Roro sat down with Neil Davey from Dramalove to talk drums, virtual gigs, phone calls with Mike Johnston, standing up for females in the industry and much much more!
Yeah, this is like my second interview ever. First one face to face.
Yeah, because I did Francesco by Skype.
Yeah, I figured that.
Just because when I contacted them they were like if you come down to the show, but if something goes wrong with the soundcheck and we need him and we’ll run out of time.. So I was like alright. Can you do it over the phone? How am I gonna? It’s fine and I’m like how do I do that!
And hopefully for the foreseeable future.
I mean, last time, I saw you before that you were in Thrift.
So you was that? Just after Talk Us Down?
Yeah it would have been?
So when did you join Dramalove?
So I joined Dramalove officially, I would say probably about November last year. Because their, they had another drummer Alex, who was based in London, but couldn’t really sort of commit himself down to the Kent gigs that we were playing. So I got roped in. And because I’d obviously, I come back, I was living in France playing drums in a band. It was like a function band. And I’d come back to sort of deal with a few stuff that was happening down here. And so I was unemployed. I had nothing to do. Diego messaged me and said, here’s a set of songs to learn. Could you learn these by Sunday? So i was like ‘Sorted yeah’ and then since then it’s been a weird weird ride.
Yeah, yes. With make up and…
Oh god yeah. It’s like being 13. Again.
Your 13 year old emo self.
Yes, I’m going through my American Idiot phase again. So black eyeliner, red tie, you name it.
So did they give you full scope to be you? Or did you have to learn? Like, what was there? Well, I know, I know, when I joined Red Light Runner, I tried to learn the EP note for note. And then when I got there, they were like, just do your thing. So was it that. Okay, so was it like that? Or was it like, you need to play note for note.
Yeah, I mean, because the thing with Dramalove that I’ve not done with a band before is there’s a lot of backing track stuff going off so, we’ve got a lot of synthesizers and things coming out front of house. So I’m playing to a click now live, which was like a whole new thing to me.
So the only experience I had with clicks was like in the studio, you know, when you sort of messing about and trying to learn the paradiddle or any sort of very rudiments, like really slow and you like click and build it up. But yeah, in a live setting, it was a bit more different because everything’s got kind of land on that one. You can’t really go off the rails and start throwing in like crazy drum fills, or anything like that.
So it was stick to the song pretty much as it played, but there’s room there’s parts of songs that you’ve kind of got a bit more freedom to muck about whatever, especially as I’ve been in the band a little bit longer now. It’s because I know the songs a bit better and I kind of I’m a bit tighter with the click Yeah, I know what’s going to happen. I can kind of throw in a cheeky little like, snare roll, that wasn’t there.
But it’s mostly like you said with Red Light Runner, you’re kind of trying to learn it well note for note anyway, just to be able to play it that way. And then you put your own personality on it. You feel you’ve stamped it into the band.
A new challenge.
It’s cool. So have you got in ears live?
Yeah, so I’ve got my overhead earphones on.
So what’s the mix you have?
It used to be my right ear was all click and then the left ear was all the synth backing tracks and everything like that. And then our MacBook decided to die. Or like we I think we lost like well, they got corrupted, some of the tracks got corrupted. So now we’ve managed to transfer it onto Diego’s phone.
Diego’s the singer, and I literally I just run it off of his phone. I’ve got a tiny little mixer next to me. I’ve got my headphones in one jack and like that plugged into another jack it’s just literally plug in and play tap play. Okay, you sort of tune your mix up, all I’ve got is click track now. You’ve got kind of really know the song at that point.
Yeah, I mean, for me of the click is always just a pain in the ass. So in like the studio I’ve tried to have it in one ear and the guitar and the other stuff in the other. Like, how do you cope with that? Because that just drives me insane. Having one thing in one ear, something in another and playing drums.
Yeah, it drives me up the wall, which is I prefer it now where it is just click. It’s a bit. I’ve got concentrate a bit more. Yeah, I’ve got one less thing to sort of worry about. I’ve just got purely click in my ears. The only thing I’m concentrating on is landing on that one. Yeah, being able to sort of keep in time of like that rhythm. And making sure that I’m always landing on that one. Making sure I know the song. That has been times live where I’ve been playing, completely lost track of thought. And then I’m suddenly just like, why am I in this song? Right? Yeah. Because you’ve got you can’t make a mistake, because it’s being played out in front of house if you’re in the wrong bit of the song is painfully obvious.
You got to be really careful with it. It’s all right now I’ve kind of got used to it a bit. Because I think, I don’t know where I heard It, said from or who said it, but it might have been Eric Moore, actually, where he’s like, as long as you’re so like, landed on that one, you’re fine. And it’ll get to a point where you don’t even notice the click anymore. It kind of just it’s in the background. And it’s just occasionally there to remind you. You know, you might be playing as a bit too quick.
A New Approach.
So when you write stuff, is it just like guitar, bass drums and the synths later?
Yeah, I think Diego is more like he’s just a powerhouse of riffs. So he, we’ve just written a song that we’ve just recorded. It’s called ‘Busy Saving the World.’ And he comes to me with this, I mean, it’s a really simple song. It’s just literally one chord pretty much all the way through, apart from like, a few changes. But he’ll come to me with this idea and say like, “right, I’ve got this idea for drums on I want it to be like, Tom’s kind of tribal” and he’ll give you that as a basis. And then it’s like, do your thing too. It’s the first time I’ve actually properly written with them as well.
Obviously with the synth that adds another thing into the mix. So when you are doing the drum parts, are you trying to be aware of that extra stuff that’s going to be added so you’re not kind of filling up all the space?
Yeah, kind of, because you don’t really want to overplay on the song. It’s already got so much going on in the back like that, there’s like a wall of synths on this new one. And the thing is, you’ll probably never even notice it when you hear it. It’s all just like really subtle things in the background. And knowing that, like, you’ve kind of got to keep everything simple so it lets the song breathe a bit more. It’s nice. It’s a strange way of writing because I’m so used to being in pop punk bands and just like, heavier, well, not heavier, but sort of punky. So everything’s like super quick. And, you know, you’re not really bothered too much by how tight you are to the click. It’s, if we can play the song quick live, then it’s fine. Now it’s more sort of, it’s got to be a lot more controlled. You’ve got to really think, do I really want to really lay into the care of that moment? Kind of like, so it’s before it’s crescendo, It’s all big and I really want to be sort of, ‘look at me’ sort of thing. It’s nice is a good challenge. Because, you know, it’s, it’s easy to be in like a snotty punk band and just play everything loud and fast.
I think I’m kind of in the same place musically. Sophia, who works at Seaview, just done her album, literally, last night asked me to stand in for a gig. And her stuff is very, like, Poppy and you know it’s gotta be on the button.
It’s all quite control.
For sure and so i’m like, ‘oh, okay, maybe I won’t hit so hard.’
It’s, you know, it’s a weird way of thinking, isn’t it? Because if you I mean, like we’ve both grown up massive blink fans. So, it’s always been like God, Can I throw a really crazy single snare roll around the kit? How many how many beats can I get in this bar?
Snotty Punk Kids
I think that kind of music as well. I love Travis and Blink 182. But when you see him live, they’re pretty shit. Like you’re there and you’re hyped and you’re blown away but, you know, Tom’s singing out of tune, you know. Like, you know, never always been that. But that’s what makes them good. So growing up, we kind of adopt that. And then it’s like, play super slick, it kind of tests your…
I tell you what threw me once was my old covers band that I was in we were doing a cover of it was Superstitious. And that song, there’s a certain tempo to that song. It just doesn’t work. Because it’s all about that [replicates melody line] riff and if you play in that too quick, it just, it just sounds awful. So, it’s all about sort of knowing your tempos being good at tempos and sort of keeping yourself. Discipline I think is what it is. it’s something that has taken me a long time to learn. I never used to be disciplined until I used to fly off the wall all the time, I must have been awful to play with as a kid. I’m probably still pretty awful to play with now.
I think everybody’s like that. I met up with a guy that used to be in a band with when I was like, 11/12, I met up with him last year. And he bought this video over of this performance that we did and I remember the gig and being like, Oh, this was really cool but I watch it back now and I’m like, ‘Oh, yeah, let’s just burn this.’ So I think that’s kind of a standard, like growing pains.
But let’s talk about this, tomorrow isn’t it this live… Run me through this virtual gig.
