I want to do this full time. Not write a blog, although I’m enjoying the therapeutic nature of it. If you haven’t tried it, have a go. Get some of your thoughts out of your head and I can guarantee that you’ll feel a little better about yourself. Hopefully its obvious what I want to do full time, I want to play the drums. Or do I?
I have played drums for around 24 years now, I count my starting point as when I was asked to join a band which to my recollection wasn’t long after I had learned to play a groove and I think I was aged 14. That’s the story in my head and I’m sticking with it. At the age of 21 I heard about a music college in London called Drumtech, it was as simple as seeing a full-page advert in a drum magazine realising I’d gone as far as I could go as a ‘self-taught’ player (this is a whole other debate if you talk to my friend Tony) and deciding there and then I was going. At the age of 22, I moved to London and enrolled on the One-Year Diploma course at Drumtech. I don’t regret a single minute of it, I loved it that much that I progressed onto the degree course and got a job there as the resident Drum-tech. My one-year course turned into 4 years and I practically moved into the place.
My goal when I enrolled was to become a Session Drummer. For those of you who don’t know, a session drummer (or any other musician) is a guy hired for a recording session. It could be anything from demo’s, advert jungles, albums, karaoke backing tracks but purely as a ‘hired gun’ (great documentary if you haven’t seen it). Anyway, that didn’t happen. For a variety of reasons, the chief one being I now realise is that I didn’t want it enough. I never put myself in the position nor did I work hard enough to succeed in that field.
As my degree course was finishing I moved back to Blackpool. Now, say what you want about Blackpool but I love it, it’s my home. I’d had enough of London, for me it’s a weird place to live, the best word I have to describe it is heavy. I worked a couple of different jobs but my goal now was to make my living solely from music so I started teaching drums and started looking out for bands that would pay me to play. In Blackpool, this means you will be playing in covers bands, in pubs and working men’s clubs. I fell lucky with my teaching, teaming up with a guitar teacher who remains an inspiration to this day and building up a good number of students. Life was good, I was gigging most Friday and Saturday nights, I was teaching. Living the dream.
Not so much
It killed me. Musically speaking. After 3 years of that I was done. I felt like I wasn’t progressing in my career I’d had enough of covering the same things week in and week out with some of my students who didn’t practice, at all. I felt bad for the parents paying all that money as much as anything, but it was the playing that had killed my soul. I blame the Rolling Stones, as I have previously mentioned, I’ve never been a fan and finding myself playing the same 2 or 3 songs of theirs twice a week, every week…… Screw this. I’m out. The money isn’t that good anyway.
It was 2 years before I picked up sticks again. I auditioned for a local covers band who were and still are doing well on the circuit. Obviously, I’m a bit thick, didn’t learn my lesson last time but things worked out well, I didn’t get the gig. Another 6 months went by and just as I’m really starting to get the itch I get a call about Troubadour. I’ll spare the details here but that was that. Perfect fit, great songs, great guys. Let’s go.
I’ve come to the realisation that I don’t want to, or I can’t be just a drummer. I am at my absolute happiest when I can pour my soul into something. When I have time to connect with other musicians over time, let songs evolve naturally. That is my thing. Don’t think I’d knock back session work if it came my way, but there is no way on earth I’d put this band on the back burner to pursue that faded dream.
I am trying to learn from the past. I may not have wanted to be a session drummer deep down but I truly want this band to succeed. Not just for me, for them as well. I’m learning and putting the work in to make it happen. I know the songs are good enough, I know the musicianship is good enough. This is what I want and I’m going to get it.