Saturday 26 October 2013

Something Happens was one of my favourite bands of the late 80's /  90's. I loved songs such as Burn Clear, Parachute, Room 29, Select and Hello, Hello, Hello, Hello, Hello. I was lucky enough to catch the band live and they didn't disappoint. Standing outside the Olympia waiting for the appointed time I was nervous. This felt like going for a job interview as opposed to waiting to talk to one of my drumming heroes. However I needn't have worried because meeting Eamonn was a joy. He is such a decent human being and I couldn't ask for more as he was great in giving of his time and energy. Thanks Eamonn.

Musically Eamonn, how did you get started?
My family is musical. I am the youngest in the family. I have two older brothers and a sister. We all kind of fecked around on guitar, piano at home, traditional music, folk music and rock music , The Rolling Stones were an influence, I was really in to them. The musical taste in the house was very good. Everyone played at home. I can't say what started me of on drums. I know I got a tiny drum kit, a cardboard one at Christmas so I had some sort of interest from early on. I had drum sticks, played on the arm of the sofa at home. I was interested from early on but not playing properly. As I came near secondary school my friends and I decided to start a band. First time I ever got close to a musical was with a school production of Joseph. I was introduced to the drummer and he was great, he was a trainee priest, a guy called Terry Callita. I don't know what became of him. He was from Limerick and he let me sit in, not play, but just let me sit in. I probably got to play the triangle or something but I was around guys that could play music properly. I got the bug for it then. We went down to do Godspell in Maynooth. When I was in Maynooth college it was still a closed clerical, training college and it was just beginning to open up to become a proper college and having girls in so that was an interesting time. That was around 1977 or 1978

What was your first drum kit?
The first drum kit I bought was a good one. It was a premium Olympic drum kit. I bought it from Larry Mullen. At that stage |I was going to see bands. U2 would have been at the point of the Dandelion Market. They did several gigs. I went to see them in McGonagles and they were just about to record 11 O Clock Tick Tock. I was on nodding terms with Larry, no more than that. I got talking to him after the gig. I was looking to buy a drum kit and at that time he was after getting a deal with Tama. I met him down at Windmill lane studios and U2 were just about to record 11 O Clock Tick Tock with Martin Hannett and he was taking in delivery of the Tama drum kit that morning, getting it set up for the studio and I did the deal with him, gave him £200 for the kit and I had to collect it from the rehearsal studio out in North Dublin at the time. I bought it from him and kept it for a few years.

How did the band start?
We went in straight from the beginning trying to do the right thing. I literally couldn't play in the beginning, I was very uncoordinated. Alan was part of it at that time. We practiced and got it together. Myself and Alan began to practice together for a couple of years, bass and drums, not very exciting to listen to but it probably did us no harm at all, just locking in. We did the classic ad in the paper and we went through a plethora of people and we got one lad who came along, Ray Harman. I remember him walking up the driveway with a little cap on. He was a good player and we liked him. To make a long story short I knew Tom Dunne. He was in a band called The End. I gave him a shout and asked him if he would be interested in joining up and we put it together after that. I liked the immediacy of punk and the fact that you didn't have to be technically great. The music that I grew up around was like Genesis, Lindisfarne and Yes, like more progressive rock bands. I liked New Wave which came from punk. I loved the Ramones and the Sex Pistols. I loved bands like Echo and the Bunnymen, The Teardrop Explodes. Gary Dwyer was the drummer with them. XTC, I loved them Gary Chambers, great drummer. Pete Thomas with Elvis Costello who I ran into a year later, he was very nice to me, he gave me cymbals actually. I copied what they had and got ideas from them.

What was the biggest progression from the time you started?
When we started we played everything too fast, the choruses got faster. I still stand over the band raw as it was at that time, it was still exciting. To us, bands like The Lookalikes were big bands, they were playing the Baggot Inn and what they were doing seemed very proficient compared to what we were doing. But we knew we were on to something. We had a bit more excitement then they had.