Right.That? So that’s a thing. So we went to London, probably July I think we went to London, but it might have been August, actually. And again this is, I don’t know how Diego has made connections with these people. He just seems to just know everyone and everything. And it’s, is it Atom Universe, I think it is. And they do 3D head scans of your face and you sort of you sit there it’s all done on his phone.
I was expecting like, you know, a revolving camera or something like that. He did it all off his phone and he sort of, you know, goes back and gets every angle of your face for about like two minutes. You sort of sat there uncomfortably just going like, trying not to smile or laugh and what it is, is that they’re putting our faces on to, I don’t know, some sort of motion capture and instrument and then they just put in our music on top of it.
And so there’s this thing, do you remember you got a PlayStation 3 there. So do you remember PlayStation Home?
So it’s like that. It’s like that virtual world, even though no one ever used it? I mean, I never did. But yes, it’s based on that. So it’s like the PS4 version of PlayStation world, Playstation home or wherever it was and you can go and watch this gig virtually basically. It’s not VR. I did ask. It’s not VR.
So is it only on PlayStation?
Yeah, but you can watch it on Steam, and I think you can watch it on Twitch. But I’m not hundred percent sure on that. I’d like to watch on Twitch because I’ve got an Xbox I can’t even watch it myself.
Okay, so what time tomorrow?
10:30pm I think?
This hopefully should be up by tomorrow lunchtime. So if you listening to it, tonight at 10:30pm you should whack out your PlayStation, Steam or hopefully Twitch.
Hopefully Twitch. There will be a link to it on the Dramalove Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. Just I think the Twitter is @dramaloveband, The Instagram’s @instadramalove and Facebook Dramalove. That will have links on that. I imagined whatever it’s going to be on you’ll find a platform to watch it.
I definitely think you should change the name to Instadramalove. Because I always search for that. Because I’m always on Instagram. Obviously it comes up as that. Everywhere I searched I’m like ‘Instadramalove’ And my earlier today I was like ‘it’s dramalove’. You can’t say ‘So Neils in Instadramalove’
Sit down practice before I come round.
Yeah, I kind of was. So when did you start playing drums?
I think I was 13, I might have been 14? I can’t really remember. It was either 13 or 14. I initially didn’t start off wanting to play drums I wanted to be a guitarist, because everyone wants to be the guitarist and it turns out, I was really bad at guitar. So one day, I think my friend Ashley who had a drum kit, his mom had bought him a drum kit. He was getting drum lessons and he was kind of really into it and always showing off about it like, I can do this [mimics drumbeat]. One day I was like, I could probably do that. I sat behind the drum kit, and he sort of showed me off this little beat and I was just like can I have a go. Sat behind the kit and then just copied him straight away. And I remember him just being like, ‘how did you know how to do that?’ So I honestly have no idea. It’s just one of them things. I sat behind a kit played like, held some sticks in my hand and played and it just sort of felt naturally, ‘This feels fine. I can do this.’
That’s cool. I mean, my start was very similar. We went around this guy’s house; it was all to be a weird time. Anyway, he had a drum kit. And like…
One thing led to another.
No, like my mates were picking this stuff up kind of slowly and then the first time I went round, I just picked it up and flew with it and all my mates like ‘A$*#!&E’. So have you taken any lessons?
I did for a little while. I mean, it took me forever to convince my parents that you know, I’m kind of good at this. I can do this and I enjoy doing it. And they were like, ‘Oh’. My dad was so anti music. He grew up, my uncle Paul, he was a guitarist growing up and like, my dad just really hated him being a musician, because all he heard was his guitar like growing up with my uncle. And when I come home, obviously like ‘I want to be a musician.’ I saw my dad’s face. Just go ‘No, no, no, no, not my boy. Not again.’ So for a very, very long time, I was learning how to play drums in secret. And then one day I said, I was doing like some school concert thing. All the students were doing like a talent show or something so obviously I was just like well this is my time to sort of show them that I can do it. And you know I was probably about like 14 coming up to 15 and my parents and my grandparents all turned up to this show thing. And my mom ended up bursting out crying. And my dad was really proud of me. And then they were just like, fine. Here’s a year’s worth of lessons we paid for. And that was it. I did lessons 20 minutes every week for a year. Not that it kind of helped as much because like, 20 minutes a week is never enough. You know? And so I never had a chance to practice at home or anything like that. I’ve never had a kit at home. All I’ve ever had is like a practice pad and sticks. So it was difficult. But I think eventually, yeah, like my mom and dad was just like, here’s a year’s worth of lessons. You’ve proved you can do that.
So did you get a chance to get on the kit regularly? Apart from the 20 minutes?
I did yeah. When my grandparents, after they come to that show as well, They decided well, my mom and dad bought my as I said earlier Ashley, they bought the drum kit off of him. He was no longer playing anymore. His mom wanted to get rid of it. So they bought it off of him gave it to me and my grandparents, God rest them, I don’t know how they put up with this. They were like ‘yeah we’ll have it at our house then. And he can come and practice as much as he wants whenever he wants.’ And I was like ‘Oh yeah.’ I pretty much took the p*&s with that quite frankly, really badly.
I was practicing pretty much every day for a couple of hours, solidly for probably five years. I must have drove them nuts and everyone on that street. Mental. I never had complaints. Like, I don’t know how I got away with that. I never had complaints from it. And so I did get a good chance to sort of really practice. I don’t practice as much as I should do now. I really should.
Sacrifices Must Be Made.
But I think that that’s part and parcel of adult life. I mean, when I’m on Instagram, I see like Dramalove and Salvation Jayne and stuff like that. Doing a lot you know and really trying to push it. And I see yourself and Tor and I’m like…
Tor is unreal, by the way. She’s an incredible drummer.
Yeah, hopefully I can try and get her over next week before she plays The Quarterhouse. But yeah, it’s that stark reality of having to do the call centre day job.
Yeah, the nine to five.
Yeah. And also find the time to extensively gig. I mean, I assume Diego’s all the Instagram side, but you always seem to be doing something.
Yeah, I mean he’s normally in control of all of that stuff. I’m just kind of like I’m just there. I’m just happy to be there you know what I mean? But yeah, he is kind of in control of most of that. And the thing with a lot of bands and a lot of musicians is it’s all front you know. Like, there’s a lot of hard work obviously goes into being in a band and doing what we’re doing. It’s all front really. Like the stark reality of it is, a lot of us are all still working nine to five, we’re all still grinding away. And, you know, you’ve got to kind of make it look as if like ‘yeah we’re always doing this.’ And I mean, it’s not lifting the curtain a bit, I suppose, it’s just it’s a lot of just blagging it really. Being in the band is all about blagging it.
Oh, yeah. So are they based in Brighton?
Yeah they’ve moved down now I think permanently. I think because Diego’s a music teacher for his job. So he flits, he’s got students in Canterbury where he lived there. He goes back to there half the week and then he works in Brighton.
So do you practice down Brighton?
Yeah, it’s kind of a massive commitment, even when we get the time to practice as well. Fortunately, we’re kind of tight enough that we can get away with not practicing every week. Yeah, it’s a bit of a struggle. Sometimes. I mean, if they can come up here, they’ll come up here. If I can get down there I’ll get down there. We try and make it work as often as possible. But yes, it’s a bit sort of its not conventional way to run a band put it that way.
No, but I think in this day and age it’s really difficult isn’t it to try and do that conventional thing? Like, how feasible is it for you guys to take day out to shoot a video or record or take a week out tour? I mean how feasible with your job? Or is it like just the weekend?
Not really I mean, getting like the weekends is fine because I don’t work weekends. So that kind of works out nicely. But if we were to do a tour, then I’d have to know sort of like a few months in advance to get it off of work if not you know, quit my job, find a new job when I come back from tour. Because that’s kind of where I want to be going. I want to be on the road all the time and sort of, that’s where I want my life to go. And I know it’s stupid, my mom hates me for it. She’s like ‘you can’t just quit your job to go out and tour’ and I’m like ‘Yeah I can.’ It’s not a smart move. But it’s again, I’m so determined that it’s gonna work, that it’s gonna happen that, you know, you kind of gotta make stupid sacrifices like that. You’ve got to sort of go all in or not at all. It’s always been that way for me.
