Posts Tagged ‘album’

Matt Halpern interview – Periphery &

Matt Halpern – Periphery and

Matt Halpern is from Washington DC, home of his current band, Periphery, who have just released their second album and toured as Dream Theater’s support last year. He also runs, which allows people to have lessons online, and in person, with their favourite musicians, even while they are on tour. I caught up with Matt over the Meinl Drum Festival weekend in June, where he told me about life on the road with Periphery, touring with Dream Theater and branching out in the current climes of the music industry.

Tell me your drumming story so far

I started at a very young age, maybe three or four. I was tapping all the time on pots and pans so my parents saw that I had an aptitude for it and they put things in front of me to see what I would do. I had these kiddy drum sets and I would play on those until they would break and eventually they realised they needed to get me a real drum set. By the time I was five or six I had my first real drum set and I started taking lessons, just very basic stuff. I learnt how to read and about the basic rudiments and then was told to play a lot of songs. I practised how to learn to memorise music and it got me into liking music through drumming.

Because I was so used to playing with songs and learning different styles of music, I found other musicians that were older than me to play with. Because I”d started young I was more advanced than the kids who were my age so I was playing with kids that were older than me, writing music, recording music and then one band led to another and another. By the time I hit middle school and high school I was doing a lot of different drum competitions with drum solos; I”ve done the Guitar Center and so forth, then throughout high school I began teaching students that were a lot younger than me to get the feel for it.

I was 16 years old and needed to pay my gas bill for driving my new car so I started teaching. I used a lot of the stuff I”d used when I was coming up and when I hit college and went to university I paid a lot of my bills through gigging locally in the Baltimore/Maryland area. There were a lot of different bars I would play in the DC area; I”d play a few times a week with guys that were way better than me at their instruments and they taught me how to play in different settings, whether it”s a tiny bar or a big venue. I learnt how to play appropriately in different venues and for different styles of music and I was always into pushing myself and trying to get better. I”d grown up in an area where there were a lot of good drummers around so I was always into drum solos and being on top of all the new cool tricks to do.

After playing in certain bands I travelled around and did some session work and got hired by groups. In 2005 I left a touring band that I was with to join some friends to play and write a bit, then I joined a band called Animals As Leaders. Animals As Leaders is a really popular instrumental group now in the progressive and fusion world but that didn”t last very long because at the time I was a big fan of the band Periphery and it just so happened that timing wise Animals As Leaders was taking a little break. Periphery lost their drummer and needed someone to fill in so because I was friendly with them they asked me. I”ve been working with them ever since and we”ve been touring for a little over three years. We”re about to release our second album and it”s pretty crazy for me. I”m drumming a lot, teaching a lot and working on my various projects, which are Band Happy and Periphery.

To read the interview in full click here to visit


Dil Davies interview (Oysterband/Porter & Davies)

Dil Davies

Interview with Dil Davies – Oysterband/Porter and Davies

Dil Davies is one half of Porter & Davies, inventors of the BC2 and BC Gigster, which has been appearing at drum shows and in the music press an awful lot recently. However, Dil himself is a busy touring drummer with ‘Oysterband’, who have just recently won four BBC Folk Awards, which included Best Group and Best album, for their collaborative album with June Tabor.

Dil showed me around the company’s premises near Brighton and talked about his own playing and how it led him to starting his own business as an inventor.

Tell me how your company started

It started with me as a drummer. I’ve been playing for about 30 years now and I’m 46 so I started when I was in my late teens. I remember at the start when I was in a punk band in Birmingham,  I used to struggle with bass drum power and volume, which is really the root of the whole business.

I had lessons with a very fine teacher, a chap called Freddie Wells, who said, ‘You’re playing fine. The technique is there so get a microphone’ to which I thought, ‘Well that’s silly’ being a stroppy teenager. This problem has remained because the bass drum is where everything is based for me. To get round it I went to two bass drums, quite often in unison, just to make noise in a pub without a microphone. Then it progressed to bigger drums, and as a Bonham fan I had a 26” bass drum which I tuned like he did. I’ve still got the drum but most sound men and studios would just freak out because they couldn”t cope with an unported head and such a huge sound.

As the years progressed and I earned a bit more money from being a pro player I started investing in equipment. First I got a 15” wedge and that was OK but it progressed to getting a full sub with a 400 watt 15“ driver in it. Then I had to get outboards to EQ it and microphones, so for my little local gigs I would have this massive cabinet. It was good but I couldn’t take it on tours, especially abroad.