When it came to writing songs, what were your influences?
In the writing process everyone was allowed to suggest something to everyone else. If you look back at everything that we wrote, everything has a four way writing credit. The music was a mix of four lads banging their heads together. We treated rehearsing like a job. We booked a place just off Eustace Street and we used to go in Monday to Friday. We would painstakingly pull things together. Sometimes things came together quickly, sometimes it took weeks or months for a story to come together but everybody was pushing. I was good for arranging with those other guys and the care we took at the start, everybody was allowed to say anything and the care we took in bringing the band together at the beginning meant we weren't having these terrible rows.

Did you get opportunities to drum elsewhere?
I was offered an opportunity to join another band who had a professional deal as The Happens was going along. The name of the band was Light a Big Fire and I went for that but it was a really big mistake. I lasted about two weeks in their professional set-up. I went to London to record and to be quite honest I wasn't up to it at the time. I was able to sit in for them live that's how the job came about because their regular drummer was ill at the time and I sat in with them but when it came to going into a studio I wasn't up to it and it became apparent to everybody I wasn't happy with them, they weren't happy with me and within two weeks I was home and I rejoined The Happens. Thankfully there wasn't any damage done. This would have been very easy on pre-first record, pre-everything. It meant one very important thing for me - I was absolutely certain that The Happens was right for me.

Did you like the recording process?
Yes, it changed over the years and I got better at it. The first album we recorded in Windmill Lane we got in Tommy Erdelyi, Tommy Ramone, who was a sleepy character and he never got over his jet lag for the five weeks he was in Ireland. We were in Windmill Lane which was amazing. It was like wanting a Ferrari and getting a Ferrari or a Yamaha 9000. The first album was effectively the band playing live and we listen back now and it is hilarious as the tracks were played so fast and we don't play them that fast now. For the second album, we recorded in Los Angeles. We were really trying to push it then. That was without a doubt the best record. People were playing a bit better and people had confidence. We were a popular band at the time. The album was expected to do well and people were looking forward to hearing it. We had a good relationship with Virgin and they had a reasonably good A & R man. The point that was made to us was that we had to up the game obviously. You've got to make a record, make every song interesting and that was the brief. 'Stuck Together' was to have songs that didn't sound like the next song. The idea was to have 12 or 13 interesting songs. We recorded the album in some great studios. I lived there for 3 or 4 months while we recorded the album. It's a great sounding record.

Your sound got harder as the records progressed?
They got a bit darker, you're right, the sound got harder. The melody got a little bit left behind. The immediacy of getting songs together started to go and the way we rehearsed and worked on songs started to go. We began using home recording and it went from using a little 4 track to an 8 track and we had rehearsal rooms set up for a long time and we would set up the year and leave it set up. To me, at that stage, it started to get a little bit over complex, even though at the time of the 3rd album , my mother got quite sick but she's still alive God Bless her. Tom's father died during the recording of the album and all that went into it. We recorded the third album in England but it wasn't a choice for us as we hadn't a good relationship with England. We never toured well there. We toured well loads of time but we never enjoyed it. I would say we were a bit too naive for the English market, more knowing. The English audiences were quite cynical. That cynicism wasn't there as much when we toured America or did festivals in Europe. We were always seen as a bit more pop. Bands like A House came along afterwards and they had their eyes more on the Setanta label. They were a little bit more leftfield. We firmly believed that we were always trying to do the right thing. We actually go back to the 3rd and 4th albums and pull out songs and actually play them better now. It's years since we played them and we can play them fresh.

You always had a wicked right foot. Was that a conscious thing?
No one has ever said that to me before and part of the reason for that was rehearsing with Alan and the locked in stuff at the time. I was very influenced by Peter De Freitas, drummer with Echo and the Bunnymen and he was a very strong drummer. Unfortunately he is dead now, killed in a motorcycle accident. I saw De Freitas play and I didn't realise it was possible to play that heavy, he was unbelievable, so that was a huge influence.

You took that heavy influence and applied it to your own playing?
I never thought about it very much. It was meant to be direct and came from punk. I think I play better now but not as heavy. You're supposed to play for the music. I loved Stars in Heaven and I actually played in the band when Bernie wasn't available. I actually recorded with Stephen Ryan when he was in The Revenants. I actually played drums on some of the singles.

Apart from the Happens what other sessions were you doing?
Not very many because I felt I wasn't good enough at the time. Like I said, I recorded with the Revenants; Marry Money was one of the songs I recorded with them. Playing with Light a Big Fire probably burnt me as regards the idea of playing with other people. In later years in order to make money I did quite a lot of work with RTE and I did Kenny Live and I got in on that circuit. I cannot really claim to be a session drummer.

