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Wale Drummer Eric Curry on how to stay in killer shape while traveling the country on tour for a living
Written by:
Emily Plazek

“To me, it’s the most important part of tour. Mind clear, body right, or your performance is not as good…. you have to be dedicated to it though”

Eric doing his thing behind Wale and G-EAZY

At the 2009 VMAs, when Kanye West upstaged Taylor Swift, a house band sat onstage off to the right, taking it all in. In that house band was drummer Eric Curry. This summer, Eric laughed as he told me on FaceTime that “we could see everyone running around backstage... it all got very chaotic, very quickly. We thought it was a joke.”

Eric Curry took my cycling class downtown at the YMCA this summer, because Wale was playing at Stage AE that night -- and he’s the drummer. He landed in my class because while he’s on tour, he looks up fitness classes in each city to get his sweat on before soundcheck.

After class I casually ask newcomers where they work, and after I found out his deal we stayed after class (for way too long) excitedly talking about the state of the music industry for indie musicians. Then we exchanged numbers so I could FaceTime-interview him with my interns in the office. Here’s that story!

Thanks, Eric, for FaceTime-ing with me and the interns!

Who is Eric Curry, and what does he have to do with the MIC mission?

Eric represents a “Behind-the-Scenes” musician like in The MVMT. He’s not “Front-line” in the sense that he doesn’t use his own namesake (in fact, you won’t even find him on social media, it’s not his style), but he’s an indie musician as a for-hire drummer. He plays for Wale and other house bands, so while he’s a “for-hire”, he’s pretty much never waiting around for a new gig -- he’s a busy, touring musician.

Eric is also a super prime example of “Product Development” and how health affects your music career. He stays in shape on tour -- which is a hard feat while traveling! Take so many pages out of his books, indies - especially if you dream of being out on the road.

Let’s start out with the health/fitness topic, then dive into how he got to this career:

Staying fit and well-nourished on tour:

“To me, it’s the most important part of tour. Mind clear, body right, or your performance is not as good…. you have to be dedicated to it though”

Like I said earlier, as the tour bus hits each new city, Eric figures out his gameplan to get in a workout before his late-afternoon soundcheck either at the hotel gym, inside the venue or dressing room, or at a local gym (like the YMCA where he took my cycle class!). Then after soundcheck, he’ll do pre-concert prep, and normally eat around 7/730 to give himself a chance to digest before getting on stage around 10. After the show he gets a good night’s sleep on the bus (12 bunks per bus!) while they drive to the next city.

“I work out 6 days/week, even if just stairs in the venue and pushups on stage. But I try to find a gym, or use the hotel gym. Spin is my favorite [class to take, and when I'm at the gym] I’ll look for weights too.”

Eric says he tries to bike instead of Uber around every city he arrives in, to get a little more active and really see the city. Also, he loves the “Sworkit” app, “It designs custom workouts that I use a BUNCH on tour -- even in the dressing room, so many times. It’s great.”

Sworkit was featured on Shark Tank this year!

As for nutrition: Eric carries around a blender on tour, and buys fruits/veggies to store in the tour bus fridge every chance he gets: “I’ll find a Whole Foods or a grocery store and stock up. ...It’s so hard to find greens like kale and collard greens in the Midwest, though!” In his bag you’ll find small snacks like trail mix, dried fruit, and granola bars -- but he's down-to-earth, he always looks forward to fried chicken: “I have it probably like 1x/week on tour, it’s my favorite.”

How it all began, especially with UCB in DC

9 years old, little Eric’s got drumsticks in hand. 14, he started to get serious and saved his money up. 15, he bought his first drumset and thought “I could do this”. At 16, he joined UCB (Uncalled For Band) and “learned stage presence”.

In 2000, go-go band UCB got extremely popular in DC with their Sexy Lady record. Mistakes were made, royalties were missed - they were experiencing the music industry one lesson at a time with no rulebook to follow.

“No one told me, it was just based on trial and error. Like, Sexy Lady was on the radio, and we weren’t making money of it. We heard rumblings but no one tells you the steps to do: like ASCAP-registering personally and also for the record itself, split sheets for recordings and splitting %’s, etc. Now you can recoup royalties you miss because they sit in escrow for 1-2 years, but we lost out on ours back then.”

Sexy Lady was independent, meaning they produced and released everything themselves. They used discmaker to create thousands of CDs and utilized guerrilla-marketing to hand them out to Djs and radio stations.

Jimmy Kimmel Live - featuring Wale. There's Eric on the drums!

