Interview Scott Davis

Scott and I met in March 2014, when he was on a trip with Bethel Music in Holland and Belgium. We got along well, spent some time together in Amsterdam and my wife and I even visited Scott and his beautiful family a year later when we traveled through California. Scott is such a great guy, awesome drummer, a lot of fun to hang out with and very open and generous. I’m absolutely honored to share this interview with you, I hope you will enjoy it and learn from Scott!

Name: Scott Davis
Plays for: Derek Johnson/Jesus Culture & @ Jesus Culture Sacramento (so, all the other artists on Sunday’s)
Played with: Bethel Church (Redding, CA), The Myriad, Seabird, Wesley Jensen, Project 86

Kit: 1975 Ludwig Vista Lite on tour, Truth Drums @ Jesus Culture Church
Snare: Yamaha Anton Fig signature series
Cymbals: TRX – SFX 16” hi-hats, 23” DRK ICON ride, 22” DRK ICON Crash, 20” DRK Crash
Sticks: Silverfox, 5B
Pedal: Iron Cobra

Favorite drummer(s): Steve Joseph (my drum mentor), Josh Freese, Chris Pennie, Jason McGerr, Steve Gadd
Favorite band(s): MUSE, U2
Favorite album: Right now – Living Sacrifice: The Infinite Order
Favorite book: Lone Survivor, The Bible (not in that order!)

When did you start playing drums and who inspired you to?

– I started playing right around the beginning of high school. I was actually a guitar player, but there was always a drum set nearby so I would hop on it after band practices. For me, a lot of punk rock bands that I was listening to inspired me to jump on a kit. Listening drummers playing blazing fast punk beats inspired me to trade my guitar for drums. 

Can you share something about your journey in becoming the drummer you are now? Did you study drums, what styles of music did you listen to growing up, any favorite bands?

– I feel like I started a little later than most drummer peers I’ve been around, but that’s what pushed me to practice hard and A LOT. Also, I’ve been very clinical about my approach towards the kit, so I’ve only gone a year or two without studying with a teacher. My mentor of the last 8 years, Steve Joseph, has been a huge inspiration for me and a driving force to me learning other styles like jazz, latin, fusion and so on. He’s pushed me further than a lot of teachers I had in the past and has always been a good friend and mentor.

I grew up listening to a lot of punk rock as I mentioned before, but also U2, bands like Nirvana and Stone Temple Pilots, the Beastie Boys, along with some other hip hop. 

Scott Davis

Can you tell us about the process of when you started playing drums at Bethel?

– I went to Bethel in the youth group when I was in high school, so I had been connected to Chris Quilala and Brian Johnson from those days. Fast forward, my wife and I in 2010 had bounced around to some other churches in Redding for some years and just never really felt at home. I started getting connected with a lot of people from Bethel in music and some design stuff prior to 2010, so we just felt a draw to be back there. After I came back to Bethel I had an open door to come play drums from some of my prior connections to some of the worship team people. 

Now being a part of Jesus Culture in Sacramento, can you tell us a little bit about the process of moving from Redding to Sacramento, the choices you and your family had to make and why you made those choices?

– Well, after I was playing on the Bethel teams for a while, Jesus Culture was still very much of Bethel, and guys like Chris Q and Derek Johnson would occasionally lead worship. I got called in to fill in when Derek was leading one Friday service and immediately felt a strong connection playing with him. Eventually God started showing me in a series of dreams and prophetic words that He wanted me to get involved with Jesus Culture, and shortly after that I started traveling with Derek Johnson. Around June 2013 Jesus Culture moved to Sacramento to start a church, so I felt like being a part of that ministry may not be in the cards since we had just bought a house and we were pretty established in Redding. Eventually, I felt the Lord calling me to step down from Bethel worship in Dec 2013 which was a tough choice, but shortly thereafter (within a week or so) I got a call from Brandon Aaronson (bassist in Jesus Culture) to play drums for their two winter conferences. That basically started the momentum to moving down to Sacramento. We started driving down to Sacramento every other week around late March 2014 joining the core team meetings on Sunday and I started playing drums for the services. Then in July, we packed up, rented our house and moved down to Sacramento. 

You’ve played drums for Project 86 and The Myriad, quite a different style of music than the songs you now play with Derek Johnson and Jesus Culture. Do you think the different styles of music reflect different seasons in your life? 