Is that something you regret now?
I don't regret not getting lessons all the time and I came in from that new wave thing where you come in and make it up yourself. I wasn't interested in technical drumming. I'm still not. There was a period in the last ten years where I didn't play at all apart from the occasional Something Happens gig.

In playing a drum kit, what is your preference?
The first kit was the Premier Olympic. I had the Yamaha 9000 which was my working kit and Zildjian cymbals and I had a Pearl kit in America. We were in America so much that it didn't make sense hiring stuff and it was better to buy. I also had a Ludwig vintage kit and I rationalised it down to the Yamaha. In the last few years I bought a DW kit, a beautiful little kit and it was Zildjian all the way. You associate big kits with heavy metal, progressive rock but I loved Charlie Watts of the Rolling Stones, Levon Helm of The Band those guys that kept it really simple. You have to be more inventive when you have fewer drums. I sometimes play now with no rack toms or floor toms just to keep it really simple and keep it to the enth degree

If you're asked for your three most favourite songs, what would they be?
I would probably pick Hello Hello as it has a strong arrangement and we worked hard on that song. I think it still sounds good today. I might pick maybe Kill the Roses. Mick Blossom was the producer and he was very exact. That was an interesting one. There was one thing I would mention and at the time you had to record B Sides. When you finish an album you would have to do B sides. The way we did it was to record a scatter of them. We would go in, not in to an expensive studio and at the end of Stuck Together With God's Glue we went into a little studio in Ringsend, which was a good studio but cheaper and we went in with 12 to 15 songs and we recorded them in three days. We did that session and it was on the basis that we wouldn't play our own instruments or if we did, we would play them as differently as possible and we recorded about 12 songs to go out on an album. That was my favourite recording session.

Is there any likelihood that Something Happens will record new material in the future?
For years I would say no but as a band we still all get on, I don't laugh as much as with those gang of fellows. Everyone is older now with kids and I don't think we have any illusions as regards doing a comeback, but when we play it still works. We are enthusiastic after a gig especially one which we do every year in Whelan's in Dublin, we say to ourselves "wouldn't it be nice to sit down and come up with ideas for vocals and guitar and just to show we can still do it".

You have managed to stay in the music business though?
Good music still excites me. I have grown up through year and year to perhaps be cynical about the process and cynical about the business. I've seen good musicians go under and bad musicians go further. I've seen people who aren't nice people do really well and vice versa. I still really see a lot of shows, particularly a lot of support bands.

Are there bands that currently impress you?
Midlake, I love what they do. Band of Horses, I think they're going to be a big band. David Kitt is one of the great local talents not particularly drum heavy but when he went major label I think he lost his way. I would love to play with David Kitt.

Was there much of a live circuit at the start?
When we started out there was no live circuit. It did improve. I remember 'The Baggot Inn' was the penultimate of doing a show in Dublin but again it was coming to the end of the punk thing. There were venues back then that don't exist anymore like the Halfpenny Market and the Ivy Rooms as it was at that time, The Underground, which was our home from home when we first began to make a connection then everything just opened out to the Stadium and the SFX. A circuit opened up around the country and it was easier for promoters as well as you could do a four week tour and you had bands like The Four Of Us, The Stunning and An Emotional Fish. This was quite a healthy live circuit which doesn't exist anymore.

If you are advising someone getting in to drumming, what would you say to them?
Well first of all I think you would be making a choice either a session player or be in a band because it is two different things. If you want to be a session player you obviously have to get your chops together and you have got to make yourself this amazing player and you have got to network, take jobs anywhere. That wouldn't be the way for me. Maybe a simpler way for someone who is in to drums is to play your own style, don't get too over complicated with it and get guys that are interesting to play with. Try and avoid playing covers as it is an easy trap to get caught up in. Playing covers is ultimately a blind alley and it might seem like the only way to go but it is not. Although you might have slow progress doing your own stuff if your own stuff is decent you will connect. You will get out of your back yard. Some of the best technical drummers I know are not able to be in bands. They overplay and they can't play for the song. They do too much all the time. Being technical is great and being able to do it is good but you have got to leave it behind in order to do the song.

