Jay on the Drums, born Jason Michael Schwertfeger, grew up outside of Chicago, IL in a small town called Oswego. He spent his teenage years as a big fan of professional wrestling and didn’t consider playing the drums until his friend Justin Schmedeke asked him to do so. At the time, the two friends were huge fans of the band 311 and it was at this time that Justin learned to play the guitar at local music store “Hix Bros Music.”
As Justin began to learn his instrument, he realized he would need a drummer to fulfill his dream of forming a rock band - and what better person than his friend. Jay’s first drum lesson was on November 12th, 1997 at Hix Bros with teacher David Jennings. David’s aim was to teach Jay how to teach himself and focused hard on drumming rudiments as well as learning popular songs. As the music lessons progressed, Justin and Jay found mutual friend Mike Rodriguez (Cheech) to learn the bass guitar and round out their first rock band.
The band started out under the name of “Low Life” but was quickly renamed to “3Crease”. The band had a diverse collection of influences ranging from Korn to Sublime, and Aerosmith to Limp Bizkit. From 1997 until 2001 the band 3crease became their hometown’s favorite local band and Jay learned a lot about recording, playing live and the business aspect of being a musician.
As 3crease came to an end, Jay found a unique musical connection with Tim Day, a friend from High School who was heavily influenced by Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers to play the bass. Jay and Tim decided to form a band called “Absolutely Perfect” which was a tribute to the late great pro wrestler “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig and promoting the idea that everyone in their own right was in fact, perfect. They recruited Jason Yunker and later Guy Tiberio to play guitar and found mutual friend Randy Assell to round out the group on vocals. The band played numerous shows from the years 2003 until their end in 2010 including shows at the Double Door in Chicago and even playing The Taste of Chicago event two Summers in a row for thousands of people.
Jay’s time in AP garnered more experience recording music and learning even more about how to handle the behind the scenes aspects of being a professional musician. Perhaps the most important lesson came from “jamming” with Tim. The drum and bass combo taught Jay how to improvise on the spot and express himself in the moment. This “jamming” would prove crucial to the yoga drum style that would later evolve.
Through out his youth playing in bands, Jay spent ten years working at the Rush Copley Healthplex in Aurora, IL mastering numerous jobs from Kid’s Club Counselor to Evening manager. Jay even found himself obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Education during this time as there wasn’t much encouragement from the community to become a professional musician. Instead, Jay was met with the attitude that while playing an instrument was a great skill, it was not something that could be turned into a career to pay the bills.
In the Summer of 2012 Jay finally decided to sell everything he owned and move to live on the beach in San Diego, CA. Living in the midwest became a dull experience and Jay had decided to follow his heart and risk it all to follow his love of music. Living in San Diego, Jay joined local reggae/rock band called The Stir Crazies. It was here that something incredible happened. Jay had believed so hard in his musical dreams but after joining this band realized that the dream was indeed over. It was here that Jay sold his drums. After fifteen years of playing he decided to learn the piano.
This new infatuation lasted only a couple months as Jay soon found a local Yoga studio called “Riff’s Acoustic Music” and learned they were looking for musicians. Originally, Jay made contact to see if they needed teachers but instead they asked him to try out as a live musician. Oddly, it was only days before that Jay purchased his first Djembe and decided to go forth with this new opportunity.
Upon arriving at the studio, Jay auditioned with Shawna Schenk and she gave him his first chance to be a “Yoga Musician”. It was December 21st, 2012 that Jay on the Drums was born. For years he had spent time drumming in bands and working in a health club all the while never realizing he could combine the two. It was only after he gave up everything, that he found an incredible new passion and career.
Since that time Jay has drummed all around the country and even in Cost Rica helping to inspire people to live healthier lives and become more in tune with their inner drum beat. In yoga, Jay creates a live drum soundtrack that supports each pose or flow and matches the energy of the class. This unique take on being a musician is defined by the fact that no class is ever the same. With the drum, there aren’t any “songs” to be played that can make the mind wander. Instead, the drum harkens back to the first sound anyone ever hears; the heartbeat. The drumming acts as an anchor allowing the student's mind to detach from thought and simply be.
Jay has also developed drumming in Fitness Classes like Zumba and all dance based cardio classes. In this setting, Jay drums along to the music selection of the teacher adding extra energy to the experience.
Lastly, Jay brings a live drum presence to events that host a live DJ. Corporate Events, Wedding Receptions and nightclubs all benefit from this enhanced energy of live drumming. This electronic meets acoustic environment has also spawned his DJ/Drummer combo "82DREAMS".
Jay on the Drums is an example of following your dreams no matter what. What is the point of living a life that you do not enjoy? To Jay on the Drums, this idea was enough to make him give up everything and move across the country. In the end, Jay has realized his true potential as a drummer and strives to unite and inspire as many people as he can.
The rhythm of life beckons the drum...