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Chamberlin
Former Smashing Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlin plays during a drum clinic as SSE Music. Erik Daily

He's played stadiums, won a Grammy, sold millions of CDs and toured the world. 

And yet Jimmy Chamberlin, former drummer for the 1990s alternative rock band Smashing Pumpkins, was anxious before giving a free drum clinic for 200 fans Thursday at SSE Music.

"I'm used to three other people up there with me," Chamberlin said. "It's different on my own."

The evening was a mix of music and motivation. Chamberlin talked about drumming and played songs from his solo project, the Jimmy Chamberlin Complex, and his newest band, This.

But Chamberlin went beyond the music, encouraging people to follow their passion.

"Anything you do, make sure you can be happy doing it," Chamberlin said.

Drumming always has made Chamberlin happy, something he's done for 37 years. His idea of success, he said, isn't selling millions of records.

"I've seen people walk off the stage of stadiums miserable, and I've seen people playing smoky clubs who are lighting up the room with joy," Chamberlin said. "Fame and fortune doesn't equal happiness."

Chamberlin has followed his own advice - he left the latest incarnation of the Smashing Pumpkins last March.

"For me, I felt like I needed to be more than a drummer," Chamberlin said. "I didn't feel like I had enough ownership. It's better sometimes to say ‘It's time to do my own thing.'"

That's where This, his latest band comes in. He describes the music as "progressive, symphonic pop," and said the band plans to hit the studio in January. It has challenged him musically and given him more freedom - things he finds essential for happiness.

"You need to find your own idea of what success looks like to you," Chamberlin said. "It all has to do with formulating a clear vision."

SSE Music usually has a drum clinic once a year, said owner Steve Earp.

"It's become a tradition," Earp said. "This is probably our largest one. It's our way of giving people an opportunity to see and hear a national artist."

Drummers Chris Paquette, 18, and Aaron Frost, 20, liked that Chamberlin talked about more than music.

"You usually just hear about technique," Paquette said. "I liked what he had to say about finding what you love, even if it isn't music."

"He took it beyond that level," Frost said. "He seems to really have a passion for it."

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