Yeah I mean for me it’s harder because I’ve got the kids and it’s like ‘alright can I leave?’ I need to earn money to pay for them you know. And that’s the struggle for me because I’m the same, I want to be out there playing and touring and it’s just sort of like, right, okay, well, if I can earn enough to pay for the kids, and I can tour for like two weeks and then I can come back have three days with them you know it’s…
A logistical nightmare?
Yeah. I never remember bands being so difficult. Getting three or four people in the same room at the same time was never a struggle. I don’t understand what’s happened. So obviously, who’s your bass player sorry?
So is he Canterbury or Brighton?
He’s now full time in Brighton. For a time he was living in Sweden. So you can imagine how much of a nightmare that was, we used a lot of like dep bassists. So yeah. Like credit to them as well, because both Rocco and Meg both came in and had to learn the songs like really quickly. I mean, we did a little mini tour in England, sort of beginning this year in March and we had a girl called Meg playing bass for us. She did really good to learn all of the songs like really quickly and be able to play them sort of that evening basically. And then Rocco. We did a two gig stint in Holland and I’d never met Rocco until the flight to Holland. So I literally like the first time that we ever played together was that night in Gouda, I think it was, and that was it we went on stage and I was just like, this is going to go one of two ways; it’s going to be a complete sh1t show, or it’s going to work really well. It turns out, he was just a phenomenal bassist. I think he’s on tour in like, Scandinavia at the moment with some bands that he’s just joined. He’s just an unreal bassist. But yeah, it blows your mind really. This is the sort of band I imagine if I were looking from the outside in I’d be like ‘nah I’m going anywhere near that!’
So with the Holland stuff did you pay for your own flight of your own back or are you managed?
Paid for it mostly. But I mean Diego man, he’s the one that sort of paid for it all. I’ve never met a man who’s so committed to something. He’s like, I still owe him like so much money because he basically got me out to Holland and got me to do that and I don’t know any other person that would do that. You know the band is, that’s his baby, it’s his world. And if it like, if it comes crashing down, he’s crashing down with it. Not that he will because the kids so committed, he’s so headstrong with it that he’s just going to make it. Like he knows he’s going to make it, that’s why he will because he’s just so confident with it. He’s just there focused on it all the time and you know whatever it takes him for us to do something; he’ll go and do it. He’s just a madman. And I love him to bits and how he does it I don’t know because I don’t have the patience for it. He’s just a good leader as well.
So there’s always that kind of, how do you sustain yourself. When I was talking to Francesco as well, it was kind of like he just threw himself into wanting to be a drummer and you know, quit working in pubs and stuff and it’s like ‘you’re getting paid for that…’ but I want to do this and there’s no guarantee I will get paid to do it. ‘But then don’t you have to live somewhere?’
I’ll cross that bridge I get to it.
Which is something that kind of fascinates me because if I were to sit here with a Travis Barker and the likes of that, who are already now multi millionaires, It’s sort of like ‘well yeah you know going on tour is easy.’
Yeah and it’s different league I guess.
But how are you doing it?
Yeah how are you doing that? So I’m kind of on a mission to see how people are taking it from the step of Garageband, don’t sue me Apple, to you know that next stage where you can turn around and go I don’t need my job. So Indoor Pets…
Yeah I know Ollie from Indoor Pets.
Yeah, obviously he was working at Tescos up until last year or something and that’s when they broke but they were out on tour forever.
Yeah and I even didn’t know how he did that because I used to work for Tesco and trying to get any sort of time off there was a nightmare. Most of the time I worked in a different Tesco to Ollie, but I don’t know how? And that baffles me because it’s like, how do you still have a job and still be able to go out and do your thing really. It’s, you kind of gotta be really lucky with it or you just, like you said, you just go ‘It’s either that or nothing. You’re either all in or you’re not.’ And you kind of throw yourself into it and see where you end up?
Empty Your Pockets.
Yeah. So you do this is kind of all off your own backs, yours, Diego and Ricardo. Is that why there’s not an album or EP yet because of the studio costs?
Yeah, I mean the funny thing is with Dramalove they’ve been going for what 13 years. Because Ricardo and Diego are twins right, so they’ve always been together so that, you know where Diego goes, Ricardo goes and where Ricardo goes, Diego goes. So they’ve always been in this band together and they’ve kind of been playing forever.
They went on Italian X Factor and got all the way to like the quarterfinals or something like that. They did pretty well off of it. And then I think their original drummer left and then they brought in a guy called Dimitri who went out on a European tour with them. So they’ve kind of they’ve built their whole thing out in Europe. They’ve got a name in Italy. They did have like, a bit of a following going, which has sort of followed them to England. You know, people from Italy are still constantly messaging Diego like ‘Oh come back, play a show here.’
So they’ve always had like their sort of following I guess, from there. When they moved to England, like they kind of brought it with him. So that has helped them a little bit to sort of establish themselves a bit more. So really, I’ve just kind of joined right in when they’re trying to build the hype up here. I’m quite lucky to be honest like when I first met Diego I didn’t like him if I’m honest. I thought like who’s this Matt Bellamy wannabe because obviously Muse are like my favourite band. So my friend Craig was just like ‘you two are going to get on like a house on fire! You love the same thing.’ I met him and I was just like ‘I don’t like you.’ And he kept messaging me like ‘can you play drums for Dramalove?’ but I kept saying ‘No I can’t be bothered’ kind of like I was in three bands at the time I couldn’t commit to another one. And then eventually he wore me down and I was like ‘yeah go on then’ and that’s it he won’t let me go now. I had to weasel my way in. And then I’ve got to do all of this like mad stuff like playing in Holland. I never thought I’d get to play a gig in Amsterdam and there I was like, I didn’t even like paid for a flight. I owe Diego, but like I’m sat there playing this drum kit in Amsterdam like ‘How did I end up here?’ And now I’m going to be on this like virtual gig thing.
So did you just take your breakables or do you just take…
So I just took myself. Well fortunately, we had another band that we were playing with that we’re happy to just lend us like their back line. So I mean, we flew with Ryanair so you can imagine…
You had to pay for your sticks.
Yeah I had to pay for the Oxygen I used on the plane. So there was no way we was getting our own gear over there. So they were really kind enough, Epifyse was the band, check them out. I think they’re @epifyse_band on Instagram, and they were really like really nice to us and just sort of said ‘Yeah, you know, here’s all our gear’ so we got to just use that. I think you know, I felt sorry for the drummer in Epifyse, Volta I think his name was, he’s a metal drummer. But then there was me that just comes in and I’m a very heavy hitter. I’m really bad with other people’s kits. I feel really bad about it and I shouldn’t admit this.
No, but this is good.
Sharing Is Caring.
I respect everyone’s equipment. Up until the point that I’m on stage playing and then it’s just like something. It’s like the red mist. It all just all goes to the back of your head and then you’re just so caught in the moment of playing. And sometimes I’m a bit of a heavy hitter and I could only imagine this guy that I’m just playing on, to beaten the shit out of his kit and like, laying into it, and just imagine him looking at me going like ‘if you break anything, I will break you.’ Because I’m very protective about my own gear.
Yeah, totally the same. I constantly get drummers literally rush up to the stage after I’ve played to make conversation but you can see them checking and it’s funny because you know, I’ve watched all the Jojo stuff and learn actually how to hit the drum properly. So I’m really laying to it and they come up expecting massive dents and stuff like that. And it’s like pristine and they’re like ‘What?!’ But yeah, I’m the same kit shares do my head in.
Like yeah I don’t mind people using my shells so much. Because it’s like you know, like they’re shells. You’re going to need to use them but it’s when people need to borrow like snares or cymbals or something like that. Because both me and you we’re both rocking [Zildjian] K’s at the moment. They’re not cheap at all. I think my ride cost me about 400 quid! 22 inch K right so yeah, it’s not a cheap cymbal and I’m always really like worried I’m gonna break it let alone someone else.
Yeah. Yeah, I’m the same with cymbals as I was talking with Richard Warren a few weeks ago and we’re talking gear and I mentioned about maybe changing my cymbal setup and he was ‘ah you’re going to need to remortgage your house…’
Yeah so expensive.
And I feel that. And actually I was speaking to a kid called Chris who had his cymbals stolen you know. So he reached out because I had a cymbal for sale so like, I felt bad for him so I like cut him a deal on it and stuff. But yeah, it’s crushing when like cymbals and stuff gets broken and stuff like that. I mean, I’m anal to the point where all my stands are memory locked.
Yeah, all of the mine are.
