After a couple of years walking the musician path, leaving school and making local connections through bands, the right group of people found me, and I joined a band called Graveyards in 2011.

This band put my playing to the test, giving me a lot to learn and putting me on stage for shows regularly in our hometown Adelaide, and all over Australia. We even travelled to Indonesia and Thailand to play shows. I met many great people and created so many rich memories during this time, all the while refining my craft at the back of the stage.


Graveyards playing a show in Sydney, Australia - 2011

The Northlane Connection

In 2011, Northlane were getting ready to drop the bomb that exploded minds everywhere, their first full length album: Discoveries. For whatever reason, Graveyards ended up sharing the stage with Northlane a number of times during the year and we all learned a lot from our experiences alongside them.

Through these shows, I got to meet Nic Pettersen and talk drums, many times getting to watch him play from side-stage, which an was incredible opportunity I used to the fullest. On November 11, 2011, Discoveries was released.

Fast forward to 2012, and after a few months of touring with Discoveries, Nic posted his first video on YouTube. It was one of my favourite tracks - Corruption. This is where the story gets real.

May 12, 2012 - Nic Pettersen posts his Corruption video

After seeing this video, I felt that the YouTube world had approached me close enough, and I got the hint. It was time to throw myself into the ring.

There was some kind of shift in my awareness, and I started to believe that maybe I could do the same as my online idols were doing. It was one of those moments where something from the back burner comes forward to be assessed without warning, and inspiration is there to light up the vision.

I had watched Nic play this live time and time again, my friends and I all knew every word of this song from start to finish. I had refined my skills playing shows. I had some free time. I had the drums, we had the technology. I just had to learn how to bring it all together. But would I be able to pull it off?


STICKNINJA // Northlane blesses me with a massive boost to my YouTube debut

On May 21, 2012, I created a YouTube account and posted my first cover: Corruption by Northlane. It caught the eye of someone at team Northlane, getting posted to their official Facebook page, and therefore was placed in front of many other Northlane fans like me. The result felt like an overnight success, my brand new channel receiving a massive kickstart of traffic and engagement within the first 24 hours. After hundreds of hours practicing, and 4 years learning drums by myself from scratch, now I was on the other side of the screen, and it felt pretty wicked; if not a bit strange and foreign.

Lessons From Corruption

It felt like I had just passed through some kind of filter, and was unable to return the way I came through. What just happened? Life had changed perspective.

I learned many things about myself, about time management and stress, about playing drums, and most importantly, about putting videos together. I also learned how achieving a goal can open the door for your ego to come in and play games.

The video creation process forced me to create many practice regimes and workflow implementations which I hope to unpack and teach in future blogs as I continue to tell the story.


"I will become the end of this sad and bleak corruption that reigns on all."

I hope you've found this post valuable in some way. There are many people to thank for being involved in viewing and sharing this video across the internet, and a personal perspective is the least I can do. I'm sending gratitude to all who have supported me in the past and all who continue to support me after so much time.

Next Time...

Next time, we'll take a look at Doomsday - I, The Breather, and I will explain how I got a free drum kit by making my second YouTube video. 

If you're after more drums, head to my YouTube. If you're after photography, try my Instagram. I'd love to answer any questions you have or give you some tips. If you would like to contact me, use the contact form or find me on the social platform of your choice - all my social links are at the bottom of the page. If you'd like some free training on digital business skills, ask me about SFM or click here.

Thanks for being here; you could be anywhere else in the world. Xx


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