I think it definitely reflects my season in life at the time. Most of my drumming career has been spent playing for bands and doing performance drumming, while worship was something I did occasionally when I wasn’t touring or if I was available – I didn’t really take it serious, I guess. I think my heart changed a lot while I was in Project 86 and I really felt like God wanted me to focus on drumming for worship. There’s something that impacted me deeply about being at Bethel and traveling with Derek and playing drums for worship and getting to see people’s lives impacted, seeing people being healed physically and emotionally and people getting saved in the Presence of God. It was doing something that was marking somebody’s life. For me, that’s why I eventually felt like I needed to focus all of my musical attention on worship and not pursue anymore performance drumming endeavors.

Scott Davis playing with Project 86

When you play with Derek Johnson, Kim Walker-Smith and Chris Quilala, how can you be creative in your playing but still serve them and the congregation? 

– I feel like one of the best ways I can serve my leaders whether it’s Chris, Kim, The Torwalt’s or whomever is leading is coming prepared knowing the songs really well. It can take a lot of time away from practice when musicians come to rehearsal or sound check and haven’t learned their parts. Another way I can serve them is trying to keep a good attitude during tough times in soundcheck or technical difficulties. At JC Sacramento we load in and load out every Sunday in Folsom High School since we don’t have a building yet, and we run in to technical difficulties almost on a weekly basis. It’s easy to get frustrated and lose your cool in those moments, especially when you have a short window to rehearse, but if I can keep the main thing the main thing, and that’s that we are there to serve people, worship God and usher His Presence in, then it’s much easier to not let the little things get to you. 

I think one way I can serve the congregation is being sensitive during spontaneous/prophetic worship. Drums are a LOUD instrument, and if there’s a quiet moment where people are just enjoying God’s Presence, I need to be sensitive to that and come in stronger or quieter when it’s appropriate. Also, keeping my drum parts really simple – this is a big one in my book. People don’t come to church to hear you show off the latest lick you learned, save that for your practice time or if you’re playing in a band that your licks can be used. People are there to worship God, and the last thing I want to do is distract them by throwing crazy fills all over the place. 

How do you support the worship leader in moments of free worship?

– This one by far is my biggest weakness. It is an area I’ve really grown in over the last few years by watching guys like Josh Fisher (Jesus Culture drummer) play, and picking his brain about his approach to spontaneous moments. Quick story: One weekend at Bethel in 2012 after what I thought was a great Sunday morning, we were back in the studio where we would usually debrief, and Jeremy Riddle came back (sorry Jeremy!) to debrief with us. He went around the room and gave out compliments… then it got to my turn. “You need to be more patient during spontaneous moments,” he said. “I want you to become a student of Josh Fisher and watch what he does during spontaneous moments,” he said. Initially I was totally bummed out by this. I felt like I had played great and the last thing I felt like at the time I wanted to do was just copy someone else. I soon got over it and it pushed me to really be a lot more sensitive and cognoscente of the crowd during spontaneous worship and to watch them (something else I learned from Josh Fisher), and to really follow the worship leaders body language, and the dynamics of their voice to know when to bring up the dynamics or to bring them down.

How do you express the things that God is doing and speaking in your life from behind the kit?

– I think my drumming, especially during spontaneous worship are a reflection of what I feel like God is speaking to me during those moments. We all strive to make God the center in every part of our life, and I consider drumming no different. I often times ask God “What should I play right here?” during a spontaneous moment. Sounds kind of silly probably, but I find I’m the most at ease when I feel out what I should play (or not play) rather than forcing it. 

What are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned throughout your life, that you want to pass on to a next generation of drummers?

– I think from the standpoint of being a musician and a Christian I’ve learned 4 things that have really helped me a lot:

• Be approachable – Christ was always approachable, He wasn’t a rockstar, He wasn’t full of Himself, He loved people and He came to the earth serve people. As you gain more favor in your drumming career (or singing, guitar playing etc.) remain humble, approachable and kind. You’re no different than anyone else, you just happen to have a God-given talent where you are in front of people.

• Serve – as a musician everyone, especially on a large platform, people tend to serve you. See where you can jump in and help, remove yourself from the pedestal.

• Remain thankful – this is a big one where sometimes I’ve failed during hard times. Thankfulness I believe is a directly related to the favor of the Lord. When we are thankful and grateful for the smaller opportunities God gives us, he blesses us with the bigger opportunities. Remain thankful for what God gives you even in hard times (which isn’t always easy!).

• Take care of you – if you play a lot or are busy serving, make sure you’re focusing on time with just you and God. If you want God to use you in big ways, it starts in your quiet times with Him and your spirit being healthy.

Scott Davis playing with Derek Johnson – The One We Love
Scott Davis playing percussion on Kim Walker-Smith’s song ‘Protector’
Scott Davis playing with Project 86 – The Crossfire Gambit (drum cam)

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