Yeah. So I’m like, no you can’t use it.
Yeah this is the thing, right? Like, we can’t be the only ones who is to do this. There’s got to be other drummers that are definitely like someone goes, and I mean I’ve done it like, Can I use your cymbal stands? And if I’m allowed to use them, I always ask first and say ‘do you mind if I change the heights on them? If not, don’t worry about it. I’ll just keep it to what you’ve got.’ But its people that have used my stands before and never not asked and changed my memory locks. And I’m like ‘eurgh’ and it’s not that difficult to just put it back to how it was like, but it’s just like ‘I had that there for a reason set to my thing,’ especially if I’m in the headlining band that I gotta then go back up on stage and reset it all up. If you gotta do it, please just ask first. You know what I mean?
Yeah. I used to just put my cymbals on put the snare on and just play it how it sat just to be out of respect. And then like if it’s a house kit then…
Anything goes to the house kit.
You Can Take The Boy Out Of Punk…
But yeah, I mean I’m totally anal about that. Talking about setups, I think in virtually every band I’ve seen you in you’re rocking a four piece. With Dramalove because the music’s different to what you’re used to playing, have you changed your setup?
No, not really I mean it’s kind of I think I’ve been using the same setup now for about 10 years or so I’ve always been. It’s the very Travis Barker style set up everything is kind of flat and my rack Tom’s flat and Floor Tom’s flat and all the cymbals sort of sit flat and my setup hasn’t really changed too much. I mean, I’ve been using the same snare drum for about, again, 10 years. It’s this old Mapex Black Panther, I think it’s like the Fastback snare, I know it’s like a 12 by 7 so it’s really small but really deep. And when you crank it up, it’s got such a massive crack to it, that it’s just the best snare drum I’ve ever played in my life.
My setup hasn’t changed too much. I guess in terms of like ergonomically, it’s changed a little bit where I used to have my cymbals are quite high I’ve brought them way down now so it’s just I’m not, you know, reaching everywhere. Everything’s kind of just been brought in a little bit closer together a little bit a little bit more ergonomic, a bit more comfortable with something so that I don’t end up with backache. Because that is the killer is if you if your posture is not right then you’re going to suffer some of the consequences later on it really mess with you. I think I saw you switch to the Ahead Sticks haven’t you because they’ve got their…
Yeah I have.
Like they’re better for carpal tunnel and stuff like that.
Yeah because I stupidly overdone it and inflamed all the tendons in my wrist. I’ve had these Ahead sticks for years and they were just kind of in my stickbag and then like I was doing one of the Monday Morning Mentions and like researched and I was like ‘oh they reduce shook and stuff like this’ so I bought like new sleeves and tips for them and I brought the Lars Ulrich ones as well which are my favourite stick now.
So what weight are they?
They’re 5Bish. Get them out. But yeah, I’ve switched for that reason. I’m trying the gloves out just because they provide added support but I’m not completely sold on them but they cost me money so I’m like I’m going to try this for a while.
You look at bit Bon Jovi with the gloves on.
Yeah, but I’m more concerned about my…
They feel quite nice actually.
Whack the pad out.
The tips bounce really nicely.
They’re great because you can just change the sleeves and the tips when they get knackered.
Triggers Broom innit.
When You’re Living In The Shadows.
Yeah, yeah, really. But yeah I mean me personally I’ve tried to change my set up, because I’ve played very flamboyantly like Travis, I’ve always tried to be like, I don’t want to be under his shadow and people be like, you just want to be Travis Barker.
I know that feeling.
Yeah, right? And it’s like no, I’m my own person. And so I’ve changed my setup this year, got like two extra Tom’s and lowered my cymbals.
Yeah, notice you’ve started rocking a bigger kit now.
And now, it’s weird. It feels comfortable moving my ride from there over here. At first I was like ‘erugh I don’t know about this?’ to move it to fit that extra Tom in. But now it just feels more comfortable. And I’m like, I’ve got stop being a punk rock kid and start being a really slick drummer, like Johnston. So…
Who’s Famous Now?
So got a funny story about Mike Johnston. And so years and years ago when he was because he used to, he used to reply on Facebook and stuff. I Facebook messaged him and I was asking him about like you know, the financial side of how he got to his position, you know, like what did he have to do to sort of like, get to where he is teaching and he’s got there. And then weirdly, he was he was trying to explain it through a message and he went I there’s no way I can explain this through a message send me your phone number I’ll give you a ring.
Right? And this is like, so there’s me I think I was probably about 18 and I’m like do I do this? Do I send my number to a man I’ve never met before. Like, yeah, you know, it says Mike Johnston on the Facebook page. Is it actually him? But as I said it, you only get, you only live once, sent my number over and the Mike Johnston from Sacramento, California, rang me up from America on his mobile, and we had a little 20 minute chat about, God knows what was it now? Something to do with like, endorsements or something like that or like, how you go about sort of presenting yourself to companies. At least get sponsorship or something. And then, yeah for like ages I just had Mike Johnston’s phone number on my phone. I’ve lost the phone now that had it on it, which is really not I mean, he’s obviously changed numbers by now it’s been years. But yeah, like, at one point in my life, I spoke to Mike Johnston. He just rang me up at the blues on some snotty kid from Folkestone who just didn’t know what he was talking.
No, that’s great. I had Nicko McBrain approach me at a drum show.
That’s pretty mad.
Yeah, I brought a Hardcase and he’s obviously endorsed by them and he just ran up to me he’s like ‘Where’d you get that? Where’d you get that?’ in his cockney accent love Nicko and I was like there’s a stand over there and like he disappeared into this side door and like a barrage of kids were like chasing after him like ‘Nicko! Nicko!’ I just stood there like ‘did that happen? Did he just tapped me on the shoulder?’ And just, you know, your mind is just like [blown]. But yeah, I mean, the endorsement thing is like, I’m always trying to namedrop, Mapex and Ahead.
Mapex Saturn V. That’s currently that is the best kit on the market right now.
And there definitely is lots of places I can put it in front of the camera. I think the drumming community is great. I again, Twitter. I tweeted about Rancid and Branden’s kit and he like, replied to my tweet and I was like ‘huh what?!’ And when Travis dropped his solo album, it dropped here in the UK before America I remember I was like ‘mate it’s fire’ on Twitter, I think I said something about like ‘you’ve raised the bar again’ and like he replied, and I was like [mind blown]
From Travis? I got as much as a like.
Going back to set up, I find it very difficult to say like ‘our band is an indie band or a rock band’ and you know, genres are kind of blurring when you listen to Dramalove obviously there is the Muse influence, and you’re not a knockoff Muse at all, But you know you’re not and..
Not what I’ve heard
Well, people are a%*&£es..
They’re entitled to their opinions.
Yeah. I’m a nice guy really I’ll take that away. But obviously, if we take Dominic for example, the electronic side of is that something that you’re looking to get into?
100% Yeah, like triggers and pads..
Yeah, man. Like there’s a whole different world of drumming out there that I feel I need to explore definitely because your creativity is limitless then. And the best thing about that is whatever you can produce in the studio, you then can produce that same sample live. So that is a big thing to me. Now I’m really into sort of like the electronic side of it. I used to hate it. I used to just be like proper snobby about and be like ‘Oh, you playing electric stuff like I played proper drums mate.’ Now I’ve completely changed and done a 180º reversal because I think there’s so much more there that you can do with electronic stuff you know, acoustic kits great don’t get me wrong, it’s the best sort of drum kit but you know, in a live setting you can only make it sound one way, whereas if you’ve got electronics and stuff you can you can run triggers and you can play stuff like that, you know, you can’t do that with any other instrument live and I mean you can just run your whole backline from it basically. So all we have to do is just; right okay, click track, hit a sample that starts the song off that starts a backing track off. You’ve got it already linked up to the click, and then you’re away. So I really, really, really want to get into electronics. It’s just so expensive.
Does that not take away kind of the human Elephant Elephant? Element.
No because I feel like there’s a lot of you. I mean, you still kind of have to play it in, I guess. I mean you get like the octave band pads and stuff like that. And they’ve all got some crazy weird sounds like the DJ Yamaha keyboard on it. And then you still kind of have to play that in. And I think, is it Aric Improta? He’s the man for stuff like that. He’s got this video on the Meinl YouTube page and it’s like a 19 minute drum solo. And he’s running, he’s like playing electronics and doing drums over the top of it as well. And he’s playing it all in none of it’s like pre recorded or anything. It’s all live.
