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From Oshawa to Nashville and beyond

Drummer Chris Kimmerer now touring the world with country star Thomas Rhett

Although now a Nashville resident, where he plays drums for country music star Thomas Rhett, Chris Kimmerer says growing up in Oshawa and the lessons learned here helped him get to where he is today. (Submitted photo).

By Graeme McNaughton/The Oshawa Express

When he made the move to Nashville from Oshawa as a 19-year-old, Chris Kimmerer wasn’t sure what the future held for him. But now, more than a decade later, the drummer is touring the world.

“Plenty of miles logged in the last 14 years,” Kimmerer tells The Oshawa Express in an email from the road, currently on tour with country music star Thomas Rhett.

“Five years ago, we were a very small crew, playing hundreds of shows per year, all over the map. Today, it is a bit more comfortable, and we don’t have to play quite that number of shows any more!”

Kimmerer’s days as a drummer started during his days as a boy in Oshawa, getting started while playing in the school band at Immanuel Christian School.

“I was going to be an NHLer up to that point, but had seen drums in my parents’ basement,” he says. “I remember telling the band director, sometime in Grade 4 that I was going to play drums in the band. He kind of chuckled and said that I had better show up with something going on; every kid wants to play drums.”

As for why he wanted to be a drummer, it may just run in his genes.

“Turns out my dad had played drums as a kid, and after having not played for years had bought an old drum set from a work acquaintance a few years before my Grade 4 interest sparked,” Kimmerer says.

“My younger brother and I began poking around on that old kit, grabbed a few lessons from a church friend, and by Grade 5, I had my first gig: the junior band at ICS.”

As for influences, Kimmerer has a wide range, all the way from the jazz he grew to love while attending Humber College between 2001 and 2003, as well as rock drummers such as Josh Freese, who has played for bands such as Nine Inch Nails, Green Day, Devo and Gun ‘N Roses, Matt Chamberlain of Pearl Jam and Soundgarden fame, and Mark Guiliana, who has worked with David Bowie and Beat Music.

Kimmerer also draws influence from modern pop music.

“I’m also a huge fan of pop music- from Katy Perry to Justin Bieber, and John Mayer to Bruno Mars,” he says.

“I love to find what it is that makes these artists’ recordings special, and how they translate those things to their live shows. I know that pop music (or modern country music) can be a ‘simple’ genre for today’s drummer, but finding beauty in the space, and what it is that connects with listeners, is a fascination of mine.”

These days, Kimmerer is either in Nashville or on the road – however, he says he will always take the lessons learned from his hometown along for the ride.

“Growing up in Oshawa, I was always surrounded by family, community, and entrepreneurs. As I moved to Nashville, at 19 years old, the importance of family continued to be a huge role in my world. Sharing ups and downs, getting counsel, encouragement, and grocery money sometimes…my family was always there for me,” he says.

“I also learned the importance of community as I grew up in Oshawa, and continued to try and surround myself with good community in the new city or country I had taken on. Being surrounded by entrepreneurs was huge as well; being a contract musician is being your own boss, and the work ethic that I grew up around as a kid was definitive for me as I planted myself in Nashville.”