Monday, 27 November 2017

November/December update

Protection Racket announcement

I'm thrilled to announce that I am now officially a Protection Racket artist. I have been using their cases, rugs and accessories for well over ten years now and I wouldn't choose anything else to protect my precious gear with. My personal choices are the AAA semi-rigid cases which really are outstanding. I would like to say a huge thank you to Dean, Mandy and the rest of the team for having me on board. You can find much more about them on their website as well as seeing my personal profile here. 

Ducking Punches
As previously mentioned, our up-coming album Alamort is now available to pre-order from Xtra Mile Recordings. You will receive the instant grat of our first single 'Sobriety' which is also available to stream on Spotify. Last night it also had its first play on Radio One thanks to Daniel P Carters' Rock Show. I'm supremely proud and excited for the album to be released so that everyone else can finally hear it. The official release date is 16th February.
The first music video has also been filmed (at the beautiful beach that is Waxham, in Norfolk), by the lovely Charlie Wallis. It's for a song called Smoking Spot and the video will be released this side of the New Year.

London Drum Show
2017 has with it not one, but two major drum shows. The UK Drum Show happened in September (see below) and as far as I was concerned was a huge success, especially given that this was their first year running it anything like this size. There has been lots of 'backroom' politics, online discussions and various commentaries about the inpact of having two shows would/will be in terms of audience draws/company budgets etc etc. I for one try to sit on the fence and try to take the positives and merits from having two shows. The Manchester one was certainly a great weekend and this was the 7th LDS in a row that I had attended and I'm sure if both continue, then I'll happily stick my head into both.
Yes a lot of companies weren't exhibiting and yes it does cost a lot as a punter and certainly audience numbers seemed kind of low compared to previous years (but maybe stats will prove me wrong) but there were some really greaat drummers playing and overall it had a really good vibe to it.
I headed down for the most part to catch a drummer called Jimmy Chamberlin. When I was 13 I saw a video on The Chart Show (ITVs music video show) for a song called 'Tonight, Tonight' by the Smashing Pumpkins. That song changed me and the way I looked upon music. It was so unique; powerful, yet melodic and I fell in love with it. I took up drumming and tried to recreate the parts and play along (really badly) Then I bought the double album that the song was off "Mellon Collie and The Infinite Sadness". It was/is so diverse and the drumming just sublime. Dynamics, technique, texture, thoughtful orchestration, it well and truly blew my mind. I never saw the Pumpkins with Jimmy Chamberlin behind the kit, but this was to be the very next best thing.
The masterclass started with a discussion about trying to define yourself as an individual drummer rather than just being a clone of your favourite player(s) before he launched into two songs from his Jimmy Chamberlin Complex project (jazz/rock/fusion) and then two Pumpkins songs including Tonight, Tonight. To get to see him play this up close and to then actually meet him afterwards was just incredible.
The rest of the day was just spent wandering about, looking at some cool gear and catching up with friends old and new. But in truth, my day had peaked already and nothing was going to touch that.
Let me just give a shout out to the following for being great though; Mel and co @ British Drum Company, Steve @ Natal, Gary @ Remo, Stacy Gow, Mark @ Rusty Drums, Chris Young Drums, Nick Hopkin.

Meeting Jimmy Chamberlin!

New Video
Today I finally found five minutes to upload a video demonstrating my Amedia Cymbals mini Hi-Hats. A few people had been asking me about them, so check out the link below. While you're there, please do subscibe to my YouTube channel. Many more videos will be going up in 2018!

Vintage Drums Legendary Drums
Nick Hopkin is generally regarded as the most schooled guy in the UK when it comes to vintage drum gear. Not only does he source, repair, and sell pretty much anything off any drum kit you can think of, but he has also written a tonne of articles in various publications and online. He is also the brain-child behind this latest magazine Vintage Drums Legendary Sounds. This is a quarterly publication covering all aspects of vintage gear (obviously) and is available to buy either by download or print which I think is a real smart move to cater everyones' preference.

I picked up issues 1 and 2 at the same time and was instantly drawn in by the layout and styling behind them, they are just gorgeous to look at, with stunning pictures of beautiful gear. The design reminded me a little bit of the glorious The Drummers Journal and surpasses every other print magazine that is available by a mile. For £6 a piece you get a lot of content as well as style. Issue 1 sees articles as varied as the Supraphonic 400, vintage drum badges, desert island drums with Steve White, an interview with Hal Blaine, recording vintage drums and a tonne more. Whereas Issue 2 features include amongst them; Carmine Appice, Ludwig Speed King, British Drum Co and AK Drums.
Both issues are over 50 pages and retail at £6 (print) or less online via their website.
Well priced, well written, and an absolute must buy for anyone with even a passing interest in vintage drum equipment. Very excited to see where this magazine goes over the next few issues.