In 2001, Eric crossed paths with Wale who says “I’m gonna get signed and bring you with me”. He meant it.

The Touring Life Begins

2006 was Eric’s first time touring on Wale’s “ADD - Attention Deficit Tour” (watch this clip from the tour, with Kid Cudi). That was just the beginning, here’s a sampling of his other tours: Jay-Z’s Blueprint 3 Tour (“arenas, so crazy”), Wale’s Mixtape about Nothing Tour, J Cole’s “When Dreams May Come”, Symphony Mobile, and Shine Tour. He was also part of the house band for MTV and BET Awards (“by far some of the most fun memories”).

In 2009 at the MTV Music Video Awards, UCB and Wale played with Solange, Kid Cudi and 3OH!3, and more -- here’s a screenshot of the Wiki I found for fun while digging:

A Wikipedia entry outlining UCB playing with Pitbull, 3OH!3, Solange, All-American Rejects, Kid Cudi, and of course Wale.

Eric says the biggest surprise about touring is how you hit so many cities in so little time -- and it’s 2 months of rehearsal and you repeat everything every night. I was curious about how truly stuck-in-your-head the songs might get:

“It’s almost like you’re not thinking about it - just muscle memory. And yes, for sure songs get stuck in your head! Especially if the crowd reacted very well to a certain one -- you might sing that one for days.”

Where does he fall on the IMBM Pyramid -- how does he make $?

In the IMBM Pyramid's Level 1- Money, we talk about publishing, and in Level 1 - Fans we share the Music Process Release Manual that shows how to register your music with PROs. This is very important for Eric. Every 90 days he gets royalty checks (for UCB’s Sexy Lady album, some tracks like Clappers and Gullible on Wale’s The Gifted album, and an ESPN theme song and “bumps”), and they can be impossible to predict: anywhere from $9-$9,000

In Level 2 - Money, we talk about having sponsors because you have enough clout to prove to them that you represent their target market. Eric's sponsors are TRX Cymbals, Vic Firth Sticks, Roland Electronics. I asked how he nailed these sponsorships, to prove to our indies that it's possible:

“Our production manager reached out on my behalf. ... he showed them some videos as well as the consistent tour schedule. I was able to have a meeting with each company and they really liked my playing style.  Also they enjoy the product being able to be seen on soooo many different platforms, so it was a win-win for the both of us.” 

Yes, yes, a win-win it truly is, Eric.

Eric behind Wale during Jimmy Kimmel Live

Eric’s Advice for Indies

Yes, Eric’s part of a label-signed band -- but to MIC he’s considered Indie because he a “Behind-the-Scenes” musician with an array of different gigs, not all label-signed. This does put him in a unique position where he sees record labels from an inner-working angle. This is what he thinks of the indie music industry, MIC's mission:

“No, I don’t think record companies are needed anymore. They can flex their entitlement muscle like ‘it’s the way it’s always been’, but now it gets down to how artists like Chance the Rapper did it. I think record labels have a forkhold in the industry, and they can put a hold on things, like how payola is basically ad-buying now… but I think artists can do it all on their own, if done right.

“No, I don’t think record companies are needed anymore."

We talked about how he thinks CDs are now “the VHS of music” (obsolete), and how there are some very cool indie distribution ideas like putting your music onto “thumb drives, or using email newsletters, or texting (that’s a very cool idea), or using iPhone airdrop -- yeah, some of those are virally cool ideas but there’s so much noise. ...We’re our own DJs in the car. I can’t remember the last time I listened to the radio. And it doesn’t cost anything to try a new genre. It’s a different time!”

Eric agreed that it’s not about doing everything, but going after “Homerun” strategies like we talk about in Level 1-Fans: “If you spend $20K on the right thing/co-sign, that’s it. That's it. Chance did a smart thing, co-signing early on, which validated him in the marketplace.

The Wale Band, featuring Eric on drums

And a final thought to ponder, if you aren’t already: “One thing I wanna know is this: the music industry has never given us info on how much 1 stream is worth. Bc records are 9:1 (ex. 90,0000 records bought is same as 10,000 streamed), but how much is one stream really worth?”

Jimmy Kimmel Live featuring Wale, with Eric on the drums

Watch Eric on the drumset in this Wale music video "Wale Ft. Sam Dew - LoveHate Thing", look for him in the house band of award shows like BET this year, and go see him on tour with Wale! He’s most likely not stopping anytime soon, he’s in peak form to go on and on.

Comment below with how you would (or do) stay fit while touring! (Log into one of your social medias first!)

