Robin Guy interview – by Travis Marc – 2011.
Robin Guy has an animal instinct when it comes to drumming. His playing has an incredible energy and his magnetic ‘watch me’ type factor can draw in even the most unlikely drum punter. Here’s what Robin had to say in a recent interview that we did with him…
Hi Robin thanks for your time. Since your drumming style is so unique we’ve decided to try and make your interview unique too. So, instead of starting at the beginning as we do with everyone else, let’s start at the end. Tell us what you’ve been up to as of late and how your recent Tigertailz gig came into place?
Well, I started 2011 by recording 15 drum tracks for an album – in 1 day(!), I cribbed them out & rehearsed them the day before(!!), so that was a good test of one’s mettle (& wrists!). I just finished all bar one drum tracks for GMT’s 3rd record – in 2 days (but no rehearsal!)! I’m doing a lot of teaching – spreading by word of mouth which is cool, & I’m involved with too many bands, which keeps things fairly mental!
The Tigertailz gig came about when my name kept cropping up on ‘Tailz forums, + their ex-drummer had said they should check me out etc. Then one day I just got a call from their manager, we got on well, then Jay the guitarist (& all round lovely bloke) called & we got on like a house on fire, so he sent me their set list to learn, I drove to Cardiff, played them all once, the singer Kim jumped over my kit & kissed me, exclaiming it was the best he’d ever heard them sound…& that was that! We’ve only done a few actual shows, but every show we play, we turn it into an event! Its mega fun & I get to do a solo, backed by Churchill’s Speech, Spitfires, Machine-gun fire, Sirens & (every now & again) Fire-breathing Chicks… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5huQdKEi0E*ENJOY!* There’s a UK tour in May, a live album out, & a new studio record in the pipeline.
In addition to Tigertailz you’ve worked with numerous artists including Rachel Stamp, Bruce Dickinson and Eric Faulkner. Do you change your drumming approach depending on the artist you’re working with or does it pretty much stay the same?
Obviously there’s going to be a change in approach when playing a Bay City Rollers song as opposed to say an Iron Maiden number, but having said that, it’s still me that’s playing them both, so whilst staying true to the structure & essence of the song, I will add in some special sauce at times to add flavour to the mix…where appropriate of course! Here’s a good example of this – me adding some pizzazz to some BCR tunes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NaJeN6gPwmw
You’re also an active drum tutor, did you personally have any formal drum training and if so what do you feel was the most important thing you learnt while taking drum lessons?
Tricky one this as a) I did do a drum course back in the day, but b) I haven’t used any of it to get where I am today. In fact it’s quite the opposite: they would tell me to “keep your head still -because if you’re moving about, the distance between you & the ride cymbal is constantly changing, & you need to keep a uniform distance…” -hence me being so animated these days – right?!! ;o) I learned how I don’t want to be taught, & so consequently the lessons that I teach are fun & vibey – I have two 8 year old Russian & German girls playing along to Lady Gaga & Rihanna, & a 50-year old IT consultant rocking out to Cozy Powell. A school ‘nerd’ became the school hero after I took him for 1 day & we created a solo to open assembly with. Drums Rule, ‘nuff said… They are all enjoying themselves & that’s all that matters (at this stage!).
What about practice, being as busy as you are do you have any scheduled kind of practice routine?
Nope, none at all! I can honestly say I’ve never done a days practice in my life. I know I should, but I’ve never been one for hours of bedroom rudiments…
Visually you’re one of the most exciting drummers I’ve seen, how did all your signature “Robin Guy” movements originally make their way into your playing and just how much practice goes into getting each trick or movement correct before you showcase it within your playing?
Haha – I have “signature Robin Guy movements”?! Excellent! I think they got into my playing simply because one arm was doing more than the other, so I decided to share the load, which meant there was more time over on the right hand side, which in turn meant that I could do something to fill that time up – like a spin/ juggle/ bounce/ balance type trick, & it just developed from there! I view the whole thing as a kind of dance, so it’s like I’m ‘dancing’ behind the kit! As for ‘perfecting it in practice’, as mentioned, that’s not really me(!) -I prefer the challenge of just getting up there & going for it! If something’s too perfect, it looks too smooth, & if it’s too slick, it can look un-exciting! (Naturally, next time you see me, I’ll be dropping my sticks!!)