Clown Smash Everything
Great to finally see this official release of The Bombs Are Getting Closer by Norwich band Clown Smash Everthing. This was an album that I tracked drums on a couple of years back and am so glad to see that with a finalised line-up that they are ready to play their first shows as well as releasing this. You can stream on spotify or buy on iTunes or on CD from here.

Ducking Punches - Smoking Spot Video
Our latest video has just gone live. It's for the song Smoking Spot and can be viewed below. The album Alamort is now available to pre-order from Xtra Mile Recordings from here. 


Thursday, 28 September 2017

September/October Updates

Remo announcement
I'm very excited to announce that I have joined the Remo Artist roster! I've spent the majority of my career using Remo heads so it's an incredible honour to be part of the team.
After going to their UK base and trying their vast ranges, I settled on the P77 snare head, coated emperors for the toms and a P4 for the kick drum, although there are so many different models I'm bound to use different ones in different situations.

The UK Drum Show. 23rd/24th September
Meeting Thomas Lang!
The UK Drum Show was a two day event that ran at Manchester Central towards the end of September. The show brought together some of the best artists from around the world alongside a plethora of companies. I was enlisted to help on the Amedia Cymbals stand; displaying and demonstrating these beautiful Turkish cymbals to a wide range of drummers. These events are always a highlight for me, I love meeting and chatting to such a variety of drummers, you learn a lot from people from all walks of life. We received some great feedback, met a lot of the Amedia Artists and caught up with old friends. What always sticks to me is the faces that you see just walking about, playing and chatting; Thomas Lang, Dennis Chambers, Simon Phillips, Al Murray, Dion Dublin, Craig Blundell, the list just goes on. It really is a communal feeling being at a show like this and the venue, staff and layout I found to be perfect. Very excited to hear plans for the 2018 UK Drum Show.

A lot of big shoutouts, but just a few include; Chris and Alex @ Amedia, Gary @ Remo, Simon @ Pearl, Gareth @ Highwood, Tim @ Provenance Drums, Stu @ British Drum Company, Dion @ The Dube, Nick Hopkin Drums, Low Boy Beaters, Rusty Drums, Mike Dolbear, Chris Young Drums.
You can check me chatting about some of the Amedia Cymbals here.

Ducking Punches - Alamort
I left Manchester Drum Show and headed straight to Leeds to begin tracking drums for our latest album. Bob Cooper is one of my favourite producers and this would be my first time working alongside him, which was super exciting. The first day was a blur of trying different combinations of kit, snares, heads and cymbals. In the end my North Bubinga kit, North Beech Snare drum and various Amedias were selected. We kept with Remo Coated Emperors (toms) and Coated Ambassadors (snare) plus a P4 for the kick.

Once sounds were chosen and cemented and levels and everything adjusted, we were all good to go by the afternoon. Bob was a master to work with, pushing me hard to make sure I achieved the best possible takes, but all with a gentle and friendly nudge. He was also incredibly meticulous with his tuning; coming in after each take and checking with both his ears and a tune-bot. It took until halfway through the third day to get all 11 tracks down, but I was incredibly proud of the results.
Over the next week and a half we could then hear the songs really come alive. Recording is my favourite experience, especially when you have a bunch of songs that you feel proud about.
You can watch some of the footage we took on this tour video.
Since recording it's been mastered by the ever amazing Mass from Sonic Iguana studios (who's recorded and mastered a lot of my favourite albums) and is availble to pre-order from Xtra Mile, with a release date of 16th Feb 2018. You can pre-order Alamort via this link.
We have also just confirmed two album release shows, one in Norwich, one in London. Our good buddies Nervus and Grieving will be playing both shows as well.

