In Modern Drummer's cover story on Keith (pictured right), Ken Micallef writes, Since his arrival in New York City from Clinton via North Texas State University, Keith Carlock has scurried up the drumming food chain with an inventive style that is equal parts Zigaboo Modeliste fire, Jon Christensen finesse, and Bernard Purdie funk.... Keith Carlock's achievements prove that talent, skill, and determination is no respecter of locales.
Clinton, Mississippi is is where Keith Carlock was born and raised and where he started playing the drums at age 5. In High School, he joined the jazz band, show choir and drum corps. During that period he would also listen to a lot of rock, R&B and soul music - artists including Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind & Fire, and Tower of Power.
He would spend countless hours playing along to records from John Scofield, Michel Camilo and The Meters, to name a few. Keith also joined several top-40 bands. I practiced all the time, so much that my parents built me a soundproof room in the garage. I began taking lessons with George Lawrence and later Quinous Johnson in Jackson, Mississippi. And they both turned me on to jazz and fusion.
After receiving music scholarships to Berklee, University of Miami and North Texas State, Keith chose to attend North Texas State University in Denton, Texas because he wanted to study with Ed Soph (pictured left). Of his experience with Ed, Keith says, He completely changed my approach to the drums; thinking of the drums in a musical way instead of only being a timekeeper for songs. He's able to find your weaknesses. He teaches you how to play jazz standards on the drums, soloing concepts, and ways to get different sounds out of the drums. My technique changed drastically. I came from a drum corps background. I was in a really good high school band, but I wasn't loose. Soph helped me to loosen up by teaching me the 'Moeller' technique. Depending on the style and feel of music being played, I learned to change my technique to make the music hopefully feel better and have a flow.