A Drummer Front and Center: Kai Neukermans


(Courtesy of Kai Neukermans)

By Sawyer Strain

Drops of sweat fly from Neukermans as the notes of the drum solo are banged out with ease. The roaring crowd of Bottlerock cheers on. 

For almost anyone you’ll ever talk to, this experience would be nothing more than a daydream. However, for Tamalpais High School senior, Kai Neukermans, this dream is nothing short of reality. This experience is just one of many for him. “Drumming has given me a lot of opportunities that have led to great experiences,” Neukermans said. “It’s made me more disciplined and creative.” Neukermans plays with Bastian Evans on guitar and vocals and his younger brother Manoa Neukermans in their current band The Alive!, which they started in 2018.  The Alive! can be spotted on the Bottlerock mainstage, Lollapalooza Chile, or any number of surf and cultural events across the U.S. and the world.  

“I started drumming because my friends needed a drummer. I was 8 or 9,” Neukermans said. “I love doing it; it’s part of my life and makes me happy. It’s a great stress reliever.” Drummers such as Danny Carry of Tool, Jimmy Chamberlain of The Smashing Pumpkins, and Steven Perkins of Jane’s Addiction, inspire Neukermans creatively. “I get inspired by people who are passionate about what they are doing and [I am] also inspired by nature.”  

Tearing it up on the drums isn’t the only shredding Neukermans is involved in. “I like to skate. I also like surfing when the waves are good and I like to be outdoors,” Neukermans said. He draws parallels between drumming, surfing, and skating cultures. “There is a ‘do it yourself’ ethic. You meet a lot of people who have been doing these activities their entire lives,” Neukermans said. Anyone who frequents the Mill Valley skate park can regularly see Neukermans ripping around the park.  

Neukermans’ quiet demeanor offers a contrast to the roaring musical and athletic energy that he carries. When he isn’t traveling around the country touring, Neukermans lives a high-schooler’s lifestyle. After waking up late for school and eating a bagel, Neuekermans skates to class. “After school I usually go skating or surfing, then play music with my brother or by myself and go to bed.” 

Neukermans is a shredder in the truest sense of the word, something he defines as “someone who pushes themselves and gets good at what they are doing because they love it.Neukermans and the band have a busy couple of months ahead, with gigs in Atlanta, Bottlerock Napa, and Sacramento.