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Inspiring Conversations with Thomas Finch of FDS Drum Services

Today we’d like to introduce you to Thomas Finch. 

Hi Thomas, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself
FDS Drum Services was essentially created in New Jersey/New York. We operated under a different name and offered services that were mainly tailored toward rehearsal and recording studios. The live music scene was very weak in the New Jersey area and drummers had to bring their own equipment to each gig. Drum sets were never provided for them like they are in Nashville. Because of this, musicians mainly utilized rehearsal facilities or recording studios. So those businesses were our main focus. Unfortunately, the area and the market just didn’t sustain or have a need for services like ours. So, we really didn’t even operate except on the rare occasion. It was a really large struggle which eventually led to us choosing to stop for many years. Fast forward to a short run of homelessness and living out my vehicle, then to the Covid-19 pandemic…we finally snapped and couldn’t take living there anymore. It was time to leave, move to the place we had always wanted to be, and take one more chance at doing the only thing we truly knew how to do. 

Once we were here and settled, the nerve-wracking thought process began. Shortly after, I remember smoking a cigar with my great friend Jason Schmidt “Schmidty”, owner of Stillwater Sound Studios in Pleasant View TN, and bringing up the “idea” of starting a full-service drum tech company here in Nashville. With his irreplaceable friendship and reassurance, the plan came together and he sent me home with a handful of his personal and sentimental snare drums. In that moment, we were reborn with a different plan and decided to re-brand as FDS Drum Services – Nashville’s Drum Tech Service a few days later. Schmidty is largely responsible for our personal growth and development. We were hell-bent on proving ourselves to this amazing music community and he gave us that chance. Now FDS Drum Services has toured with artists such as Saving Abel and Lee Brice. We are now contacted daily for snare drum refurbishing and having reached both the East and West coast as well as Canada and Mexico. We now also maintain the house drums at venues such as Justin Timberlake’s The Twelve Thirty Club, Rebar at the Dam, Famous Saloon, and many others. 

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
It was not a smooth road in the beginning. The reality of any business is that it takes passion, dedication, and patience to build and grow. There’s a lot of groundwork involved that is unique to your own type of business. For us…the nature of our business had one major layer that made things very difficult. That layer was trust. We had to build trust. But how do you build trust, if no one knows you exist? And if no one knows you exist, how do you get the clients so you can build trust? Another struggle was marketing and advertising. Without a large budget, which we certainly didn’t have, marketing and advertising was not in the picture. Fortunately, we knew the amazingly talented videographer Mark Allee of Allee Visuals and he helped us in tremendous ways. Something we still can’t be more grateful for. But again, without a budget, we walked the streets of Nashville introducing ourselves to bar owners and managers, production staff at venues, café baristas, and even the staff at Sound Check. We worked part-time jobs so we could afford t-shirts and we passed those t-shirts out with a business cards on them to the drummers playing on Broadway night after night. We started social media pages and built a web presence from scratch. We needed to get the name out while simultaneously building trust. 

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about FDS Drum Services?
FDS Drum Services provides professional-grade tour drum teching, drum set cleaning, preventative maintenance, repairs cymbal cleaning/restorations, and drum restoration services for drummers and establishments based around Nashville TN. We believe in setting a new standard of what clean, operable, great-sounding drums are. Modern, vintage, entry to professional level, FDS delivers complete and consistent drum care to keep equipment and all its components functioning, looking and sounding exceptional at all times. We also offer complete load in-load out, set up, and tear down services for working drummers. 

Personally, as a prior professional working drummer, I was even neurotic about my own equipment. It had to look and sound good at all times no exceptions and I allowed no one except for myself to handle my equipment. My equipment received a lot of compliments over the years and that same mentality is the springboard for the work we do and the results we provide. There are no shortcuts and no excuses. If you want the results, you do the work. It’s simple. FDS is a truly unique and niche business and we provide everyone a tailored personal approach that best suits their needs while delivering what they’ve come to expect. 

What do you like best about our city? What do you like least?
Nashville has always had a magic behind it. A level of alluring charm. From the neon lights to bands in every window, endless food options, cultural dexterity, and views you could only but fall in love with. However, it’s more than that. It’s what lies just moments outside the city that I love the most. There’s beautiful country roads, views of rolling hills, and small towns that have been lost to time and jam-packed with rustic charm. There’s private owned distilleries, mom-and-pop shops, and a history behind each one of these small towns. There’s old buildings and architecture, private wineries, waterfalls and so much more. And there always seems to be someone welcoming the opportunity of conversation with warmth and hospitality. 

What do I like least about our city? The drivers. 

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Image Credits

Allee Visuals

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