What are your favourite drumming songs?
I love New Rose from the Damned. The ride cymbal is like overbearing on the track and he is just hitting it too loud and you don't need it to be that loud but it is brilliant. As I've got older I've gone back to stuff that you weren't allowed to listen to in the punk era so I can listen to a Steely Dan song now and kind of hear the brilliance on it. It's not the way I play, it's not the way I would be able to play, but I can hear the amazing groove but I still have no time for bands like Yes or ELP, Genesis or exceptionally well played jazz or fusion but where the feel is good and that would be Levon Helm from The Band. He's almost an anti drummer and he is singing as well. Charlie Watts from the Rolling Stones, John Bonham from Led Zeppelin. It goes without saying. I think any drummer would pull these people out but the ones that had the most influence on me learning was Pete De Frietas (Echo and the Bunnymen), Gary Dwyer (Teardrop Explodes), Pete Thomas (Elvis Costello) and Martin Chambers from the Pretenders. Another guy I like is Chris Sharrock, who used to play with The Las, then he went with World Party and now he is playing with Liam Gallagher. I met him and I remember when he was playing with World Party he was very flamboyant and he was the first guy I ever saw hitting the cymbals with an upper cut and just thinking outside the box like that. I do that now and it's purely from seeing him do it. Some jazz drummers physically play the kit and stands and I like that, as it is different.

Date; 24th July 2012
Location; Olympia Theatre in Dublin

Friday 25 October 2013

The Coronas, a four piece band from Dublin have released some of the best radio friendly songs to come out of Ireland in a long time. At the time I interviewed Conor the band was getting ready to head out on a European tour and also looking forward to their upcoming show in the iconic O2, Dublin. Special mention here also to Jim Lawless, the bands manager for helping to arrange my meeting with Conor. Also Jim thanks for the cup of tea!

Conor, thanks for agreeing to the interview.
No problem at all thanks for having me.

When did you start playing drums?
I'm not sure really, I started playing in secondary school in first or second year and I don't know why I wanted to start. Maybe I had seen some videos of some drummers and some live bands playing and just, it seemed like the funniest thing to do in the band I thought, so I don't know, I just started fairly young I suppose, but not as young as other drummers. I suppose I started in secondary school and from then on I didn't stop.

Did playing drums come easy to you? 
I first started lessons and my parents wouldn't get me a drum kit until I kind of stuck with the lessons for a few months and then I finally got a drum kit. I think it was a good way to do it, kind of stick with it, if I really wanted to do it. So I did, yeah a few months with no drum kit and just doing a few paradiddles, a few basic things and then finally my parents thought I was going to do it for a while so they kind of bought me a standard drum kit for a hundred or two hundred pounds back then I suppose, so here I am!

Ok excellent, so what was your first drum kit?
Well my first kit was a Performance Percussion, I don't know if you know them like a few hundred pounds yeah and then I moved up to a Yamaha Stage Custom I think it was called.

And after that?
After that, I moved up to a Pearl Reference which I still play today and then I have just gone through a few snares, DW Pearl or two Pearls actually and then I had a Yamaha snare as well.

Cymbals wise, do you play Zildjian?
Yeah, I have got a deal with Zildjian actually. I get to pick out a few nice cymbals every now and then so I have got all K cymbals - Light Roy, Light Hats and 3K Crashes as well.

Excellent, so going back was there any band before "The Coronas"? 
Well there was yeah, there was a band called Kiros

What happened with the band?
It was a band basically that had three of the same members of The Coronas. There was one extra person in it called Conor Doyle. We are all friends. We had that in school for years and then we just kind of went our own way. Then soon after that three of that band started, obviously Danny and I started up and formed The Coronas and then Dave joined in so yeah there was one band Kiros, but nothing much more than that. I'm not sure if Dave was in a band before that but yeah for me it was just Kiros before, yeah.

