Tony Royster Jr. is HERE Now
Meet the drum prodigy keeping the momentum going at the LINE LA with his latest gig, Living Room Sessions with Tony Royster Jr. & Friends
Three minutes into our conversation with Tony Royster Jr., he pauses to apologize. Someone is on the other line: “I’m so sorry. This is my mother. Can I call you right back?” Calls with friends and family are a daily ritual he explains later. (Tony’s mom is doing great by the way.)
Let’s rewind. We’re on the phone with Royster Jr. because he just kicked off a residency at the LINE LA. If you’re not one of his 389,000 instagram followers or you haven’t seen him on Letterman, here’s a quick introduction: Tony Royster Jr. is one of this generation’s most respected drummers. While people these days are quick to call someone a legend, his story is actually pretty epic. Tony began drumming at 3. By 12, his jaw-dropping chops had earned him the title of child prodigy. At 15, he began touring professionally—kicking off a run playing with artists from Jay Z to Katy Perry. Now 36, he’s been drumming for 33 years.
What’s next after all of that? If you’re Royster Jr.: plenty. After a year that saw tours canceled, he just joined R&B artist Giveon (recently featured on Justin Bieber’s “Peaches”) at Lollapalooza, and now he’s back in LA, “keeping the momentum going,” and prepping for another big show as music returns to the stage. (Who is he playing with next? You’ll have to wait to find out.)
Separately, he’s working to find time in the studio to create his own music, offering more drum lessons online than ever before, and increasing his footprint in the digital world. (If you ask Tony if there’s any advice he’d give to himself at 12, his only wish would be that he was more knowledgeable about the potential of YouTube and social media when he was building his career.)
On top of everything, Royster Jr. is HERE—hosting a residency with fellow musicians called “Living Room Sessions.” A weekly live set, it offers a chance to catch Tony and friends in an intimate setting jamming out to songs like Ludacris’s “What’s Your Fantasy?” and Slum Village’s “Fall in Love.” For Tony and the other musicians, who are used to gathering inspiration from playing with each other on tour, it offers a chance to play together again.
Just playing is key for Royster Jr.: “No matter what people say, no matter what situation I’m in, if I sit down on a set and just play, I’m at peace. I’m happy.”
That same spirit is behind his mantra #IJustWantToPlay. Created years ago, #IJustWantToPlay is not just for drumming, it’s relative to anything, even bowling. (Here’s a fun fact that you won’t find on Google about Royster Jr.: he’s also an enthusiastic, scholarship-winning bowler with two perfect games under his belt.)
“#IJustWantToPlay is just ‘give me the space, or the time, or the opportunity, or the chance to vibe and be a part of something,’” explains Royster Jr. “Maybe something great will come from it. Just hear me out. You might be surprised if you let me into the room.”
You can hear Tony Royster Jr. & Friends play in one of our rooms during“Living Room Sessions” live Thursdays 9pm at the LINE LA Lobby Bar.