The brightest of stars not only appear as the leading acts in the forefront of sold-out shows and tours but also make up the backbone of the entire act. The musicians who accompany the leading artist are just as important, becoming the family that creates the most memorable performances of all time. Gumbumper’s Serenada’sPen captures a star-shining moment with one of the brightest, most humble, and down to earth rising musicians you will ever meet in today’s music scene. Cali’s Inglewood native Brook Alexander, lead drummer of the mind-blowing act we know to be Grammy Award Winner R&B singer/recording Artist Miguel, has a well defined view of where he’s going and what can be accomplished. With the world in his hands and dozens of screaming fans arriving at every show-stopping performance he shares amazing sage knowledge that only a professional and devoted musician can learn through his time performing in the OMG Tour with Usher, Trey Songz, and Miguel and currently R&B singer Kenny Lattimore. You will dive into the mind of the drummer who’s discovery by talent manager Ben Ricciardi jumpstarted his path to excellence in today’s contemporary R&B renaissance.
GB: Brook, Brook, Brook! Wow it’s so hard to keep up with you hot stuff! It’s an absolute Hal-le-lu-jah moment to actually have a moment to get to know the drummer who performed alongside this year’s R&B Grammy Award Winner Miguel! Thank you for lending your time with us. How are you?
Brook: Thanks so much! I greatly appreciate it. I’m doing quite all right. Ready to see what the year has in store for me. I have a good feeling about it!
GB: I bet and we want to know aaallll about it too and even more about you! I hear that you’re a California native, the “Hollywood star’s universe”. Where can we place your origins within the land of the stars?
Brook: I was born in Los Angeles, California but I was raised in Inglewood, California. Growing up in Inglewood was pretty cool. Got to experience a few things, meet some pretty cool people, learned a number of important lessons. It’s where I spent a good amount of my childhood. There were just a few ugly moments that I’ve experienced, shootings and whatnot, but I really can’t say that I’ve witnessed anything TOO crazy. I’m proud to be a native of Inglewood.
GB: Geeze you must be tough as nails to not consider “shootings and whatnot” to be TOO crazy. Coming from where I’m from (did you catch my Anthony Hamilton voice? lol) ANY shooting would be too crazy for me. You’re quite positive despite your flying bullet experience. You can still show mad love to Inglewood, sweet. As a starter point take us on into how music, specifically the drums played such an integral role in your life.
Brook: I’ve been playing drums since the age of 2. I got my first drum set when I was 4, but 2 is where it really all started (21 years my goodness! I’m old yo lol!). I can kiiiiiind of play piano also. I’m trying to get better at it, just so I can be able to keep up with all my other homies that are amazing at it. Music was constantly around me at all times. Radio, church, television, everywhere! I just always found it fascinating in some way, shape, or form. It made me feel good (Halle Berry voice). If I wasn’t watching The Power Rangers or playing with my toys, believe:
“ I was somewhere in the house listening to something on the radio/cd player, with two pencils in my hands as my drumsticks.”
GB: Ha! Did I mention he’s a wise-crack too Kool World?!! This guy just did a Halle liner on us. This is what I like about you, easily relatable. Your family is extremely musically inclined from one end to the other so unlike many households just waking up in the morning music fills the air. To step into your home right now what kind of world would I be stepping into?
Brook: My entire family does something musical…My mom sings, my little brother also plays drums, my dad plays organ and keyboards, my grandfather plays piano, my uncles play piano and organ, EVERYONE plays something and it’s amazing! You should see what our family get-togethers look like. On top of everyone being a singer/musician, my grandfather and a number of his brothers are pastors. So we meet up at one of their churches and spend time together. Those joints end up turning into a regular church service lol! One of my older cousins is also in the music industry. She’s actually on tour background singing in the Cirque De Soleil Michael Jackson show, and that’s just ONE of the things she’s been blessed to do in her career. We’re a blessed family I tell you…
GB: Yes! truly blessed indeed a true musical soiree with the fam. Maybe one day all of you can stop by as the black Van Trapp family and put on a real show. There’s also nothing like a live band at church to set the spiritual mood right as well. I’m sure without a doubt your family supports your choice in career.