USA Tour
After the fun of recording was over, it was time to turn our attention to heading back stateside for the third year in a row. We had only covered the East Coast before, this time we were going to work our way down the West Coast, starting in Seattle and going all the way down to San Diego, before an internal flight to finish at FEST in Gainesville, Florida. As usual, it always takes so much planning for these kind of trips and they inevitably end up zipping by way too quickly. Luckily a lot of the equipment and transport logistics were being covered by a band from LA called Spanish Love Songs who we were going to co-tour with. First up, they deserve the biggest shout out, not only are they a group of lovely people, but they are one of the best bands I've heard in a long time. Not only did they lend us every single piece of equipment, but they arranged all the drives, places to stay and even took us on some wonderful sight seeing tours. There is so much to talk about, but here are some tour highlights; Star Trek exhibition at MPop Seattle, playing Death By Stereos' skateboard shop, getting tattooed at Scapegoat in Portland, gambling in Las Vegas, vegan punk rock doughnuts in LA, Patrick Stewarts' Hollywood star, 39 degrees heatwave, FEST!

Monday, 18 September 2017

July/August Updates

Guilty Party - Jacksons Lane. 17th July
Just got back from Jacksons Lane Theatre in London where we took over the entire venue with our Guilty Party show. It was my first time at Jacksons Lane and straight away everyone made us feel really welcomed, it's a great venue ran by a a core group of very passionate people. I decided to take my 'bop' kit for this event as we were a little pressed for space (sometimes up to 15 of us on stage at any given time) Plus with the mixture of hoop acts, aerials, dance and theatre I wanted to keep it all compact. All in all, a great evening and hopefully the start of more Guilty Party events to come.

Ducking Punches
Another hugely busy couple of months with Ducking Punches which begun with our first time playing 2000 Trees Festival in Cheltenham. I had heard a lot about this festival over the last few years but had never made it down so I was excited to see what all the fuss was about. To make things even more special we were opening up the Main Stage on the Saturday.
First impressions were amazing, it was one of the most friendly and well organised festivals I have attended and we were made to feel welcome straight away. After catching a few bands (including our buddies Muncie Girls) we got a fairly early night on the Friday so we were fresh for the show.
I was humbled by how many people showed up to watch us. It felt so special looking out and seeing so many people singing along as well. I have vowed to come back to 2000 Trees next year, it really is a special little festival.
Another highlight was getting back over to Germany for a few shows. It was my first time in Trier, which really is a spectacular city. In fact it's the oldest city in Germany and for once we got a rare full day to explore as well as try plenty of local mosel wine. Another first foe me was Ulm, which has the tallest spire in the world which we went to the top of. The shows were excellent and as usual, the people and venues went beyond expectations and treated us wonderfully.
We have also just finished demo-ing up the 3rd album. Drums were recorded at mine using my Zoom r16 before everything else was laid down at our guitarists. Really happy with how the new songs are sounding and even more excited to get to the studio in September to start recording.

Drum Shows
Over the next few months there will be two huge UK drum shows happening. The first one is happening the weekend of the 23rd and 24th September at Manchester Central and will see the likes of Thomas Lang, Dennis Chambers, Gerald Heyward and Simon Phillips amongst many others performing. There will also be all the major companies showing their gear (as well as plenty of independants) a vintage room, clinics etc. It's shaping up to look like the best show we've had in the UK for years. I'll be there for the weekend on the Amedia stand so come and say hi.
More info at ukdrumshow
Then on the 11th and 12th November, the London Drum Show will be making it's return to the Olympia. It's always been a great weekend and there are some really big names confirmed including Anika Nilles, Aaron Spears, Steve White and Jimmy Chamberlain. Jimmy (from Smashing Pumpkins) is always at the top of my list when it comes to influences so I am especially excited to see him, for what will be my first time. A lot of exhibitors haven't confirmed yet, but hopefully we'll start to hear of some companies being involved soon.
More info at londondrumshow

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

May/June Updates

After a few days recovering from our Ducking Punches UK tour (I always need a few days to adjust back to 'normal life'), it gave me some time to catch up on some teaching as well as working on some new songs that we're currently working on.
It was great to see how my students had progressed over the last few weeks and to make sure that any were prepared for any up-coming Rockschool exams.
By the time we had booked the van, crossings, merch, worked on the set-list etc, it was time to head off on tour yet again. This time it was going to be two weeks around mainland Europe.
We left on the 25th May, playing The Monatgue Arms in London before heading to play El Topo Goes Loco Festival in Mol, Belgium. We had played El Topo a few years back and it's always a brilliant place to catch up with old friends, make a tonne more and see some great bands. They always have a live punk karaoke band at the end of the night and we couldn't resist joining in, and so the night ended with me rolling around on the beer soaked floor singing 'Gotta Go' by Agnostic Front.
The following day we played another festival (Incore) in Saarbruken, Germany which our UK buddies Apologies, I Have None were also playing. It had been a few years since I had seen them and they smashed it, proving why they are one of the hottest bands in the UK right now.
The next few days, as always, started to blend into one. You lose track of days, times, bands playing, and where you even are. We played a great place in Switzerland before working our way through Mainz, Leipzig, Berlin (always my favourite city) Zittau, Prague, Gottingen (where we got our own private cinema viewing of The Blues Brothers) Plan B in Bielefeld (best bar in Europe) Eindhoven, Merksam and finishing off in Eupen in Belgium where we stayed above a bakery shop and got amazing bread in the morning. It was all over so fast and as much as I wanted to get home and see the family, it's always hard to fend off the post-tour blues.
Luckily, I had a 2 week holiday booked for Wales the day after I got home. We took our camper and amazingly were there when the 2 week heatwave heat. 