There's a song on the album Tony Was an Ex-Con, called, Won't Leave You Alone. The drumbeat there has a lot of displacements on it, how did you come up with the idea for that song because it works really well?
Yeah, I don't know actually, I love playing that song live because its real enjoyable but yeah I don't know most of the time when we are writing songs Danny kind of comes in with the guitar and we just kind of work with it that way so I don't know I just kind of do what feels right. I don't know, I just kind of try different beats in my head that should work and I just go with the flow. I just listen to him and I kind of go around a few times and do a few things and see what works just whatever suits you and that kind of thing you know. So I'm not sure now it's been a couple of years now so, yeah your right, that's a cool song actually.

The song itself, Tony Was An Ex-Con is interesting because you don't actually use the kick drum on the first verse.
Yeah, you're right

So, was that a conscious thing?
I don't know, we were playing it yesterday in rehearsals and I was thinking the same thing that we don't really use the kick drum at all in the first verse. I don't know why that was, yeah I think it's just a long verse, a two part verse and we just hold something until the second part and add something new.
Yeah, it's really good.

Regarding the songs and the arrangement of the songs from your point of view as the drummer do you have a 100% control over what you play or do the lads say, Conor, I think this beat would work here or whatever you come up with, is that fine with them?
Not at all yeah, everyone has their say so. I mean, just the other day we were down in Wexford and writing stuff for the new album and we all have our own say like we will have a say in like Dave's guitar or Knoxys bass or Danny's vocal or whatever, so they all have their say like they might think I might be doing something crazy and they will be like, it's not really working and it's like yeah probably and I will let it go. They know as much of what is going to work and what is not going to work drumming wise. I have completely a 100% say and like even if they say I don't think that's right and I will say well that's all I do. I could say that but we all have our own say and we all value each other's opinion on that you know.

Going back to your own influences, who were the drummers that you were listening to back then?
Well, as you were saying before I suppose Led Zeppelin's John Bonham. I remember when I first started playing along to Led Zeppelin albums the whole way through, just play through the album the full thing, like I think he is one of the best drummers ever. I think more recently though Abe Laboriel Jr, do you know him? He drums for Paul McCartney these days, well for the last couple of years anyway. We did a gig with Paul McCartney as well and got to meet him and see him play live and it was just, he is amazing as well, he is just a big huge guy and playing his drums it's good to watch actually.

I think I saw him on the Sky Arts McCartney show?
Just last week, I saw it yeah, that was him yeah, and he has been drumming with him now for years. I got to meet him as well. Yeah it was great.

Brilliant, anyone else?
Yeah, Keith Moon as well, he's kind of the same as John Bonham.

From an Irish drumming point of view, any drummers that would stick out?
Eh, Graham Hopkins you were talking about him earlier. I met him a couple of times and have been on tour with him, a 2FM tour we did and we did a few things with The Frames then as well. I think he is brilliant. I like watching him, he is at a serious level, like you know session drummers as well you know he played with Snow Patrol and a lot of big bands and stuff and he is a real nice guy. He is actually one of the main guys around, especially at the moment.

Alright, excellent. On the new album Closer to You a couple of really interesting drumming ideas on it. Do you feel that your style has changed over the years?
Ah it probably has, yeah.

Is that a conscious thing?
No, not really, I would say it's more to do with the whole band kind of changing, evolving and getting a bit older, things like that but no I haven't. I think it's just probably experience I suppose, maybe just things are working better for me, I don't know. I haven't noticed a huge amount, I haven't listened to the first album now in a while or anything I thought we would play a couple of tunes of it but no I haven't noticed, why, have you noticed a few things?

I would probably, yeah, on the first two albums there was more I suppose, displaced beats and now it's coming across as a straighter backbeat, maybe I'm wrong on that.
No, you could be right, no, you probably are right yeah. No, it hasn't been a conscious thing or anything it just happened I suppose. I was quiet young when I did the first album so it was the first time we had been in a studio ever and we didn't actually know we were doing an album as well. It was kind of doing a few songs and then see what happened. The first album, we were very young, like so it probably was a lot different. We hadn't been in a studio before so we hadn't thought about you know certain things with songs and stuff.

Working with a click track, how did you cope with that?
Well, doing the first album, I think I can remember it being quiet tough because I had never really used it but for the second album, I think I did a bit better but I used to hate it. But now, I love playing with a click. I don't know I feel like I can relax a bit more and you are not kind of making sure you are doing it to the right tempo and you are in the right spot here. I think we just kind of relaxed but like these days yeah it's not a bother. I don't mind playing to click at all but years before I didn't like it and then, I just kind of like have grown to like it.

