Drummer Jay Weinberg might be 18 years old, but he has earned a regular spot performing with [artist id="975"]Bruce Springsteen[/artist] and the E Street Band on their Working on a Dream Tour.
As the son of longtime E Street drummer Max Weinberg — who first joined the Boss onstage in 1974 and is the bandleader of the Max Weinberg 7 on the upcoming “Tonight Show With Conan O’Brien” — Jay has joined the ranks of a few other rock-star kids who have inherited their father’s knack for drumming, such as Ringo Starr’s son Zak Starkey (the Who, Oasis) and Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham’s son, Jason.
Weinberg told MTV News that his drumming career began when he was just 13, when he discovered one of his father’s old drum sets in his basement — but not just any drum set.
“I remember he had these classic cymbals, like the ones he used on Born to Run and Born in the U.S.A. I took them, set them up and just mashed them, and now they have all these chunks taken out of them. I used all of his old gear, but it was for a good cause: for me to learn the drums,” Weinberg said.
According to Weinberg, who noted he has had a “deep connection to the music world his whole life,” his interest in music developed as early as his toddler years, when his mother played classical music and his dad performed regularly in massive arenas around the world. Weinberg’s passion progressed further, thanks to his father, who brought him to concerts and helped hone his musical tastes.
“When I was 9 or 10, my dad brought me to Ozzfest to see Slipknot,” Jay recalled. “They had been on ‘Conan,’ and my dad was like, ‘You have to see these guys. They’re really crazy, they wear masks, are really intense, and they’re super scary — you’ll love them!’ I was immediately sold, and I’ve been a fan of really heavy and intense music ever since.”
After playing in several bands in high school, Weinberg’s drumming reached a level that Springsteen himself took an interest in, leading to his first show onstage with the E Street Band last summer at Giants Stadium, when he performed “Born to Run.” It was such a success that the Boss looked no further when he needed to choose a drummer to fill in for Max during the European dates of the Working on a Dream Tour in June while the star drummer stays for his spot on “Conan.”
“I got a phone call from Bruce, who said to me, ‘Jay, as you know, I have this band, and in this band, we have the greatest drummer of all time, who has a scheduling conflict. And when I asked him how we could resolve this conflict, he gave me your name and number.’ ”
As a college freshman at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey, and the drummer of New York punk band the Reveling, Weinberg has a busier schedule than most teens, beginning rehearsals for the E Street tour back in February. Weinberg has been performing a number of songs most nights on the current U.S. dates, playing as many as 11, like at Wednesday’s show in Philadelphia.
Now under Springsteen’s wing, Weinberg said that it has been “mind-blowing” to play beside one of the most prominent figures in rock-and-roll history.
“Bruce lays it out pretty simple the way he wants it. He’s a great teacher, coach and motivator. When I’m doing something right, I can see it in his eyes, he’s smiling,” Weinberg said. “He’s a guy I’ve respected since I’ve been around this band, and to have this connection is pretty untouchable.”
As far as stepping into his dad’s shoes, Weinberg noted that he could never take his father’s place and sees it more as an honor to have the opportunity to share the stage with the man who influenced his passion for music in the first place.
“[My dad] is one-of-a-kind with his style, sound and way of playing. I’ve been trying to channel my four to five years of experience and grasping that sort of old-school drumming feel to make the transition. I’m jumping into 40 years of experience, but I think being my age has a lot of cool aspects to it,” he said. “It adds a different dynamic to it. It’s youthful, it isn’t better or worse. It’s just different.”
Although Weinberg is unsure of whether he will have a future with the E Street Band beyond this tour, he said he is just enjoying the surreal experience of it right now.
“Doing this at 18, I could imagine it’s a summer job that anybody would want, and I’m super fortunate to be able to be doing it at my age,” he said. “It’s really crazy to wrap my head around fully. I’m signing autographs and taking pictures and doing all this stuff I never thought I’d be doing at my age. It’s getting more comfortable, and I’m loving it.”