Local hero: Greg Millson at Century Drum Shop

"Music is all I’ve ever done but I wanted to get away from playing it for a living."

Tell me all that you do.

We buy, sell, consign and repair vintage drums and percussion. Retail, but it’s different. It’s not like we call up a distributor when the shelves are empty. We have to find this stuff. I’m the buyer, sales dude, appraiser, repair guy, shipping department and human resources all in one. We also offer lessons with the masterful Al Cross. And I really love the creating and building side of things. I’ve made these ol’-timey-style clip-on bass drum spurs and am working on a drum lug based on a 1940s design. 

Where do you find these antiques? 

All sorts of places. I’ve built and nurtured relationships with drum weirdos all over the world. Just returned last week from the Southern U.S. with a bunch of 1930s, 40s and 50s cymbals and traps. Now that we are more established, stuff comes to us, too.

How did you come to this career?

Music is all I’ve ever done but I wanted to get away from playing it for a living. People are desperate and climbing hard these days. Following money around through music isn’t my bag. The shop keeps me way busy, but I’m starting to get back to playing music for fun. I’m excited and in love with playing drums again, and I’ve learned it needs to stay that way.

Business philosophy? 

I want it to stay vintage and handmade and not turn into fast money, plastic capitalist BS and cheap drums from overseas just in time for Christmas. That dollar-store mentality is the end of the world. 

What’s new?

A line of handmade, hand-hammered cymbals from Turkey called T-Cymbals. And of course now we have the Capsule Music boys downstairs, who know everything about vintage guitars. So now drummers have a place to go while their guitar nerd buds talk tone for four hours.    

Century Drum Shop is at 985 Dovercourt. Visit centurydrumshop.com for more info.

carlag@nowtoronto.com | @carlagillis

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