Tag Archives: Blog

Sometimes It Snows in April – April Blog 2016

Sometimes It Snows in April – April Blog 2016.

I’m still processing the fact that Prince has passed away. I had never met him (but did cross paths with the members of 3rd Eye Girl once), and understand that writing a blog about a musician that I never personally knew might seems strange, but I have spent so many hours listening to his music and researching/reading about him over the years that in some kind of strange way, (as silly as it sounds) I feel as though I’ve lost a friend.

A few years ago I set out to try collect as much Prince music as I possibly could and even started sourcing material he released as Jamie Starr, Camille or Joey CoCo just so that I could try and hear as much of what he was capable of musically as possible. (I still need to try get my hands on loads of “unofficial NPG releases” and have never been able to find an original GuitarWorld release of ‘The Undertaker’, but I’ll get there eventually).

As with most musicians, Prince (and his music) wasn’t always every one’s cup of tea. Many people felt he was at his best as a funk artist, while a few people out there feel that he contributed just as much to hip hop as a genre as many of it’s top stars. Again, there are those that feel he didn’t quite ‘get’ hip hop and should’ve remained a more mainstream pop/rock artist as per his ‘Purple Rain’ era. The bottom line however, is that Prince was an outstanding musical talent that inspired countless of people throughout the world over the last 3 decades, so whether you’re a fan of his music or not, you cannot deny how proficient he was on the numerous instruments he had the ability to play.

As a musician, Prince helped me understand that as great as it is being a multi instrumentalist and be able to play pretty much everything on ones own recordings, that allowing other musicians into your creative world can take your musical ideas to new heights, add new concepts and ideas and be a lot more fun.

I also think it was great that even after he took over the pop world like he did in the early/mid 1980’s, that he constantly pushed his own boundaries, both personally and musicality. Again a lot of material he released wasn’t always accepted as mainstream pop but he kept writing/creating even long after he financially needed too. There are countless other artists that have simply disappeared after they’ve made their millions and given how he could have comfortable lived off off the money he made as early as the mid 1980’s if he had wanted to, he could’ve done the same. Instead, he kept producing, helped establish other artists (Vanity 6, Sheila E, Judith Hill).

Plus, he could hold his own musically with anyone – he truly was one of a kind.

Add to the above the outstanding amount of charity work he did (which no one ever really talks about) and how he stood up for musicians rights in regards to how streaming and distribution of music has changed how musicians earn a living and it’s easy to see why we’ll never have another icon quite like him ever again.

So yes, I realize that this is usually a drum related blog but I would like to say thank you for the music Prince, you were a true inspiration, (I would’ve loved to have had the opportunity to have jammed with you). For the drummers out there who have never taken the time to research what Prince contributed to the drumming world I strongly suggest you do, he always brought some of the drummers we now love and admire to mainstream attention. Did I mention that he was even on the cover of Modern Drummer once (Jan 2005 issue). Amazing.

Rest In Peace Prince.
@TravisMarc

Some Random Thoughts – March Blog 2016

Some Random Thoughts – March Blog 2016.

I thought I’d get a bit more personal with this months blog by sharing a few things that I’ve learned in my life/career so far. These are the gems that I feel apply to being a musician particularly well. So I hope that they are of some use to you all. Here goes…

1. Unfortunately, you really can’t (and won’t) please everyone, and trying to do so usually backfires.

2. If people can’t accept you for who you are, or don’t wanna be friends with you after you’ve made an effort to try to be, then you’re probably better off without them in your life.

3. Life can get pretty crazy sometimes, so if possible try to take a little time to do the things that make you happy – even if it’s just for a few minutes each day.

4. When in doubt, just go with it. Don’t try change situations that you have absolutely no control over (so unless you’re hurting yourself, or others in the process), just enjoy the moment. They’re not going to last forever.

5. Develop a hard skin. Successful people want to stay on top forever and might not always give you the turn that you might feel you deserve. Likewise, often people on their own way up might feel threatened or self entitled to something that you’re also after and hurtful things can be said or done that might discourage you along your journey, (who knows you might even be the one to say or do them). Regardless having a hard skin can help you shake the negativity off – especially within the entertainment industry.

6. Trust your gut !!! Pretty self explanatory really, but your instincts are usually correct.

7. Be nice to others, even if you think they’re unkind or inconsiderate towards you. You never know who’s help you might need one day, or who might need help from you.

8. Surround yourself with people who believe in you and help build you up. You’ll be amazed at what you can achieve by doing this, even if it means that you might have to hear the ‘cold’ occasional truth about yourself every once in a while.

