Frequently Asked Questions
Follow me on Twitter
My drumming ‘life’ began one day in primary school when I was about 8 or 9. I had been one of the lucky ones in the school to be picked to sing in the local Christmas carol concert! This concert was quite a big one in our town, where 10 or so pupils from every local school congregated on a huge stage and put on a free concert for all the mums and dads.
We practiced the songs at school and on the day of the concert we managed to get the day off to take part in the big dress rehearsals.
The auditorium was a secondary school sports hall with tiered seats and a huge stage. There were loads of lights and a big PA system and between the stage and the audience sat the live band.
We were all made to sing the songs whilst the sound engineer messed around with the mixing desk to get us to sound nice. He wanted to know whether we sounded good at the top of the tiered seats, so he asked the drummer to go up there and listen. Instead of walking up the aisle, however, he decided to clamber over the seats which, to an 8 year old boy, was absolutely hilarious!
My spot on stage was directly in front of the drummer, and so throughout the whole concert I was watching him play. He was very good! And it was then that I decided:
“I want to be JUST like him!”
My first drum kit was a home-made one made out of 3 cardboard boxes and some tinfoil for cymbals. I re-inforced the boxes with tape to make them last a bit longer and I used chopsticks as drumsticks…as you do! I would play along to chart music and believed that: “If I could drum roll, I could do anything”….oh how wrong I was!
I would just sit in my room, drum rolling on these boxes for hours! My parents loved that! I would also play the same song over and over again just trying to get it right. The first ever drum video that was made featured me in my bedroom playing on these boxes to “Breakfast at Tiffany’s!” by Deep Blue Something. Good song! Embarrasing video!
I soon realised that that drum kit was rubbish and nothing like a real one! So I put on my construction cap again and made a brand new one. This time I made it out of K’nex, paper, card, selotape and tin foil again for the cymbals. This drum kit even featured a working bass drum pedal made out of K’nex and string and featured cotton wool for a beater! I borrowed a wooden stool from the kitchen and that became the drum stool for my new creation.
By this stage I was well into “Hanson” because their drummer was near enough the same age as me! (I think this is where my love for three-piece bands came!) I think I learnt their whole album on that K’nex drum kit and used to play the album loads! I still thought that if I could go really fast then I could do anything on the drums. And over time I did get faster and faster.
Then, one Christmas, my parents bought me some digital drum pads! One of those units that have 4 assignable pads in a row. So now instead of hearing a dull thud from hitting selotape re-inforced cardboard when I played, I got proper drum sounds instead!
Me and a few school mates also started a band which we entered into the school talent show. We wrote our own songs, played our own instruments (me with my drum pads) and the girls even created their own dance routines!….
….we lost the talent show to a boy doing breakdancing! Is there any justice!!!
Over the past few years I had saved enough money to buy my first drum kit - a black 5 piece “Pulse Percussion” kit. It was my pride and joy and I played on it loads! Cymbal wise, it came with a pair of hi-hats and one crash/ride cymbal. This wasn’t enough! So I saved up some more and bought myself a splash cymbal and had that positioned between my two rack toms.
I also started secondary school and got involved with the school’s Jazz Club. We played at school concerts and, looking back at it, played some really funky songs!!! We used to practice every week one lunch time, guided by one of the schools saxophone teachers who would also play sax with us.
I began to have drum lessons at secondary school too. Every friday for 20 minutes. The tutor was very impressed with my speed considering I was only a beginner. I guess it was my naieve belief that “if I could drum roll then I could do anything!” All this time I had been playing these drum rolls with my wrists, but my drum tutor taught me how to use my fingers instead - this made me even faster!
I was entered for a Grade 4 exam, completely skipping grades 1-3 and we used to practice these same 2 pieces of music in every drum lesson. I also learnt the grade 4 drum rudiments such as para-diddle-diddles and flam triplets and the like.
I passed the exam with honours! Huzzah! And it was around the time of passing the exam that the school sixth form band approached the drum tutor and asked who he believed was the best drummer to play with them. I was put forward!
So at the age of 14/15 I was playing drums with the sixth form band (all aged 17/18) in school! Again, like the jazz band, we would play at the school concerts and we even did a gig at the upper sixth form leaving party! We would play a few classics such as Eric Clapton, Stereophonics, Incubus, Dandy Warhols, and The Beatles to name but a few.
