Aug. 13 2007
Jorel Flynn

Jorel Flynn

Toni Braxton/Independent

TAMA :You have quite a range in skills and styles on the drums. How did you develop your skills on the instrument?

Jorel : Naturally. It was passed down from my brothers. And actually all of my family is musically inclined. It first started with me trying to mimic them, and then it turned into something else when I actually started getting good at it. I took it a little bit more seriously. I had started playing the bass guitar; I played it for a year and a half, but then I ended up coming back to the drums when I moved to Atlanta from Waycross, Georgia.

TAMA : Did you have any lessons or formal training?

Jorel : Well, I played football and basketball. I had an ear for the drums and I enjoyed playing. I really didn't start taking it seriously until I came here to Atlanta and I was in a session with a guy that was the lead guitar player for Cameo. I felt left out because everybody could read charts except for me, and that changed my whole perspective on the instrument. It made me dig in a lot more.

TAMA : Who are some of your biggest musical influences?

Jorel : Ricky Lawson, Sonny Emery. He really helped me with the technical side of drumming. Also, Brian Frasier-Moore and Lil'John Roberts. Right now I'm filling in for Lil' John on a gig while he' on tour with Janet [Jackson]. And Brian Frasier-Moore and I did double drums for Toni, Toni, Toni a while back.

TAMA : How did you land the drum seat with Toni Braxton, and what does that gig require of you?

Jorel : A bass player named Trey Gilbert who is actually playing for New Edition right now called me to do it. We did Kelly Price's last R&B. Actually most of my referrals and gigs come from bass players more so than drummers, because the drums and bass coincide musically. I started playing with Mike Phillips because of a referral from a bass player. And from there the list goes on. I've gotten to play with a lot of musicians that way.

TAMA : You are getting a new Tama Birch Bubinga kit. What made you decide on this particular kit?

Jorel : I've always liked the sound of birch; how it sounds in the studio, and I also just love the feel of it. When I was talking to Tama, I was explaining that I didn't really want a harsh, maple sound. I wanted something that would give me a different type of attack, but still have the presence of birch. So, I was introduced to the new Birch Bubinga kit, which wasn't even offered in the U.S. yet. And I'm always trying to stand apart, so I jumped at the opportunity to get it.

TAMA : Can you outline your drum setup for us?

Jorel : My toms are 8",10",12",14",16". And, I have a 20" and 22" kick drum. I decided to go with all even sizes. Just sonically it sounds better and it's easier for me to do what I need to do.

TAMA : Tell us about your project, D.R.E.S. the Beatnik. What's going on with that group?

Jorel : Well, D.R.E.S. started doing some underground stuff for his music right now. And I actually launched a whole new fusion funk band. It's called Catfood. We're signed with a distributing company out of Japan, and we're going to be releasing a CD in the next month or two. We've also been working with Paris Bennett from American Idol, and we introduced a song for her. It's supposed to be aired on American Idol.com soon.

TAMA : Is the group touring?

Jorel : We're doing a Tom Joyner tour with Mike Phillips, the saxophone player who played with Prince. And he's actually the only artist to be endorsed by Michael Jordan himself. He and Jill Scott were on the same label, Hidden Beach. Now Mike Phillips is carrying Hidden Beach by himself for his own artistry. He's doing Prince as well as his own thing, and we're doing the Tom Joyner tour. He actually has a show on Bet On Jazz, You Have Reached Mike Phillips on BET. We just did some television stuff for BET with Mike Phillips and that's going to be coming out really soon.

TAMA : What other projects are you currently involved with or do you have in the works?

Jorel : I have some music coming out with Phil Perry. I just did a track that he's singing on for a jazz trumpeter named Joey Summerfield. It's just a collection of jazz artists. And Lil'John and I will both be on the same project.

I have a few grammy nominated tracks that I played on, from gospel to R&B and funk. I play a lot of different types of music. I believe that music is felt, so if you feel it, then you can play it. And I feel a lot of different kinds of music. It doesn't sound stiff until we try to write it down, and we dot every "i"and cross every "t". That's when it's not fun anymore.

TAMA : Do you have any advice for young, aspiring drummers?

Jorel : I always say, listen and write as much music as you can. And also, if you are getting into drumming or any instrument for the money, you'll never make a beat of success. You have to do it for the love of the instrument, and the money is just icing on the cake. Because, I would play drums if I wasn't paid for it. I've met a lot of bands that get into it because they want to be famous, but that's not why they should be doing it. They should do it because they sound good and they like playing together.