Posts Tagged ‘drummer’

The triumphant tale of Teen Gem vs The Head Of Music

When I was 15 I decided I wanted to be a drummer for my job. This was not the kind of thing my school liked; they produced doctors and lawyers. Didn’t I want to be a doctor or a lawyer? No.

The head of music at my school gave me some strong advice against being a musician. ‘You will never be able to do music A Level now – you didn’t even take it for GCSE‘. (I soon left the school, took music A Level at a college and got an A).

You will never be accepted into a university to do a music degree!‘. (I got accepted onto 4 courses. I got a First on the degree that I took).

You will never be able to make a living out of playing the drums!‘. I’ve played at Wembley Stadium twice, I teach an amazing bunch of students every week and today I’m going to interview a drummer who has played for some of the hugest pop acts on the planet. Does anybody have a phone number for my old head of music?!

Lessons I’ve learnt from this

1. Teachers have a responsibility to embrace and encourage the dreams of ALL their students

2. You know what you can achieve – don’t let anyone distract you from your goals with negativity

3. I’m so glad I didn’t become a doctor or a lawyer

4. If you’re a drummer don’t take career advice from a violinist

It wasn’t all bad

I’ve had inspiring drum teachers to guide me since the age of 10 and they helped me get to where I wanted to be. Thank you to them :)


West End Drummers Part 9 – Andy McGlasson (Ghost)

Andy McGlasson – Ghost the Musical

Andy McGlasson is the drummer for Ghost The Musical at London’s Piccadilly Theatre. The London show opened in July 2011 following a 10 week stint in Manchester and is about to open on Broadway, which has given Andy a lot of input to the part as the original drummer. Andy has played for a vast range of artists that include Lady GaGa, Lionel Richie, Will Young, Leona Lewis, Pixie Lott, Shirley Bassey, Westlife, the London Philharmonic Orchestra and even Orville the Duck! He has been the original West End drummer for nine different shows, including Hairspray, Sister Act and Spamalot.

Tell me what led you to start playing drums

It was at the age of 11. I used to listen to my dad’s old LPs and I was constantly tapping. My parents thought they’d get me some drum lessons as something to do, then it progressed very rapidly from there. What started out as an activity to keep me out of trouble after school quickly became regular lessons and lots of running about for my mum and dad.

What was your first musical?

At the age of 14 I started my first semi-professional gig, which was every Saturday at a hotel with a dinner dance band. At that point I was already doing brass band rehearsals, orchestra rehearsals, regional big band rehearsals, pop bands; every night was packed with an activity. Sometimes I’d do something straight after school then run home, get my dinner and be off to another rehearsal or a gig. In fact, when I was in my 3rd year at High School one of the girls in my year asked me out on a date, which was great but I remember getting my diary out and saying, ‘Yeah, brilliant! I can do five weeks on Monday’. I think she went off with one of the rugby players in the end.

My mum and dad were really supportive. They would say, ‘Right come on, we’re going to this jazz club tonight and tomorrow there’s a great rock band in town, let’s go’. My dad would invariably blag his way backstage just so I could meet the drummer and chat to him.

I did that throughout my school years and when it came to leaving at the age of 17, it was a question of ‘Do I go to college or see how it goes?’. I was already doing a lot of professional work so I thought I’d give it a year and see how it went before deciding whether to apply for a music college or not. It went well and I started to pick up quite a bit of freelance theatre work such as summer seasons, pantomimes, gigs in cabarets venues, working men’s clubs, jazz gigs, jamming with my mates, as well as a few sessions.  I was lucky and, if I’m honest, growing up in Scotland was really beneficial as although the music scene was much smaller than in London, I probably got asked to do certain gigs that I wasn’t really ready for but there were fewer players to choose from. Quite often I’d be on a session or a gig with a big named visiting jazz artist, hanging on for dear life hoping I’d get away with it.  Mind you, it’s still feels the same now!

When I was about 21 a touring production of Les Miserables came to Edinburgh and I was asked to dep as one of the guys in the orchestra recommended me. I took over from Dave Adams and did the last three months on it. That finished and then another theatre tour came to Glasgow the following year with Dave once again playing drums. I also depped on that and eventually took over the rest of the tour. Then, I finally got asked to start on my own show, and that’s how I got into doing the bigger musicals whilst juggling all the other things I had on.

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


Interviews – people turning the tables and asking me questions…

In a radical change to me interviewing people, other people have been interviewing me! Here are three short interviews about what I do, who I work with, who I’d like to work with and some bits of what I’ve learnt about getting yourself out there as a musician. In stark contrast to my comments on twitter I don’t mention cats even once.

The first was an interview for Right Chord Music, who specialise in helping bands with their marketing approach. They asked me about my day to day life as a working drummer.

The other two interviews were for bloggers I Am The Jelly Fox and Fagan’s Finds

Thanks very much to the three sites for interviewing me x


West End Drummers Part 5 – Andy Newmark (John Lennon, Eric Clapton etc)

Andy Newmark

West End Drummers – Part 5 – Andy Newmark

Andy Newmark’s discography reads like a who’s who of musical greats – Sly and the Family Stone, George Harrison, Carly Simon, John Lennon, Eric Clapton, David Bowie, Carole King, Sting… and this only hints at the work he has done as a musician since his early twenties. In 1999, aged 49 and after several decades as a renowned session drummer, Andy decided to change paths within his drumming career and audition for the Lion King, which was opening in London’s West End.

In this month’s West End Drummers one of the greats talks about his personal experiences of changing from a session to show drummer, what John Lennon was like to work with and how 30 seconds of playing changed his life as a 21 year old.

How did you get involved in the West End?

I knew people in New York City in the Lion King and I heard that the show was coming to London. I spoke to one of the guys in the orchestra in the New York show and asked if I could get an audition with Joe Church, the MD who was coming over to conduct auditions in London. They said I could come along and I showed up but I wasn’t chosen for the job initially. They chose Ralph Salmins and that was that; I hoped maybe I could be a dep for Ralph. A few months later the Lion King production office called me and said it wasn’t going to work out with Ralph as he had another show and decided that he didn’t want to leave it. Would I like the job? So I said yes and that’s how I got it.