Due to playing the drums with the school rock band and the school jazz band, I began to get a reputation as being “that drummer guy” and people used to approach me as I walked the shool corridors and say: “Hey! You’re that drummer guy!” to which I responded..”err..yes I am!” haha I even got a letter from the headteacher thanking me for my contribution to music and to keep on drumming! Which I thought was rather cool! =D
A year past and the sixth formers left to go to university which left me on my lonesome! I had no band to play with! However, I advertised around school for other musicians and managed to get a few together. At the same time a few people in my year including Chris (theman362) formed a band. Technically, we were rivals!!! (Although they never played at the school concerts! haha)
My last school concert approached, and my new band were hours away from performing. But the guitarist hadn’t turned up! After getting in touch with him, it turned out that a relative of his had died. It was very sad and we all felt bad, but we also had to perform at the last one! With nothing to lose I gave Chris a call and he agreed to stand in at the last minute! He brought down all his gear, learnt the song in about an hour and we had about 2 run throughs before the audience arrived.
We performed our song and it went fantastically! The music teacher came onstage and was about to say something along the lines of “give it up for the school band….” but Chris began playing the riff to Hysteria! …of which I happily jammed along to. (The music teacher had to sit back down again! haha) An impromptu last-song at the school was a Muse one! Get in!
Over time i gradually upgraded my kit, part exchanging my Pulse Percussion kit for the Pearl one and buying bottom end Zildjian cymbals to be upgraded with the A and K Customs which I have now. I would rather have bottom end cymbals and have my configuration correct than spend a load of money on top end cymbals but only have one! You can always upgrade the cymbals when you get enough money! Thats what I did (and am still doing!)
I stopped going to my drum tutor because it was costing too much, I wasn’t really learning anything and he would often never show up! I had learnt the correct techniques through him however, as well as how to read drum notation and so for that I am thankful as it’s definately helped in the long run!
I tap everywhere and on everything…
…Much to the annoyance of everybody around me! Haha! But it’s either that or play on my drums (which would irritate even more, im sure!)
I am now able to drum along to pretty much any song (within reason - I can’t do any Death Metal) and listening to the radio and just tapping along to anything has certainly helped.
I saw Muse for the first time in 2003 and it blew me away. I had been to several gigs but that one was amazing and easily stood out from every other band I had seen. I had been listening to the band for a couple of years and listened to Absolution on repeat when it was released (this and tapping whilst listening gave me the general gist of the songs). But when I saw them live it was then that the techniques that Dom uses really shone. This inspired me to learn the songs properly, and so I did.
Then I made some videos and stuck them online. They got a great response and people wanted more so I uploaded my practice videos which again, got a great reception!
I went to a different sixth form to Chris, and Chris formed a new band, ‘Pure’, at his new school with front man, Matt Benatan. They had a battle of the bands gig lined up in Peterborough but their regular drummer couldn’t make it. So in the same way that I called Chris for help with my concert - he called me for help with his!
I was given a week to learn the band’s songs and we only had one full day of rehearsals the day before. We even did a cover of Stockholm Syndrome (complete with backing arpeggios!) which went down rather well. Unfortunately we didn’t win but we did pretty damn well considering we had only had one day of rehearsals! We played really well together and got on like a house on fire!
Sadly, Pure split up as we all split up for University. But Chris, Matt and I decided to form a new band, Industry. Rob joined the band soon after and we began to create our EP. And that’s where we’re at at the moment.
So now I am currently playing in Industry along with Matt, Chris and Rob. The band has been going from strength to strength. We’ve sold every copy of our first EP, have been successful in securing a slot at the Glastonbudget Festival, been on BBC Radio Lincolnshire and get great reviews from critics. We even won the Lincoln Battle of the Bands competition 2009, a city we’d never played in until the competition! With me being at a completely different Uni to the others however, it makes band practice and gigging difficult, but we always find a way around it.
..So yeah….That’s where I am at the moment! Cheers for reading! I hope I haven’t bored you that much! Come and see my band play! And look out for more Muse Drumming videos!