In the highly competitive music industry, success can be hard to come by, but two Millikin University percussion alums are drumming up success among the rhythms of some of today’s most popular music.
As students at Millikin University, Lorin Lemme, ’94, and Garret Hammond, ‘92, shared a passion for playing and producing rock & roll. Since graduating, both have found success as professional musicians.
Lemme, a native of Layfayette, Ind., and a graduate of Millikin’s Music Business program, left campus filled with dreams of a career in the music industry. After college, he spent 3-4 years balancing odd jobs while honing his craft.
Although Lemme faced the usual challenges of a professional musician trying to find his niche, he found his calling in the genre of Christian rock. His band, 1000 Generations, signed with Varietal Records (Vineyard Music, distributed by Warner Brothers), and recently finished their August 4 national release, “Turn Off The Lesser Lights” in Los Angeles, where they mixed tracks with David Bianco, who has produced albums for Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and AC/DC. In addition, the group tours extensively, playing shows at various festivals, college campuses, and churches.
Prior to signing with Varietal, the band received numerous accolades for their independently released debut album. Worship Leader Magazine called it “the best new worship album of the year.” Christian Music Today named them one of “Ten Independent Artists You Should Know About.” Additionally, the band was awarded two Gospel Music Association Awards including the “Grand Prize Song of the Year” for their efforts.
Lemme still reflects on the solid career foundation that began at Millikin. “As a Music Business major, I had many amazing professors that taught me the ins and outs of the music business, providing me with the skills that have directly impacted my success as a professional musician today.”
Although it might seem easy for the success to go to his head, Lemme encourages aspiring musicians to stay grounded and pay attention in class: “Memorize your Introduction to the Music Business textbook, because playing music will sometimes amount to about 2 percent of your daily routine.” For more information on Lemme’s band, visit www.1000generations.com.
For Garret Hammond, his foray into the music business was somewhat different. Upon graduating from Millikin’s Commercial Music program in 1992, Hammond was accepted into the prestigious jazz studies program at the University of North Texas. However, before he could complete the coursework for his master’s degree, the music business came calling, and Hammond answered. Before he knew it, he was on the road touring with the likes of David Bowie and Nine Inch Nails as part of their opening acts. Since that time, he has toured and/or recorded with groups such as Kill Hannah, Plain White T’s, and Black Tide.
After recording Kill Hannah’s second LP for Atlantic Records, Garret gave up the rock star lifestyle to return to his hometown of Chicago, where he opened his own recording studio. However, his industry connections, particularly those with Grammy-nominated producer, Johnny K, have allowed him to continue recording as a session drummer.
Hammond credits his alma mater with instilling the mindset that has helped him find professional success. “My choice of attending Millikin has affected my life in so many positive ways, it's tough to calculate,” he remarked. “I’ve successfully made a career out of doing what makes me happy-performing and producing music, while growing as a creative, engaged person. These just happen to be the things I learned as a student at Millikin.”
On campus, Millikin’s music students develop an individualized plan of study to suit their strengths and ambitions, according to Brian Justison, associate professor of music and coordinator of Percussion Studies. The many different opportunities offered to students make the Millikin experience unique. “Winning international music competitions, producing CDs, premiering new compositions, and performing at internationally recognized venues are just some of the things our students are doing BEFORE they graduate,” he noted. “Those successes continue for our alums long after graduation day.”
For aspiring musicians currently studying at Millikin, both Lemme and Hammond have some words of advice. “Enjoy and live your dream,” comments Lemme. “Follow your bliss,” advises Hammond. “Come up with goals and a plan, and then work harder than everyone else. Make your own luck by putting yourself out there. Be fearless!”
For more information on Millikin University’s School of Music, visit https://www.millikin.edu/academics/cfa/som.