Thursday, 9 March 2017

January/February Updates

First of all, I'd like to say a Happy New Year to everybody. I hope you all saw the New Year in having fun and are feeling a lot more postive about this year. 2016 was a strange one in many ways, I saw a lot of division and hatred rear it's ugly head and what with Brexit and Trump being elected it seemed like we'd gone back a step or two.
However as the months passed on, I found that a lot of people round me were intent on not letting this bring them down and in many ways made them feel more proactive to make their lives and the ones around them better. I personally did a lot of thinking about my carrer and my aims and goals going forward. Ducking Punches have got to that position where we are looking at pushing on in terms of more time touring, so I made the slightly scary decision to stop regular timetabled lessons to allow me much more time to focus on all the other apects of my drumming. I will be taking a few lessons around my schedule and an online calender can be found under the 'Tuition' section. If you want to book into an available slot then please email or text me.
Speaking of Ducking Punches, we have just announced the first couple of tours for the year. Starting in April, we will be doing two weeks around the UK ending in a hometown show at the Norwich Arts Centre. Followed by a European tour in May into June. Details can be viewed below.




I Said Goodbye video shoot
My other band I Said Goodbye shot our first music video on the 12th February. The song is called Take Me Home and is from our upcoming album Fairweather which is in the final mastering stage right now. The video was shot around Norwich before the final 'live' shots at my studio. You can find out more about us here.


Thursday, 12 January 2017

November/December Updates

So, we've just hit the end of 2016 and what a crazy year it has been. From a personal point of view it has been another brilliant year; I toured 14 different countries including America, secured three endorsement deals with the greatest companies out there and saw my pupils progress beyond belief.

London Drum Show
November always brings the London Drum Show and this year would be my 5th year. However this time I was there to represent North Custom Drums and Amedia Cymbals. I feel very proud being asked to help out by Andrew (North) and Alex (Amedia) and it was a complete pleasure getting to chat and show the many hundreds of drummers who stopped by 'our' gear.
I took my own personal set up down for people to stop and try and the feedback we recieved was just incredible. It was wonderful to meet so many new people and feel 'involved' in our little scene, the major highlight was when Brian Frasier-Moore (Madonna/Justin Timberlake/Janet Jackson) stopped by for a little play on my kit and told me I was such a lucky man to have such a beautiful set up.
All in all a really fantastic (if loud) couple of days; there is rumours flying around of a new drum event starting in 2017 so I'll be keeping a very keen eye on developments there.


While at the LDS, I fell in love with a snare on the North Custom Drums stand and I just had to have
it. It was one of those times where each time you hit it you smile, the sound and look of it is pure perfection.
Luckily I played it as the doors for the first day were opening and I whipped it up before anyone else had the chance to!
This is one of only two 'hybrid' shells that NCD have ever made; it's a 14x5.5 10 ply mahogany with a copper core and beech re-rings. It's finished in white marine pearl, has single flanged hoops, beaver tail lugs and trick throw off.
The combination of the two shell materials really work together, so you get the warmth of the mahogany but with an extra crack from the copper core. I can't wait to start gigging/recording with this.



I Said Goodbye
My new band I Said Goodbye starting playing some shows as well in November and so far it's been getting a great response. The album is now being mixed and pencilled in for a spring 2017 release, we are also planning an April Euro tour with details up soon.

Rockschool Results
Once again, well done to all of my students who took and passed their Rockschool Grade exams. There was some incredible results and comments back from the examiners. As always I'm very proud of how all the work they put in both at home and within their lessons. Anyone wishing to take a grade exam in 2017 please discuss with me and we can get you entered in.


Guilty Party
The year was wrapped up nicely with my involvement in 'Guilty Party' This was three nights of cabaret, circus, live music and immersive theatre. The entire Norwich Arts Centre was turned into a downtown speakeasy where audience members could explore and follow the story of some intriguing characters throughout the night. I was in the club band playing a cocktail kit (for the first time ever) in the bar area before moving onto a full kit during the cabaret. Everyone involved worked their socks off to create a really fun event that was a pleasure to be involved with.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

September/October Updates

PMT Drum Clinic
First of all a huge thank you to every single person that came down to my first ever clinic. I was incredibly nervous as it was something that was completely out of my comfort zone, but I think I got through it unscathed! I decided to chat about how to come up with new fill-ins using different groupings of semiquavers; eg; 5+5+6 = 16, 4+3+5+4 = 16 etc. If anyone wants to have the exercises or videos of me demonstrating them then just give me a message and I can sort that out. An especially big thank you to Joe at PMT and Dave Major for all your support and for Al Watts for letting me use one of his songs to demonstrate (see clip below)

New Ducking Punches video out/American Tour
We've just released the music video for the song Greedy Bones. It was an eventful day which sadly ended with our singer Dan breaking his leg, for the full story read here.



