The rise of Bruno Mars has been meteoric. He only released his first album, Doo-Wops & Hooligans, in 2010 and by the following year he was the biggest-selling male artist in the UK and had sold over 31 million singles worldwide.
Bruno’s music covers the bases from soul to r&b to reggae and his live shows are dynamite. The energy pumped out by Bruno and his band - all playing live, all singing, all dancing - is off the scale. Their performances bring to mind the great showmen of popular music - James Brown, Jackie Eilson, Elvis - and pumping out the groove on the drums is Bruno’s big brother, Eric Hernandez.
Born in Brooklyn but raised in Hawaii, Eric grew up in the family business: music.
“My father is a percussionist, that’s where I get my musical ability from,” explains Eric. “He used to take me to shows and I’d sit under his rig. I was always fixated on the drummer. He picked up on that and bought me my first drumset at the age of four. That’s a wrap. I’ve been playing drums since.”
On top of being a percussionist, Mr Hernandez Senior was the producer of the Lovenotes Show, a musical revue at the Sheraton hotel in Waikiki.
“My dad performed six nights a week,” says Eric. “I went to the shows, I helped run the ticket booth with my sisters or I ran the lights. Finally at about 10 he put me in the show and let me play drums. I was like, ‘this is it, this is what I’m supposed to be doing.’”
The sight of a little kid playing drums in a band of adult musicians brought Eric plenty of attention, at least until someone even younger came along.
“After each show the cast would go out to the front and take photos and shake hands. I took a lot of pictures because people were fascinated that I had the ability to play the show. My brother had a knack for singing. He was a young Elvis impersonator at the age of three or four so he took all the limelight, but I didn’t care, I just wanted to play drums.”
Rhythm Magazine caught up with Hernandez earlier this year to take a look at his touring kit and chat about life on the road with his brother and the band. Here we bring you pictures of his drum setup along with extracts from the interview, which you can read in full in the March issue of Rhythm (issue 213.) Or you can subscribe to Rhythm for a monthly dose of drummer interviews, gear reviews, news and more.