Mike Odabashian

Lost the Job, the Girl, and the Apartment!

My game changing moment came when I lost my job, place to live , and the girl I was dating for 3 years (which was an absolute blessing). Doesn't sound like a game changer more like a game "ender" but for me it changed everything for me and was my game "changer". After the fall out I was at the end of my rope then I decided to get my education in music and take something that I had a natural gift for and make it my profession. The girl, well, she left me because she did not believe in my dream, my job laid me off because the economy tanked after 911 and the place I lived in was being taken over by my landlord's son. So I enrolled at a little school in Rhode Island (Rhode Island College) and studied with a little known percussionist Mike Dequattro. He taught me how to approach music the right way, he taught me how to "learn" music how to "approach music" and how to "practice" music. I studied there for 3 1/2 years getting up at 7 a.m. going to school till 5:00 p.m. every day 5 days a week then I would bus tables at night then go band practices on the weekends and teach , do pick up gigs, and then I met the one (my future wife) and did that balancing act for about 3 1/2 years. Even though I still dont have my degree the knowledge I gained was invaluable. So after 3 1/2 years I decided to start really focusing on my press kit and my "product". I recorded some nice videos of me playing drumset and hand drums and really worked on a complete and thorough bio, head shots etc. I lost 50 pounds through bettering my diet and exercise.

I was in Bangor Maine (waaaaaay up the east coast) doing a gig, and one of the gigs I submitted for (major label artist on Interscope Records) wanted me in for an audition based on my videos. Only caveat was that they wanted me in Manhattan New York the very next day. So just a little geography here, that is a 10 hour drive. Soooo without hesitation I said I will be there. After doing my gig that night in Bangor I slept very little and the next morning left at 7:00 a.m. and had my bass player bring me to Manhattan (which cost me a weeks worth of beer but was a small price). I worked out the audition in the car ride there, got to the audition on maybe 3-4 hours sleep and absolutely crushed the audition, smashed it, and landed the gig. I learned after the audition they saw more than 100 videos and only scheduled 2 drum auditions in person mine and one other drummer (who already had a far more impressive resume than mine 2-3 major label bands etc). I have since opened for 3rd Eye Blind, The Wanted, David Cook and more. So the moral of my story is that YOU are the game changer if you only believe. When you stop believing that's when the game ends.

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In celebration of Vic Firth Company's 50th anniversary, we've spent an entire year celebrating Game-Changing Moments in drumming -- including yours! To everyone who shared a story with us this year, thank you! Drumming is a shared experience and we are all brothers and sisters! Your stories have inspired us to continue making the best sticks possible and to continue changing the game for drummers everywhere.


We received thousands of amazing stories this year. Although it was difficult to choose only one story, we're happy to announce that Joe Russomano is our grand prize winner in the Game-Changing Moments contest!

Read Joe's Story