I have known David for many years and was an early inspiration for me growing up as he was one of the only drummers I knew in the local area. With all his energy, power and creativity, David's presence behind the kit is captivating. His passion for the instrument shines through his technical abilities. On top of this David is a great teacher and educator for beginners to advanced players. He has used drums from our Oak collection and is the proud owner of one of our earliest snare drums.
"It has both warmth and depth in its tone, while also keeping the snap and clarity of my metal 13”. While it holds its tuning superbly, it is also versatile enough to retune for different genres."
Could you talk us through your full setup and how you utilised the snares?
My set up is fairly simple most of the time – a 4 piece DW kit in rock sizes for big shows, or a 4 piece Ludwig Cocktail kit for smaller shows with a very basic cymbal setup (hats, 1 crash and 1 ride). I utilised the two snares which I was allowed to sample in a rotation out at gigs as my main snare on different occasions. Both drums were impressive in a range of contexts, drawing comments from everybody who came across them. I found that due to the power in my own playing, the 13 best complimented my natural style.
How do you typically prepare for a session or approach session work?
The approach can vary depending on the nature of the session. If it is musical/theatre work, I will get hold of the score as soon as possible and begin familiarising myself with the overall shape, structure and style of the music within the show, or for covers/function work I would obtain a copy of the set list as well as any previous recordings of the group to gain a better sense of the vibe or style of the group I’ll be playing with. I spend as much time listening to source material as actually rehearsing the parts themselves as I find knowing the story and feel of a piece of music is at least as important as playing any recorded parts note for note! That said, I do love studying more elaborate pieces precisely. There is nothing better than nailing a groove or fill in such a way that you recreate the exact sound of the original!
I know you have a strong technical ability and can sight read. Can you explain how having this skill has benefitted you and would you recommend other drummers to learn this skill?
Reading music has shaped my musical brain significantly. I had the best drum kit teacher I could ever have hoped for – his name was Terry Mitchell and he placed front and centre in my learning the importance of both reading rhythm and rudimental discipline. He loved these aspects of drum kit and illustrated to me that both of these were not abstract ideas to be kept hidden away in the practise room but were tools that flow through all of my drumming. The ability to read rhythm has allowed me to visualise and alter possible rhythms in my mind with greater ease, massively enhancing my creativity and something that I think can be heard in the recordings I produced with Karl Philips. With regard to rudimental exercises, recognising common patterns when reading or listening such as paradiddles allows me to memorise and understand the feel of parts quickly and musically, while the discipline of practising the exercises daily has provided a consistent foundation to all of my own drum kit playing. I couldn’t recommend these skills enough!
Equally would this apply to the use of click tracks today, how can these be important to a musician?
It appears to me that practising to a click is now standard procedure for any drummer serious about their playing at any level and this is for good reason. The ability to consistently hold a tempo is so important, and I don’t believe it has to hinder a natural feel or groove, as you still can make choices about how to colour those spaces between each beat. If Ringo Starr was in his pomp and playing in today’s climate rather than the 1960s, I am sure he would be a great click track player and his naturally stretched/oval shaped placement of his hats would be intact!
As a drum tutor how you approach these topics with students of all ages?
The most important aspect of approaching these topics with students is to integrate them into their learning from day one. Children especially hold very few preconceptions about click tracks, rudiments or reading music. The tragic rock drummer cliché ‘I can’t play to a click’ doesn’t exist with children – they have to learn this excuse! The simple fact of the matter is that if you can clap in time to a piece of music or come in bang on time after a 4 beat count in, then you have the basic skills to develop into playing to a click track. The same goes for reading music, which with my wider experience in education, I relate back to being like reading anything else. Children can very quickly learn to read a written musical phrase and instantly recall the sound it makes, just like we do when we read words! As long as students are enjoying their drumming and can see a purpose behind what they are learning (for instance, when teaching a rudiment I will usually demonstrate some kind of awesome whole-kit application of it after the student has been introduced to it) then they can pick up these concepts easily!
What is your drumming story?
I vividly remember having zero interest in music as a child. My older sister played violin and performed throughout the early years of my life and I defined myself against this. My lightbulb moment came when one of my closest friends badgered me into drumming on his dad’s old drum kit so he could start his own band. I remember hearing the opening drum fill of ‘Hate to say I told you so’ by the Hives one day at home and saying to my parents, “Please can I have a drum kit now!!” From never having drummed before on my 14th birthday, I had reached Grade 8 by the age of 18 and then went to study a degree in drumming from BIMM (Brighton institute of Modern Music) for three years. During and after this time, I toured Europe as the drummer of Friday Night Hero with Alex Uhlmann (Planet Funk), and also toured Europe, as well as released several records, with Karl Phillips. Following this, I took a step back from music for around 3 years, however since mid-2017, have re-immersed myself in drumming, playing with my own group, the Midnight Ramblers and taking on a whole host of live work in different settings. Throughout the last ten years, I have also consistently maintained one of my main passions, which is teaching my instrument to people of all ages. I love doing this and am still taking on new students all the time!
What stand out experiences have you got so far?
Gigs always stand out most for me personally. Here are the ones that spring to mind first:
Playing to a packed 1000 capacity Berlin Astra while on tour with Friday Night Hero as well as showcasing to the head of Universal Records at the Berlin Fete de la Musique the following year
Playing a sold out headline show in the heart of Camden for the launch of Karl Philips’ ‘Dangerous’ EP
Every show on the Karl Philips ‘French Breakers’ tour of France in February 2013!
You are currently trying to expand your portfolio, what are you doing to build on it?
My current strategy is to expand my network of musical contacts through exploring different kinds of work and showcasing my abilities. Since the beginning of 2019, this has involved networking with local music educational services to begin taking on further teaching work, shadowing and taking on dep work for other drummers, as well as taking steps to promote myself more directly through the creation of promotional materials. Watch this space for my website with all of this content loaded onto it!
From your experience, what advice would you give to someone pursuing this field of work?
Honestly ask yourself, how important is to me to be playing music? If the answer is anything less than ‘extremely important/central to who I am’ then you may need to think about it more as a hobby. To make a lasting success of a career playing music, you must be prepared to sacrifice things such as a steady income and your stability in your location and lifestyle, potentially for a long period of time until you’ve established yourself, with no guarantee that you will not also have difficult periods later in your career even after you are well established in your field. Earlier in my musical journey, I faced some of these difficult questions and chose to retrain myself in an alternative career which gave me greater stability, however I have found over the last two or three years that a great deal of my personal wellbeing is more closely tied to expressing myself through music than I had appreciated. This has been the reason for me returning to pursuing a full time musical career!