Jonny Goood will perform twice in Kansas City this week. His first gig is Tuesday night, Nov. 14, at the RecordBar, where he will front his band Jonny Goood and the Triple Os. Wednesday night, he will be on stage at the Sprint Center, playing bass for Lady Gaga.
Goood, born Jon Drummond in Pittsburgh, Pa., came to music relatively late, after an injury ended his sports career and after deciding that he wanted to be a musician more than he wanted to be a police officer.
He talked to The Star recently about his childhood friend, rapper Wiz Khalifa, about his rapid rise in the music industry, about performing with Lady Gaga and about his sister, a Kansas City resident, who will join him on stage at the RecordBar, along with fellow members of Lady Gaga’s band.
Let’s start off with the Gaga tour. What has it been like and what can fans expect to see?
It’s incredible. She is a ball of energy. We’ve never let anyone down so far on this tour. She touches the crowd. She believes you treat an arena like a dive bar and a dive bar like an arena. And you’ll see that. You’ll see her by herself, at the piano, just like she did when she first started.
It’s really organic. Not so rehearsed that it looks like a bunch of robots on stage. The dancers are amazing. I get to dance with her a couple of times. It has been a blast. She’s a rare gem in the music industry. Very genuine.
How has it been for you, personally?
It’s been a great opportunity for me. She allows me to push my own project and develop myself. Not all artists are like that. She treats her band like a family. I’m the new guy. I’ve been with her for about a year and a half and she lets me be myself.
You grew up in a family of many police officers, and for a couple years, you were a police officer in Pittsburgh. Talk about that period of time and what it meant to you.
My whole family were police officers. My parents met in the Army. Before I was born my dad was a cop. I grew up seeing the really good side of policing. My aunt and uncle were cops. My cousin is a cop. My dad is 60 and he’s still working on the streets. So that’s something I always wanted to do. I wanted to help people. That is still one of the greatest decisions I’ve ever made.
When did music become part of your life?
Kind of late. I grew up in the church and there was some music. I’d play congas and percussion. But I wasn’t heavily involved in music until I was like 19. Before that I was a football player and ran track and field. I went to college, a Division 2 school, to play football. Sports was big for me. Football and cops were all I knew. I have an uncle, Eddie Drummond, who played for the Detroit Lions. Then I broke a bone in my hand playing football. Oddly enough, that’s when I picked up the bass. And then I went to the police academy.
I was 20. I turned 21 in the academy and graduated No. 1 in the fitness class. I was really motivated to be the best I could be, and the police was the best option.
How long were you a police officer?
For about two years. It was a great time. The police — it’s a sensitive subject now and it has always been, really. But I did get to see the good side and the bad side of the world we live in. I have a fair assessment of both sides: what it is to be a police officer and what it is to grow up in the inner-city and deal with those daily struggles.
When I became a cop that was also when I developed my interest in playing the bass. I’d play all the time in the basement. I’d be on lunch break in my patrol car and pull up YouTube videos to learn how to play bass.
I remember calling my dad one day and asking him, “You think I could move to L.A. and play bass?’ He said, “You’re a great cop. I think you’d be an even greater musician.’ ”
You grew up with Wiz Khalifa, who is still a friend and colleague.
Yeah. We’ve known each other since elementary school. I’ve done some recording with him. He and my sister used to sit on the porch and freestyle while I was in the yard playing football. My sister, Latasha Drummond, was one of the earliest hip-hop in Pittsburgh — the Lipstick Killer. She’s been doing it a long time. She lives in Kansas City now and works for a local news station. She will perform at my show (at the RecordBar).
What was your first big break in music?
I went to the Guitar Center on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. It was about six years ago; I was 23 or 24. I was playing bass in the back room and this guy walks by and said, “Hey, man, you sound great.” I got up and shook his hand and introduced myself and he said, “I’m Gorden Campbell.” Come to find out he used to play drums for Prince and is a mega-producer and now a close friend. He introduced me to other people who introduced me to other people.
My first big gig was playing for Keyshia Cole. I did BET’s “106 & Park” with her. I was fresh off the street. So my first big break was shaking someone’s hand at a music store and being a genuine person. I was still in the development stage of my career, but that good energy opened doors for me.
From there, I proved myself and continued to work. I ended up doing work with Joe Jonas, then Miley Cyrus. I got to work in the studio with Pharrell Williams, the Weeknd, Iggy Azalea. The list goes on. And now I’m rockin’ with Lady Gaga.
How did the Gaga tour come about?
I got a call from a close friend, Tim Stewart, who has been with Lady Gaga for five or six years now. He’s one of the greatest living guitar players. He’s been out with Prince. Just came off a tour with Rihanna. He’s a musical role model.
He asked if I had some time to do some work with Lady Gaga. I said, “Hell, yes.” Little did I know I was about to do the Super Bowl and Coachella.
What can fans expect to see at your show on Tuesday?
First I’ll be playing with some of my best friends who are also part of Lady Gaga’s band (guitarist Ricky Tillo, drummer Chris Johnson and pianist Brocket Parsons).
I like to call what I do bass-hop. I created my own genre within hip-hop. I rap and play bass, at the same time. It goes back to the era where there were no (backing) tracks. Every show is completely different because we aren’t bound to the laws of electronics or technology. It took me years to develop. I had to take some time off from other artists to really get to work and develop my own craft and style. It’s a wild show.
We cut a record that will drop in January. It’s all the same players.
You’ve been in the music industry for about six years. What have you learned?
I wanted to be a cop to help people but as a cop, your reach is smaller; you can affect only one to two people at a time. I realized I wanted to touch more people and as a musician I’ve had that opportunity: I performed at the Super Bowl.
The next phase is to become my own artist. I’ve had many experiences in my life. I’m not just a musician. I wasn’t just a cop or a football player. I grew up in a great household and was taught a great moral code of conduct. I think music needs more of that type of vibe. Because music is the greatest language.
Now I’m doing my own thing as a musician and this great gig with Lady Gaga. I’ve learned that if you treat people good and maintain good energy, you never know where life will put you.
Tuesday, Nov. 14
Jonny Goood and the Triple Os perform Tuesday night at RecordBar, 1530 Grand Blvd. Knives and Lipstick Mafia open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10. This is an 18-and-older show.
Wednesday, Nov. 15
Lady Gaga performs Wednesday night at the Sprint Center. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available at sprintcenter.com.