Johnny Quinn Interview – by Travis Marc – 2010.
A man of few words, Johnny Quinn is a solid drummer who fully understands the importance of playing for the song. He is truly a fantastic drummer, who, when seen live makes you realise that space is just as, if not more important than any drum chop you might ever learn. I had the chance to sit down with Johnny just before their Coke Zero Fest in April. Here’s what he had to say.
How old were you when you started drumming and why were the drums your instrument of choice?
I started out when I was about sixteen. My dad bought me a second hand Premier Olympic kit. These older guys used to always come around to the house and play on it, and I’d just sit and watch. Later on, I started to put on my headphones and play along to all the Stewart Copeland stuff. I didn’t really do anything serious with it, until I started playing with some guys from my School, and we started to enter some competitions etc. We’d play covers from the Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen, the rest is history.
Did you have and formal training ? And how important do you feel that drum tuition is for someone wanting to learn the instrument ?
It’s absolutely great, because I never really had any formal training when I started, so as a result I picked up a lot of bad habits. So about a year ago I really had to unlearn a few things. Formal training is really good in the beginning though, you should at least use it to get your grip right and learn some rudiments, after that you can always make up your own style.
What do you do when you’re not drumming?
I recently started my own record label, called Black Records, with the A n R guy at Universal records, that signed us. We just released an artist named Ian Archer, who is just fantastic. Apart from that I like to do a bit or DIY at home, which makes quite a nice change from when we’re on the road. Nothing to hectic though, just general stuff, like replacing floor boards or gardening. I really enjoy it.
If you had to describe your drumming style in just five words, what would they be?
Ha, ha…. Um mm, uncomplicated, dynamic, rhythmical, heavy and quiet…
Snow Patrol have had some of the biggest hits in the world over the last few years. What is your next step, on both a personal and profession level ?
Well we feel that we haven’t yet released that one album that we’ll all be able to look back on and say “wow that was a classic”. I kind of always listen back to our stuff and think, I could’ve changed certain parts or added this or that, and although think that this will probably always happen, we’d really like to at least try and make that real iconic album.
What advice, if any, could you give up and coming drummers on how to play for the music, apposed to playing for one’s self?
It’s a big temptation to play for oneself, but playing for a band is completely different, because you start to realise that a lot of that initial space gets completely taken up. When I think about my favorite songs, they were never over complicated, they were clever and everything was placed correctly for the song.
Who or what are your influences?
I started off like many other drummers, listening to guys like John Bonham, Stewart Copeland and Ginger Baker, I’d even listen to the older stuff like Louie Bellson. I basically learnt from that. After these guys, I really got into Ringo, from the Beatles, and no one else was doing things how he was doing them. He played with great simplicity, but he did it so well. Bands like Stereolab are also really impressive, the drummer from Secret Machines is amazing too, if you ever get a chance to see him live, you should take it, he truly is a force to be reckoned with.
Do you have any sort of warm up/practice routine that you like to do before a show?
Yeah, I basically just go through a few single stroke rolls, followed but some paradiddle and triplet exercises. I try and do various combinations of these sort of rudiments for roughly fifteen to twenty minutes. It’s nothing to fancy, but a drum teacher showed me the idea, and I always held onto it. It works really well.
What would you say is the best advice you have ever received in regards to your drumming?
What has been the highlight of your career as a drummer?
Umm, I think I’d have to say meeting Spinal Tap and performing at the Live Aid Festival, those were really great moments. Plus Spinal Tap really liked us so that was really cool.
Please note that we at UK Drummer do not own the right to the pictures used in this interview, and they remain the property of the photographers who originally took them, thank you.