You’ve been described as a true drumming showman, with some people even calling you the best drummer in the U.K. How would you personally describe your drumming style and what is it about your style that you feel makes you different to other drummers out there?
“True drumming showman”? -I’m honoured! “best drumming in the U.K.”? -I’m doubtful! (but honoured all the same – if I inspire anyone, with any angle of what I do, then that’s a huge compliment for me). My ‘drumming style’ is best described as “Homemade Chaos, with a side order of Tribal Stomp, seasoned with way too much Groove” – it’s highly nutritious & very good for you. Even just a starter will cause Head-Nodding & Toe-Tapping! One review described me as “Rock n’ Roll Marmite” – which I loved! ie: You either love what I’m doing, or hate…or rather, don’t get where I’m coming from & what I’m about! I don’t really follow things ‘from the book’, -I guess I’ve carved my own path, & even I don’t have a map! I think if you can understand that I’d be ecstatically happy to play for Ke$ha, Vanilla Ice, Iron Maiden or Motorhead then you’re getting me…sort of!
Let’s talk briefly about your influence. Which drummers or bands originally got you into the drums and who are the drummers that keep you inspired now days?
I guess seeing Buddy Rich duke it out with Animal on The Muppet Show just ruined me for life from that moment on… My Mum took me to see the Japanese Kodo drummers & that naturally blew my little mind!
Musically my life changed at 13 when I discovered Iron Maiden (the rest is blisstory!), but before that it was Adam & The Ants, The Police, Duran Duran & early Madonna! Add a load of Motley Crüe & Motörhead in my teens & off you go!! As far as drummers that inspire me, it’s usually the whole package, rather than simply chops & technical ability that I’m drawn to -groove, vibe, personality, attitude, style, even background history (before they were big) etc are all important to me.
All the B.R.N’s (Big Rock Names!) such as Chad Smith, Nicko McBrain, Clive Burr, Tommy Lee, Travis Barker, Eric Carr, Randy Castillo… I respect working drummers such as Roy Mayorga, Jimmy De Grasso, Kenny Aronoff, Karl Brazil, Damon Wilson, John Tempesta, Samantha Maloney – check out their CV’s – truly incredible!
Slightly lesser known guys like Biohazard’s Danny Schuler & Stuck Mojo’s Frank ‘Bud’ Fontsere – I’m proud to honestly announce that I’ve stolen mercilessly off these chaps, in order to add to the ‘Guy Groove…
The best drum performance I’ve ever seen ever, was Ron Bruner Jnr – playing London’s LA2 club with Suicidal Tendencies – mind blowing chops, mind blowing showmanship!
What’s next for Robin Guy?
Well, two days off in succession would be nice, but I’m beginning to doubt that will ever happen! More teaching at the school & privately in my studio, finishing GMT’s 3rd album, recording the new Tigertailz album & the 2nd ‘Eat This’ record; more shows, tours & videos with the many bands I’m involved with, more sessions, drum clinics, & hopefully some drum festivals!
What is the most important piece of advice you have ever received in regards to your drumming/musicianship and why?
“Illegitimi non carborundum” (Never Let The Bastards Grind You Down), “Never Give Up. Ever.” – I say this at my clinics in reply to the common question: “How do you make it?”. The golden rule in the studio: K.I.S.S. (Keep. It Simple. Stupid!), Lemmy once told me in 1988 to “Keep on Rockin’…” -I’ve been obeying him ever since…
Any final thoughts or words?
I’d like to thank UK-Drummer.com for their patience & support, & cool questions! I hope that if you’ve read this far that some of my replies have helped in some way no matter how small, & that you’ve enjoyed the read! I hope to see you soon…..out there! –
For more information on Robin or any of the projects that he is currently involved with please go to http://www.robinguydrums.com