Ok, do you use click live?
Yeah, there are a load of songs now where we use click and we have map clicks. So certain choruses would be a bit faster, so it's not just a steady pace. When I got them from the albums actually, just the stems to the click tracks because when we were doing albums we would think that you know the chorus would be a bit faster just to kind of up it a bit, so maybe a BPM as well, so we take the click tracks from the album and we use them live. I have been using clicks for a long time, a lot of people hate clicks and they are like, no thanks, but yeah I don't mind but I do love playing without it as well. There are songs we don't play with click and its great, a great feeling as well.

On the album Closer to You there is a song, Blind Will Lead the Blind where you don't use snare at all, you play toms the whole way through. That is one of the first times I have heard a drummer doing that and it works really well on the song - a very brave thing to do.
Yeah, that was actually what I was saying when you were asking do I have a 100% control of what I do. I think Danny said it to me. He actually sent me on a recording of him on acoustic doing the song. I came in thinking ah yeah, a big chorus and I think I came in snare going everywhere, going mad, but I think Danny wanted it, more mellow like. So from then on I just sat back and banged away with no snare. I never thought about it but someone else was like," there is no snare on that song at all" Yeah, I know. I didn't think about that when I was doing it. I just kind of went along until it felt right. I think when we went into the first chorus we thought we shouldn't go mad here, we are just going to keep it down still and from there I was like well, maybe the second chorus, will be like that as well? It seems to be nice, bringing the snare in I don't know you wouldn't want to get rid of those toms.

In relation to our discussion on drumming, which do you prefer, in the studio or playing live?
I don't know. They both have pros and cons. I like being in the studio because you get to see the song evolve you know, you can slowly build up with guitars and extra little bits and bobs but then live, you just kind of have to reproduce the whole thing, just right then and there. I don't know it's although, I would say I prefer live I think there is more of a thrill out of that you know. The studio can be a bit tedious at times, you know just getting bits and bobs out you know and just perfecting everything. You go live because you only get one chance and that's it really, so I would say live and the whole travelling thing as well getting to go around seeing different countries and different towns and stuff, it's great.

On the album sleeve, inside the cover there is a picture of you right up at the mixing desk?
On the Closer to You, album yeah.

Is that something you are very much interested in? The other lads all seem to be sitting in the background and it looks as though you are sitting there mixing the song. 
I don't know. I hadn't thought of that one actually. I actually did sound engineering in college and so did Knoxy, our bass player, but no I think we just listened back to a mix and I think it was just my turn to sit right in front of the speakers. You can really get a good feel of it then you know. Your eyes get dry because the air is being pushed out on you but no, I think it was just my turn in front of the desk but we all get our say with mixing and stuff, but no, it was just my turn, but I did sound engineering in college so I do know one or two things about studio recordings and stuff, but not as much as the producers, to be fair. But ah no, I think it was just my turn. I wouldn't be more hands on like that, no.

In relation to producers you've worked with, have they had an influence in relation to your drum sound?
Yeah, well I think the first producer we worked with not so much actually. The last, John Cornfield a little bit more than the first album. But Tony Hoffer on this album Closer to You he did the album in L.A. and he like had eight or ten snares in the studio he was working in and I brought over two or three of mine and didn't use them once. He had all the snares and he knew exactly what snare he wanted for each song and he was like this is for that song, that's for that song so he kind of changed the snare sound a bit on that album. He actually put some distortion on them, like he had distortion on everything over my drums for certain songs so I would say yeah he is probably the main producer that we have worked with as regards drum sounds. Like yeah, I didn't have any problem with it at all because I think he is an amazing producer for us and he did a lot for us.

Conor, just going back to your own musical background. Is there a history of music in the family?
Ah, no not really. I think my mum played piano in school like it wasn't a job or anything; she didn't work as a musician or anything you know but she knows a few things on piano but that's it really. My Dad, didn't do anything with music. They both love music but they never really played instruments or anything no which is interesting.

