Bill Bruford interview – by Travis Marc – 2011.
With career stints in bands such as Genesis, Yes and King Crimson (among others), Bill Bruford made a name for himself as one of the most influential drummers within the progressive rock genre. Although he retired from public performance in 2009, he is still held in extremely high regard among numerous drumming communities throughout the world, and often listed as a major influence by high profile players such as Mike Portnoy. Recently Bill embarked on a new adventure in regards to a special release of his Autobiography, ‘Bill Bruford’ – The Autobiography’ with Foruli Publications, which not only features an exclusive 17 track 10” vinyl double album – ‘From Conception to Birth’, but even a piece of one of his previously played ‘Paiste’ cymbals. We at UK Drummer were recently fortunate enough to have a brief chat with the drumming legend and here’s what he had to say…
Hi Bill, thanks for putting some time aside to talk with us. Could you start by telling us a bit about how the idea behind the release of your limited edition biography come about?
Well, I originally released the ‘Bill Bruford’ – The Autobiography’ book shortly after my retirement in March 2009. The book covers stories about my life and experiences on and off the road, and fortunately received quite a bit of interest and good reviews. Earlier this year I was approached by Matt Higham (Foruli Productions) and Andy Vella (world renowned artist, designer and photographer) about doing a limited edition version of the book which we extended with different artifacts. It was really cool to do, his team basically came over to my place and we looked through a lot of my old memorabilia and chose some different pictures and things that we could use and release as additions to the limited edition of the book.
The music scene has changed quite a lot since your retirement in 2009, what are your thoughts on the current shape of the Rock drumming world?
It really is an entirely different place compared to the world I grew up in, drummers used to be expected to be different, and often had to think out of the box in order to make their playing more interesting or unique. Everything was played and performed in ‘real time’ and live, and when you made a record every member of the band sat in the same room and recorded together, and hopefully with a little luck you were a little different on that recording than what you were on the previous one. Bands didn’t just release the same album over and over back then.
Personally, I feel that there has been quite a declination in interesting drummers over the years and a lot of drummers just sound like each other now, where as in the old days we were all different. Charlie Watts was different to Ginger Baker, and Ginger Baker was different to the next guy etc. I think in many instances the identity of the drummer has been lost and the art form has (in many ways) become a little narrow. We need to try and be more imaginative around our instruments again…
You’re still regarded as one of the most influential and versitile drummers ever to have graced the drumming world. Are there any drummers currently on the scene that you feel our readers absolutely have to check out?
There are some really great guys out there that I absolutely have to mention. They are – Gary Husband (anything Gary plays on is great), I also really like Gavin Harrison’s playing and the drumming of both Asaf Sirkis and Mark Guiliana. These guys are all very interesting players and are helping push the boundries of how things should be.
As hard as it would be to choose just one highlight over your career, what would would it be?
Wow, that’s really hard to answer. I’m going to try and narrow it down to a particular period of my career rather than just one moment, and that would be between the years 1980 – 1984. I feel that I was doing some really great things at that point and that the albums I played on during this period were all done really well. I’ve been so fortunate though and there really have been a lot of amazing times throughout my entire career.
What important piece of advice could you offer our readers on drumming?
I’d say this – ‘as drummers we exist to serve the music, so serve the music and the music will serve you’.
Bill’s limited edition of ‘The Autobiography’ is currently available at a 10% discount through Foruli Publications at www.foruli.co.uk – You can also stay up to date with all of Bill’s past and present activities by visiting his website at www.billbruford.com