Drum Corps International
The DCI.org interview: Jessika Filler, Seattle Cascades lead baritone

The DCI.org interview: Jessika Filler, Seattle Cascades lead baritone

by Drum Corps International

Name, age, hometown: Jessika Filler, 17, Danville, Calif. What corps are you in and what is your role this summer? I am a lead baritone player for the Seattle Cascades. Give us your full drum corps/marching music background. I started marching band in my freshman year of high school, mainly as a way to meet some new friends, since I had recently moved from out of the area. I marched alto sax that year, while playing euphonium in my school's symphonic band. I marched baritone for the rest of my high school career, being the section leader for the low brass my last two years. I marched mellophone with the Blue Devils 'B' corps in 2003 and Magic of Orlando in 2004 on baritone.

Jessika Filler
How did you decide to be a member of your corps? The Seattle Cascades are such a classy, sophisticated, and highly viewed organization by many. I was completely enamored by them in 2003, when my regionally touring corps saw them at a few shows. At the time I knew next to nothing about the activity, and saw very few Division I corps, live and in person. Even though I had a little more experience than most kids at my audition in Portland, trying out for the corps was quite an overwhelming experience, but I'm so glad I made that trip. :) What first attracted you to the drum corps activity? To tell the truth, I really knew absolutely nothing about the activity when I tagged along with my best friend, Austin Graves (BDB trumpet, 2003-2005), to my very first rehearsal with the Blue Devils 'B' in 2003. After just a few weeks there I wanted to quit, and take some classes at the college during the summer to get ahead in my credits. After daily (I kid you not, DAILY) phone calls and AIM conversations with various members, staff members, and the corps director, I was convinced to come back and march the summer with them. It was tough, but I'm so glad that I did. I knew that after all of these near strangers had looked after me like a family member, I couldn't let them down. I owe everything to Chelsea Strong (my best friend, BDB trumpet 2003, soloist 2004, and now marching with me at the Cascades), and Charles Crisostomo, former corps director of the Blue Devils 'B', because if not for them, I would still be spending my summers sitting in a classroom. What advice would you give to young people who want to march? Don't give up. Stop at nothing to do what you love. Never be afraid to ask someone for help. Do you have any favorite road anecdotes? On our way to our very first show in 2004, every single one of the buses broke down at a Pilot truck stop somewhere in South Carolina, I believe. After a few hours spent wandering around the little convenience store and eating breakfast at a McDonalds, the staff decided it was a good enough place to have rehearsal. With people giving funny looks as they pulled into the parking lot, there was a horn arc in one corner, standing in flip-flops and pajama pants in two-foot-tall grass, a drum line spanned across a few parking spaces, and some rifles and flags spinning a few feet away from the truck scales. Yeah, so we hit a bit of bad luck on our first day of tour, but from that day forward, we felt we could make the best out of just about any situation. The last good book I read: "White Oleander" by Janet Fitch The last great film I saw: "The Incredibles." Great soundtrack! :) Where I go to school and what I'm studying: I'm currently still living at home with my mom and working on some general education credits at Diablo Valley College. After tour's over I'm moving to Portland, Ore., to study for a degree in film. Jobs I have/have had: Right now I'm working at a bowling alley snack bar here in Danville, and at Starbucks. It's a little overwhelming, working two jobs at once, since I've never done it before. My spring break (this week) consists of almost 100 hours of work split between the two. It's tiring, and sad that I'm not on an awesome trip of some sort, but I just keep in mind the monster paychecks I'll be getting, and how great it feels to know I'll have all my tour fees paid off at the next Cascades camp! Three CDs I'd want on a deserted island: My 2004 DCI CDs (I'm counting them as one CD), "American Idiot" by Green Day, and "Genius Loves Company" by Ray Charles. My favorite TV show: "Friends," "Family Guy," "Futurama," "Whose Line is it Anyway?", "Seinfeld" Favorite performers: The 2005 Seattle Cascades. Those are a bunch of studs. :) How do you "blow off steam?" Head to the gym and start running, lifting, whatever. I totally work off any anger, stress, or exhaustion I may be feeling by pushing myself physically. What has been your formative drum corps moment? Getting asked for my autograph. Haha. I really don't remember where I was, but one night after a show I was playing in the lot, and I was practicing one of the main licks from "Pirates" (the baritone feature in the opener). A kid recognized it and came up to me. He was 9 years old and shy as could be, I could tell he didn't want to come up to me voluntarily because his parents were standing about 10 feet away. He quietly asked for my autograph and told me that our show was his favorite show of the whole evening. I tried to make him feel more comfortable by asking his name and asking him if he wanted to march one day. I let him blow through my mouthpiece while I fingered the valves on my baritone. With a little bit of coaching, the kid was doing lip slurs! His parents came up and talked to me as well, and they thanked me so much for being so nice to their son. I'll never forget that night, because those 10-20 minutes probably had an enormous impact on that boy. Oh yeah, and being on Forzato (here's another that featured me)
and now Aria. Things like this make me feel like a celebrity, haha. Best drum corps show ever: Wow, too many to name. I've got close to 200 corps shows on my iPod! I listened to a whole lot of '04 today at work. People give me funny looks when I blast drum corps in my snack bar. :) Specifically, SCV 1989 and BD 2003 are the only two shows that have ever made me cry, so I guess you could say those are my favorites! What are you most looking forward to about the summer? I absolutely love being on tour because after all the stress of tying off loose ends at home is over with, you can leave your world behind to live on a tour bus with your favorite people for two months. I'm moving out of California soon, so not only do I get to look forward to touring all summer, but I'm excited about what lies ahead for me afterward as well. Best thing about being in a drum corps: All the people you get to meet. People who march corps are really a different breed altogether. Yeah, it's sad that I'm not going to see too much of my high school and college friends after I leave Danville, but I don't have that same kind of connection with them as I do with my corps buddies. These are friends I'm going to keep for the rest of my life. It doesn't matter that the majority of them live a couple states away, I'd give my life for half of them. Worst thing about being in a drum corps: How much money it costs me. Haha. I never go out, I only eat when it's free, and I work 50-hour weeks. And I'm not even paying rent yet! It's so worth it though, is it June yet? During tour, the best part of the day is: Right after a show, especially if there's no retreat (Which I can probably start getting used to.). It's really the winding down of the day. You can relax with your friends in your comfy clothes and flip-flops, and mingle with friends from other corps in the parking lots. Then you can head back to the buses and have some downtime with your seat partner, maybe watch a movie, and fall asleep. I'm such a sucker for that "job well done" feeling, and I feel it when I can end my day as awesomely as that. During tour, the worst part of the day is: Getting out of bed in the morning, for obvious reasons. And probably those few moments at the end of a lunch break. You're finishing up conversations with friends, filling up your water jug, and getting ready for horn arc. That's always the longest block of the day. Favorite drum corps personality and why: Any staff/administrative member I've worked with over the years. They're all so "behind-the-scenes" and deserve a million times more credit than they get sometimes. What I want to be when I "grow up": You'll see my name in movie credits, haha. Feel free to add anything else you'd like. Thanks for this awesome opportunity. Everyone go out and check out the Cascades this summer, the show is absolutely amazing!