Rich Wilson interview – by Travis Marc – 2011.
I recently had the privilege of watching a master class performed by RAW teaching studios owner/drumming educator Rich Wilson, I thoroughly enjoyed his approach and mindset towards the drums and thought that you might too. Here’s what he had to say…
As usual let’s start at the beginning – can you tell us what your initial reason behind wanting to play the instrument was?
I was 9 years old at middle school and a letter was sent home to my parents saying the school where going to be offering Drum Lessons, I can’t really say why I wanted to do it but it was something my parents agreed to and I knew from that moment that was all I wanted to do.
You’ve since performed at numerous master classes and clinics throughout the U.K. Tell us about how you approach such events. Do you go into them with the material and ideas worked out, or do you pretty much play it by ear?
I always have a guide to what I am going to talk about and I always know the tracks I am going to play along to, but this doesn’t always go to plan, it really depends on any questions I get asked during the set and if I get a little side tracked on a subject and the time runs out, so I suppose to answer your question its a little bit of both
On your website (Richard Wilson Online), there’s a great testimonial about you from American drummer Dom Famularo. Tell us a bit about your involvement with Dom?
I first met Dom in Feb 2005 at a Vic Firth PDT Seminar in London, we chatted afterwards and seemed to hit it off. A few months later he was back in the UK doing a clinic tour and I drove to Birmingham to see him and as soon as he saw me he came over the chat, he remembered my name, My wife’s name and even the fact that my wife was pregnant with our Son, this time we exchanged details and kept in touch, he contacted me to let me know the next time he would back in the UK and we arranged that I would go and have a 2 hour lesson with him, this happened several times every time he was over in the country we would meet up and have a lesson and lunch etc……… In 2008 Dom was the host of Drum Fest, we discussed the possibility of him coming into my studio for a day and doing small master classes with my students, he agreed and really the rest is history, we keep in touch all the time now on Skype and meet when we can, Dom has been a massive help in my teaching career and I can still turn to him now for advice and guidance, he really is a Gem of human being.
What advice could you offer our readers on warming up? In addition, what do you generally do to warm up before a gig?
Basics, Basics, Basics, all I use are Singles, Doubles and paradiddles on a pad and not all the time (although I should) it really depends on the Venue and timings etc……. the idea of a warm-up is just to stretch out the muscles not to over work them, so real basics will always work.
Let’s talk a bit about your teaching practice RAW studios. Tell us how you began your practice and what your plans are for the practice over the next three years?
I first Started teaching a lot in 2005, I used to go to people homes and teach them on their own kits, this grew really quick and I found that I couldn’t manage all the students, so I took on a room in an old building I used to rehearse in and persuaded my students to come to me. Again this worked really well and I soon took on another room and employed one of my senior students to teach the new starters. The business at the time was called the Richard Wilson Drum School, I had always had in my mind that we could offer other instruments so we moved to a new studio had it sound proofed and started to offer Guitar lessons as well, we had to change the name at this point because nobody would look for Guitar lessons at a Drum School so RAW Studios was born. During this time I was working a full time job in IT and running the business and I had 2 small children so something had to give, I made the decision to quit working and go at it fulltime and this is the best thing I ever did, to make a living out of playing and teaching music is a dream some true.
RAW now has over 10 tutors and 2 studios teaching Drums,Bass,Guitar, piano, Keys and vocals, we are getting a reputation as one of the north’s leading private music business’s and my plan now is to keep growing this and expand on the 2nd studio within the Northern Drum Centre in Bradford.
What about practicing, with all your teaching, do you still find the time to practice – and if so what are you currently working on?
I always practice almost every day as it’s really important, I think the minute you stop learning is time to stop. I always practice things that I don’t know how to do, at the moment I have been working on getting the Hi hat foot splash working under a groove without it affecting the right foot or the hands and several other independence exercises and I always practice time and feel with a click.
What has been your career highlights thus far? Also, what do you think the hardest part about being a professional musician is now days?
Career highlight so far would be a recent clinic I did where I shared the stage with Steve White and Craig Blundell, this was an amazing event and raised a lot of money for charity, other highlights would be having Dom Famularo sitting in my own studio teaching my Students, and it doesn’t get much better than that.
The hardest part of been a pro musician these days for me are the constant knock backs, I am lucky now that people are starting to know who I am so the companies I deal with will answer the phone and reply to E-Mails, but for years this was a very frustrating thing and could really put people off. The other thing I find hard to deal with is the amount of calls for sessions or gigs and people have none or very little money to pay with, the music business is just that, a business and people need to understand that musicians have bills to pay as well.
Who would you list as your influences?
Dom Famularo, Steve White, Craig Blundell, These guys have been massive helps to me over the last couple of years and I can call on them for help or advise when I need it. With regards to people who I don’t know from a playing point of view Steve Smith, Dave Weckl, Buddy Rich, Vinnie Colauita, Benny Greb and Stanton Moore.
How important do you feel endorsements are for musicians/drummers now days? Many musicians feel that it automatically puts a player on a certain level by having an endorsement, what are your thoughts regarding this?
I thought a few years ago the be all and end all was to have endorsements, but this is not true at all, as your profile grows the companies start to see you and then when you discuss deals it becomes a two way relationship, they are not going to give you anything if you are playing your local pub or your bedroom.
What do you feel has been the most important piece of drumming advice you have ever received and why, also who gave you this particular piece of advice?
This is a recent thing for me, i was offered a theatre tour and i wasn’t happy with the money offered, they had offered a lot less than I quoted so I asked Steve White what his thoughts where and he said one simple line set your bar and stick to it. This is something I do now all the time, you have to remember they have called you for a reason and if they want you they will have to pay.
Any last thoughts or words of wisdom?
Practice everyday, never stop learning, never say no to a gig when you are starting out and above all else be nice to people, if you do these things then people will call you.
For further information on Rich or RAW studios please visit www.richardwilsononline.com
In addition look of for our first guest lesson feature at www.youtube.com/ukdrummervideos featuring Richard Wilson.