Tag Archives: DrumZine

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.

Brad Hargreaves Interview

Brad Hargreaves Interview by Travis Marc – 2015.

The best part about having the UK Drummer platform, is that every now and then I get to talk to some real musical heroes of mine. One such hero happens to be the amazing Brad Hargreaves of Third Eye Blind. I’ve been listening to his drumming (and his band) for as long as I can remember, and just always loved the way he approached his drumming in their ‘alternative/rock type genre of music. Third Eye Blind have a new record out called ‘Dopamine which they are currently on tour supporting, so when I heard that they’re coming back to the UK,I had to jump at the chance to talk to the groove master. Here’s what Brad had to say…
BradHargreavesDrum1Hi Brad, thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview for UK Drummer. Let’s start at the very beginning, can you tell us how you originally got into drumming and what initially made you want to play the instrument?

My dad played drums when he was younger and gave my brother some sticks and a practice pad. My brother just threw them in the closet but I dug them out. Then, when I was ten years old a friend at school got an electric guitar and just said to me, “you’re my drummer”. I literally built a kit out of boxes with the practice pad as the snare, and it started from there. I have recordings of that homemade kit with me playing Jimi Hendrix covers, ha.

How did you meet/get involved with Stephan Jenkins and the rest of the Third Eye Blind guys?

While at UC Berkeley, a friend in a music class suggested that I go audition for a band that was looking for a drummer. I was playing in a bunch of bands at the time and really liked the challenge of finding different ways to compliment whichever musical situation I found myself in. Stephan gave me a demo tape and we realised he only lived about 200 yards from me., which was a strange coincidence. I went to jam with them and we actually worked up a song off the first record called ‘Narcolepsy’ during that first rehearsal.

Third Eye Blind just released an amazing new album called Dopamine. Can you tell us a bit about the recording process? Did you use any interesting drum gear or recording techniques you used during the recording?

Thanks! The process meandered a bit for quite a while. We even tried a few tracks in London a few years ago, but the music just wasn’t there yet. At the beginning of 2014 it really began to come into focus and we actually worked pretty fast after that. I always use a bunch of vintage gear on recordings. I have some, and then we rent some in addition. We like having a lot of options for drum sounds, particularly snares. On ‘Get Me Out of Here’, we used this really deep rental snare that had a bunch of paper taped to the head from some previous session. It sounded perfect as soon as we put it on the stand.

Talking of drum gear, I love how you play such a minimal set up. Would you talk us through your gear and set up?

I have been playing a 4 piece vintage Ludwig that we built a custom riser for. The cymbal and hi-hat stands mount underneath the riser so there are no tripods stands on the deck and the mic cables are routed through the cymbals stands so there are not mic stands on the deck of the riser either. It’s very clean looking. I play mostly Zildjian ‘A Customs’ and use a Zildjian Avedis ‘Sweet Ride’. I also use Promark 2B natural drumsticks.

You’re on the road touring the new album as we speak, how’s it all going?

It’s great… We played a big summer tour outside in amphitheaters which is wonderful, but I realised how much I really like playing indoors. Drum sounds have so much to do with the room your in and I actually kind of think of it as ‘playing the room” as much as playing the drums. Playing in a nice theatre is where I feel like I can be the most musical on the drums.

What advise could you give us on how to stay healthy while on the road?

Wash your hands and exercise. I started running about 5 or 6 years ago and have never been sick since. Not once. I am convinced sweating is one of the best ways to maintain your health.

What about longevity in general. You’ve been a member of 3EB for twenty years now. In that time, many other members have come and gone. Leaving yourself and Stephan as the original core members. What do you think has been the key to staying friends in a band for so long is, and what advice could you give up and comers about trying to keep relationships healthy within a band environment?

I would say 80% of it is just sharing a similar world view in terms of how you conduct your affairs within the band and the level of professionalism you expect from yourself and others. We want the same things for Third Eye Blind. The other 20% is just having empathy for others, and wanting them to succeed because we are in this together. I am a team guy. I try to be the guy that looks at what needs to be done and does it.

Away from 3EB, you also perform as ‘Just Brad’, doing DJ sets accompanied by drumming – is that correct? What made you decide to do this, and how did you come up with the idea?