Brook: My family absolutely supports my career choice. They supported me when I decided to leave college to pursue my dream, and they still support me now because they know it’s something that I love. They knew that playing drums was something that I enjoyed, and something I was good at. My mom and dad watched me beat up their furniture. They saw me configure a drum set out of pots and pans, and they acted upon it by getting me a real one. I made a LOT of noise in their house for a solid 17 years, and they didn’t complain one time. When I started getting these opportunities to tour and everything, they were extremely proud.
“I’ll never forget when I did the OMG Tour with Miguel at the Staples Center in LA.”
After we finished performing, the crowd was cheering and applauding, and the one person I could hear cheering over every other person in that arena was my mom. I kid you not…I’m so thankful that they noticed my passion. I don’t know what I’d be doing right now if it weren’t for them.
GB: Oh my Lord! You’re going to make me tear up now. To have your mom rooting for you had to be the greatest feeling. It is thoroughly enjoyable to watch all of you guys—You, Brook D’ Leau, Kelsey, Dru, and Miguel rock out together. How long have you been performing in front of a live audience?
Brook: I didn’t really perform LIVE until I was about 10, when I became the drummer for my grandpa’s church. I was too afraid to play drums in front of people before that age for some reason. And I guess I would say the performance that jump-started the professional journey was this one particular night that I played at this local jam session that they had here in Cali. There was a spot called “Cozy’s,” and people would just come out and play/sing songs all night. One night I ended up playing 3 songs and got to do a solo in one of them. The people loved it, and that’s how I met Ben Ricciardi, who was the one that got me the audition with Miguel. Good lookin’ Ben! Migs was going on tour with Usher very soon, and they checked me out, and a few other guys on drums. I went in, did my thing, and got a call from Miguel saying that he wanted me to go on the road with him as his drummer. I don’t think I’ve ever been that excited since! That changed my life… I’m grateful to Migs for giving me the opportunity, and I’m proud to say that I’ve gotten a chance to work with him on many occasions.
GB: To think it can happen just like that–extraordinary. Good looking out is right for Ben Ricciardi because if it wasn’t for people like him paying close attention who knows if another chance would’ve ever came along. So the BIG question is will we see you performing with Migs at the one and only 55th Grammy Awards?
Brook: I won’t be with him at the Grammys, but my boy RJ Kelly may be with him playing drums. I’ve actually embarked on another journey with Kenny Lattimore recently. But, I’ll definitely be tuning in hoping that Miguel gets a Grammy, which I’m sure he will. He’s more than deserving of it…
GB: Well…sooky sooky now Mr. Alexander! Kenny Lattimore aint too bad at all. You’re moving up in the world. We will definitely be scoping out this new venture you’re embarking and since we’re on the topic of major headlining acts maybe you can share some of your inside tales of the “life behind the stage”. Anything juicy you can share with us is highly favored –without pleading the 5th!
Brook: Well…. Hahaha! The first major tour I did was the OMG tour. It was Miguel, Trey Songz, and Usher…. I really don’t need to continue LOL! Nah there really isn’t anything “juicy” to tell really. We did the gig, went back to the bus, and headed to an after-party, have a good time with the whole crew, and did it again the next day!
GB: umhm it’s just that simple, riiight! Don’t worry we can imagine haha. But for real though the after-parties are it. It’s where a roadie like yourself would want to be as a traveling musician. What did you take away from performing and engaging up close and personal with Mr. “Sure Thing” himself?
Brook: Miguel is probably one of the most interesting people I’ve ever worked with. Working with him was a process… and I’m saying that in the best way possible. He’s the kind of artist that knows exactly what he wants to hear, and what he wants to convey, and if something doesn’t sound right, it’s not going down lol! And I appreciated that because in some situations, I’ve adapted that mentality. I appreciate Miguel’s passion for what he does, and his desire to blow minds while remaining in his own lane and being himself. That inspired me to approach anything the same way. Gotta stay in my own lane. Plus the shows were always crazy!! I’ve also gotten to work with Kenny Lattimore. Kenny is also a great artist to work with. Very humble, passionate, and he looks out for anyone that’s working with him. He understands his purpose in this music industry, and like Miguel, he remains who he is and will not conform whatsoever. Every show I do with Kenny is always a lot of fun. He lets us be us, because he’s doing the exact same thing himself. And working in the studio with him was amazing… it was long! But amazing!
