PropertyOfZack had the chance to interview Mike Ciprari from SJC drums a few weeks ago for a great interview. Mark and I discussed the history and infrastructure of the company, who they work with, how they continue to grow as a brand against competitors, their impact at festivals and shows, and much more. it’s a great look into one of our scene’s most popular companies, so read up!
So could you just introduce yourself and start talking about your role at the company and how long you’ve been there for? Yep. I am Mike Ciprari. I am one of the owners at SJC Drums. I basically run the direction of the shop and do some A&R, taking care of our artists and what not.
Can you talk about the infrastructure of the company? I think a lot of general music fans see SJC as one of the top three or four prominent drum companies. But I don’t think many know how it works there. Can you talk about that? Basically, we’re all pretty young guys. We started doing this when we were fifteen. We’re all in our early twenties. I guess the infrastructure of the company is that we’re dudes that either played in bands or are in bands. We know what touring is like. None of us really went to college or anything for this. We just learned from hands-on experiences. Which I think is great, because starting this company, I never had anybody to look up to or to ask a question if I was doing it right or wrong. I just did it and learned from my mistakes. That’s kind of how all of us do it, which is great. If you make a mistake one time, like a big mistake, you’re probably never going to do that again. Because you learn from actually seeing it go wrong. That’s cool. It’s a cool thing for us to do that. That helps us grow and that helps us deal with and offer what we like to think of as an unrivaled experience. With people buying drums from us and artists playing our drums. We get what they want and we know what they need. That’s important, because we have so many bands that are on tour. We really can’t afford to mess up and drop the ball. Bands really rely on us. There’s thirteen of us here at the shop. We’re twenty-two to twenty-seven years old. We’re pretty much doing all of the hands-on stuff here in our shop.
How long has SJC been around now? We’ve been around since 2000, so twelve years.
Has the staff increased lately, or has it always been that size? Just this past year, we’ve increased a ton. It was just my brother and myself for the first six years. Then we hired my best friend Brian, who just did some A and R sales stuff who’s now running the shop. He’s pretty much the shop manager. And in the last two years, we’ve hired six or seven more people to get us to about thirteen. We’ve got the book keeper that comes in and does our accounting. We’ve got full time guys doing pretty much everything: social media, sales, marketing. And then all of the guys in the back building the drums and the shipping guys. So in the past year or two we’ve really been bulking up and we just moved into a new shop about six months ago. Which allowed for more steady growth for us, which has been awesome.
How have you guys stayed competitive with the other three or four same size or bigger drum companies when it comes down to bands and promoting? It seems crazy, but I feel like with some other companies, you don’t get the importance of social media. It’s such a big thing and such an awesome, easy way to get in touch with fans or artists or drummers. And for people to just see what you’re about in just one click. We try to utilize everything, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, all that stuff to be very accessible. Because it’s not like we’re a famous band, where we’re inaccessible and you can’t talk to us. We’re a company and we’re trying to sell drums. So for us to be approachable in the easiest way is for kids to know that they can rely on us to get what they want. Other companies don’t really take advantage of that. They don’t reply to emails. It’s scary for me as the guy working out the finances to pay people to just be selling or to do social media stuff. But that’s exactly where it is. So that’s where we try and be different. Because we are so active using the internet to find new bands, contact guys, and be like, “Hey. Watch this video. It shows you what SJC’s about in like two minutes.” Luckily for us, about ninety percent of the time, it works. The drummer just goes, “Oh shit! You guys aren’t corporate.” We’re not in suits. In the most humble way, we’re not out there trying to make a ton of some money. We’re just about trying to make awesome drums. We have all of our favorite bands and all the bands out there touring repping SJC. So at the end of the day, you can’t get a job much cooler than this. I just saw Refused in New York City. They were one of the first CDs I ever bought when I was like thirteen years old. That is the pay off for us. You’ve got to live and make money, but for us to put everything into having our favorite bands play our drums, it’s pretty awesome.