This is What the Best Rock Drummer in OC Looks Like

Before his nightly practice, he sits cross-legged on his bed upstairs in shorts with a glinting nose ring and his hair wrapped in a ponytail.Talking non-stop with a flurry of animated hand gestures, he tries to explain how motivational mantras like the ones outlined in books like The Outliers inspired the turning point that's allowed him to become freakishly good at what he does. He says his number one goal is to put in 10,000 hours of practice on his kit. He records his practices religiously. At one point, he says he even record himself fainting from exhaustion, falling face first onto his snare drum. "You push yourself harder in those three months [preparing for a drum-off] than any other time of the year, at least for me. Those three months are like hell week in football," he says.

His practice time these days doesn't even include time spent jamming with his band Night Verses--a virtuosic squall of four-piece post-hardcore rage a la Tides of Man or Dillinger Escape Plan. They usually get together a for couple hours five times a week. At this point, Improta's fighting for space to squeeze in a part-time job. As for his family and neighbors, well, they're pretty much the most understanding people on the planet when it comes to the noise. Mostly because behind his insane chops, high-flying stunt work and Tasmanian Devil energy is a young person who is really trying to elevate his craft, both literally and figuratively. At sundown, he realizes he only has a couple more hours to play before he has to shut things down at the parent-mandated time of 10 p.m. Tomorrow, hundreds of people will be watching him perform. Tonight, it's just the guys on his posters.

"It's kinda cheesy but it's cool to have all your favorite bands looking at you while you're practicing," he says. "There are some times when I'm in here and I've played the same thing 50 times. And then I'll look at John Theodore on my little Mars Volta poster and it's like he's saying 'keep doing it!'"

Improta performs at the Guitar Center Drum-Off Semi-Finals at Guitar Center Hollywood, 7425 West Sunset Boulevard Hollywood. (323) 874-1060. Free.

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