Wale Drummer Eric Curry on how to stay in killer shape while traveling the country on tour for a living
Wale Drummer Eric Curry on how to stay in killer shape while traveling the country on tour for a living
MIC is my baby.

“To me, it’s the most important part of tour. Mind clear, body right, or your performance is not as good…. you have to be dedicated to it though”

Eric doing his thing behind Wale and G-EAZY

At the 2009 VMAs, when Kanye West upstaged Taylor Swift, a house band sat onstage off to the right, taking it all in. In that house band was drummer Eric Curry. This summer, Eric laughed as he told me on FaceTime that “we could see everyone running around backstage... it all got very chaotic, very quickly. We thought it was a joke.”

Eric Curry took my cycling class downtown at the YMCA this summer, because Wale was playing at Stage AE that night -- and he’s the drummer. He landed in my class because while he’s on tour, he looks up fitness classes in each city to get his sweat on before soundcheck.

After class I casually ask newcomers where they work, and after I found out his deal we stayed after class (for way too long) excitedly talking about the state of the music industry for indie musicians. Then we exchanged numbers so I could FaceTime-interview him with my interns in the office. Here’s that story!

Thanks, Eric, for FaceTime-ing with me and the interns!

Who is Eric Curry, and what does he have to do with the MIC mission?

Eric represents a “Behind-the-Scenes” musician like in The MVMT. He’s not “Front-line” in the sense that he doesn’t use his own namesake (in fact, you won’t even find him on social media, it’s not his style), but he’s an indie musician as a for-hire drummer. He plays for Wale and other house bands, so while he’s a “for-hire”, he’s pretty much never waiting around for a new gig -- he’s a busy, touring musician.

Eric is also a super prime example of “Product Development” and how health affects your music career. He stays in shape on tour -- which is a hard feat while traveling! Take so many pages out of his books, indies - especially if you dream of being out on the road.

Let’s start out with the health/fitness topic, then dive into how he got to this career:

Staying fit and well-nourished on tour:

“To me, it’s the most important part of tour. Mind clear, body right, or your performance is not as good…. you have to be dedicated to it though”

Like I said earlier, as the tour bus hits each new city, Eric figures out his gameplan to get in a workout before his late-afternoon soundcheck either at the hotel gym, inside the venue or dressing room, or at a local gym (like the YMCA where he took my cycle class!). Then after soundcheck, he’ll do pre-concert prep, and normally eat around 7/730 to give himself a chance to digest before getting on stage around 10. After the show he gets a good night’s sleep on the bus (12 bunks per bus!) while they drive to the next city.

“I work out 6 days/week, even if just stairs in the venue and pushups on stage. But I try to find a gym, or use the hotel gym. Spin is my favorite [class to take, and when I'm at the gym] I’ll look for weights too.”

Eric says he tries to bike instead of Uber around every city he arrives in, to get a little more active and really see the city. Also, he loves the “Sworkit” app, “It designs custom workouts that I use a BUNCH on tour -- even in the dressing room, so many times. It’s great.”

Sworkit was featured on Shark Tank this year!

As for nutrition: Eric carries around a blender on tour, and buys fruits/veggies to store in the tour bus fridge every chance he gets: “I’ll find a Whole Foods or a grocery store and stock up. ...It’s so hard to find greens like kale and collard greens in the Midwest, though!” In his bag you’ll find small snacks like trail mix, dried fruit, and granola bars -- but he's down-to-earth, he always looks forward to fried chicken: “I have it probably like 1x/week on tour, it’s my favorite.”

How it all began, especially with UCB in DC

9 years old, little Eric’s got drumsticks in hand. 14, he started to get serious and saved his money up. 15, he bought his first drumset and thought “I could do this”. At 16, he joined UCB (Uncalled For Band) and “learned stage presence”.

In 2000, go-go band UCB got extremely popular in DC with their Sexy Lady record. Mistakes were made, royalties were missed - they were experiencing the music industry one lesson at a time with no rulebook to follow.

“No one told me, it was just based on trial and error. Like, Sexy Lady was on the radio, and we weren’t making money of it. We heard rumblings but no one tells you the steps to do: like ASCAP-registering personally and also for the record itself, split sheets for recordings and splitting %’s, etc. Now you can recoup royalties you miss because they sit in escrow for 1-2 years, but we lost out on ours back then.”

Sexy Lady was independent, meaning they produced and released everything themselves. They used discmaker to create thousands of CDs and utilized guerrilla-marketing to hand them out to Djs and radio stations.

Jimmy Kimmel Live - featuring Wale. There's Eric on the drums!

