The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

In the Spotlight

October 26, 2012

Hitting it big: Johnstown grad snares ‘SNL’ gig early in career

— The talent of David Myers Jr. has taken him from Kernville to Hollywood.

Myers, who graduated from Greater Johnstown High School in 2011, found himself performing live on the Sept. 15 season opener of “Saturday Night Live.”

Myers was manning the drum set behind the show’s musical guest, Frank Ocean, who performed “Thinkin Bout You” and “Pyramids.” Also performing with Ocean was pop and blues rock musician John Mayer.

At the age of 20, Myers has been acclaimed as an incredible musician by his peers.

He is single and now calls Los Angeles home.

He is a student at Musicians Institute College of Contemporary Music in Hollywood, where he is enrolled in the drum performance program.

“I chose L.A. because of the opportunities it can offer not only in music but also in many other career paths,” he said.

Myers had to audition for Ocean to get the gig on “SNL.”

“They were looking for someone who could hold a strong pocket (groove), but they were also looking for someone who was a cool person, down to earth, with no drama and stuff like that,” Myers said.

He was the only drummer to audition for Ocean. The performer was there when Myers auditioned.

“He had the final say, and he loved the work and parts I played,” Myers said. “I was relieved once he said my drum parts were ‘sick.’ ”

Prior to appearing on “SNL,” Ocean took him on tour to Europe and Canada.

Myers is the son of Linda and David Myers Sr. of Kernville.

Like many youngsters, young David enjoyed banging on pots and pans.

His aunt, Phyllis Chism of Jackson, Tenn., noticed his enthusiasm and bought him a paper drum set, which didn’t last long, he said.

“My dad bought me my first real drum set,” he said. “I was 5 or 6 when I started playing drums in church.”

His uncle, Sam Morris of Johnstown, a member of Wings of Faith gospel group, saw his potential and nurtured his talent.

“I have played in his gospel group with him from my younger years up until I moved,” Myers said.

Needless to say, his parents are proud of their son.

“He never had a music lesson when he was young and learned to play by ear,” Linda Myers said. “We had a strict policy of letting him play only between the hours of 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.”

He didn’t take private lessons until about seventh grade.

“I won a scholarship to take private lessons from Shawn Miller,” he said. “I took them to learn how to read music and just better myself.”

He credits Miller, music teacher at Westmont Hilltop Elementary School, for recognizing his potential and encouraging him to continue to grow musically.

Miller said Myers has a special talent and a good ear for music.

“He is a very dedicated young man who always put forth his best effort to achieve his goal,” Miller said. “He is a rare talent and a gifted percussionist.”

At Greater Johnstown, Myers was involved in marching band, jazz band, concert band and indoor percussion. He also helped with orchestra at times when needed.

“I didn’t get involved in local bands till my senior year in high school,” he said.

That all changed when he met Johnny Bayush in jazz band.

“He asked me if I wanted to join a band and I said yes,” he said. “We added Robbi Rummel and Sebastian Steel to form Bitter Authority.”

He was with the group for more than six months before he moved for school.

Myers said he has grown a lot in a few short years.

“From drumming in church, taking private lessons and having support from others, I was inspired to move to Los Angeles to go after my dreams,” Myers said. “I’ve learned so much over the past year from the small things that make or break a band, to the business side of music, to bettering myself as a drummer and overall musician, to life in general.”

Myers was performing with artists at school before getting the chance to play with Ocean.

He called his “SNL” experience “crazy,” loving every second of it.

“From the email asking me if I was free to do it to the last note I played, everyone on the cast was so nice and friendly,” Myers said. “They love what they do and are good at it.”

He admitted to being in shock through the entire experience of being on national television, but tried to remain calm.

“I didn’t expect it this soon in my career, thinking I would be 23 or 25 by the time anything would happen,” he said. “I just kept cool and went with the flow of things. But it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience to also play with John Mayer, who is an amazing person and guitarist.”

Myers said the exposure he got from being on “SNL” is paying dividends.

“I was getting respect by some well-known musicians who are doing this for a living, so it felt nice hearing their input,” he said. “I believe it will open more doors later in life.”

He is still in contact with Ocean and is considered his drummer unless something changes.

“Everyone knows how the music business can be,” he said. “I believe it will get me more work in the business because Frank is on the verge of becoming a huge, successful artist. I plan to be there as he grows because I’m growing myself by trying to keep working and moving forward.”

Myers admires the stylings of drummer Tony Royster Jr.

“He’s just amazing. For those who hear me play, they know I model the majority of my playing after him,” Myers said.

He also composes his own music as well as working with other up-and-coming artists.

“For me, I hope to land some more gigs with major artists and continue to build on my dreams,” Myers said. “ I just want to thank everybody who has supported me. It means a lot.”

Because of those who have helped him, Myers wants to inspire others to go after their dreams “because anything is possible.”

“I love drums with all my heart and plan to make a career out of it,” Myers said.

Readers may check out his work at www.soundcloud.com/myers92.

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