Posts Tagged ‘time’

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


Scott Chapman & Felix Higginbottom (NYJO) interview

Scott and Felix

Scott Chapman and Felix Higginbottom – NYJO

The National Youth Jazz Orchestra (NYJO) has a reputation for producing some of the music industry’s top players and singers. Scott Chapman currently holds the drum chair, Felix Higginbottom is on percussion and they have just recorded a new NYJO album, which is being launched at The Proms this year.

The guys met up to talk about the big band and the opportunities it can bring to young musicians.

How did you join NYJO?

Scott – My drum teacher told me to go to NYJO so I started off in NYJO 2, which is the younger band for less experienced players. I started off doing that for about two years and got called up to do the first band. At that point I was just sitting in on rehearsals, maybe playing the odd tune. Then I started doing percussion for that band and when the old drummer left I took over.

Felix – I was about 14 and I just wasn’t satisfied with what I was doing at school, our music department was not very strong and none of the people I was playing with particularly pushed me. I think I dropped Bill Ashton a text and he said, ‘We need a dep. There’s a gig in Cambridge. Can you do it?’. So I got my mum to drive me up from Oxford. It came to the gig and Bill handed me the charts about half an hour before and I sh*t myself because it looked so hard; most of it was on vibes. I got through it and nobody noticed that I messed up quite a lot!

I came in from time to time to dep gigs over the years but I never committed to it because of school and Saturday rehearsals; I had school on Saturdays.

Tell me a bit more about NYJO 2 and how it’s structured.

Scott – If you’re newer to big band playing then that’s better suited for you and it’s a really good place to get your sight reading up and to get playing in that environment. The idea is that people get fed through to the first band, which is how I did it, but of course there are people who are already at a good standard who come straight to NYJO 1.

Felix - It’s meant as a training band and there’s a new band as well that’s just formed called NYJO London, which is for anyone in London and it’s another training band. It’s not the same as NYJO 1, which is a professional band. If there’s a space that needs filling in rehearsals the MD will go upstairs and grab someone from NYJO 2 that deserves a shot.

To read the interview in full click here to visit


Summer 2011 – gigs and a lot of cake

I’ve finally got enough time to take stock of the last few months and it has been BRILLIANT!

The Robots In Disguise UK tour in July was great fun. It was fantastic to play the songs from their new album live to an audience and the new band set up with me and my trusty mac for the backing tracks gave us a lot more freedom (it also meant I got my head around Logic this year).

I’m lucky to visit so many great places with Robots; since July we’ve played at festivals in the South of France, Norway and Italy and we still have a tour of Germany ahead of us this year. Although touring is hard work it is second to none for meeting people and seeing places I might not usually get the chance to go to. There aren’t many jobs where you get given an entire platter of Italian biscuits for your dressing room…

Or where you get fed the finest salmon you will EVER TASTE before you watch The Roots play, while standing by a Norwegian river with friends in the name of work…

I crossed Reading and Leeds festival off my to do list this summer as well, after playing percussion for musical comedy starlet, Brigitte Aphrodite. Keep an eye out for her ‘cos she will be coming at you in a big way with glitter and high heels very soon! Here we are at Reading with Jay, who plays guitar

We had a lot of love for the catering at Reading and Leeds. This was the first course of desserts we had at Reading…

I’ve also played percussion for lots of festivals near my home town this summer with Matthew Kilford. His glorious voice and guitar playing can make a grown man weep and you can check him out here. I don’t have any photos with Matthew or cake at his gigs though. Sorry.

I’m now looking forward to a holiday, playing with a new band this week, auditions, gigs, autumn and woolly jumpers.