Each month in 2021, we will be featuring a member of the worldwide Gretsch community as our spotlight “featured player” of the month!
Our featured drummer for October is . . . Mert Can Bilgin!
Born in Istanbul, Turkey, Mert Can is a graduate of the manufacturing engineering program at the Istanbul Technical University, and has a masters from the percussion department at the ITU Center for Advanced Studies in Music. Has been playing both in the studio and live performances for jazz ensembles such as the Ayşe Tütüncü Quartet, Efe Demiral Trio, Erkan Zeki Ar Trio, and Anadolu’nun Renkleri, as well as for established artists like Can Kazaz, Deniz Tekin, Simge Pınar, Harun Tekin, and Koray Candemir.
We asked Mert Can. . .
How old were you when you knew you were interested in becoming a musician?
My interest in music goes way back when I was a little kid, but in playing drums, it started in my high school years when I was 14-15 years old. However, it was just for fun and stress relief. After exploring and goofing for a while, it was all I want to do, playing along to every kind of music and being in a constant performing state.
Why did you choose Gretsch?
In the aforementioned days, we had a Gretsch Blackhawk drum kit in my school studio. It was the first kit I saw and played. There was something special for me on the design of the lugs, and, of course, the logo. Even though I couldn’t compare that kit with other stuff, it was looking and sounding very cool to me. Ever since, I look to find the kit with that logo and the sound wherever I go to perform.
What Gretsch gear do you currently use?
First instrument I bought was a 5.5” x 14” hammered brass Gretsch snare, and I still play it daily. It is still my favorite snare drum. I play a USA Custom setup in Candy Apple Red finish, with bass drums in 22” x 16”, 18” x 14”, with 10”-12”-14” toms. Besides these the most time I spend is playing with the Catalina Club kit in red Sparkle. I also have 10 Gretsch snares from different lines and sizes.
Which musicians were the biggest influence on you and why?
My first big influences were Chad Smith and Kerem Kabadayı from a Turkish rock band called Mor ve Otesi. After seeing Dave Weckl, Steve Gadd, and Vinnie Colaiuta everything has changed for me on my vision of drumming. I still get my mind blown when I hear a Vinnie tape from the 90s. After some time researching music, Tony Williams, Jeff Watts, Buddy Rich, and Bill Stewart became some of my biggest drumming influences. Nowadays I try to get my ears on everything that Marcus Gilmore plays. Other than drummers, Chick Corea, Pat Metheny, Brad Mehldau, Bill Frisell, and Mark Turner are the names I spend most of my time listening to.
How did you adjust and stay musical during the COVID-19 pandemic?
During the COVID-19 pandemic, which basically still not officially ended in Turkey, unfortunately, I had phases as one did between staying fully active and doing nothing at all. One thing I did not stop was having the sticks in my hands with a practice pad in front. But for the recent three to four months, music scenes have been getting more active each day and with that I have been touring and recording on a daily basis almost like pre-pandemic.
You could be featured just like Mert Can. Find out how!