I’ve been in Oysterband for five years but I’ve been a pro drummer since my mid 20’s and have played all sorts of venues and festivals. As all drummers know, no two sound rigs are the same, no two monitor guys are the same. The main thing I get frustrated about, and it’s not self indulgent, is wanting to hear myself and have a solid feeling. If I can’t hear the bass drum I overplay in terms of impact and my timing can get a bit pinched.

Dil”s left-footed, right-handed set up

Cut forward to 2009 and I was on tour with Oysterband. I was really fed up with this; we had a couple of terrible gigs, monitor wise. I talked to Tim Porter, who is our front of house guy and our tech. Tim goes back to the 70’s when he was a sound man for Thin Lizzy and the early Jam stuff and he knows about PA’s and electronics. Tim said, ‘Let’s have a look at this’. So we did loads of research on the road in our spare time and he said he thought he could build me something. We had four weeks off, I got a phone call from Tim and he said, ‘Come and try this’. He’d built the bloody thing! I could not believe it. That was the very first prototype.

The running joke was ‘Here’s your bumchum!’. All our mates loved it so that’s how the name initially stuck. I played this gadget to my pro mates and within seconds of sitting on it they said, ‘I’ve got to have one! Can you make one for me?’. We said we could but they were expensive as they’re hand made. It developed from there.

To read the interview in full click HERE to visit


West End Drummers Part 8 – Tim Weller (Billy Elliot)

Tim Weller

West End Drummers Part 8 – Tim Weller (Billy Elliot)

Tim Weller took over the drum chair on Billy Elliot in 2005 at the Victoria Palace Theatre in London, where the show won an Olivier Award for ‘Best New Musical’. The music is by Elton John and it features some staggeringly talented youngsters. With a show so heavily based on dance the relationship with rhythm is especially important.

Outside the show Tim keeps busy with sessions and pop gigs, including The Divine Comedy, Beverley Craven, and Will Young’s latest album ‘Echoes’, which entered the UK charts at number one at the end of 2011.

In the following interview Tim talks about the use of vintage drums in recording, the importance of a good relationship with your deps and playing drum kit on computer game music with the London Philharmonic…

What first got you into playing drums?

My junior school had a very forward thinking music teacher, so as well as there being a school orchestra, they had a pop band that played covers… quite an eclectic mix – a lot of heavy metal, a bit of Creedence Clearwater Revival, and some John Denver. This band used to do concerts at local schools and play in assembly. On Saturday mornings, while all the staff had meetings, there was an extended hymn practice and they would play a few tunes. When I was seven the guy that was in the band was called Steven Bachelor and everyone thought he was really good. He had a big yellow Tama kit which was always up on the stage and he was very, very cool. Everyone used to sit in assembly and look up at him so I guess I got interested in it then. He was the first person who made me think, ‘I want to do that’.

I was about 11 when I took over the gig, sharing it with one or two other people. One Summer we went on a tour, which was essentially a school trip, to France in these two minibuses stuffed with gear. They drove us all the way to the South of France playing in youth hostels on the way and then a couple of years later we made an album (which I will never play to anyone). We also did a tour to America and Canada, which was great. It was this music teacher who promoted it all and it was quite unusual for the time.

Back then there were no grades for drum kit, you couldn’t even study drums in school except classical percussion. I did a little bit of that but drum kit didn’t really exist as an instrument in the education system at all.  It was only later when I’d left school that I really started studying anything. I went to Drummer’s Collective for a bit and then to Bob Armstrong who I’ve been with on and off ever since; he is fabulous.

I was really into heavy metal as an 11 year old; Rainbow, Iron Maiden, Motorhead, Whitesnake and Deep Purple. From obsessively reading the backs of record sleeves I saw drummers like Ian Paice and Cozy Powell shift through different bands. Like any teenager, I liked the idea of what you imagine that lifestyle would be like. Then I noticed Simon Phillips who started cropping up in credits and I followed his career. He was the first person who I became aware of as a session rather than a band player and I thought that that would be even better.

A local drummer from Tunbridge Wells, where I’m from, took me under his wing and he used to make me compilation tapes of Billy Cobham, Steve Gadd, Lenny White, Simon Phillips, all those sorts of people. I used to hang around in the local music shop and joined as many local bands as I could. I also hooked up with Pete Thomas from Elvis Costello’s band and he used to let me watch him rehearse. He was always really helpful.

How did you join the show ‘Billy Elliot’?

I knew the trumpet player who was on it and he introduced me to Dave Adams who had the drum chair and let me sit in. He’s a fantastic drummer. They had had quite a long exclusive, and he was probably desperate to have a night off, so one night he said, ‘Here’s a pad, you can learn it if you like’. I learnt it and depped on it and then, when he left to do The Lion King, I got lucky and got the gig.

To read the interview in full click HERE to visit