George Frederick – Freddie Gee Academy Interview – by Travis Marc – 2011.
George Frederick is the mastermind behind the world renowned ‘Freddie Gee Academy’ – a drumming event which serves as a weekly holiday for any drum enthusiast wishing to further their improvement on the instrument. George was kind enough to allow us to attend one day of this years event and we thought it made for a great opportunity to ask him a few questions, here’s what he had to say…
Hi George – Can you tell us a bit about how the idea for the Freddie Gee Academy came together?
Years ago when I was still working for Pearl drums, I attended a drum academy in Japan. I thought the idea of an drumming academy was absolutely brilliant, and hadn’t ever seen anything like that in England ever. On returning to the UK, Pearl drums decided to do a similar type of thing in France with Greg Bissonette, Steve White and Neal Wilkinson as the guest tutors. We took around 35 drummers from the U.K and we had about another 30 from France, it was really successful and when we got back to England I decided to leave Pearl Drums and start doing a yearly drumming academy, that’s how it all started and that was twelve years ago.
How would you say the course has grown since the first Freddie Gee event in 1999?
When we started in 1999 we only had 25 students attending the course, the following we had 30 and so on and so on. Every year the numbers increase and the standard seems to get higher. This year we have 51 students with us and considering the current financial situation within the U.K that’s not bad at all. I think the tutors are a huge attraction and Steve White and Craig Blundell are just such fantastic guys. The whole Freddie Gee facility is really just like one big happy family, we work really hard, but have a lot of fun too. We really try to market the event as a big drumming holiday.
What about you personally, tell us how your passion for drumming/drum education began?
I used to play in various bands as a professional drummer, and long story short when I decided to stop gigging I was offered a job working with Pearl drums in London. I worked for Pearl for almost twenty years and had worked my way up from working in their warehouse to eventually becoming their artist relations and marketing manager. I left there in early 1999 and that’s when I started the Freddie Gee Academy. Later on I got a call from Premier drums and was asked if I’d be interested in doing their artist relations. I told them that I’d try it out on a three month trail basis and really enjoyed it. I’ve been with them for about ten years now.
What in your view makes the Freddie Gee event appealing to it’s patrons? Especially with so many competing drum ‘summer camps’ currently out there?
Well, as mentioned we market the Freddie Gee Academy as a drumming holiday, so the fact that the students have so much fun while learning from some of the best tutors out there plays is a huge factor. The academy is also really good value for money, so generally once the attendees are here they really love it and seem to come back again the following year. There’s a really strong family vibe here and that counts for a lot.
What’s next for the Freddie Gee camp, any hopes to expand into further regions etc?
Funny you should ask that as we have been talking about it quite a lot lately. We’re currently looking into a few things and are looking into the possibility of doing one in Spain or South Africa in the future. I guess we’ll see what happens so watch this space…
Any last thoughts or advice?
I guess I’d say that whatever you do you need to be true to yourself. Respect other people and treat them how you would like to be treated and the rest will happen automatically.