Tuesday, 27 January 2015

January/February Updates

First of all happy new year to everyone, I really cannot believe we've got to 2015 now.
 After the craziness of fatherhood in December, the new year started to 'normalise' out a little, with band practices and lessons starting up again.
Lots lined up for this year already which I really can't wait to get my teeth into.
On the 10th January, Ducking Punches went into the BBC studios at The Forum in Norwich to record an interview and two live songs for a BBC Introducing session. We had a great time and everyone was lovely down there. They have put a video up of us doing a full band version of 'Six Years' which you can watch below.
We have also just announced dates for our two week European tour in April. We are so excited to get out on the road again, this time the amazing Mark McCabe from Scotland is coming with us

Jojo Mayer; Secret Weapons For The Modern Drummer - Part II
Ok, so it's very rare that I decide to review any drum-related releases. But the first installment from Jojo, which was released back in 2007, is regarded as one of the finest drum educational DVDs and still gets regular viewings at my house. Whereas Part 1 was focussed purely on hand technique; Part 2 is rather unsuprisingly focussed all on foot technique. You'd wonder how Jojo could fill 3 discs and nearly 5 hours with enough content of interest to keep you glued; but just like his first release, he has struck the perfect mixture of exercises, demonstrations, information, humour and performances. From the very first chapters on the basics of heel down vs heel up, or keeping the beater 'in' or 'out', I found myself analysing and changing my own technique. 
The following chapters delve into more complex techniques such as double strokes, rocking motion, heel-toe, moeller pumping motion, Hi-hat Techniques etc. I really enjoyed the sections on the history of the pedal, set up and posture as I felt these gave some light relief from all the technical aspects covered.
It's really worth getting a hold of this DVD, there's certainly something for everyone no matter what ability. I for one, will be spending most of 2015 working through this.

Groezrock 2015
Just heard that we got through to the shortlist of Groezrock Festival in Belgium. Hundreds of bands applied to play the Macbeth stage at this amazing two day festival that happens in May and we have got through to the last 30. Now the public get to vote and decide on the 10 that are to go.
If you have a spare couple of minutes it would be great if you could head over to http://www.macbeth.eu/groezrock/bands/ducking_punches/ to cast your votes. Thank you!

Other News.....
Elsewhere, I've been into the studio a couple of times to start recording an album with my new band. It was the first time for me at The Bake House in Glandford, Norfolk. I absolutely loved it there; incredible equipment (including the old ITV control board) and Jerry is an absolute pleasure to work with. For this session I took my Gretsch Renown again which considering it's small sizes, always sounds huge recorded. Hopefully everything will be finalised and announced early summer time.
Quite a few things happening on the Ducking Punches front to. As well as winning the competition to play Groezrock Festival (thanks to everyone who voted for us) we have also been confirmed to play Boomtown in August. Really excited about making it to the festival this year. We also had the 2'nd pressings of the album through on 3 different coloured vinyl; purple, splatter and half black/bone.
And finally, we recorded a music video for 'It's Been A Bad Few Weeks' which should be back with us early March time.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

November/December Updates

So, as 2014 draws to a close I become a dad! My son was born mid-December and with that came time off to spend with the family. All I can say is that it has been the most amazing heart-warming and intense time of my life. I managed to take 4 weeks off. Normally I couldn't imagine 28 days of not even picking up my sticks but for once I was more than happy spending ever second of it at home getting to know each other.
Now as 2015 starts up and I get back to teaching and playing again, I am really excited about what this year is going to bring. My new band (yet to announce name) have been putting the final few practices in in preparation for recording of the album early in the year. I am so excited about getting the music out there and getting on the road.
Also on the recording horizon is the next Ducking Punches album. We have started to write the first few songs for it and aim to have it out by Spring. We already have a 2 week tour of Europe booked in for April, numerous weekends and one off shows as well as 2 weeks in America in October. It seems a mile off, but we're super excited already!

Rockshool exams
Teaching has been super busy as usual and feeling really great about how my students are getting along. Well done to everyone who just got their Rockschool exams back, some great results and feedback yet again! 

The London Drum Show
This year the London Drum show ran on the 8th and 9th November, again at the Olympia in Kensington. This time however it was to be held over 2 floors to try and ease the manic congestions and scrambles of previous years. I only managed to make it down for the Sunday this year and was mainly interested in seeing the gear than particularly any of the masterclasses. The first thing that struck me when I got in was just how much space there seemed this time, it almost seemed too empty and lacking in atmosphere. Don't get me wrong, it was lovely to have extra space, it just felt a little flat. I was quite suprised by the amount of companies not there this year to; Premier, Highwood, Tiki, Echo...the list goes on. I don't know whether it's a sign on the current market or economy, but I really hope they are all there next year. However, here are some of my picks;
UK based Provenance Drums had some of their bespoke snare drums on show. This company build one off high-end drums from unique salvaged materials; be that from a Spitfire, a Rolls Royce or whiskey barrels. Each one lovingly crafted, they sounded so great that legendary drummer Todd Sucherman bought one that weekend.
I was incredibly excited to see the Los Angeles based Q Drums on the Sound Attak store, these are one of the best looking and sounding kits money can buy. Just a treat to see these in person.
Pastorio padouk solid shell kit
Guru Drums are a UK based company that craft the most beautiful solid shell drum kits. Every year I see these I fall in love with the look and sound of them. If I had the money, these would be my go to company. Best sounding kits of the day.
A very close second though was made by a new company to me. They are called Pastorio Drums and are built by two guys in Italy. I was so, so close to spending £1800 on the most incredible sounding Padouk solid stave kit. A name to keep an eye out for in the future and who knows, next year, just maybe.
Elsewhere, I saw some lovely gear from Craviotto, an amazing new UK acrylic only company called Forecast Drums and some great sounding cymbals from the lovely lot at Bosphorus.
All in all, another great day out seeing lots of great drummers, friends and equipment. Already excited for 2015. Keep an eye out for information at The London Drum Show

Friday, 2 January 2015

September/October Updates

Revello EP
The Revello EP got released October 23rd and can be streamed for free at http://revello.bandcamp.com/releases

September brought with it my first visit to Ireland. I only had 4 shows booked (Belfast, Limerick and two in Dublin) but couldn't wait to get over there. After a short flight from Stanstead, we met up with our to be tour buddies from Dublins' Gypsy Rebel Rabble who quickly fed and watered us before our opening show at Abner Browns Barber shop. A really great night that was fully rammed and was a good omen for the shows to come. The next day I caught up with a couple of friends in Belfast and had the best vegan burrito from a place called Boojum before the show at Brigg Life Community Arts Centre which also houses the legendary record store Good Vibrations. The Dublin show the next day was a little quite, but finished on a high at a packed out Cobblestone Joe's in Limerick. Thanks again to anyone who came to the shows and massive thanks to the incredible Gypsy Rebel Rabble for lending us the equipment and driving us around.