By Jasmine Farrell
Brendan Healy discovered his purpose, lit it up and the fire has been burning for 20 years.
In 2002, the young Healy received his first drum set as a Christmas gift. When asked if it’s more of a core passion or his purpose, he beamed, “It’s a little bit of both, honestly. It’s one of those things where it’s an uncontrollable passion you have. … I still love this as much as I did as a young kid. I’ve been through ups and downs but nothing has ever took my eyes off the passion. … It really is my whole life.”
Multifaceted and focused, the Hillsborough resident creates drum content, teaches people how to play drums, rocks out in a band with fire drum patterns, and helps create lyrics for his band, American Grim. It’s safe to say music is everything to Brendan.
Music is a family affair in the Healy family. With his father a drummer and his grandfather a state champion drummer in Iowa, his brother, Ryan Healy, the lead vocalist of American Grim and sweet bass player, rhythm runs in the blood.
Although American Grim has been around since 2017, Brendan, his brother Ryan, and guitarist Mike Murello have been in various bands together. Through shifting genres and sounds, the collective made sure to stick together as they evolved musically. Brendan Healy has played classic rock, pop-rock, metal, hard rock, and other styles that have helped shaped him to be the drummer and lyricist he is today.
He is a part of Somerville School of Rock as a drum teacher, and he records his drumming content there as well.
Still growing and learning, Healy has no plan on stopping.
“You would think that because you’re getting older you’re kinda … ya know,” he said as he waved his hand to gesture the passion for music, “but the fire is still lit as ever,” he says as he smiles brightly. He never had a moment where he thought that music would be a side thing or a temporary season. From rocking out with the gifted drum set from 20 years ago until this very moment, Healy claimed “the rock drummer” as his identity.
“I had such a love for it as a kid, I knew I was going to do it for the rest of my life. I knew it. I never even had a feeling in me like, ‘Oh this is a fad.’ As a young kid, I kind of claimed it as my identity. I was like, ‘I’m the rock drummer and this is what I do.’ ”
Wide-eyed and light-hearted, he continued, “And it’s been the same ever since.”
With the amount of passion, drive and ambition that Healy oozes out of him, it seems as if music chose him— specifically percussion. Music ran up to him, shook his hand, and the duo have been jammin’ out ever since.
What keeps Healy motivated in an industry that changes every .0026 seconds? Gratitude and reflection, he said.
“I look how far I’ve come and think: I’ve come a long away. I am exactly where I want to be right now. Do I want to keep growing? One hundred percent. Even on the bad days when I don’t even want to talk, I just find that shred of positivity and look at how far I’ve come and all the things I’ve put into this. After a while, you get over that funk, you know?”
He said his favorite part about being a musician is releasing everything on the drums. It’s like a cleanse for him— giving everything he’s got on stage and being gifted positive feedback. Even without positive feedback, that release, that cleanse, is everything for him.
Healy did mention, it can get kind of rough during touring. Wild and crazy stories are part of the touring experience and American Grim is not excluded. During their first full tour for the Freak Show (2017) album, they rode an older eagle bus. One of the tour stops was in Colorado. As they were driving down the Rocky Mountains, the former tour manager of American Grim and designated bus driver turned around and said, “The brakes aren’t stopping.” At that point, the bus was racing down the Colorado mountains, Healy recalled.
“Everybody on the bus was screaming. We were also on the bus with another band. I just remember the moment of looking up to see what I can grab onto and … there was nothing to grab onto,” Healy said.
The bus was headed toward a huge boulder. Luckily, the bus driver was able to slam on the brakes just enough for the bus to go up on two wheels to avoid crashing into the boulder. They missed the boulder by a few feet, Healy said. The vintage eagle tour bus eventually stopped and everyone flies out of the vehicle. They stay the night because, well, they all almost lost their lives, Healy said. The following day, they got back on the bus and the bus driver drives precautiously slow. Nevertheless, the suspense and danger rose again.
“An 18-wheeler tractor-trailer comes behind us and the truck driver is going nuts. He’s like, ‘I’m on a schedule and you gotta go faster. So we finally say (toward the bus driver) man, just pull over and let him go. So, we pull over and let him go. The truck passes us and he flips because he’s going so fast … so, we’re all looking ahead out the window like: Did this really just happen? So now, we’re stuck for another 8 to 9 hours because that truck is flipped over,” he recounted.
They eventually got off the mountain. To this day, that experience takes the cake when it comes to wild tour stories for Healy he said.
Overall, Healy said he is grateful and appreciative to tour and perform for fans. With the cyclical pattern of setting up and taking down the overall set, it can take a toll on his body sometimes. The lack of sleep while on the road doesn’t help either. But he reassured that the unpleasant moments of touring are far less than the joys of touring.
Brendan Healy, the 20-years-of-experience rock drummer, hasn’t stopped the brakes on his passion and he’s not going to anytime soon. Whether it’s rocking out with American Grim, teaching others how to play, or simply releasing everything into his instrument, Healy is focused and on fire for music just as much as he was in 2012.