I was experimenting with drumming and DJing at the same time. I did 20 or 30 shows as ‘Just Brad’ but have not had the time to do it lately. The genesis of that actually goes back to the empathy thing. I was in the back of a van with a band called ‘Year Long Disaster’ that I played in for 5 or 6 years and was fretting over being double booked for the 20th time with a Third Eye Blind gig. I was so tired of letting the YLD guys down and getting sub drummers for the great shows they were getting so I vowed to myself that i would start a solo project where I didn’t have to let anybody down if I got another gig That’s kind of where (and how) it started.

Who or what would you say inspires you as a drummer/musician?

I get inspiration from lots of places. Other music, people, sounds, other musicians or even a Jackson Pollack painting.

What about practice? Do you still ever just sit down and practice away from the band? If so, what do you try work on?

Of course. I love to practice. I work on a lot of stuff with my feet. I feel like having a great bass drum foot is the key making a band sound good. It’s the key foundational element of most music.

The music industry has obviously changed a lot in the last 20 years. What are some of the main differences you see now, compared to say 3EB’s early success while on the road, or just in general?

Well, music is free now. That’s the root of the difference. At the same time, promotion is largely free now as well with social networking. So it’s a bit of a trade off, but one that actually works really well for Third Eye Blind.

Have you still got any musical ambitions or dreams?

I tend to be forward looking. This is the best we have ever played and we are writing some of my favorite music in our entire career I just want to keep it going. This right now, is what we worked so hard for.

What do you feel has been the greatest piece of advice anyone has ever given you in regards to your career?

I have been told by different people to just unapolegetically be yourself in your artistry. And I have always felt the same way. Never compromise and try to fit in. Be you.
BradHargreavesDrums2Any last thoughts or words of advice?

We are so excited to play Manchester and London coming up. We can’t wait to get over there.

Catch Third Eye Blind on Tour next month at the following venues.
Thu, 5 Nov Manchester Academy 2, Manchester, GB
Fri, 6 Nov O2 Forum Kentish Town, London, GB

For more info on Brad or Third Eye Blind please visit www.thirdeyeblind.com

(Please note that UK Drummer do not own any of the photos in this interview and they remain the property of the photographers who took them).

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.

Passion – September Blog 2015

Passion – September Blog 2015.

My goal behind this months’ blog idea is a simple one…

I want you to understand how important passion for your instrument is, how having passion can help you to improve faster as a musician and even how it can be a ‘make or break’ factor in regards to your career.

To start let’s look at the definition of the word ‘Passion': Passion is a strong feeling of enthusiasm, or excitement for something, or about doing something.

If we look at some of the worlds most accomplished people, it’s often easy to see how passionate they are about the things they love and more often than not, how their driving passion (along with lots of hard work) has helped them get to where they are. Think about it. Can you imagine Dave Grohl having done the Sonic Highways series if he wasn’t passionate about music? It would be interesting to see what someone like Gregg Bissionate’s career would’ve turned out like if his passion didn’t shine through like it does. Obviously hard work and time are huge factors too, but would the work or required effort even have been done if it wasn’t for the initial passion or love these personalities had to start off with?

Recently, I seem to have taken on a small influx of drum students who, although on the surface appear to want to play the drums, don’t really seem very interested in the actual instrument, the influential players who came before them or ever practicing in order to try and improve. In fact most of them (stereotypically speaking) just want to bash things, rather than taking the time to realise that there’s so much more to drumming than simply trying to break them. When asked about what music they like and want to learn, I find I’m often answered with an “I don’t know”, or “I don’t really care about music” type of attitude.

After lessons like these, I tend to find myself thinking back to my early years as a drummer and, as old as it makes me sound, I wonder about what drumming and music in general will be like in the next twenty (and more) years.

I think about how I couldn’t wait for Friday’s to roll around so that I could get to my weekly drum lesson, show my teacher the progress I’d made and see what we were going to do next. I would go through such effort to find out about drummers and different techniques and concepts.
I try think about what elements might be missing from the mind sets of my students and what I might be able to do to help them be more enthusiastic about what I’m trying to teach them.

