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Diary of a Drum Tech Pt. 6

Happy New Year everyone… we have a lot to look forward to… or do we?

Yard StudioSorry but I had to skip my last feature, but this was due to the pressures of trying to earn a living! We have been busy boys during this period including Production Manager duties for Will Young’s for his ‘Let It Go’ UK Tour.

During the Eric Clapton tour I had been arranging the forthcoming Annie Lennox promo tour for her ‘Collection’ CD which was due for release in the Autumn of ’08. Whilst in Mexico, Annie was struck down with sciatica (a trapped nerve in the back) and lost the use of her left foot overnight. Fortunately she was flown home and operated upon to release the nerve and is recovering slowly. This led to postponement of the release of her CD until early ’09.

Because of this it was back to the shop to get on with my lovely new additions including a Hayman Gold Ingot kit from the early 70’s amongst others.

We were planning to make the Zildjian Day Achievement Awards a family day out with myself and two of my sons Martin and Nick teching for Ginger Baker, Keith Carlock, Simon Phillips with Nick taking care of guitars for Jack Bruce. Ginger was receiving an award for services to drumming.

However, I got called to handle the production duties with Will Young and both my sons were due out with both The Who and Duffy and so we were all unable to do the event.

Silver DW KitWe had a kit made by DW to Ginger’s sizes 20/22/10/12/13/14 and supplied it for the show. We had it wrapped in a Silver Sparkle finish just like his Ludwig that he used during the 60’s.
Will’s tour for me was superb. He is a fine singer, his vocal adlibs remind me of Paul Rodgers and what you see is what you get. I have worked with him before looking after his drummers, but this was my first role in the production chair for him. I have a platinum CD on the wall at home for the “Leave Right Now” recording which was No.1 with new Dad Steve Barney on the tubs.

We had Ash Soan on drums for the tour using a very simple 4 piece Yamaha kit. Ash has a great style and has a great CV including Squeeze, Del Amitri, James Morrison and is currently in The Producers with Trevor Horn, Lol Creme and Steve Lipson.

Mike DolbearHoward Barrett is Ash’s tech for the tour. ‘H’ has been around since the 70’s and has teched for Wishbone Ash, Thin Lizzy, Steve Winwood, Mike Oldfield, Cozy Powell, Simply Red… the list goes on and on! He’s a top geezer and top tech.

During the tour we were at the 02 for the ‘Jingle Bell Ball’ in December which is a Capital Radio Event. Everyone and his brother were there so it was a good time to see old faces. The bill included Boyzone, Sugababes, James Blunt, Rhianna, Lemar, Anastacia, James Morrison… too many to mention. Karl Brazil (with James Blunt) and Damon Wilson (with the Sugababes) were lurking about so we had a quick catch up. Mark Plunkett was there with Boyzone in a managerial role. Mark in his playing days was bass player with Little Angels with the late, great Michael Lee. What a drummer he was, check out their ‘Young Gods’ CD and Page & Plant’s ‘No Quarter’ DVD. Now that’s the way to play drums!

Will’s tour finished with two nights at The Roundhouse in London. During our five weeks on the road we had the Southbank Show filming a documentary to be aired in the spring. I have been involved with the Southbank Show for both Annie and Clapton and I must admit ole Sir Melv puts together a great product.

Mike's Gretsch KitWe finally finished with ‘The Alan Titchmarsh Xmas Show’ at the BBC before heading home mid December.

Parts of Mike’s Gretsch kit…

U2 were at Olympic Studios in Barnes recording their latest work so I dropped in to see my mates Larry Mullen Jr., drum tech Sam O’Sullivan and Dallas Schoo who is guitar tech to The Edge. Seeing the guitar rig close up reinforces my decision not to do anything that plugs in – it has put me in good stead so far!

I have spent a lot of time in Olympic over the years with Clapton as most of his work has always been recorded there. ‘Pendulum’, on the last album, had Paul Kodish playing my Bonham sized Ludwig kit. Pete Doherty was in last time I was there (Nick was his tech and played guitar in The Libertines when Pete didn’t show – see YouTube @ FujiRock). It is a legendary studio used by every major act over the years including The Rolling Stones, Dire Straits etc, in other words, anyone who is anyone.