9. Stop complaining all the time. Unfortunately, this is much harder than I’d like to admit, but negativity breeds negativity (you would’ve heard me say that on the UK Drummer Podcast a few times).

10. Don’t fake it – just make it… You don’t have to be a fake individual to survive in this world. As mentioned earlier, you’re probably make a couple frenemies along the way but being true to yourself is worth its weight in gold so don’t let anyone take that away from you.

Until next time, practise hard, work hard and I’ll see you around.

@TravisMarc

Sometimes opportunity doesn’t knock – January Blog 2016

Sometimes opportunity doesn’t knock on the door – January Blog 2016.

Ah life… It’s a funny thing. Most people are either content with where they are, or trying to break down barriers in order to get to where they eventually hope to be.

It’s with this in mind that I wanted to write this months blog, as it’s important to remember that while attempting to claw one’s way to the top and open as many doors as we can along the way, that it’s very easy to miss some of the windows of opportunity that might come to us, purely due to the fact that we’re too focused on our end goal (whatever that may be).

Recently, I was in the studio with a great band., who were recording their debut album.
I was hired to record a few guitar parts on the record and was itching to have a go on the drumkit that had been hired for the drummer on the session. As I wasn’t that close with the band, I decided to act professionally and simply just track my guitar parts.

During the recording process, a few comments were made that made me think that the band weren’t completely happy with their drummer or his parts, but again by trying to remain as professional as possible, I held back my comments that I might be able to do what they wanted ‘drum part wise’ in a better way (no one wants to be ‘that guy’, especially when it’s not even your own band).

While on quick a break from the actual recording process one day, I thought I’d have a quick play on the drums before we hit record again, but not knowing me, the drum tech that had been hired for the day didn’t think it was a good idea and so for a third time during the session I again decided to remain professional and convinced myself that I didn’t need to play the drums and went back to my guitar.

Anyway, fast forward two or three months and as suspected the band seem to have released their drummer and hired a new guy to fill his position. They also have some amazing dates booked in on their new tour, with support slots of some absolutely massive bands…

Now, while I’m super happy for them (they were terrific guys) I can’t help but think that perhaps had I made sure that they had the chance to see what kind of drummer I am and what I could do on the drums within their genre, that when the decision came to replace the above mentioned drummer that just maybe I might have been considered as a potential replacement. Not to say I would’ve, but I might have been. The worst part is, that I’ll never ever know and I have no one to blame but myself.

So, while I do believe that upholding professional standards should always be one’s priority, I think that maybe we should also trust our instincts and take advantage of the moments we’re in as we might miss opportunities that are right in front of us. After all, sometimes opportunity doesn’t knock on the door, it lightly taps on a window.

Until next time, keep on practising, take those opportunities, and remember the harder you work, the luckier you’ll get.

Travis Marc

If you can’t join em – November Blog 2015

If you can’t join ‘em, try someone else – November Blog 2015.

There are countless sources dedicated to drumming out there. Some cover topics from clinics to gear reviews, whilst others focus on interviews, blogs, podcasts, or even the selling of 2nd hand drum gear.

Regardless of what their main content is, I quite enjoy most of these sources. I think that there’s room for them all and they can be pretty cool to use to better one’s own playing or insight into drumming as a musical instrument. Plus, all these platforms (websites, social network groups, pod casts, interactive video lessons etc), really help give us drummers the impression that we are all part of one big supportive drumming ‘family’, which we don’t often get to see with other instrumentalists.

I’m part of more drum groups and websites than I care to admit, (especially given my often over-opinionated views on social media in general), and even though I don’t often get involved with many forum-type conversations,  I do enjoy reading some of the banter between complete strangers on topics such as drum sizes, laughing at some of the drumming jokes or the odd moans and groans regarding expensive gear, or the comparison of how big the space for the drum set up was on someone’s last gig.

I have noticed though, that some discussions seem to get a little heated every now and then, and have on occasion even seen a couple instances where a group of individuals will sometimes stick together and almost ‘gang up’ on someone because it’s felt that this specific individual has the wrong opinion. This makes me wonder if we’re really as close as we all sometimes imagine. I mean at the end of the day they’re just personal opinions and different personalities and opinions aren’t always going to relate – that’s just human nature. Plus, as much as I love drumming, it’s important to remember that it’s just drumming – we’re not exactly saving individual’s lives over here people. So things really don’t need to get too heated or mean, do they?

