Punk Powerhouse: Cassie Jalilie

Awesome Union 13 Punk Drummer Cassie Jalilie Tom Tom Magazine

By Andrea Davis for Tom Tom Magazine

Name: Cassie Jalilie
Age: 24
Hometown: San Francisco
Lives In: Los Angeles
Past Bands: Damnage, Stagger & Fall, TurbonegrA
Current Bands: Union 13
Fav Food: Burritos!
Drum Set: Ddrum dominion ash
Cymbals: Zildjian A customs
Hardware: Gibralter stands, Tama Iron cobra pedal(s)

Awesome Union 13 Punk Drummer Cassie Jalilie Tom Tom Magazine

Not many musicians find their start auditioning for their favorite band – for most people it’s just a dream, but for Cassie Jalilie, that’s how it all started.  Cassie Jalilie’s fast chops and clean transitions make her a serious contender in the punk music scene.  She is truly a drumming powerhouse.  At only 24 years old, Cassie has toured Europe, Latin America and the US.  I had a chance to get to know Cassie a little better and find out where her love for drumming all started.  

Tom Tom Magazine: How did you begin playing the drums?

Cassie Jalilie: When I was about 11 years old, my dad took me to the local music store (Bill’s ABC Music, RIP) and he asked me if I wanted to learn an instrument. I looked around for a while, then we hit the drum section and I immediately knew, “I am going to be a drummer.” A year later, I joined the marching/concert band at my middle school and then continued all throughout high school. We did everything from marching at games and rallies, to playing orchestral music and jazz. I was a band geek to the max.

Who is the most influential drummer for your style of playing?

Travis Barker. All the way. I grew up seeing him on TV and hearing Blink on the radio and was always enamored by his playing. His style of drumming has inspired me to think outside the box . He is a very artistic and creative drummer and I’ve always strived to be like that. Gene Krupa and John Bonham are other humongous influences on me, even in playing punk. I try to listen to as many different types of music as possible and gain influence from various sources, even other instruments. I feel it’s important for a musician to be well-rounded.

How do you practice?

I try to practice everyday for at least 30 minutes to an hour by myself. Some days, I’ll focus on rudiments and play on my practice pad to a metronome at different speeds. Other days, I’ll throw on some headphones and play along to songs. I’ll even get lost on Youtube to learn new exercises, and see what other drummers are doing. And of course, you have to play with other musicians. Playing in a group not only helps you really “feel” the music, but it also forces you to adjust your drumming to fit perfectly in the mix. It’s all about working together to paint that bigger picture.

Awesome Union 13 Punk Drummer Cassie Jalilie Tom Tom Magazine

What are some of the struggles being a female drummer in a punk band/punk music scene?

It can be super intimidating at times. It has always been a male dominated industry and trying to find a female drummer is like trying to find a needle in a haystack, especially in punk rock. People tend to have this stereotype that chick drummers can’t play loud or fast or hard. Sometimes you feel like you have to prove everyone wrong.

How did you start playing with Union 13?

They played a show back home at the legendary 924 Gilman in Berkeley, CA. I was hanging with some friends outside the venue and the Union guys rolled up in their van super early.  They saw my friend Hector’s puppy and asked if we wanted to hang out with them. Eventually, it came up somehow that they needed a drummer. I’ve been into Union 13 since I was in high school so, of course, I told them about how I knew all their songs and that I would drum for them in a heartbeat! We exchanged contact info and a couple months later, they hit me up to send them some Youtube covers. Not too long after, they told me I was in and they had a bunch of shows lined up. My only problem was that I was living in San Francisco, so I packed whatever I could fit into my hatchback and moved out to LA.

Are you playing in any other bands right now? Are you looking for other projects?

I am always jamming out with friends and making little side projects here and there. I’ll even fill in for bands if I am available. I just try to stay as active as I can when it comes to music. Union is my priority, of course, but I do love playing wherever and whenever I get the chance. I also play in a reggae/punk band called, Arcoíris with my roommates.

What are some of your other hobbies?

I’m OBSESSED with classic cars! I own a pretty sweet ’56 VW bug and I just got a ’63 Chevy Nova wagon that I can’t wait to start working on.

What is your favorite part about being a drummer?

Setting up and breaking down all my stuff at shows! Hahaha not quite! What I love about being a drummer is, even though you may be stuck in the back, you do stand out. You have a lot of opportunity to express yourself through your playing.

What would you say are the most important rules/styles/rudiments to being a good drummer?

As a drummer, it’s very important to try and learn something new everyday and to get familiar with all the different styles that are out there. You may not be into everything but it’s always good to keep an open mind. I recommend mixing it up when you practice, learning various patterns and techniques all around the kit, as well as being able to play at different tempos, both loud and soft.

Awesome Union 13 Punk Drummer Cassie Jalilie Tom Tom Magazine

What was your experience like touring in Europe, Latin America and the US?

Having the chance to tour outside of the country has been an amazing experience. It is a completely different world overseas and down south. The people out there are so kind. The level of hospitality is INSANE! I’ve had the opportunity to do some touring in the US and it has been awesome so far but I absolutely loved playing in Europe and Latin America. Maybe it’s because their culture is so different than what I’m used to. Fans don’t have the luxury of seeing all of their favorite bands like we do so when groups do go out there, the kids go NUTS! People in all these different scenes, even in the US, are just so appreciative and welcoming. I love it!

Is Union 13 putting out any new material for 2014?

Yes! People can definitely expect to hear something new from Union 13 this year. We just released our EP, 10 Years of Silence, and have been busy working on writing a full length. Keep your eyes peeled for that within the coming year!

What are your future goals as a drummer?

I would love to tour more. I want to be able to travel the world and meet other musicians and people who share the same passion. For me, it’s not about the money or the fame, it’s about being happy and having the opportunity to do what I love. I strive to keep learning and getting better as a drummer. Hopefully put out a couple of records too!

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