And it’s, I mean, its mind blowing. And there’s like a 20 minute long video of just pure madness, but it probably makes you think like, I never even would have thought to have that in my drum kit. I didn’t think I could make a drum kit sound like that. And then there’s this crazy guy who’s doing backflips off his drum kit just like showing you, like leading the way forward. It’s like a new way of looking at things.
Don’t Let Me Down!
Yeah definitely. So obviously like you’ve already said with the backing tracks you had on the MacBook that died, now its on the phone, if it dies during the gig is that like game over? Or can you still struggle through with just the three; guitar, bass and drums?
There’s been times where we’ve lost like all power coming from the backing tracks, where there’s a song called, I can’t even remember what the songs called. Been in the band nearly a year and I can’t even remember what songs are called. And it’s our opening track, I think, I don’t even know, it’s a song. It’s quite a synthy so it’s got a little bit [mimics synth line] and then it’s like a big sort of like drum thing. And that song occasionally, it tends to die always on that song for some reason. And then as soon as I hear it’s not playing anymore I’ve kind of got to get Diego’s attention to then sort of go ‘we’ve got no backing track, we’ve got no click, you’re gonna have to play these riffs in now.’ So there’s a level of improvisation but it’s not its not complete game over. There are some songs that we definitely need the backing track because we’ve played without any of the backing tracks live and it just sounds so empty. It just needs that sort of little bit in the background just to fill it out.
It can be hit and miss. I feel like it definitely needs it without the backing tracks I feel we’re not as good live, we definitely need it and also like when you’ve got the click tracks and stuff, everything’s set to a tempo so you’re not racing through your set. You’re not like, you know, playing a 45 minutes set and you’ve already paid all your songs you like sh1t. What do we do?
I’m kind of scared about that because of the whole thing. The amount of times where, you know, I’ve set the drum kit and there’s been like, no power and the guitarists are like ‘uh’ and I’m like ‘see don’t need to plug in.’ And it kind of scared me. I’ve seen bands literally swearing at the computer on stage like ‘what are you doing right now? Why have you stopped?’ I don’t know that scares me away from electronics.
Yeah it’s something else to just go wrong on stage isn’t it.
It is a tough one. I think.
If you’ve got a good sound guy who knows what he’s doing, then you should be fine normally, because they’re the one that’s really sort of running all the power through. Yeah, I think the only time where I’ve kind of caused an electrical failure is, it was my own fault. And it’s a musician’s thing that everyone knows, you know, the golden rule is if you’ve got a glass on stage with you keep it away from yourself where you’re going to hit it. And I didn’t do that. And I completely knocked over this glass of water all over Diego’s phone, like over his iPhone and then slightly onto the mixer, and I looked at it and I went ‘huh, that’s not well’ and then I felt everything disappear like electronics went I was like ‘Oh, well.’
Bottle caps kids. If you’ve got a drink on stage make sure it’s got a lid.
Yeah, basically or just don’t drink near your electronics as I stupidly had to learn the hard way.
So there’s a kind of a theme with Dramalove, like an ascetic. So you..
A bit Goth.
Yeah. Are you wearing that stuff on stage? Are you free to just be…
Sometimes and I mean it doesn’t really bother me like, I feel because it’s obviously it’s the look of the band and it’s as you say, it’s the aesthetic that we’re going for. So if I’m required to wear a bit of makeup on stage or in photo shoots, or like we just done this photo shoot in Brighton where I had like massive panda eyes, and Ricardo’s girlfriend, Nicole, she filled out my eyebrows as well because I have slightly sensitive eyebrows. And she filled them all out for this photoshoot And then like gave me like this black smudgy eyeliner. I looked pretty good. I looked at myself and went ‘what the hell?’ and yeah for like the band stuff like it doesn’t really bother me. You know? You’ve kind of got to be a bit arrogant with it. I mean, I’m not a good looking chap, but with the right angle in the right bit of makeup I found that I don’t look too bad.
I think that’d be for the ladies to decide.
Yeah, I mean, my girlfriend said I look a bit weird, but she knows she said, I look like a diva. So yeah, I can see that. I’m completely the opposite. Like, I mean, if that’s required, if that’s the attitude of the band, and that’s the character I can play basically. It’s all about, because it’s a character, isn’t it? Onstage you’re a different person. You are an actor. Offstage I’m not normally an aggressive person or like a shouty person, I’m normally quite chill, and just sort of have a laugh with you. Onstage I’m like ‘Aaarrrghh.’ I see it like the band’s aesthetic is these characters like this Goth thing. I don’t know it’s hard to explain really I just kind of turn up and get made up and that’s it but yeah, Goth Neil is out!
So what’s next for Dramalove apart from you know the virtual thing tomorrow…
Which you can catch on Twitch, Steam and PlayStation 4.
And when I say tomorrow I mean tonight, but yeah. God right yeah right Friday the 27th No, no it’s not. What is the date today? Yes, it’s Friday 27th of September 2019 is when that is going out.
But I think it’s I think it’s been played all weekend. Okay. I’m not sure about that, but I think I got told it was going to be just happening all weekend, you can kind of turn up to it and just see it I guess? I should know. Shouldn’t I Really?
People don’t tell drummers stuff.
Yeah, we just hit things.
Yeah. What’s after that you done BBC introducing as well.
Busy Saving The World.
So what’s on the horizon for Dramalove?
So we’ve got a couple of gigs in Brighton in November, which will be confirmed on all of our social pages. We have a new single coming out called ‘Busy Saving The World’ which is the one that we’ve just recently recorded and shot a video for. And then we do have another video coming out just before the end of the year, which I think the song is called ‘Written In The Stars.’ Then there’s a video coming up for that we kind of filmed both videos back to back, which was a absolute nightmare, but it’s worth it because it’s going to look sick. So, those are the two singles that’ll be coming out by the end of the year. And hopefully, and I mean, we still got confirmed it all and stuff. I think Diego has already said it on Instagram anyway, so I can probably say it here. We might be working with a guy called James Sanger. Who has produced albums for Dido, Keane, God knows who else. I think at some point, he worked with Madonna. I think we’re going to his studio at the beginning of January or the end of January next year and I think we’re going to be recording an EP out there, but I don’t know what’s going on with that. Yeah, I don’t really know if I should really talk about that. Okay, let me go.
We can we can take that back. We can get in post if we need. What’s next for your yourself in terms of drumming? What is something that you want to achieve next? With that, like, Do you want to? For me, it’s at the moment it’s like, I’m going to learn double bass pedal because I’ve always wanted to, and I’m going to do it. You know, is there something that you are desperate to kind of learn apart from that crazy Blink track that you put up recently?
Ah yeah. What the ending to ‘Remember To Forget Me’? The guys an animal isn’t he. Travis is just unreal. And yeah, I don’t know, I just I kind of just hope to just improve really. So working on all my weaknesses really only my left hand could be a lot better. So I kind of want to work on ways of getting that a lot better. I mean, a good person to watch for that is Eddy Thrower, the drummer in Lower Than Atlantis, the man is unreal. He’s just got linear chops for days, he’s incredible. And I’ve been watching him a lot on Instagram and just kind of taken a lot of his feedback of how he’s kind of gone like ‘right, here’s where my weaknesses. Here’s what I’m going to do to tackle that weakness and here’s where I want to be in like 12 weeks or something.’ Yeah, so I’m just gonna be doing a lot of that really I mean I guess I could probably sit and learn some double kick stuff as well I mean I’ve never been a double kick drummer, I’ve always only played 1 pedal. Then I kind of always wanted to be able to, I’m really into this technique, it’s a Mike Johnston technique actually like where he learned how to play the double kick stuff from One by Metallica with the Floor Tom Doubles, like I’ve been trying to teach myself a lot of that. Getting myself a bit more tight with my right hand coordination, the right foot coordination and just getting really sort of turning my Floor Tom into another kick drum essentially. So yeah, I just I just want to improve basically, obviously want to get better at everything generally all round.
We Can Be Immortal.
That’s cool. Eddy’s, yeah, Eddy’s a beast and that’s another thing that kind of fascinates me is how do you get from the likes of us to Eddie, Mike Johnston, Orlando drummer?
Yeah. Oh man. He’s unreal.