On a much brighter note though, at the end of October we are heading out to America for the the second year running to play some shows on the East Coast.
We begin on the 24th October in Orlando, before playing Tallahasse, Ybor and then THE FEST in Gainesville. I am planning on a road trip to New Orleans at the end of tour with the intent of seeing some old school jazz at Preservation Hall!

New North Custom Drums kit!
Thank you to Andrew and the rest of the crew at North Custom Drums for building me another incredible kit. I had spoken to them on the phone a few times with some ideas of what sounds/sizes/finish etc that I was after and after some discussion we decided on 10 ply mahogany shells in 20x14, 12x8 and 14x14 (with a 10" tom to follow) with single beaver tail lugs, a maple outer and black diamond inlay. It took about three months for them to build this for me, but they have nailed it. Not only does it look perfect, it sounds absolutely incredible.


I Said Goodbye
The first weekend in October I headed to Wongs studio in Nottingham to record an album with my new band I Said Goodbye. I recorded back here around 5 years ago with Jamie Ward and was so happy with how that (Bad Ideas - Murder Of Gods album) came out that I was very excited to get back there. We were recording drums and bass together using guide tracks that Alan (guitar/vocals) had previously tracked at home, so it was a pretty quick and easy job to get the 10 songs down over the two days. My kit and cymbals sounded incredible, I'll put up more details once the album is completed. We have just confirmed out first show which will be at The Waterfront in Norwich on the 18th September.



Hearing Protection
In my last post I mentioned about a new hearing protection scheme that has been set up by Help Musicians UK, well today I just received my custom molded ACS ear plugs! Through this scheme I managed to get these made up for £30 which is an incredible price. You can apply to the scheme and find out more information through their website. 

Monday, 22 August 2016

July/August Updates

I hope everyone has been having a beautiful summer so far? This time of the year always seems the busiest for me, from teaching to gigging to recording, I've barely had time to catch my breath.

Rockschool Results
Another great set of results for my students from Rockschool. All of those who took an exam worked extremely hard and it paid off as they all received Merits and Distinctions, so a huge congratulations to everyone. The next examination period is fast approaching, so anyone wanting to take their exam must make sure they have entered by October 1st!
Lucas with his Grade 3 with Merit certificate.

ClownSmashEverything
One of the songs from the ClownSmashEverything album has been released here. I recorded the 12 tracks of 'The Bombs Are Getting Closer' last year but due to time constraints am unable to continue, so if anyone in the Norwich area is keen then give me a shout and I'll pass your details on.

Frozen Light Theatre Company
On Sunday 31st July I went into the studio to record some backing tracks for the Norwich based theatre company Frozen Light. They specialise in multi-sensory shows for audiences with PMLD, so to be just a small part of their new show 'Home' was a privilege. Their musician Al Watts had sent me a rough guide of the tracks, so once we were set up and happy with the sound it only took a couple of run throughs till we were done. My North Custom kit and Amedia cymbals were sounding paticularly lovely. 'Home' starts it's Autumn tour in Canterbury on 27th August. You can find out much more about Frozen Lights work here

Recording backing tracks for Frozen Light.
Ducking Punches
I can now confirm that we are heading back over to America in October to play FEST and Pre-FEST in Florida. Last year was my first time playing America and we ended the tour off by playing FEST, which is one of the worlds biggest punk festivals in Gainseville. The show turned out to be one of my favourite shows I've played and to be asked to come back is just amazing. Some of my favourite bands are playing this year, the full schedule can be found here. I have also planned an extra week out there with my wife and son to visit New Orleans, fingers crossed I can get a lesson with the legendary Stanton Moore whilst I'm there!
In the meantime we recorded a video for the song Greedy Bones which is a song off our latest album Fizzy Brain. We wanted something raw, organic and unscripted, so we decided to build a box-car racer. Long story short, it came out great, unfortunately the day did end up with our singer breaking his leg (when you see me, ask) so we have had to postpone a couple of shows. However I'm hoping (and he is definitely hoping) that it's all worth it. I'll post it up as soon as the editing is completed.