You have recorded what, three albums at this stage. You said you are writing material for the next album, but from your own perspective what's the plan for Conor Egan say over the next two to three years as regards drumming projects?
Yeah, I haven't thought about it a huge amount, like I don't practice certain things much. I kind of watch other drummers and I just think that's pretty cool. I might try that kind of thing but I never sit down and pin point certain things and practice them for some reason. I think I should do that more often. I often think of going back and getting lessons of certain drummers, you know to focus on certain parts of my trade but I think I should do more stuff like that. You know, just to pinpoint stuff but I don't think about it. I actually watch a lot of things on You Tube and other drummers and I'm kind of thinking that's handy. I have a few books and stuff, a little few bits and bobs that I can practice you know to warm up and stuff, nothing major you know.

You mentioned doing paradiddles. Have you studied the original twenty six rudiments and stuff like that?
No, like I did a few bits and bobs like that at the very start and from then on my teacher who was John Merryman I think, I can't really remember the name and he basically started to build up and just basically started me doing basic beats and it went on from there so it wasn't really hardcore you know. It was basically, just a bit of fun really trying to compete and he would say, "any songs you want to learn" and whatever and it just built up from there and he just like showed me pretty cool stuff and different songs and stuff. It's like that's cool yeah there are a few beats I can show you and he would give me a lot of beats like that and that kind of stuff and to work on that kind of thing but yeah like nothing, it was more fun than kind of head down, this is it.

If there was a time capsule and someone came up to you and said ok in ten or twenty or a hundred years time, you want people to remember you for three songs, what three songs would you say, you are most proud of?
Tony Was An Ex-Con I think and eh Blind Will Lead The Blind and What You Think you Know actually, I love playing that one.

Have you ever played a song and thought to yourself I wish I had done something different there?
Yeah, there is one or two I think, on Heroes or Ghosts I think I play differently live because on the album version I think I do something I don't really like. I think there's a drum fill in it that I don't really do anymore so I think that's something I changed. There is something in Addicted To Progress, I'm not sure but I think there is a mistake I would change in it but I think it's more of a mistake than only I would notice. I think the same with the song Dreaming Again in that there is a mistake in that as well but then again no one else notices them like you know so yeah, I would go back and change a few of those things yeah.

As regards recording the next album, are you going to approach it the same way from a drumming stance?
Eh, I don't know. We are talking about doing a bit more work with the producer, maybe a lot more pre production and maybe he will have a say in certain things of the songs, so I think that would work well for us. I think at the end of the day he is producing the album he kind of knows where he is going, so I think working with the producer before the album, a lot more pre production because the last few times we only did like a few days pre production. With the producer, for the last album I think if we did a lot more than it would have been better, I think so. I think yeah, the next one we are going to work a bit more with the producer just in every aspect of my drumming and just kind of work down different things and just to perfect a few things you know, because I think working with the producer does help a lot.

Right, when you record, do you put down your drum tracks down first? 
Yeah, we usually set up for a full live thing so we can all do a live take and work out and see if everything is sounding alright, get a few things together and see if everything is sitting well and stuff and then we will do a couple of takes. Most of the time, I think drum and bass we kind of do the same and get the two of them if there is a good take then, why not? After that, then we layer off everything else on top of that so yeah I mean the annoying thing about being a drummer is you can't always go back and redo your track, so you are kind of under pressure. So yeah, the pressure is on to set the first track down and that's it done. There is a lot of pressure on the drummer I think going straight in and putting the track down first and then everyone else just builds on it which is kind of annoying but your then sitting back going actually, I could change that now and you got to go in there and mess around again but like it is me first that goes in. I think that's quiet annoying.

I suppose touring brings its own pressures so how do you prepare for a tour as regards the physical aspect. It must be very demanding being up on stage for two and a half or three hours or whatever it is?
Well for the tours, we do about a few days before the tour and do rehearsals. I was just going through sets you know and making sure everything is ok and stuff so you would be playing a lot of drums for the few days before you go away which would be my warm up. On the day before the show I wouldn't do a huge amount of warm ups, no I could just mess around with a few warm up things but nothing physical like you know maybe do a few stretches or something if I'm feeling a bit stiff or tired but nothing major. I would never have a full workout to do before no. But, I have seen some people have a serious routine before they go on stage its I think it's for a lot bigger shows though when you are playing for about two, two and a half hours. Bruce Springsteen's drummer "Max Weinberg" is it?

