With the corps fresh off of its return to the DCI World Championship Semifinals and the Top 25, Seattle Cascades welcomed Brian Smith as its new corps director this offseason. Dan Potter spoke with Smith — a former member of Colts and Blue Knights — during Friday morning's sessions at the 2020 DCI annual meetings.
DAN POTTER: What’s your drum corps background?
BRIAN SMITH: I marched in the Colts and the Blue Knights.
POTTER: How did you come to Seattle Cascades?
SMITH: I work for Nike, and I was transferred up there in 2017, and I said, ‘I have drum corps in my background, what can I do to help and give back?’
POTTER: What was your first job with Cascades?
SMITH: It was just helping out on admin, just behind the scenes, and kind of just filling in anywhere.
POTTER: Seattle Cascades have sometimes struggled over the past 10 years or so competitively, what are your goals for Cascades going forward?
SMITH: We just want to really set the foundation with the drum corps. Basically, just make sure the kids have a great experience, a great educational experience. The competitive aspect comes last, just making sure the kids have fun. We put great educators in front of them, and it all goes from there.
POTTER: How’s the audition process been? How’s the offseason going?
SMITH: It’s going well. We’re up about 20 percent from last year’s numbers. The vets are seeing the things that we’re doing, the enhancements that we’re making, and just eating it all up.
POTTER: If someone were to ask me, ‘Dan tell me what Seattle Cascades are all about, what is their tradition, their image, their brand,’ how would you describe it to them?
SMITH: Well, Cascades, we’re rooted heavily in the Pacific Northwest, we’re all about family there. It’s all about, ‘What can we do to uplift and support each other? And that really is our brand. Everything else comes second. It’s all about what we can do to make sure that we have a great experience, and that we’re trying to give that back to the fans.
POTTER: Are you enjoying this job?
SMITH: I am, it’s been a balancing act because I still work for Nike, it’s a great company, and I’m giving back to an activity that helped me get to Nike. I always tell people my cups are filled professionally and personally as well, so it’s been fun.
POTTER: How aware is your employer of drum corps? Do you dream one day of some sort of connection between Nike and Seattle Cascades?
SMITH: They are aware of what I do, my company is very supportive of what we want to do outside of work. It’s not all about work, Nike is a family environment, that is the focus of Nike, and it kind of is in tandem with what drum corps is. I told them, ‘Hey, I’ve been asked to do this incredible job,’ and they were like, ‘You need to do it.’ And so, I was like, ‘I’ve got to do it. I’ve got to do it.’