Hearing Protection
The amazing lot at Help Musicians UK have just launched their Hearing Health Scheme, which gives pro-musicians access to bespoke hearing protection for only £40 (£30 for MU members). For this you get a music-specialist hearing check up, advice and custom moulded plugs. Not many things are more important to a musician than hearing so getting decent protection is vital and for this money you can't really pass it up. More information on the scheme can be found on their website.

PMT Norwich Drum Clinic. 26th September
I'm absolutely thrilled to announce my first ever drum clinic. I will be opening up for Dave Major who is currently one of the shining lights amongst UK educators, session players and clinicians. His clinic hits PMT in Norwich on Monday 26th September.  I have followed Daves work closely so to be part of the same bill as him in a true honour and I'd like to say a huge thank you for PMT for approaching me. Doors are 7pm and tickets are £5 which can be purchased from the store or online.  Make sure you book in advance as it's sure to sell out quickly. It's also worth checking out and subscribing to Daves Youtube channel as there's a wealth of information available from him.


New Amedia Cymbals!
Today I took delivery of something rather special; my custom made 8" Hi-Hats from Amedia Cymbals. A couple of months back I chatted to Alex from Amedia about having these made up and around 7 short weeks later they arrived - all the way from Turkey. They are truly beautiful and once more the craftsmanship shown here is stunning. I'd like to thank Alex and everyone else at Amedia for making this happen, it really is a pleasure to work alongside some of the best people in the business.

Friday, 19 August 2016

May/June Updates

At the beginning of May I managed to book in a lesson with the legendary Craig Blundell (Frost/Steven Wilson) at his home studio in Bedford. Craig is regarded as one of the leading educators and clinicians in the UK and is somebody that I have admired for a long time now. The fact that he still takes time out of his crazy busy touring schedule to teach one-to-one lessons is a testiment to his enthusiasm to help fellow drummers progress.
After the short trip to Bedford, Craig welcomed me in with a cup of tea (always a good sign) sat me down and asked what I was there for. In short, we all need inspiration and sometimes a little nudge to get us motivated and back up running again. No matter what our age, abillity or length of time playing is, the key is never to stagnate and become complacent with where you are. Always push yourself, always try to get outside of your comfort zone.
Within that two hours, I was thrusted material after material that made me uncomfortable (in a good way) He picked up on my weakness' (and very sweetly gave me some compliments!) and made me think about playing in ways I had never thought of before. I love finding weakness' it means you know what to practice on, and oh boy have I been practicing a lot more since that lesson.
I would like to thank Craig for his patience, enthusiasm and knowledge, those two hours really were a game changer for me and I'm looking forward to heading back down to you to show your my progress soon.
Me and Craig Blundell.
Southport EP released
Very excited to say that the Southport EP I recorded a couple of months back has been released. I do believe this is the first thing I've played on that has had a Japanese release. It's out on the amazing Fixing A Hole records and can be ordered here. They were also kind enough to send me a few copies wrapped up in Japanese newspaper! Thanks again to everyone involved and especially Simon Wells for inviting me to play on this, it was an absolute pleasure to work with you.

Teaching
Teaching in June just seemed to explode with plenty of new faces being somehow wedged around my already full timetable of students. I feel so humbled everytime someone phones or emails me about lessons and I hope I can repay with the knowledge and experience that I've gained over the last 20 years (yikes) of playing. So thank you to everyone who has had or continues to have lessons with me, it means the world. And also good luck to everyone who is about to take their Grade exams!

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

March/April Updates

March began with the release of the new Ducking Punches album. It's an album that I am incredibly proud of and to see it being released (on Vinyl and CD) on one of my favourite labels (Xtra Mile Recordings) is just a dream. They look amazing and the response so far has been very strong, it can be ordered at https://www.xtramilerecordings.com/Shop/DownloadDetails?rid=XMR_RE_196

We really wanted to tour this album from the off, so we took a couple of weeks out in March to go around the UK with our friend and brilliant singer-songwriter Chas Palmer-Williams. It was a joy to be on the road with him, he's witty and an incredible musician. The tour finished with a big home town show at the Norwich Arts Centre; we had inflatables, confettii cannons, ballons etc, it was a blast.
Ducking Punches @ N.A.C.
The UK leg was just the beginning as April saw us go out with the huge Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls for three weeks around Europe. The shows were a step up for us, bigger venues, bigger crowds, new countries, new venues; 12 countries from Italy to Serbia to Norway. I was so excited about this one and I can honestly say it was hands down the best tour I've been a part of. I loved every minute of it (minus missing the family of course) and it whizzed by quicker than I could've imagined. I just want to say a massive thank you to Frank Turner and all involved, you're all amazing. Check out a short tour diary below.