Exactly. It’s like, I swear there is like this higher being that comes at some point and goes like ‘I’ll give you superpowers.’
Yeah. You’ve been chosen.
Yeah, I mean, I watch like, I mean, Luke Holland as well. You just watch him and you just think how do you even get like… Cobus as well? I can’t even pronounce your surname it’s South African… Quavis I think is how you pronounce his first name? But he is just another kid that’s just on another level of…
Have you heard of Stan Bicknell?
Stan Bicknells great.
That foot. That’s not human?
Yeah who needs a double pedal? No, he’s just the human double pedal.
Yeah. Oh, I’ll just do it in my break room at my coffee warehouse.
Yeah and he’s not even like, a professional drummer really, he’s just he just owns a coffee brand.
And yeah, I mean, it’s how. I could practice for days and I’ll get good.
How do you then ascend with the best?
Yeah, that’s the thing innit.
What is the journey? Take a guy that you should check out as well on Instagram is a guy called Rich Nolan (@richnolandrums). He plays this really sweet looking SJC kit like I think the only the only reason I got into his Instagram page is because I just saw his kit once and was like ‘Oh, that’s nice.’ And then become a fan of his and like and he’s just a dude like he I think he works as a music teacher. He lives up in Norwich that he just a dude and plays in like a function band but he’s got like 10k followers on Instagram and he’s just releasing videos day after day after day kind of where you want to go.
Yeah, I mean that’s… Videos editing it’s just a ballache. I love it because starting up this, I was like, anyone can teach drums, what is something that’s going to be different around this area. And I always remember going to lessons being like, right, I’m here for an hour and then the whole rest of the week by myself. Sometimes I’d go back and play something and the guy would be like ‘it’s good, but it’s wrong’, and I’d misinterpreted. So I looked at Drumeo, Mike Johnston and all these guys and thought ‘right. That’s where I’ve got to go.’ Like even Eddy Thrower’s got the members section. So that’s where I was trying to get but yeah, it’s trying to stretch it that thin.
It just takes days editing. You know, and these guys are knocking out videos, like, daily on Insta. And I’m like, how, how do you not sleep? Do you just…
Yeah, there’s a commitment. I think I mean, the best way is probably days to like, film in bulk and then have something every…
That’s what I’ve been doing. I like spend a day in studio record, like, eight hours, and then spend three weeks edited everything down, you know?
We’ve Got You Girl!
Kristina Schiano she’s really inspiring. I think literally that’s in her bedroom and she gets like millions of views and it’s like…
I feel really bad for her as well and I feel it’s like a bad mark on like drummers as a community. There’s so many like people hating on her because now she’s got like a Zildjian sponsorship and she’s endorsed by SJC. And loads. I’ve seen loads of comments on her Twitter page where it’s like ‘oh, you don’t deserve that your your shit like’ but she’s f*&king work hard for what she’s got to. I mean, and she’s not shit at all, honestly she’s a great drummer. She gets a lot of flack just for being a girl, which I think is something we need to stamp out. Really?
Yeah we do.
As musicians and drummers.
Yeah. I think she’s phenomenal. And, you know, she’s literally making a living out of doing YouTube videos, which isn’t easy, you know. I’m still struggling to go like, well, how can I upload covers because YouTube like?
Yeah how do you get past the copyright?
Yeah, I mean that the female thing is like, I really want to get Tor in, who again, has just got an incredible SJC.
Have you ever heard it live? It’s thunderous!
Yeah, it is, it’s gorgeous.
The kick drums huge.
But yeah, there’s definitely scope for more respect for women for one. I remember playing a gig and I was the only male drummer. And I just remember being like ‘wow! These girls are like killing me right now.’ I tried to just park any ego or machoness, which I’m not anyway, but it was just sort of like, ‘I’m quite happy to walk out of this venue being classed as the worst drummer’ and not just out of sympathy, but these girls are actually slamming me. I mean, I’ve seen the stigma Kristina gets and it’s just not it’s not on! But I think its that thing with the Internet it’s just released people to just have that kind of like ‘I’ll say whatever I want.’
Yeah, everyone feels that their opinion is the right opinion.
Yeah. Yeah, exactly.
I mean, it boils down to jealousy is what I see it as. I mean, I’m jealous. I’d love a f*^king SJC endorsement and I’d like a Zildjian endorsement.
I obviously haven’t worked hard enough to get there yet and she has and like good for her so..
Yeah, I mean, you know, She’s worked hard to get the followers that makes Zildjian and SJC, go ‘Right! Well we’d love to be a part of what you do.’ And that’s, I think that’s what it is as well with endorsements is; don’t approach them with ‘can I have free stuff?’ But they want to know what can you do for us?
Yeah, it’s all about their image not yours that’s the thing.
Drop It Like It’s Hot.
Like say I keep name dropping certain companies.
Yeah. Just, A; to be a bit cheeky. But like..
Yeah, don’t ask don’t get.
And trying to do, what I’m trying to do is kind of my way of going, like, if you help me, I know, I can put you in front of…
Yeah, I mean it’s all about building an audience.
Yeah. Yeah. So let’s go back to you, you’re playing Mapex at the moment.
Yeah, I’ve got Mapex Saturn V, which is like the pro level. Yeah. But that was a present from my grandparents after they passed away, sadly. The money I inherited that they left me. They were like, yeah ‘go get your dream kit’ so…
So have you always been a Mapex?
Yeah, I’m like the first kit I ever bought with my own money was a really old probably older than me Mapex Mars Pro in some God awful moss green. And it’s now the house kit at the Harp club, that’s where it resides because obviously I’ve got my new kit and I couldn’t have that kit sat in my room and just gathering dust, it’s still got so much to give. It was like a 24 by 18 kick, 13 by 10 rack tom, 16 by 16 floor. It’s just a Bonham kit. But I bought that for about 200 quid, and then fell in love with it. And then just from then on, I was just like, you know, I think Mapex probably doesn’t get the recognition that he deserves.
They just sort of they make they make kits that just they’re so easy to tune. I mean the Saturn V I’ve got now is the easiest kit in the world to tune. Literally chuck a head on and you know after two or three screws, it’s like, bang it’s in tune and it sounds wicked and it stays in tune as well. It doesn’t really die too often. You don’t have to keep retuning it.
No, I mean, my drum teacher had I think it was a Saturn III or IV wherever it was, and he had an Orion as well. I remember being like ‘wow!’ and I’ve always wanted the Saturn in the green sparkle fade. And then last year I done some kit shares and played an Armory and Mars and was like ‘Whoa!’ Especially the Mars like ‘what is this?’ I looked it up online and it was like 400 quid and I was like ‘no way! That’s 400 quid and sounds that good?!’ Like you say with the easy tuning, I got the Armory now, blown away by that. Literally got the heads on, tuned it up it sound phenomenal!
And the Tomahawk snare, I was dubious about it. Like I’ve got a snare like your snare that’s like I’ve had donkeys and I love it. It’s like 13 by 7 and I’ve never played a metal snare. I got this out and [mimic snare crack] Whoa!
Yeah! The first time I played it was on a gig and yeah, it just like cut through. Well…
It’s a metal snare yeah?
My ones some sort of wood I think its maple? I’ve never had a metal snare. I’ve always wanted one for how loud they are.
Yeah, it was crazy. I literally put it on and everybody was chatting in the venue and I [mimics snare hit] everyone was like ‘WTF!’ But yeah definitely Mapex should give us free stuff…
They’re great they don’t get the recognition, but it’s working hard and building, it’s all about relationships and it’s what you can offer them as much as they can offer you.
Yeah. I mean, essentially, like, it’s two brands collaborating really, isn’t it? That’s, that’s the way to look at it. So, I mean, and I like the idea of entitlement as well, like yet some people that just think they’re entitled to free stuff and the reality of it is it doesn’t work that way.
Yeah, you’ve always got work for your stuff.
Absolutely you‘ve got to earn it.
I’ve played that Cabria for years and it’s like, it probably cost me 5/600 quid at the time. But I’ve never played a kit that I felt that I was like, under qualified to buy. I wouldn’t buy a DW Collectors Series.
Do you know what I could have bought like them. It was a choice between a DW and the Mapex. I looked at the DW and I thought it’s tempting, the I saw this Mapex I was like thatI know that I’m always going to get on with you know. I can kind of trash that about a little bit not that I do but you know she’s got a couple of battle scars now. But the DW kit, I just I don’t think I’d ever want to play it just because it they’re like three and a half grand, just for the shells like, I mean, you get what you pay for…
It’s kind of like the SJC.
