MY OUTLOOK: John Hicks
How long have you been a Thunder Drummer?
This is my sixth season.
What’s your favorite part of performing with the Thunder?
I love the energy you get in front of that many people. We also get to interact with a lot of fans, take pictures with families and let kids play on the drums.
When did you start playing the drums?
I started in fifth grade in the Edmond school district. I continued to play all through high school and college, and have played for multiple bands through the years.
What’s it like to be in front of all those Thunder fans?
There is an indescribable adrenaline rush. Playing drums in an arena is completely different than anywhere else. The sound, the people, it’s unlike anything I’ve experienced.
How has being a part of the Thunder Drummers impacted your life?
It has given me more success locally than I would have known. Playing in the local music scene for 20+ years I had never experienced this kind of success and recognition. It’s great to be a part of what the Thunder has done for the downtown community. They’ve caused a renaissance of music that wasn’t there before.
How much time do you spend practicing for game nights?
We usually have one or two rehearsals a week, four hours total. We write the routine and then come up with visuals to accompany. We’ve upgraded to wireless mics so we are able to do formations that we couldn’t do before. Routines are typically about a minute long.
Do you ever get recognized on the street?
I do get recognized a lot—probably because of my hair! A mohawk is memorable. I have people come up and say, “You’re that drummer dude!” In the end, it makes me extremely grateful for what I do. I was even in “Thunderstruck,” the movie, for about four seconds.
How do you come up with routines?
All the Thunder Drummers throw out ideas until everyone finds something they like. The routines are often based on popular songs. The Thunder doesn’t care how technically good the team is, nobody dissects the piece. They just want us to play a beat and connect with the crowd and make them clap their hands more than anything. We also work with Rumble on beats so he can move to them.
What is a typical game night like?
We arrive at least three hours before each game, set up and sound check everything. If weather permits, we will go outside of the arena before the game to get the crowd going. Once the game starts, we go to Section 301 to lead the offense and defense chants.
What do you like to do when you aren’t drumming for the Thunder?
I have three jobs so I stay pretty busy. Two of them are music related, so I’m very lucky that way.