Friday, 25 March 2016

Endorsement News

The big news is that as of today I am endorsing these three fabulous companies:

North Custom Drums
Since their inception in 2013, North Custom Drums have quickly built up a reputation for making some of the most beautiful looking and sounding shells in the UK. What really caught my eye was in April 2015, when they announced that they were starting to build shells in-house. For me,
this set them apart from the vast majority of other custom companies and I knew I wanted to be involved with them. After some dialogue with Andy, I was humbled to be invited on as an endorsee and we quickly began chatting about sizes, wood selection, drum hardware, finish and all the other variations and possibilities that there are. I had always loved Bubinga kits, every one that I had played had everything I wanted in sonic qualities. Size wise we went for 22x18 kick, 12x8 Rack tom and 14x14 and 16x16 floor toms; 7 ply for the toms, 10 ply for the bass drum. We also agreed on Maple re-rings all round. I had always wanted a kit in silver sparkle and Andy suggested they try a laquer rather than a wrap. Once this was all in place it was just a case of waiting a few weeks for it to progress. There were some hold ups along the way (getting the finish right was a bigger task than anyone had anticipated) but Andy kept me in the loop on the building process all the way through. Once it was ready for construction, they invited me up to their factory in Burnley to put it all together, see the building processes and to also hang out for the weekend. I was a little nervous seeing it for the first time, but it came out perfectly. The laquer finish was unbelievable and the shells were flawless. It surpassed my expectations no end and once constructed we just couldn't get over how good it looked. With Evans G2s on the top and G1s on the bottom, the toms sung and the bass drum was thunderous, none of us could stop smiling. Whilst there, I picked out a gorgeous 14x5.5 Beech snare drum that complimented the kit perfectly. Getting it back to the studio and setting it up has been amazing, I can't speak highly enough of the job they have done and I'm so excited to get it out on the road.

Amedia Cymbals
Amedia cymbals are a company based in Istanbul who use traditional Turkish hand-hammering methods to create truly stunning cymbals. A few people had recommended them to me in the past and I got the opportunity to meet them and try out their cymbals in person at the London Drum Show last November. It was one of those moments where I just fell in love with them, both the cymbals and the ethos behind the company. They are no big brand, mass-produced, conveyor belt run company feeding the masses. These are one off, lovingly hand crafted pies that are truly unique. I left that show with two crashes and vowed that I would get more. After a few discussions, I was humbled to be asked to join the Amedia family and to pick out my wares they offered to come to my studio in Norwich with their latest shipment of 80+ cymbals to try out! They were kind and generous enough to leave them with me a couple of days so that I could spend time picking out what would work for me in live, studio and teaching settings. It was a hard choice, I would have been happy with the majority of these, although it did cement my personal dislike of crashes under 17" and 13" Hi-Hats. Bigger is better in my personal opinion! I eventually whittled it down to the final 12 cymbals (for now) that I felt were versatile enough to cover all the bases and the more time I spend playing with them, the more I fall in love with them. Each one has it's own complex voice and character and I couldn't be happier with them. I would like to thank each and every person involved with Amedia for the trust, support and above all the incredible cymbals that they produce. It is really worth watching this video of the beautiful process of the production of an Amedia cymbal and you can also get more information from their website here.

Balbex 
Balbex drumsticks are finally in the UK! These Czech Republic made drum sticks are just outstounding and I'm so glad that they have secured UK distribution. Over my 20 years of playing (eek) I have tried every major drumstick company out there but had never quite found the 'right pair', until now. Balbex were kind enough to send me over some Hickory 5A sticks to try and they just felt right in my hands straight away, they were weighted perfectly and the dual grip finish meant that not only did they stay put in my hands, but the durability of them was crazy. 8 gigs and 40+ hours of teaching and I was still on that first pair, crazy. For those of you who haven't tried Balbex sticks yet, you really should as you won't regret it, trust me. They may not be a big name yet, but if they continue making such magnificent sticks then one day they will be rivalling the market leaders. For more information go to their website here and for UK distribution and ordering click here.