Musician Simmons marches to a beat of his own drum

December 21, 2013 • Local News

Donny Simmons records an EP Wednesday as the newest band member of Seek. (Amy Vogelsang Photo)

They knew his order at Starbucks, which could be a pos[auth] itive reflection on the memories and quality of customer service there, but it’s more likely a reflection of the amount of time Donny Simmons spends at the coffee shop.

But the 20-year-old has an excuse to drink excessive amounts of coffee — he experiences the long, tiring days of being a musician.

That can almost sound like a paradox. Isn’t playing an instrument supposed to be fun and stress free? Well yes, but Simmons said it’s also a lot of work.

Being forced into music when he was young, about six years of his life was all about classical piano lessons and Mozart competitions.

But piano wasn’t Simmons’ passion, so he went searching for something else to play.

“I never got into it,” he said. “I was tired of classical music, and I wanted to play what I wanted to play,” he said.

He had been debating between guitar and piano, but then an epiphany happened.

“This is going to sound weird, but I was in the shower,” he chuckled, almost embarrassed.

It was two songs that did it for Simmons: “When It’s Over” and “Someday,” both by Sugar Ray. After hearing those two songs on a mix CD, Simmons knew he wanted to be a drummer.

“I can go wherever I want on drums,” he elaborated. “I play whatever I want to play and express myself that way.”

Having just moved to Roswell in July, Simmons has been shocked to land himself a gig as a drummer in the band Seek, a band expanding to discover a new sound.

Simmons was “discovered” because employees at Ginsberg Music couldn’t get him to leave the store. He would wander in to play their drums while his were still in storage. And he would just stay there. For hours. Every day.

Well, one thing led to another, and now he has an eclectic group of friends to play, record and perform with.

“It’s so great being in a band where people are serious about it,” Simmons said.

Music is his life, so it’s reassuring to see others feel just as passionate about something besides sports or video games.

“When you’re 60, you’re not going to be playing sports, but music is always there for you,” he explained. And as far as video games are concerned, he would like to remind gamers that the medals won in Call of Duty aren’t actually real.

“You have more to show for playing music than you do for video games,” he said with a smile.

He claims not to have played a video game since the summer, mostly because even while at the computer or watching a movie he always has a guitar in his hands.

“Music became a really big part of my life,” he stated. “I’m never without it.”

That aspect of his life has grown even more since joining Seek. Being in a band has brought his musical “career” to a new high and has also given him a place in Roswell’s music community.

“The coolest moments I’ve ever had in music are connecting with other musicians and writing music with them,” Simmons said, emphasizing that it’s not an experience that happens very often. “It’s so cool when you connect on that level.”

Music, especially in relation to a band dynamic, is also based on improvement, both in yourself and others, Simmons explained.

“It’s so fun to just get better at your instrument,” he said. “I’m always trying to be optimistic about practicing. Every day, find one thing you can pat yourself on the back for. … Don’t think about what you can’t do. Focus on what you can do right now.”

His life plan has always been to get a degree in music and go into education. Although he has also found some delight in biology — and may end up with a degree in that field as well — it’s hard to imagine he will do anything with his life that doesn’t involve music.

As Seek records an EP and prepares to open for their friends in the band “Secret Circus,” Simmons has been busy working long hours at the studio.

“Sometimes we’ll start at 9 a.m. and won’t leave until after midnight,” he said. But the work is worth it.

“Drums is what got me into music,” he said. Unlike playing classical piano, playing drums is when music became fun, not just work.”

As a percussionist, he is a fan of alternative, but as is seen with the blues rock music Seek produces, Simmons is not stuck in one genre. If it’s music, he is interested.

“It’s a language everyone can understand,” he smiled. “(Music) gives you a really great outlet to express yourself.”

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