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Steinke minding the kit for Sixx:A.M.

By Patrick Bales, The Orillia Packet & Times

Orillia's Dustin Steinke has joined Sixx:A.M. as the band's full-time drummer.

SUBMITTED PHOTO Orillia's Dustin Steinke has joined Sixx:A.M. as the band's full-time drummer.

Most musicians cringe at the thought of six in the morning, but for Dustin Steinke, Sixx:A.M. is a dream come true.

Last year, the Orillia musician became the full-time drummer for the hard-rock combo, originally formed as a side-project for Motley Crue bassist Nikki Sixx. The band is rounded out by lead singer James Michael, who has produced a cavalcade of artists from Sammy Hagar to Hilary Duff, and DJ Ashba, who served as lead guitarist for Guns N' Roses on the Chinese Democracy tour.

With the Crue calling it quits -- for good this time -- Sixx wanted to hit the ground running with his second act, Steinke said. With two albums set for release in 2016 and a full slate of shows lined up in support, the band needed to solidify its lineup with its first full-time drummer in its 10-year history.

The opportunity came for Steinke as the band he helped form -- Bleeker Ridge -- wrapped sessions on its last album. Michael had been paired up with Bleeker Ridge to produce that album in some downtime before Sixx:A.M. was set to do a one-off show at the legendary Budokan Hall in Japan.

"I was like, 'It's one show. It's going to be a great experience. Of course I'm going to do it,'" Steinke recalled. "When I got into the venue and looked out during sound check, I was like, 'Holy cripes; we're really doing this.'"

Even before he got to Japan, though, one show turned into multiple shows. The rehearsals for the gig had gone so well, he was offered a spot behind the kit for Sixx:A.M.'s North American tour in the spring of 2015.

"And at the end of that tour -- at the very last show -- Nikki sat with me and he said, 'This is your gig if you want it. No one's going to take it from you. You don't have to worry,'" Steinke said.

"It's weird. There's still days where I'm like, what the heck is going on?"

Born in Bracebridge, Steinke and his family have been Orillia residents since he was a toddler. His introduction to music was through a guitar his parents gave to him as a gift. His future as a guitarist was cut short early into taking lessons: He was told his fingers were too short.

But he had already seen his calling.

"I think the first time I wanted to play drums live, I saw KISS play live on TV," he said.

For Christmas that same year, he got the ill-fated guitar and his brother, Dan, received a drum kit. Steinke soon joined his sibling in drum lesions and took off from there. In high school, the Steinke brothers joined forces with Taylor and Cole Perkins to form Bleeker Ridge.

The teenagers took gigs wherever they could, making new fans with every show, and began to draw interest from the music industry. The band eventually found itself signed to the same record label as Sixx:A.M., which led Bleeker Ridge to hit the studio to record, with Michael at the helm.

While that recording experience gave Steinke the opportunity to join Sixx:A.M. full time, it also meant his time playing in a band with his brother and childhood friends was over.

"I've only ever played with those guys," said Steinke, who had the initials "BR" tattooed on his arm last summer. "That was the hard part. I didn't want to upset them. I didn't want to lose the friendship. Nikki offered me the part at the end of April. It probably took me from then until the end of October to make a decision."

There are no hard feelings, though, Steinke said, between him and his former band mates. They still spend as much time together as possible, whether they're in Orillia at the same time or randomly, on the same flight to Los Angeles, as was the case toward the end of January.

Sixx:A.M. is on the road through the spring and summer in support of its double record (being released separately, in two volumes) due out later in 2016. The lone announced Canadian date is in Alberta at the end of July. 

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