I’d be really worried about playing kids like that. ‘No, that stays in a big glass box and no one touches it ever.’
I’m always kind of like, because I think Travis changed a lot of things in the world. But you know, he had a different kit, every album and tour cycle up until now. He’s still playing the kit from California tour…
Yeah the different coloured Remo heads.
All The Gear, All The Idea.
So if I was to get custom kit, I’d be like ‘Yeah, this is what I want.’ But I know that in like three years, I’d be like ‘I kind of want something else.’ So I kind of don’t want to invest and just be like someone else made that choice like the finish on the armory at the moment, the Ultra Marine, I’ve just fallen in love with! It’s like Ok, someone else made that choice and I don’t have to feel bad if I change my mind in three months time. I’ve never played a kit that I didn’t feel I didn’t deserve to play and that’s that kind of entitlement thing. I’d quite happily play a Pro Percussion kit. Be I’d rather play that and be too good to play that. Then play a DW and everyone go like ‘you’ve got more money than talent.’
Yeah, exactly that’s the thing like because I remember… I don’t want it to become a sh1t slinging contest but I remember years and years ago like you know, there are there are some kids out there that the parents have obviously bought them all the gear and you know sometimes you just you look at it and you think ‘you’ve got really nice cymbals and a really nice kit that you really don’t give a sh1t about playing your instrument.’ I feel like if you’re a musician, as a kid, you kind of have to commit to it. Some people pick up an instrument and learn it just to sort of have it as an accessory. Whereas, I’ve always thought, my instrument comes first and how I look comes second to it. I feel like, I don’t really care how I look while I’m playing or it’s not about sort of image really, it’s more about like, what can I do on this kit that says more about me than how I look? Does that make sense? I think it makes sense?
I think it’s testament to how you came up in it. I had very much the same; wanted a drum kit since I was knee high and parents being like ‘they’re expensive and noisy.’
Kids are expensive and noisy.
Poor Kids Assemble.
Oh, yeah, we are but you know, then got one in secret and learnt it. But it was that never dying passion of like ‘This is something I want to do.’ Whereas I feel that if I’d been slightly more entitled in like ‘mum buy me a drum kit’ and the first time ‘here’s a drum kit. I probably would have given up and been like ‘I want something else now.’ So I think it’s testament. I definitely think there’s a kind of ‘testing the longevity of it’ by not giving them what they want.
Yeah, that’s what I feel. That’s why, sort of going back to my parents, I kind of appreciate how difficult it was for me to kind of get my own way in the end because it was never just given to me. I had to work really hard for it. And then obviously the first kit I got, it was like a Session Pro fusion or something. So I mean it was a very beginner kit. And you know, it had plastic heads on it and stuff. It was not a nice kit to play considering what I kind of get to play now. But you know, I went through that and I re-skinned it and like and it took me forever to get like new cymbals for it and work my way up to these like little it was always like a little mini victory when I like…
The first time when I got my first Zildjian cymbal I paid for with my own money. Because, you know, Zildjian is the cymbal brand I’ve used. I’ve used Sabian’s, I’ve used Meinl, I’ve always gone back to Zildjians. But when I first bought my own one for my own money, I think I bought a 20” A Custom ride, which is sadly died but buying that and having it on my kit and having it there and being like, I get to play this cymbal, It was such a mini victory for me and I felt like I’ve really earned it. It was it was nice. And then like eventually that I got myself a new snare drum. I bought myself new stands and it was all little things that sort of come together over years and years of just saving up and getting into the position where I can afford to get a new thing and be like ‘Oh, yeah, you know’…
Yeah, I personally think that’s the better way…
You learn to appreciate your gear more as well.
Exactly my first kit was like a 1930s Premier. It literally had calfskin skins on and they were pre international sizes. I couldn’t get new heads for love nor money. I wish I had it now as an adult to be like, I’ve got this vintage drum, but I was stupid kid and destroyed it. But you know, but then I like went to my school and got a kit out of the cupboard and bought that for 60 quid. Then the day I first bought my first kit was a CB drums. Rocked down to Music Bay here’s 200 quid, ‘I got a brand new kit!!!’ it’s like, five years into playing drums and this the first time I’ve got a brand new kit and it’s like ‘yeah, so this is a beginners one.’ but it’s new and It’s mine. It’s mine and it’s shiny and that kind of self-entitlement I’ve never got. Like I say it’s kind of testament of your desire to be a drummer is how far you’ve been willing to go, every turn like; ‘No you cant have this drum kit. No you’re not having a drum kit.’
‘No you can’t afford this cymbal, you can’t afford this kick pedal.’
And then like later on, as happens all the time, the band folds.
‘What do I do know?’ sort of thing.
Diamonds In The Rough.
Yeah, definitely. After the Diamond Hope folded, It was kind of like ‘right, I’m knocking on the years, I’m approaching 30 quickly. Do I still play drums? What’s around the corner?’ That’s kind of testament to your love and pursuing of that craft.
I mean, it’s just, it’s my personality really like I guess with any sort of drummer’s that’ve been playing live as long as we have it’s a reflection of yourself. It’s what I want to say to people without actually saying anything. How I sort of play my drums is my personality really coming out and me getting to be a different sort of person to be like a proper me. It sounds cheesy and it sounds you know, like ‘oh god its really cliche,’ but it is my voice basically, drums is my voice is how I sort of, you know, if I have a sh1t day I take out my drum kit, if I have a good day I’ll take out the drumkit. If I just have a day you know it’s just a reflection of how I’m feeling. By the way, Diamond Hope song, right? And I heard this and I think it’s ‘Pin The Grenade’ on the new Blink album. It’s a very similar groove to an old Diamond Hope song.
Yeah, after we’ve wrapped up we have to listen to it. I’m sure because it has it has this like, ride, bell, choke thing going on with a rack tom and I’m like, ‘you definitely played something similar to that when you were in the Diamond Hope.’
Yeah, I love that band. That was the most fun band I’ve ever been in.
And you guys were awesome as well. I remember seeing you play that song and being like ‘how the f*&k do you do that? I need to learn how to do that!’
Because the guitars were so simple, not saying he was a crap guitarist he wasn’t he’s a brilliant songwriter but because there were three of us there was loads of scope just to fill that space. So it’s like ‘I’m just gonna go crazy’ but then it’s kind of backfired in recent years. After that I kind of had a little stint in Smoking Grace and then with Red Light Runner they’re like ‘just do like do some crazy Harry stuff’ and then you’re like ‘oh yeah, yeah…that was kind of a fluke.’ On the new Red Light Runner EP there’s one track where I just do this kind of crazy Tom fill with the bell and stuff and it was just like, the first time since the Diamond Hope days were I just done something crazy and everyone’s like ‘keep that!’ The pressures on now. I love playing a song but at the same time, I got to get it right every night.
I totally get that there’s a fill I just put on this new Dramalove track that’s coming out. I tweeted about it, I don’t know if you saw it, it’s like the best drum fill I’ve ever recorded and it’s the cleanest I’ll ever play it in my life. I’m never going to hit it as clean as that and now I’ve got to think every time we play that song now ‘Sh1t it’s coming up. It’s coming up!’
I get that, there’s a fill in one of the Red Light Runner songs and it’s just a quick fill and I panic because the songs fast and I know it’s coming up and I’m like ‘if I hit the rack tom, if I hit the side of the rack tom right now, that sticks going to go flying and this whole thing is going to fall on it’s ass.’ I kind of just shut my eyes and go [mimics manic arm flailing] ‘phew I made it’ Let’s quickly talk about, I know how Talk Us Down, kind of went down and you mentioned earlier about…
We don’t need to get into that but you’ve mentioned earlier about how you didn’t like Diego first time. So, for you how important is it, like personalities with other band mates and the relationship within?
