Welcome to #5 of the Seven Deadly Skills: SELF DRIVE
with a little help for a friend
After caving myself up in the practice room in January and thinking up the spectacular sub titles for this blog, I was asked by good friend and fantastic MD Mike Park to cover him for an appearance on Swedish show 'Skavlan' with the brilliant Låpsley (XL), whose debut album Long Way Home came out earlier this year.
I love the challenge that comes along with depping - you're jumping into someone else's shoes, and more often than not, need to use their set up. With electronic drums come a whole new layer of customisation very specifically matched to the live show of the artist - so knowing my way around my Roland SPDsx in this case was crucial. Managed to strike some bants with Alan too which was a plus.
BIRTHDAY SURPRISE AT hammersmith apollo
They say a birthday comes but once a year...and while this may be true, they don't come with 5000 people to sing you in too often. A rendition of 'Happy Birthday' was exactly what I was lucky enough to receive from this bunch below, while opening for Kodaline with The Beach.
Below, here's a clip of the closing moments of the Brixton Academy show. It's an extended outro we attach to the song 'Thieves'.
life on the road
And so April - back in the rehearsal room with The Beach & MD Kojo Samuel for an upcoming tour, showcasing a whole bunch of great new material. And the perfect road test for my new Sonor Artist snare...a deep and luscious maple beauty!
As always, new songs bring new challenges, and so it was great to get deep on the hybrid drumming - figuring out how to get the drum parts in the sweet spot between live energy, and faithful reproduction of the record's drum sounds. Triggering and my Roland KT10 pedal is indespensable for this.
FROM MAPLE TO MAHOGANY
Between shows we managed to fit in time for the fantastic Mahogany Sessions, where I set down the drum sticks and stuck to the other half of what I love to do - sing. Tastefully...on top of a dust bin, of course, and performing the single Geronimo, which George wrote with Jamie Scott.
As part of tour, it was a joy to play Bushstock festival, held in St Stephen's Church in Shepherd's Bush. I don't think I've ever looked more zen behind the kit...
After Springtime touring and before the festivals kicked in, I had a little time to focus on my own music. Locking myself up for a couple of weeks I got to work on my first EP, releasing under the name CASSICUS. Check it out on the Spotify widget, along with the Sofar Sounds performance below.
2016 - A great year with some positive steps forward for my career & playing. I couldn't help but include a photo of the non-musical highlight of the year: Indian cookery class with North London cookery school Spice Monkey. If music is the food of love...then curry is most definitely the food of drumming. After getting in a mountain of practice this year when not playing shows at my favourite Brockley Studios, I'm feeling stronger than ever and can't wait to get back out in 2017. I've got all kinds of projects lined up but won't bore you with the details...the proof is always in the pudding!
Bit more telly
As well as shooting with Katy B for her VEVO Discovers show on YouTube, we popped in for a chat and performance with Aled Jones on his Weekend show... I snuck a shot in of his cosy studio below!
off to the festivals!
Below, Festival Republic stage, Leeds & Reading Festival. For the tech nerds, the stack on the right is a self contained unit we take around with The Beach, complete with Mackie DL32R mixer, which means we essentially give any venue our LR outs and we're good to go. Our sound engineer Stu Mac arranged it, and takes care of the mix from his iPad. Aditionally, we can tweak our own ears mix on the Master Fader app. It makes us very popular with stage managers!
And a post-show shot below, with a blurry George.
new artist casi
In Autumn, I began working with a new artist, Casi - part of the Roc Nation roster. She's an incredible talent, already with some very exciting things upcoming in 2017. From North Wales, near Bangor, I received a long overdue education on the fascinating history, and thriving music scene found there. We toured around the UK, finishing up with a support slot for brilliant Swedish artist MØ, pictured below.
And a bit more telly below, this time of a Christmassy disposition, invited along by Welsh channel S4C. I cast the kit aside for this one (logistics!) and stuck to performing solely with the SPDsx and KT10 kick pedal.
We found a little time to award ourselves with a few elegant shelf ornaments before making an escape.
Among the touring, it was great fun heading back to my music uni, ACM, for a Masterclass with the students there. We had a great natter about what it is to work as a musician, and the key things you need to think about to get yourself out there and earning. The sights and smells of Guildford (that damn perfume shop that nearly made me throw up each time I walked past it) brought back a wash of memories from my student days...all perfectly above board of course.
Just after returning home, I got a call asking if I wanted to audition for a new RCA artist. I made my way there with my trusty Gretsch Catalina snare in tow, and was greeted at the audition by MD Kojo Samuel, along with a friendly dude called George. A couple days later I was asked to join, which led to a great 2015 touring with The Beach. We cut our teeth as a unit in a lot of 200-300 cap venues across the UK and Europe, quickly settling in to playing with one another. After a couple of months we hit a few bigger shows and festivals, including supports with Tom Odell and James Bay, and a bit of telly for VEVO.
I found time to plunge deeper in to memory lane by taking a trip back up to my school in North Yorkshire: Thirsk School. I couldn't overemphasise the importance of paying a visit the teachers who helped inspire you to have the confidence to do what you love for a job. Thank you Louise and Trevor.
...not forgetting that time at KOKO Club NME when my goddam crash stand bailed on me half way through an outro.
Mistakes can sound good too.
This year I've played with some unbelievably gifted musicians - not least this lot to the left, for the deeply deep and funky pop duo WOWH. What an incredible experience it was to come together as friends, all of us helping to fulfil the vision of mega-dudes Nick Harrison and Toby Couling. It's a rare thing to be part of a group doing something for the love & friendship; rarer still for it to be a group of such musical badasses.