In 2001, Eric crossed paths with Wale who says “I’m gonna get signed and bring you with me”. He meant it.

The Touring Life Begins

2006 was Eric’s first time touring on Wale’s “ADD - Attention Deficit Tour” (watch this clip from the tour, with Kid Cudi). That was just the beginning, here’s a sampling of his other tours: Jay-Z’s Blueprint 3 Tour (“arenas, so crazy”), Wale’s Mixtape about Nothing Tour, J Cole’s “When Dreams May Come”, Symphony Mobile, and Shine Tour. He was also part of the house band for MTV and BET Awards (“by far some of the most fun memories”).

In 2009 at the MTV Music Video Awards, UCB and Wale played with Solange, Kid Cudi and 3OH!3, and more -- here’s a screenshot of the Wiki I found for fun while digging:

A Wikipedia entry outlining UCB playing with Pitbull, 3OH!3, Solange, All-American Rejects, Kid Cudi, and of course Wale.

Eric says the biggest surprise about touring is how you hit so many cities in so little time -- and it’s 2 months of rehearsal and you repeat everything every night. I was curious about how truly stuck-in-your-head the songs might get:

“It’s almost like you’re not thinking about it - just muscle memory. And yes, for sure songs get stuck in your head! Especially if the crowd reacted very well to a certain one -- you might sing that one for days.”

Where does he fall on the IMBM Pyramid -- how does he make $?

In the IMBM Pyramid's Level 1- Money, we talk about publishing, and in Level 1 - Fans we share the Music Process Release Manual that shows how to register your music with PROs. This is very important for Eric. Every 90 days he gets royalty checks (for UCB’s Sexy Lady album, some tracks like Clappers and Gullible on Wale’s The Gifted album, and an ESPN theme song and “bumps”), and they can be impossible to predict: anywhere from $9-$9,000

In Level 2 - Money, we talk about having sponsors because you have enough clout to prove to them that you represent their target market. Eric's sponsors are TRX Cymbals, Vic Firth Sticks, Roland Electronics. I asked how he nailed these sponsorships, to prove to our indies that it's possible:

“Our production manager reached out on my behalf. ... he showed them some videos as well as the consistent tour schedule. I was able to have a meeting with each company and they really liked my playing style.  Also they enjoy the product being able to be seen on soooo many different platforms, so it was a win-win for the both of us.” 

Yes, yes, a win-win it truly is, Eric.

Eric behind Wale during Jimmy Kimmel Live

Eric’s Advice for Indies

Yes, Eric’s part of a label-signed band -- but to MIC he’s considered Indie because he a “Behind-the-Scenes” musician with an array of different gigs, not all label-signed. This does put him in a unique position where he sees record labels from an inner-working angle. This is what he thinks of the indie music industry, MIC's mission:

“No, I don’t think record companies are needed anymore. They can flex their entitlement muscle like ‘it’s the way it’s always been’, but now it gets down to how artists like Chance the Rapper did it. I think record labels have a forkhold in the industry, and they can put a hold on things, like how payola is basically ad-buying now… but I think artists can do it all on their own, if done right.

“No, I don’t think record companies are needed anymore."

We talked about how he thinks CDs are now “the VHS of music” (obsolete), and how there are some very cool indie distribution ideas like putting your music onto “thumb drives, or using email newsletters, or texting (that’s a very cool idea), or using iPhone airdrop -- yeah, some of those are virally cool ideas but there’s so much noise. ...We’re our own DJs in the car. I can’t remember the last time I listened to the radio. And it doesn’t cost anything to try a new genre. It’s a different time!”

Eric agreed that it’s not about doing everything, but going after “Homerun” strategies like we talk about in Level 1-Fans: “If you spend $20K on the right thing/co-sign, that’s it. That's it. Chance did a smart thing, co-signing early on, which validated him in the marketplace.

The Wale Band, featuring Eric on drums

And a final thought to ponder, if you aren’t already: “One thing I wanna know is this: the music industry has never given us info on how much 1 stream is worth. Bc records are 9:1 (ex. 90,0000 records bought is same as 10,000 streamed), but how much is one stream really worth?”

Jimmy Kimmel Live featuring Wale, with Eric on the drums

Watch Eric on the drumset in this Wale music video "Wale Ft. Sam Dew - LoveHate Thing", look for him in the house band of award shows like BET this year, and go see him on tour with Wale! He’s most likely not stopping anytime soon, he’s in peak form to go on and on.

Comment below with how you would (or do) stay fit while touring! (Log into one of your social medias first!)

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