Family Swank: Reef Mckeithan
At 15-years-old, Reef Mckeithan drums for Brooklyn rock band The Skins and to the beat of his own drum.
Name: Reef Mckeithan
Swank: Drummer, The Skins
Jam Out: www.theskinsband.com
Like Mos Def, we all know Brooklyn as the home of big gats, deep dish hammer rim caps, and as the place where thugs stay mobbing it and is filled with street pharmacists—but we don’t usually put it in the same category as rock. 15-year-old New York native and drummer of The Skins, Reef Mckeithan, is living proof that when it comes to talent, age ain’t nothing but a number. In this week’s Family Swank, we chat with Reef about his most poppin set, Led Zeppelin, and not giving a flip about what people think.
Mass Appeal: You and your sister started back in the School of Rock when you were just children. And now, at the ripe old age of 15, you’ve taken the stage everywhere from AFROPUNK to CMJ, and on tour with The Heavy. Do you ever feel like you’re living a dream?
Reef Mckeithan: I would say I’m living a part of my dream. In my dreams, I’m much more prosperous and busier. My accomplishments now are hopefully just small parts of what’s to come.
MA: What was the moment you realized that music would be more than just a hobby, an extracurricular activity, if you will?
RM: I realized music would be more than just a hobby when we signed with our label Universal Republic: it was a surreal moment.
MA: So far, what’s been the best set you’ve played? Wackest?
RM: I think the best show The Skins have played was our Paris set. It was a sold out show of 1500 people. It was at a venue called Le Bataclan. Great show. I honestly can’t remember our wackest show, but we’ve had many [laughs].
MA: You have a wider array of musical tastes: more varied than most adults. How has music informed you on a personal level?
RM: Well, music has helped me become a better musician. It’s also helped me socially. I’m able relate to more people because of the diversity in my musical tastes.
MA: I remember you telling me how much you love Led Zeppelin. How have they inspired you?
RM: I just remember my dad introducing me to Led Zeppelin and that was when I didn’t really listen to rock music, so when I first heard them I thought they were the best thing ever. I just remember saying to myself “Wow. I wanna do what they do.” That’s what I’m currently trying to accomplish. John Bonham is also one of my favorite drummers.
MA: My top three rock records of all time are ______.
RM: I don’t have any top songs lists. There are too many great ones.
MA: In your opinion, what’s the biggest misconception about rock music?
RM: The biggest misconception about rock music is that people think it’s a white genre. What does that even mean?! Rock is universal; it doesn’t have a race.
MA: Tell me three things about you that most people don’t know.
MA: What’s your favorite quote or personal motto?
RM: Kanye West said, “ I don’t give a fuck what people think because people don’t think.”
MA: Finish this sentence: Drumming _____.
RM: Is what I live for.
MA: What do you want people to experience when they listen to your music?
RM: I just want them to genuinely enjoy it.
MA: Do you have any advice for other kids of color who wish to pursue a career in rock?
RM: Some advice would be to just go with your gut when making decisions. What feels right is usually right.