Sunday, 30 June 2019


Who inspired you to take up drums?
I’m not sure if there’s one person in particular but my family definitely had a big part to play. There was always music playing in the house and I remember being young and singing along to tapes in the car. My brother and sister got really into music in their teenage years and I’d listen to all the CDs they would buy.
In retrospect, it was great to have such a wide range of music available because it meant I never really turned my nose up at any music and it left me with a pretty eclectic taste. In the last week, I think I’ve listened to Childish Gambino, Mac DeMarco, Foals, Dennis Wilson, Slipknot, Natalie Prass, Tame Impala and Courtney Barnett. Right now I’m listening to a low-fi hip-hop playlist on You-Tube.

Who are your favourite players?
There are loads of drummers that I love, but there are a few that I definitely take inspiration from.

Anna Prior from Metronomy is a great player; she’s got a great feel and plays really nice musical parts.

Stella Mozgawa (Warpaint) is one of my favourite drummers to just listen to and not analyse too much. She approaches the kit in a completely different way than I would by introducing Latin style patterns and displaced snares. I’ve seen her play live a few times now and she’s got great energy on stage, I really rate her highly as a player.

I came across Ilan Rubin a few years ago randomly watching drum videos online. I saw his Guitar Centre Drum Off solo and it blew my mind. If you haven’t watched it I’d recommend it.
He’s done a lot of session work with Nine Inch Nails and Paramore. I’d recommend checking out Paramore’s self-titled album too. Rubin’s drumming on that album is so, so good.

Jack Bevan (Foals) is in there too. He has amazing chops but he’s a groove-based drummer so he keeps it simple most of the time. Foals’ album “Holy Fire” has an incredible drum sound.

Your favourite songs or albums?
Hard to pick but off the top of my head…

“Harvest” by Neil Young is a real nostalgia trip for me. My parents always had that or “Mirror Ball” on in their car when I was young and I loved it. Heart of Gold is one of my favourite songs ever.

“Narrow Stairs” by Death Cab For Cutie is amazing. Some of Ben Gibbard's lyrics on that album are poetry and Jason McGerr’s drumming is incredible; it’s musical and precise but never too much.

I always go back and listen to “Do It Again” by Royksopp & Robyn. It’s a mini-album/EP that they released in 2014 and I love it. It’s got these 8 or 9-minute atmospheric songs that are full of interesting melodies and overall the production is incredible; it sounds amazing.

“Free All Angels” by Ash came out when I was 14 and it was probably all I listened to for about 6 months. I think I’ll always be in awe of Tim Wheeler as a songwriter. He’s been writing consistently good songs for over 20 years and doesn’t show any signs of stopping.

What’s your current drum gear setup?
My shells are from a beat-up Premier kit. Sizes are 12x9, 16x16, and 22x18.
It’s about 20 years old and it was my first kit. I’m looking to upgrade but I’m not in any major rush.

My snare is a 14x6.5 Gretsch Renown maple. It’s great. I crank it up pretty high with an Evans Genera coated skin and I’ve never had any issues with overtones. It’s a great all rounder for studio or live and sings nicely whether it’s tuned up or down.

Cymbal-wise its all Zildjian. My hats are 14” K Lights and they’re perfect for me. They cut through all the mid and bass that comes with THUMPER and can go from a tight chick to loud and washy.

For crashes, I have a 17” A Custom and a 20” A Series Medium Crash. The Custom is great for a bright crash with a fast decay while the A Series is a lot darker and opens up the harder you hit it. It’s a nice balance having them both, gives me lots of options.

My ride is a 24” K Light and it’s incredible. For a 24” it has a really nice ping as well as a bell that cuts through. When you crash into it, the sound just gets bigger and bigger but is never overbearing. I thought about buying this ride for about 2 years and I’m so glad I finally did it.

Most of my hardware is DW. I find that DW hardware is built to last and I think that’s pretty important for drum gear.

Your band Thumper has just released a brilliant new single “In My Room” which is in advance of an upcoming EP. Can you tell us what to expect ahead of its release?
This release (“Out of Body Auto-Message”) is kind of a milestone for us as a band. Prior to this, our recordings were low-fi and noisy home-recordings. For these songs, we got into a studio with Dan Fox (Girl Band) and tried our best to emulate our live sound. Dan was a perfect fit for this and totally understood where we were coming from in terms of volume and clarity.
It’s also the first release where you’re hearing the full band performing. Previous recordings were done completely by Oisín (lead vox in THUMPER) in our old rehearsal room on Thomas Street, whereas this one is the full band, in a room playing like we do at gigs.

We’re doing a limited run of 300 vinyl for its release which is a dream come true for me. Holding a vinyl of your own music is humbling and kind of beautiful. It’s the same kind of feeling as hearing your music on the radio for the first time.
The record is released on Vinyl and online. 

We played a sold out headline show on the 25th at Lost Lane in Dublin and it was brilliant.

We’ve also just had a run of some nice gigs ahead of its release with Bitch Falcon as well as shows at Music Cork and It Takes A Village Festival. Then we have a busy summer ahead with festival season. We’ll be at Primavera, Body & Soul, Sea Sessions and loads more.

The band is playing at a number of venues in the next few months, what can fans expect?
A lot of new songs and the usual madness that comes with a THUMPER show. It took me a while to realise but I think as a band we really strive to be as tight as we can for live shows. We rehearse our songs over and over until we’re almost sick of them but it really pays off in terms of playing live. Being that well rehearsed means we can go off on tangents during songs and never get lost or lose track of where we are. It makes every gig interesting for us playing, as well as for people watching.

And finally Stevie, what advice would you give someone wanting to take up drumming?
In terms of actually playing, I’d say try and stay relaxed and remember to breathe. It’s really easy to get all tense and stiff when you’re playing but it makes drumming a lot harder and much less enjoyable. I’ve found yoga has helped me a lot in terms of my movements when drumming and conserving energy.

I’d also say remember to keep it fun. Drumming is a lot of fun and it shouldn’t ever be something that causes you to be stressed out. If you want to pursue music as a career you need to put the work in, as it’s not easy to make a living playing music…but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it too.

Single images of Stephen are by Stephen Allen

Band shot of THUMPER was taken by Nicholas O'Donnell

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