If you’re one of the individuals who has felt bullied within a group or forum-type situation I would like to apologise on behalf of these mean spirited “drummers”. Please remember that most drummers, (especially those without anything to prove to others), are usually really supportive and keen to share their knowledge. I guess just like any other industry there are some people out there who don’t want to break bread and share with others. It’s a pity, but give them time, they’ll come around one day. My advice to you is to forget about them and don’t spend another minute letting someone else’s words or opinions put you down. Take a look at your own diary, if you’re getting bookings there’s no need to worry about these other people.

The drumming community can be incredible. It can be a wonderful and supportive place where you will make some truly great, lifelong friends, and if you haven’t had luck making friends within a specific group/site/forum/whatever, try somewhere else. Or as this month’s blog title says – if you can’t beat ‘em, try someone else.

That’s it for now, have a good one everyone. See you at the LDS. Practise hard.

Travis Marc.

Be Prepared – October Blog 2015

Be prepared – October Blog 2015.

There’s an old quote that says ‘failing to prepare is preparing to fail’. It’s a saying that can be applied to most aspects of life, but can be particularly true for musicians, whether they’re hoping to be viewed as sidemen in other people’s projects or as musical artists themselves.

If you’re a regular reader of these blogs you’d know that practise is a topic that I’ve written about many times over the last year. It’s a subject that I’m extremely passionate about because simply put, I really enjoy the way that practising and working on ‘myself’ makes me feel. The reality though, is that while some people do spend time on trying to make their craft better, there are many musicians who find the process boring and mundane.

While that’s perfectly ok, (each to their own at the end of the day), I often wonder how prepared these types of musicians might be if they were to suddenly have the opportunity to play in a musical situation away from their usual musical comfort zones.

Hypothetically (and purely for example purposes) lets’ say that you are a hard rock drummer.Your band just finished touring and you’re going through a bit of a quiet period. Money is running a little low and you’re super close to taking a part time labouring kind of job before next year’s tour begins, when suddenly you get a call to tour as the drummer for a new emerging reggae type act. Would you be ready?

If the answer is yes, then my friend you have done your homework. You’ve put in the time and should feel confident that you can take on some work out of your usual comfort zones and do a good job while doing so. If the answer is no, well then you should get back in that practise room because you have unfortunately done no preparation and will end up ‘winging’ the gig should you accept to take it. In which case you make yourself and the musicians who hired you look extremely amateur, which isn’t even the worst part. The worst part is once the gig (or tour, or whatever they were hoping you could do) is over, they will never call again because there will be someone out there who is simply better prepared and suited for their situation. You’ll then feel terrible about yourself and probably go take that part time job you were dreading having to take while your own band was taking some down time, because mentally you might convince yourself that music simply isn’t meant for you.

So what can we do to try and be as prepared as possible, should that random call (or email) come one day?

Practice.
I’m not going to preach about this one, if you don’t know what it is, go check out the previous blogs.

Broaden Your Horizons.
Stop playing or practicing that John Bonham chop that you’re so great at and start focusing on things that you’re perhaps not too good at. If you’re a punk drummer and struggle to play slow, try playing along to some ballads. Likewise if you’re a jazzer, listen to and start trying to play along to some Megadeth etc, etc. It’s all going to make you better and a more rounded player, which will ultimately make you more prepared for gigs out of your comfort zone.

Focus On Your Weaknesses.
But don’t beat yourself up about them. Make notes about the aspects of your playing that really need work and well, work on them. Eventually, you’ll find that the mistakes you frequently make are no longer mistakes and you’ll feel pretty good for it. Don’t get too cocky though, because there is always room for improvement.

Find Your Own Voice.
It’s tough out there, and many drummers are after the same gigs. While it’s great to be after the sideman job as drummer for the latest popstar, there might already be someone who gets those calls before you do. Instead focus on a few aspects of your playing that give you your own voice that people will want to call you for. But while developing this voice, make sure you continue to broaden your horizons in case that random gig does come about.

Only Be A Yes Man If You Can Really Do The Job.
While we all want to believe that we’re drummers of all styles, if you do get a call to do a gig that you don’t feel you can truly do justice, please don’t do it ! You’re going to embarrass yourself and tarnish what might be an already established reputation. Rather recommend the gig to someone who you know, could do the job. Trust me, people will remember this type of honesty and start to trust your judgement should your recommendation check out. Plus (more often than not) if the person you recommended got the gig ever gets a call for a gig they can’t do the favour might be returned.

Good luck, and I’ll chat to you all next month. Keep rocking.

Travis Marc.