March 2024 | Volume 38

1. Hi Melanie! Please introduce yourself to those who might not know you. 
Hey there, I’m Melanie Jo, and I play drums. 

2. How did your connection with Shira and Gritty In Pink come about?                       
I believe Shira sent me a message about playing in the Gritty In Pink Jams, and I’ve been a part ever since.

3. What's it like to be a part of the effort to create a supportive community for a set of diverse womxn in the music industry?          
It’s been an amazing experience, and I’ve gotten to play with very talented women and made lots of wonderful friendships too.

4. When did you realize you wanted to pursue a music career?  
From a very young age, I was singing and playing guitar at 5, but when I saw this drummer in my middle school jazz band, I told myself I wanted to do that. After that, I started playing in local bars in Florida by 14.

5. Any valuable advice you learned from performing alongside musicians such as Slash, Nancy Wilson, and ZZ Top? 
Don’t be nervous, and know the songs upside down. When I first learned I got the gig with Billy Gibbons, I was nervous because I love ZZ Top, but I was prepared at the rehearsals, and it was a breeze. Plus, Billy is the nicest and sweetest person. Same with Slash and Nancy. In the first rehearsal I had with Slash and Nancy Wilson, we played “Barracuda,” and in my head, I was like “Omg, I’m playing with Slash and Nancy. How in the world did I get here?” Then I laughed and said, “'Don’t forget the measure in 5.”   

6.You recently had the opportunity to perform at the She Rocks Awards. What did that opportunity mean for you? 
It was such a great experience to play at the She Rocks Awards, honoring such talented women in music. Thanks to Jimena Fosado for having me play with her and Lex Wolfe to open the award show.

7. What challenges have you faced as a female drummer in what has historically been a male-dominated field?      
Getting paid equally may be an overall problem in music at the moment, but there have been some lowball numbers thrown out, so make sure you're getting paid the standard rate, and don’t take less.

8. Do you have a fun pre-performance routine that you adhere to before stepping onto the stage?            
Listening to music and just relaxing, especially on tour, drumming is very physical, so I like saving my energy for the show.

9. Favorite show or venue you’ve played at?  
Playing the Orpheum in LA with Billy Gibbons, there were so many celebrities in the packed audience, one being Johnny Depp. I was like, is that…oh yes, it is Johnny Depp.

10. Are there any particular drummers who have influenced your style? 
I love John Bonham, and I like a lot of gospel players like Thomas Pridgen, Eric Moore, Tony Royster Jr., and Aaron Spears, who unfortunately passed away a few months ago.

11. What advice would you give to aspiring female drummers?
The best advice is to practice. I give myself that advice every day.

12. If you could play or go on tour with any artist, who would it be? 
Incubus, I love their music and learned how to play drums from listening to their albums.

13. What music genre would people be surprised that you like?                       
Reggae. I’ve played in a few reggae bands, and if there's a reggae festival, you’ll probably see me there. I also love reggae drumming, it’s a different feel. It’s not straight or swung like jazz – it’s in between.

14. What is your favorite comfort show or movie to watch?                 
Almost Famous 

15. What’s next? 
I have some fun shows coming up in March and a tour in June. Speaking of which, you all should come to the Whiskey a Go Go on March 12 for Gritty In Pink doing The Ultimate Jam Night.