At only 18, drummer Kevin Smart has accomplished the unthinkable – sharing the stage with some of the biggest names in music including Miley Cyrus, Ariana Grande and Fall Out Boy. Most recently, Kevin returned from his second national tour with Warner Bros recording artist Jake Miller. All while continuing to attend high school!
Kevin’s musical success story is one of how inspiration, networking and perseverance pays off. I had the chance to speak to him about his music and how he hooked up with Jake Miller. He also gives a good piece of advice to anyone wanting to make their own dreams come true.
Did you always know that was going to be your calling? What sparked your interest?
I was always more into sports (baseball, basketball, football), but then my dad bought me a drum kit when I was 8 and kept telling me to practice. I eventually discovered that the more I did, the more I liked it. I’ve been taking lessons since I was in 6th grade and once I got into high school started seriously getting into it more.
You also play bass guitar for The Stolen. How did that come about?
My friend had a band who needed a bassist. They knew that I was a drummer and that the bass was somewhat similar because it’s a rhythm instrument. They asked me to be in the band and I said “Sure!” I’ve been playing with them ever since.
Tell me how you got hooked up with Jake Miller.
I was actually friends with Jake’s tour manager. I remember Jake was playing shows around my local area and I said to my friend, “Hey man, I really want to play drums for Jake!” He told me that if I posted a video of me playing a drum cover on YouTube, he’d show it to Jake. So, around February of last year I put out the drum cover.
What happened next?
Jake came through town to play another show I attended and while I was there, he surprised me by asking me to come up on stage and play the song with him. I remember being a bit nervous because I hadn’t played the song in a while, but Jake really liked the sound of it live. A few months later, I got a text asking me if I’d like to go on tour. That’s how it all started.
How did you work out touring with going to school?
I got the invite in mid-April and went to my guidance counselor to tell him about the opportunity. He talked to the principals and superintendent and worked out a deal where I’d be able to go on tour as long as I did my school work and submitted it via email.
What was the reality like of being on tour for the first time?
It was insane at first. I’ve always thought about what it would be like to tour from the very first time I started my own band. Traveling around in a small van hauling a trailer and playing to smaller crowds. But going out on tour with Jake was a whole different level! He has a tour bus and performs sold out shows across the country. It was pretty surreal.
What was it like getting to share the stage with Ariana Grande?
It was incredible. I’ve always had a crush on Ariana, but when I met her it was pretty crazy. Never mind the fact that I was performing with her. It was very cool!
What’s school like for you now?
I’m in my senior year now and things are starting to slow down with graduation coming up. I’m trying to gain all the knowledge that I can and plan to go to online college and manage that along with touring with Jake.
Do you have a bit of advice for others who want to follow their dream?
Hard work is the ultimate determining factor. Make as many friends as you can, don’t be closed-minded and just have fun. It’s a mix of everything but I’d say hard work is probably the biggest thing in determining whether or not you’re going to be successful, in whatever you decide to do.