So yeah I mean, you leave the ego at the door. I feel like, obviously we were musicians, we’ve all got egos, you wouldn’t get up on stage if you didn’t have any or you didn’t have some self confidence in yourself, self belief. But I feel like with me, I’ve met a lot of musicians in my time where it is all you know, all bark and no bite. They talk the talk, but they can’t walk the walk. I feel if you’re going to be a musician, if you’re going to really consider doing it as a profession, there is no place for ego at all. Network, you’ve got to be really friendly with everyone, every gig you meet, get to know all of the bands that you’re playing with that night, go and introduce yourself. I always make an effort to sort of at least go and introduce myself to all the bands that I’ll be playing with, or say hello to them. Or if I don’t see him before the show, I’ll always be there. I’ll make sure I go watch them. And if i can’t catch all their set, I’ll catch at least half of it. You know, because then, that way, you’ve made an effort then you kind of showing… there’s so many bands I’ve seen come and go, where it’s like, they think they’re playing stadiums, and they’re playing pubs. And it’s, you’re never going to get anywhere like, just be nice, don’t be a d*@k.
Yeah, I’m always that guy that will even if I can’t stay or make the effort to be like, ‘I’m really sorry guys I’ve got to shoot’ and that kind of makes difference. Talking to Francesco he said like, that personality kind of really matters. And I think it does like you say you’ve got check your ego, you’re all in it together, which is the bit that bugs me about music in general when I was a Uni I done my dissertation on Copyright.
All’s Fair In (Drama)Love & War.
Because there’s people like, what’s his name? James Brown’s drummer… Bernard Purdie he played the break in ‘Give The Drummer Some.’
Yeah, that man invented like the halftime Shuffle basically.
And like he played that kind of breakbeat groove and the same with the drummer from the Winston’s who done the Amen break.
Those famous hip hop…
Yeah, exactly and not a dime. It’s like ‘but he’s used his own creative talent to come up with that drumbeat. So, you know, that’s a bit that in bands for me, I’m always like, well, it’s a group effort. But you didn’t write my drum part. So actually, maybe the copyright should be for all of us. And especially now because record sales are down from what they used to be, If you got that one egotistical guy that is like ‘I wrote the songs.’ Okay, Right. So you’re going to take all the money and you expect me to live the same life as you on a third of the money?
If you’re in music just to make money, you’re in it for the completely wrong reasons. Like there’s no money in music not really nowadays, especially for bands on our level where we’re kind of, you know, we’ve got a little bit of an audience maybe but not nothing significantly as big as like You Me At Six or [Enter] Shikari or British bands like that. They’re there. You know, they’ve made it there on that platform they have especially Shikari. They’re all like they’re all independent. Like they’re not, I don’t think they’re signed to a label apart from their own one. They do everything like on their own back. So they’re, to me, they’re the sort of band I aspire to be like. To get to this level where they’ve kind of done it all off their own back to kind of you know, they don’t have to answer to anyone really. But again, like they, they’re not living in million dollar mansions and I think Roo just got like a nice house in London and just sort of, yeah, it’s just nice. Like, I think if you’re in it just to make loads of money and sort of be famous, then you know, you’re not really going to make it because you’re in it for the wrong reasons. People don’t really want to have a, it’s not the 80s anymore.
No, definitely not. It’s like I said earlier is that test of commitment and, as Francesco put it, like the balls to just go ‘right. I’m going to follow this passion, and it may not pay great, and I may be sleeping in the van for weeks, but you know,’ I suppose we only get one life and it’s like do I waste it behind a desk, No offense to anyone that loves a desk job, this life’s not for everybody. But you know, for those who are kind of teetering it’s like, do you waste your time in a factory? Or, do you go; maybe I can just put it all in and just follow my dreams.
I feel like, I do the nine to five grind. I’m definitely one of those people that’s just all in. The next big opportunity that comes up like this, hopefully this thing in France if it works out, we get to go there. You know, I’m all in. I’m all in. Like, that’s it it’s too good of an opportunity not to do. It’s about risks in it. Like you really do have to sort of think when I’m going to get another opportunity to do this.
Yeah. I mean, I remember hearing about Aaron Spears when he first played with Usher. He was working a computer company, and he literally took an unpaid sabbatical from work to go do the Usher tour. They kept his job open for him. He came back to work after coming off the Usher Tour, and then Usher called him again and then that’s when he was like ‘I quit my job.’ But that first time he was like ‘can you saved my job? You don’t have to pay me. But can you just guarantee that in three months when I come back it’s still here.’ And that’s crazy because you know, look at him now.
Yeah, I mean, he’s just a he’s another unreal drummer. The whole the video him of him playing ‘Caught Up’ that’s a classic for me. I used to watch that daily. Just certain parts of it, certain fills with that tiny little 14” mini China. So he’s kind of the first one to really use like a stack cymbal for me. I guess Jojo Mayer really is the one that’s kind of got all the stacks so he’s got a little chopper cymbal. But Aaron Spears use of this little tiny China cymbal and how he implemented it into fills and his way of sort of like travelling around the kit and then back. He’s just he’s just like really on another level. And he’s still to this day doing it now like.
And without sounding like, a douche. You know, the speed he plays and the size he was, like you and I are skinny dude and this guy’s probably like us together, ‘Love you Aaron. I really do.’
Nah he’s a big boy…
But he’s kind of lead the way and gone ‘There is no kind of standard of drummer.’ You know, it’s not the 80s where you got the Tommy Lee‘s and all the skinny dudes. You got this dude and he’s crushing it.
It’s like Eric Moore as well. Eric Moore, he’s obviously slimmed down a lot in the last 10 years, but I remember watching his, I think it’s like 2003 guitar centre drum off winning solo. I mean, he was a big boy then and he’s just absolutely flying around this kit a million miles an hour, and it’s videos like that, that made me think like, you know, it’s all skill. It’s all practice. It’s all, you know, dedication to craft. How much time do you want to put into it? So the more time you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it. And he’s obviously grown up and really put his heart and soul into everything. It just inspires me because it’s just like, it doesn’t matter who you are, what size you are, it’s all about your dedication to it.
Have you seen the DW DVD the Kick Snare Hats?
Yeah, I think so.
I’ve never watched it but I’ve definitely seen like clips of it.
Oh, it’s insane.Yeah, like, what these guys can do with just kick, hat and snare is just insane. But then they do this kind of four way thing in the in the warehouse of DW. Which I’ve always wanted to do. So maybe you and I, and maybe Tor or who you know we can get some get so many people involved in to do something like that.
And just have a little jam or something? Yeah, that’d be cool actually.
YouTube just that performance of the four of them. And they like build a groove together and then taking turns to share like trade bars. But yeah, that’s definitely it would be cool to like hook up and do that in the future and like I say as much as you want to get involved in podcasts, blogs what you know…What I want for like the website and stuff is to make it really community based and you know, if drummers have transcribed songs great, like, send them my way and I’ll put them up you know, if they’ve written up or fancy writing a blog post, you know,
I’d be definitely up for doing stuff like that.
Yeah, yeah. I mean, like, I don’t want like people to go like, I’m going to commit to a blog post every week. You know? It’s like, if you fancy doing one every now and again and like, if you ever fancy interviewing someone for a podcast yourself. Be as involved as much as you want mate.
It’s been fun tonight definitely, I’ve enjoyed it.
So yeah, check out the ps4 crazy, ‘was it atom verse?’
Atom universe virtual gig that Dramalove are doing. Jump on Spotify, Lady Macbeth is a killer tune. It really is. So check them out. I will put links up to all the socials for both Neil and Dramalove.
If you want to follow me and have a chat with me about drums on Twitter, it’s @ExoScreenager because I’m a bit of a Muse fan. Yeah, Atom Universe on Steam and PS4 27th September starting at half past 10 in the evening.
There you go and then keep an eye out for ‘Busy Saving The World.’ So there you go, I remembered it and there was another one that you mentioned the video for. But definitely keep an eye out. Definitely go check Neil out when he plays live because he crushes it. He generally doesn’t it’s not because he’s sitting there. I’ve seen him around the circuit for years. And every time he’s on stage, like I say earlier when you played in Thrift, there was some syncopated thing that you did. I was like [mouth gapes open] my jaw was on the floor! I was like ‘That’s insane what’s that groove?’ So definitely go catch a Dramalove show. Create a demand to have drama near you in a venue.
We want to play in your city.
Yeah, they’ll come and play in your lounge.
We will play in your shed will play in your bedroom will play in your shower will play anywhere.
That is a video I’d like to see! If anyone’s got a shower big enough for Dramalove to play in, get in touch and we’ll make it happen.
That’s a music video right there.
That’s making me wet. I’m gonna let Neil go home to bed because he’s got work in the morning. Unlike some of us, and then I’m going to crack on and edit this for you lovely people. Sleep tight yeah.