When I got there Tom Kenny, lighting designer with The Who and David Bowie was there as The Who were at the 02, so he dropped in to see the boys too, being a fully paid up former Dublin boy but now living in Florida. I also went to say goodbye to all the staff there as sadly, it is closing its doors for good at the end of this month to be turned into flats by its new owners. What a waste. Luckily Mark Knopfler’s studio, ‘British Grove’ in Chiswick is excellent to the same high standards.

My next project would have been Hootenanny with Annie but my services were not required as Annie sang with Jools’ band so I missed hooking up with Gilson Lavis who I consider to be one of the best around, a journeyman drummer who has done his apprenticeship.

Barney and SpinettiOn New Years Eve I had the pleasure as always of linking up with Henry Spinetti for a private low key show with Eric Clapton which we do each year. The band varies each year but we had Dave Bronze on bass, Gary Brooker on keys and Chris Stainton on Hammond and the fantastic all round great bloke Andy Fairweather-Low. Ringo Starr, Joe Walsh, Steve Gadd, Pete Townshend and Georgie Fame have all been in the line up in previous years.

Back in the shop we re-wrapped a 60’s Slingerland kit in Red Sparkle as seen below at rehearsals in Glasgow for Ross McFarlane of The Proclaimers and currently with Sharleen Spiteri for her upcoming UK tour. My little boy Nick is also playing guitar for Sharleen’s UK Tour…yippee!

Spiteri KitI have made a start on the restoration of the Mike Dolbear Gretsch kit including a re-wrap and replacement of missing original parts. Step by step details coming soon. Whilst Mike is at NAMM we will try and rub out all the scorch marks where we removed the old wrap with our flame thrower!

Next month hots up as I am back with EC and Abe Laboriel Jr. on our way to Japan, Australia & New Zealand. If you haven’t been to Japan, it is fabulous. In Japan, when in a shop you are not met with “Yes mate?” or a flick of the head to let you know that you are next in line for s***e service? Trains depart and arrive on time and you travel in comfort with reserved seats and car service for drinks and snacks. The ticket collector bows as he enters and leaves your carriage and is dressed immaculately as opposed to our very own version – an overweight bloke in an ill –fitting suit that he has slept in with his cap set at a jaunty angle, which is either too big or too small for his head, whilst carrying a huge bag of sarnies (what is it in those bags?). Don’t get me started. I’ll stop right there before I get my shotgun out and end it all!

Stripped ShellsEverything carried out by the Japanese is done with precision which, as an art form that we, in the UK, have lost in my experience. Another ritual that I do like given the current climate is that failed City businessmen fall on their swords as a matter of honour. Let’s bring that over here – the City would be awash with bodies saving us millions in bonus payments for abject failure.As with the legal profession you get paid whether you win,lose or draw.One tip that I can give you is this for investments…”why would you give your hard earned cash to a coked- up Yuppie desperate for a new Mercedes”?

Unfortunately we do not have the mentality to achieve the best service that we can. Japan is a non tipping country too so it is not done for reward but, out of a desire to achieve the best.Below is myself at a hot & cold coffee vending machine on the station platform in Osaka,Japan that has not been stoved in and is fully operational as they all are there!

My rant for this month is over!

Vending MachinesNow back to more pleasant forms. It is my first trip to Oz and NZ after all these years as no one has wanted to go before. I have many Aussie mates from my days working with Pat Cash, John McEnroe and the tennis players for the yearly ANZAC Day and Wimbledon Bashes. Aussies have that great spirit of adventure that I love; they work hard and play hard but always seem on top of it.

In May, I am back with EC & The Gaddster on the tubs at the Royal Albert Hall for 13 nights, followed by more shows with Steve Winwood in the US in the summer… more good news to follow.

Martin will be out with The Who and Duffy and Nick will be with Sharleen.

Until next month…

See ya


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