“I appreciate Miguel’s passion for what he does, and his desire to blow minds while remaining in his own lane and being himself. That inspired me to approach anything the same way. Kenny is also a great artist to work with. He understands his purpose in this music industry, and like Miguel, he remains who he is and will not conform whatsoever.”
GB: Staying true to one self is the biggest challenge us people, on the outside, have come to realize about the music industry. There’s conformity and we see it with Music Artists especially after the second or third album. One song I can still remember from Kenny Lattimore is “For You”. It was such a big deal leading up to the release of the video and I still remember and love it to this day. With Miguel and Lattimore knowing exactly what they want as Artists, not budging for anyone, there should be a certain amount of freedom as a musician to create music for them…
Brook: To a certain extent…if the artist wants the music to go a certain route, then that’s exactly how you have to take it. However, we are free to include our own style. They give us the freedom to express ourselves within their project. With my own projects, I could be inspired by anything. Movies, movie scores, people on the street, other styles of music, anything. It has to hit me out of nowhere though. That’s when it works best for me…when it’s not forced.
GB: I’m glad you touched on “feeling the inspiration” to create instead of just putting out just to put out anything because surely there’s pressure at one point in time one way or another. There’s pressure regardless on trying to live up to and meet the expectations but nothing compares to trying to get noticed and putting yourself out there.
Brook: What a few people fail to realize, is that if you’re really good at something, you have to share that with people. You have to let people know that you can do what you can do. Expose your gift to the world. I made sure that somebody knew that I could play some dang on drums! I networked, I got out of my comfort zone, and I displayed my gift. When people know that you can do what you can do, then the sky is the limit! Because everybody knows somebody, that knows somebody, that knows somebody! So really, it’s up to you to just simply advertise yourself to the right person/people, and word spreads like wildfire. You have to stand out as well. Show someone that for some reason, YOU, of all people deserve to get the opportunity. Also, anybody can be the best whatever in the world, but if your arrogant, difficult to work with, and unprofessional, your time in any field will be cut short. The talent might get you there, but a good personality and your professionalism will guarantee longevity.
“… if you’re really good at something, you have to share that with people. You have to let people know that you can do what you can do.”
GB: Powerful and extremely valuable advice you’ve just given that everyone will take with them forever in whatever their endeavors are. At this point in time the number of requests would be climbing I presume from all your appearances and connections so far. How are you managing your scheduling and gigs at this point in time?
Brook: I actually don’t have a manager or anything. I’ve been getting connected through friends of mine that recommend me for work. At some point I probably will get a manager though. That may take my career to the next level, but for now I’m managing myself.
GB: Very impressive you’ve been handling all your business on your own. Take heed Kool World, this guy is the real –ish. In terms of the slam, bam, bang of the cymbals and pounding of the drums, what distinguishes your style from another drummer?
Brook: My style is aggressive, yet tender… I’ll go all out, but I’ll do so in a way that the music is still respected. I’m all about taste. I like to have a purpose for everything thing that I do when I’m playing, but on a few occasions I will go completely stupid on you for no reason whatsoever. I guess you could call it… Gumbo LOL! It’s a nice mixture of everything!
GB: ha! Good ole’ GUMBO huh, just like Danny Wayne. Ya’ll must have connections (wink). The crab are the drum sticks, the cymbals are the sausage, the sound of both together are the rice, and all the other fixins’ represent the wildin’ out! Which brings me to this, I’m sure you’ve thought of what would make the BEST dream performance of all time…
Brook: Well this is kind of epic… I have WAY too many answers. My Ultimate performance would consist of the following: performing at the Grammies, playing on Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve, performing as part of the headlining act at Coachella, playing at the Rock In Rio festival, playing during an American Idol finale, doing an arena tour in which I’m playing for the headliner, and the biggest one of all for me… playing a Super Bowl halftime show. My list of people that I want to perform with include the following!: Jojo, Justin Timberlake, Ciara, Kendrick Lamar, Celine Dion, Justin Bieber (judge me!), Childish Gambino, John Mayer, Taylor Swift, Rascal Flatts, The Backstreet Boys, Beyonce, Sting, P!nk, F.U.N, Maroon 5, Jhene Aiko, Brandy, Skrillex, Paul McCartney, PRINCE, If he was still here with us… Michael Jackson…I’ll end it right there smh. Also, it’s a dream of mine to work on a movie score. I don’t know how I’m gonna do it, but I’d love to work with Alan Menken, Hans Zimmer, and John Williams. These guys are some of my favorite movie score composers. Fashionable look, honestly I don’t even trip too hard about that. I play in the backrounds yo lol, as long as I look GOOD I’m straight.
