Incredibly we are at the end of 2015, the year has raced by yet again! It has been a fantastic year; touring America for the first time, playing Reading and Leeds Festival, recording and releasing music I'm proud of and seeing students progress and develop as players are just a few of my standout memories.
I have also seen my son have his first birthday, it is so true when you hear that becoming a parent changes your entire perspective on life. Sure, it's the hardest thing in the world, but it's by far and away the greatest thing I've ever done and every day I strive to do him proud.
London Drum Show
A week after getting back from the USA I made the short journey down to London for the annual drum show at the Olympia in Kensington. This was to be my 4th consecutive year and I mainly went down for two reasons; 1) To catch Anika Niles and 2) To try and buy some new gear.
Like last year it was held over two floors giving it a slightly more spacious feel than previous ones, yet again though....THAT NOISE....it gets too much. I found myself escaping to the quietest corners of the room (or even outside) every time the klaxon went off to signify the 'playing period' I mean I get that people want to try the goods out, but honestly, I felt pretty dispondant standing there and watching kids (and adults) just aimlessly bashing anything within reach of their sticks without even caring what it was let alone what it sounded like. I just felt the majority of people were there to show off their chops and didnt actually give a crap about what the gear actually was.
However, there was some very tasty stuff there as usual. Most of the big names were on show and Pearl and Natal both had some eye-catching kit. But the smaller companies for me probably outshone them. Here were some of my picks.
Guru Drums are one of the most exquist makers out there, for me they had the nicest looking and sounding kits and snares of the show. Rather pricey, but jaw droppingly good.
I went to see Preston on the Tiki stand, and he was showing off some beautiful gear as well as signing people up for their snare and kit building courses that are held in Brighton 3 or 4 times a year. I went on the course myself a year or so back and learnt an incredible amount of information, as well as coming home with a snare drum built with my very own hands.
If you're into acrylic drums then look no further than Forecast Drums; I was very impressed with their drums this year, as I was with Liberty Drums. One of the biggest buzzes was the unveiling of the new British Drum Company featuring a team including renowned builder Keigh Keough and Al Murray. Expect big things to happen to them in the next couple of years, their set ups were dazzling.
On my to try/potentially buy list were some cymbals from Amedia. I had heard a great deal about them and as I was in the market for some new crashes I thought it was about time I tried them for myself. First up I was met by some of the friendliest faces on the stand. Before I had even tried to hear their cymbals I was greeted by handshakes and smiles; these people really did seem happy to be there. After a little chat about the company and all the different ranges, they let me have some space to try a few out on a lovely little Guru kit they also had set up.
Well, I've been playing Zildjian for 20 years and I had never thought I could be swayed away from them, but after a couple of little hits of a 19" Kommagene Crash I knew I had been won over. The warmth and pure lushness of this beauty was evident even over the noise around me that was threatening to drown it out. I was sold. I then found an 18" crash that complimentent it perfectly, this one came from the Ancyra range and was a lot brighter and more cutting, but it still retained that perfect balance between attack and warmth. All I could do was smile and give them all my cash. Both came in at such an incredible price, especially when you know that each individual cymbal is lovingly hand hammered in Istanbul. There is a video on their website where you can watch the whole process, it is truly a beautiful thing to watch, pure craftmanship at the highest level. So, just thanks to Alex and the rest of the team there in making me a very happy guy!
Revello - Party Hardly
Really happy to say that the latest Revello EP has just been released. It is called Party Hardly and I think it sounds amazing! I played on all 4 tracks and it was all recorded at my studio a couple of months back. It can be streamed or purchased at https://revello.bandcamp.com/album/party-hardly
Fizzy Brain/Ducking Punches News
Xtra Mile on CD/MP3/White or pink Vinyl.
Two new songs can now be streamed on Spotify and we've just finished shooting a video for the song 'God Damn Coward' due for release in January. UK and Europe album support tours are currently being booked and will also be announced in the new year.
Lastly, I wanted to give a massive congratulations to each one of my students who took and passed their Rockschool grade exams this period. There were some fantastic marks and some excellent comments. I especially want to give a special mention to Ollie Beard who passed his Grade 8 with Distinction, getting a whopping 94%! Excellent work.
Saturday, 9 January 2016
I said goodbye to a few students who were moving away to start uni, but gained some lovely new ones along the way. Once again I feel humbled every time someone calls me saying they've heard good things about me and can I fit them in. I never take my job for granted and feel super proud to be surviving off my own back in what can be a tough world.
I did however, manage to tick something off that I have wanted to do all my playing career; tour the USA.
I've played all over the UK and the vast majority of European countries, but something felt extra special when we got on that plane destined for Washington.
We scheduled a day off to begin with so we could get over any potential jet lag and to generally get the 'feeling' of being so far away from home. It worked really well being in Washington DC as there were so many tourist sites to see; from the White House to the Lincoln memorial, we did em all!
From that point on we worked our way down to Florida and back again, playing 11 shows in total. It was a lot of driving and we didnt see too much of the cities (you never do when touring) but all of the shows were great and we met so many awesome people along the way. The highlight for me was playing The Fest in Gainesville, a yearly festival featuring some of my favourite bands, it felt an honour to be amongst them. I should also give a huge shout out to the wonderful Empty Lungs from Ireland who were our touring buddies, an excellent band and and excellent bunch of people, we coudn't have asked for a better band to share the road and stage with. Check them out.