Hug a Drummer: Everything Gets Easy

“And then you speak to me, and everything gets easy”

Kendra McWilliams, Courtesy

Kendra McWilliams, Courtesy

Kendra McWilliams, Courtesy

The day was April 2nd, 2016. My sister and I were waiting outside of The Criterion for our Meet & Greet with Brad and Stephan. This was the first time we would be meeting them in person so the level of excitement was off the charts! We made friends with the other people in line, and we all anxiously waited for our turn to go inside. We watched the band’s sound check which was both awesome and entertaining. We listened to them practice and saw just how much detail they put into the show. They spent half an hour just trying to perfect the “Faster” intro. It was very intriguing and amusing to watch them interact and poke fun at each other. Then, once they were finished, it was time for us to meet them.

Kendra McWilliams, Courtesy

Kendra McWilliams, Courtesy

They started at the opposite end of the line from us so we were going to be one of the last ones to meet them and get our picture taken. We practiced in our heads what we were going to say so we didn’t look like babbling idiots. We each had our items that we were going to get signed. I had a song lyric printed on card stock, and my sister had a framed picture of Stephan that she had taken at a previous show.

As we waited in line, my nervousness began to build. I’m not typically a shy person when I meet people for the first time, but come on, these aren’t normal people. Stephan approached me first, I was super intimidated by Stephan because I mean come on, it’s Stephan freakin’ Jenkins. Stephan signed my stuff and then it was time to take a picture with him. I tried to speak, but nothing happened. I couldn’t even mutter a word, let alone form a complete sentence. I awkwardly laughed and smiled like a crazy person, but no words were actually spoken. All of the pep talks I had given myself and the things I wanted to say didn’t happen because I just froze. I might as well have been a decoration on the wall at that point because I was lifeless.

Kendra McWilliams, Courtesy

Then it was Brad’s turn to sign my picture and take a photo. I think he could tell that I was nervous as I stood there frozen, and probably wanted to make sure I wasn’t dead. So he lightened the tension by saying, “Did you guys enjoy sound check?” Suddenly, by some sort of miracle, I could breathe again and was actually able to form words. I told him yes, we enjoyed watching sound check and how fun it was watching them joke back and forth on stage. Stephan had moved on to take a photo with my sister and sign her picture that she brought. When Brad went to sign her picture, he said, “Are you sure you want me to sign this, since it’s just a picture of Stephan?” Stephan then looked at the picture and said “Is that me? Damn I look good!” The four of us cracked up laughing and just like that my nervousness disappeared.

Kendra McWilliams, Courtesy

Kendra McWilliams, Courtesy

Brad and Stephan continued to chat with us for a little bit longer since we were the second to last people in line. We told them how Self-Titled was the first CD my sister ever bought and how much we loved their music. They commented about how much they liked the venue. It was actually the grand opening of The Criterion that night. They made a joke about it still smelling like paint fumes in there (which it did). They told us to enjoy the show, and then sadly, just like that, our time with them was over.

I will never forget that night and I credit a lot of that to Brad. He was able to sense that I was nervous and made it so I was comfortable enough to actually speak. If he had not eased the tension with small talk, I wouldn’t have said anything and I would’ve regretted it forever.

Kendra McWilliams, Courtesy

Kendra McWilliams, Courtesy

I absolutely adore Brad and I love how normal he seems. I know that sounds strange, but most of the time, you don’t think of rock stars as being normal. But in my opinion, he makes my favorite band seem more relatable. From his snapchat and Instagram stories to his twitter posts, he just seems so genuine. He is very humble considering how great of a drummer he is. That kind of humbleness is rare in this day and age, especially in the music business. I want to end this tribute by saying Thank you, Brad. Thank you for helping me say actual words at the Meet and Greet. Thank you for being a part of this band for so many years. Thank you for continuing to be my favorite drummer and for just being you.

 

Kendra McWilliams (Criterion), Courtesy