The missing ingredient, as far as I can see (and I’m probably stereotyping of course), would definitely appear that there’s a lack of passion in these types of individuals and I personally feel that the wanting to learn (as great as it is) simply isn’t enough. After all if you can’t be passionate about what you’re wanting to do, or at least passionate about working towards what you’re hoping to achieve, is there really any point?

This is purely my opinion, food for thought you might say. I’m not trying to deny anyone their place in this world and I believe that every single person (rich or poor, old or young) has the opportunity to ‘make it’ in whatever field they’re trying to be successful in. All I’m saying is, if you can’t find a reason to want to do what you’re doing, and be somewhat passionate about it, you might be setting yourself up for failure from the start.

Until next time, keep pushing, keep working and keep doing whatever it is you’re doing. Just do it to the best of your ability.

Travis Marc.

Inspiration away from your Instrument – May Blog 2015

Inspiration away from your Instrument – May Blog 2015.

Anyone who’s ever really taken their instrument seriously will probably tell you that practice is the key to truly defining what you are able to do musically while performing. It’s like that old mantra says ‘practice makes perfect’. It really does. I suppose it just depends on what you define as perfection.

Sometimes though, practice itself is not the hard part for a lot of us musicians. The hard part is actually finding the inspiration/motivation to want to practice when we know that getting better can be a very long, lonely and boring task. For me personally, if I set my mind to it I find it quite easy to get into a routine that allows me to work on the things I’m trying to achieve, and even if there’s not enough time in the day to do it all I believe that visualising the things I’m trying to play can be just as beneficial and rewarding. But, just because I’m able to do this and feel that I have a strong sense of self discipline doesn’t mean it’s always something I want to do and finding the motivation can be difficult sometimes.

A few years ago a friend of mine (who happens to be an incredible drummer) decided that he no longer wanted to do music professionally and wanted to rather focus on a normal 9 to 5 type career as the pressures and uncertainties that can come with being a full-time musician had made him loose some of the passion he had for his instrument. He was really excited about his decision, and happy that he could once again play drums on his own terms and not just because he had to keep someone else in a band happy or follow ever changing drumming trends just to be regarded as a good drummer. After a few months he even started to tell me how it was the best thing he’d ever done and that I should try find something away from music to inspire myself the way he was somehow doing with his new hobby drumming career.

And so, after months of trying to think of different things that might interest me I came to the conclusion that away from music, there really wasn’t much that I felt happy giving my time up for (family and dogs aside of course). I decided to take a slightly different approach and use the things that were inspiring me as a guitarist to motivate me on the drums, and the things that were inspiring me as a drummer, motivate the way I approached my drumming. I decided to start paying more attention to tones and sounds on my drums in the same way a guitarist would mess about with pedals and different amps. On guitar I tried to think more about how drummers would play specific rhythms I was trying to play and started to sequence drum rudiments in the same way that a guitarist might sequence chords or scales. I found all of this extremely motivating and started listening to music in a completely different way, which kept the inspiration flowing.

The above approach started making me think about how a lot of actors get into certain characters that they’re playing and only ‘change back to who they really are’ after filming various movies (think of actors like Leonardo DiCaprio or Al Pacino), and I tried to start ‘playing certain characters’ while on my instrument. If I was playing a ‘Beatles’ song as a drummer – I tried to be Ringo. If I was trying to play a really heart felt guitar solo, I’d pretend I was Clapton’ etc, etc. It all helped to keep me motivated and become a better musician.

Once again (as with previous blogs) I’m not in anyway trying to say that you should want to copy other players and sound like them rather than being yourself, (after all, only you can sound like you). I’m simply saying that the above method has worked for me and it might for you too.

You knows, you might find inspiration/motivation by watching the latest action movie featuring Dwayne Johnston or reading a book about a nurse who had tried her best to save dying soldiers during the war. It could even come from the way certain dancers appear to completely defy gravity. There are no rules, the choice is yours, (even Buddy Rich was inspired by Bruce Lee). So go for it, and be the best that you can be (not because it’s you job) but because you shouldn’t accept anything less for yourself.

Travis Marc.