Guilty Party - Jacksons Lane
Tickets can now be booked for Guilty Party at Jacksons Lane Theatre, London.
This was a show that I was involved in at the end of last year and features cabaret, live music, interactive theatre and DJ's. Last time we took over the whole of the Norwich Arts Centre and this time we'll have different locations set up around Jacksons Lane for you to explore. I might even be doing some 'acting' as well as being in the live band.
As this is part of the Postcards Festival it's a pay what you like event.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

March/April Updates

So after 20 years of teaching I had my final timetabled student in today.  
It's scary yet exciting to think that my bills will have to be paid mainly through playing (plus the odd bit of teaching between touring)
The first thing I wanted to do today was get my studio set up so that I could record at the touch of a button. Mega thanks to Peter Fellowes from Southpaw for helping me get started. I've got a lot to learn but that's the fun of life right? I think I thrive being out of my comfort zone.
The second thing was a celebratory cup of tea and oreos.
I'm a great believer in following your heart and just going for what feels right and I believe that with hard work and being nice you'll reap the rewards. Keep the passion burning and never have any regrets.

My teaching schedule can now be found online here so please give me an email or text if you wish to book in. 
I'm very excited to start recording, so if anyone or any band is after some drum tracks for any project then please give me a message.

Amedia Cymbals 'Pop In' Day
Thanks to Stu and everyone else at Create Norwich for welcoming me and the Amedia crew in for a 'try out' day in March. Thanks to everyone who came down, it was great to see so many drummers all together, we'll be running another event like this later in the year so if you want to come down and try the finest cymbals on the market then keep your eyes out.

North Custom Drums
Just took delivery of an additional 10" rack tom that I wanted adding to my 2'nd set up. As you can see, it's truly stunning. Andrew and the rest at North Custom Drums truly do the most incredible job, swing by and have a look at their new website.

Rhythm Magazine Review
While I'm on the subject of North Custom Drums, it blew me away to see my own personal snare (the one I got from the London Drum Show) being reviewed in Rhythm Magazine. It meant a few weeks without it, but it was worth it when the issue dropped through my letterbox. 4 stars. It is a beast.

I Said Goodbye - Epic Studios
At the end of March my band I Said Goodbye headed down to Epic Studios in Norwich (the former ITV studios) to record a couple of live songs. 
We picked two songs from our upcoming album Fairweather; they were Money And The Crown and Smokehouse. Both of these videos should be up online soon we hope
We are also very pleased to announce that the album will be getting released on the brilliant  Little Rocket Records label late 2017/early 2018 with a couple of music videos to be released before then.

Car booting
I really do love a carboot, I think it's because I'm the sort of person that doesn't really like spending much money on anything. I always keep half an eye out on any drum bits, but to be honest it's rare that you see anything other than a cheap starter kit. However this week something did catch my eye and after a bit of haggling I managed to buy this pretty Ajax snare for an amazing £8! After a little bit of research online I managed to date it from around 1948. Sure, it doesn't look like much right now, but once I've stripped it down and cleaned her up she'll be a beauty. 

One of my favourite bands are called Lemuria and their drummer Alex Kerns is one of the best about. I've always found his approach to drum parts interesting and non-conventional. I was so happy when they recently announced they were to tour the UK in July that I though I'd work out one of my favourite grooves of his; the verse part in Paint The Youth. 
It's a really interesting linear groove with some cool snare syncopation and interesting tom accents. It's a lovely groove and really fun to play, I even worked out the notation which you can see below.

Hope you're all having a great time and looking forward to Summer. I've just got back from our headline tour of the UK and have a couple of weeks to chill at home before we head back out to Europe on the 25th May.

Last day of D.P. tour at Norwich Arts Centre. Photo by Charlie Wallis

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.