GB: A Mighty List! I love your zest for what you love to do and seeing how far you can go with it. A music score would be awesome. As a Belieber you don’t have to worry about being judged on the Biebs. He has a fly act and if I were you he would be on my list too. And of course with all the fast-paced excitement and thrills there’s the other side of the coin. How do you handle what can be considered the “dark” side of this life?
Brook: Honestly, when stuff gets tough for me on the road, I pray. Take a while to just be by myself and pray. When you’re on the road for a long period of time, it beats you down. Sometimes you miss holidays, birthdays, funerals, it’s tough! But prayer is a powerful thing. And of course with technology now-a-days, it’s easy to get in touch with your people back home. So reaching out to your family and friends is highly suggested. The music industry is a tough business. On top of it being tiring and demanding, you’ll have to do a bunch of stuff you don’t want to do, and do so with a smile on your face. And you will have a number of bumps in the road. Whether it’s from management disagreements, some political nonsense, etc.
“You all see the lights, the stages, all the fans, the VIP treatment and all that, but at the end of the day we’re still regular people that are just doing our jobs.”
Granted it’s an amazing job to have, but you gotta have tough skin and a right mind to be successful in this business.
GB: Sincere and honest. This surely touched my heart and many others, thank you for sharing your insight. Now you have an opportunity to focus on your own self-made projects. From watching a video with you and your band mate John Whitt Jr. you both have great, fun, creative energy together. Costumes, silliness, and just acting like two big hams. How did it turn out?
Brook: We initially weren’t even gonna shoot the video for that song we arranged, but we just said what the heck! The song was the focal point though. We just really wanted to do something where we could put our ideas to a song and make it feel more LIVE. It was a good way for us to practice arranging songs for live performances too. We’ve done a few of those together actually. We started a few years back by creating an intro idea for Miguel. We never got to show it to him, but I still think that’s one of the best projects that we’ve done. There is another project that we’ve done that’s up on you tube. It’s just a video of me playing drums to it, but John and I did the same thing to a song from the Avatar soundtrack. To this day, that is still my absolute favorite thing that we’ve done. I honestly don’t think anything else we do can top that lol. I wanted to present something different. Drummers all over the world were doing drum covers of pop, hip-hop, and r&B songs. I wanted to stand out and do something different, so I had the idea to do a drum cover to a movie score piece from Avatar. There were things I wanted to add, but couldn’t do on my own, so I reached out to John and he was more than happy to join in. We changed the game with that one!!
GB: As a finishing touch tell us what “Success” means to you.
Brook: Success to me is accomplishing your goals and dreams while still being who you are, and inspiring others in the process, and being an example to an up and coming generation of how to effectively use your God given gift to its fullest potential.
“Fame in my own words is recognition from your peers and the world for something that you’ve done.”
And I say “something” because people also become famous for doing the stupidest things ever in life. In my own regards, its respect and appreciation from my peers for my playing and musicianship. It’s definitely possible to be successful without being famous. There’s plenty of people in the world that have been successful and have gotten little, to NO recognition at all for it. And to most, I would assume that they’re ok with that. Fame isn’t important to me at all really. My goal was to be a professional drummer. Sure I greatly appreciate the recognition, especially from fellow musicians. That’s one of the greatest feelings in the world to me. But I never make it a point to think of being famous. I have a job to do. I’ll play my part in the background and that’ll be all for me.
GB: With that frame of mind you will never be dissapointed since “fame” is not your goal-set. But there’s definitely more to your abilities than just back-up so surely there’s going to be many more doors to open and more avenues to explore. This is just the beginning for you for sure. Your time has been absolutely valuable and enlightening Brook. Share with everyone the best way to keep up with the Latest and Greatest.