That's right,Yeah.
He would do like three hours, you would be wrecked after that. Like we do about an hour and a half every night and you are wrecked by the end of it yeah but I find a warm up does work really well because if you don't warm up properly you kind of feel for the first three songs you are maybe trying to get into it and the fourth song you are kind of that's it now I am warmed up and you are ready to go. So I think a warm up does help a lot, yeah.

Ok, excellent. You are fulltime with The Coronas, but do you get an opportunity to jam or play with other musicians?
No, not really. It's something I would really like to do actually but I have never done it really no. I have done a few things like sound checks really with support acts and stuff like that just on the day like but no never really went with other musicians and like jammed away you know, it's always been the lads in the band yeah but sometime I would like to do that just get a different vibe from different musicians and stuff like that but it's just the four of us the whole time you know.

Conor , just getting back to your albums which one would be your favourite?
Eh, I would say the most recent one Closer To You I think.

Yeah, why?
Maybe because it's just fresher, it's newer. I would say my least favourite one would be the first one Heroes or Ghosts but then my favourite Closer to You", second favourite, Tony Was an Ex-Con, third Heroes or Ghost so we will go backwards I suppose. Maybe that is it yeah, I would say Closer to You anyway I don't know why it's probably just fresher in the head.

Conor, drumming wise, what would you consider to be your strongest attribute?
Eh, I think just keeping it solid playing live I think. I would say I don't make too many mistakes when I am playing live, that's one thing I would say.

Being consistent live is important so?
Yeah, I think so yeah because when I do make a mistake our guitar tech would give a few looks and I do only make a few, then he will be on me like that but yeah I would say being consistent live would be one of my strong points I would say!

Any weak points?
Weak points would be, I don't know? I could be a bit stronger at the kick drum I think - I'm not that fast with a kick drum.

Ok Conor, if someone was wanting to learn to play drums, what advice would you give them and what would be the sort of like the do's and don'ts from day one?
Eh, I don't know, a do would be to have fun with it, just to enjoy it and don't think it as anything serious like just have fun with it. Do whatever feels right, just bang away. I don't know, the don'ts would be, I don't know I haven't got many don'ts really just go with it and don't take it too seriously. Just have a laugh, eh yeah. Don't spend a lot of money at the early stages as well because it can be very expensive to get a drum kit, do you know what I mean get yourself like a nice cheap kit to start off with and build yourself up because you don't want to waste a lot of money if you don't know.

Conor apart from drumming, do you sing or play guitar or do anything like that?
No, I have got a terrible voice so I couldn't sing but I could play a few chords on the guitar, I think I actually had a guitar, my brother had a guitar, before I had drums I played a few things on guitar but then I moved on to the drums but yeah basically a few chords but nothing special no. I can play the intros of a couple of songs but I can't get to the chorus for some reason so yeah just a few chords on the guitar, but nothing major.

Can you read drum music?
Yeah, well when I was taught it was all written down everything so yeah. I haven't done it anymore or read anymore or like read lately, I don't use it all now. I can read it though, I haven't used it in a long time however.

Regarding albums what would be your favourite? I know you mentioned John Bonham but are there particular albums that you would listen to on a consistent basis as regards inspiration or ideas?
I don't know actually, a lot of the Arctic Monkeys stuff I listen to just for the pure drums and I listen to that yeah, that is solid yeah, that is really good so any of the Arctic Monkeys albums lately because just the sound that he gets out of the drums and just how amazing he is so I think any of the Arctic Monkeys these days actually I listen to a good bit of them actually. I don't actually like the lead singer that much at all for some reason, its mainly I just listen to that band, just for drums really, so Arctic Monkeys I think at the moment all their Albums I think they have been brilliant drumming wise anyway.

I think your right and he has certainly approached it from a kind of John Bonham, kind of Keith Moon style. where he really shakes it up a bit. In your own opinion what's different to Irish drummers as opposed to maybe their counterparts in the States and the UK, what kind of sets them apart, do you feel?
I'm not sure really, eh, well English drummers have a lot of style really more than anything yeah and American drummers I think it's just real big kits, just real technical. I mean they have everything down which I don't think is a great thing. Well, it's a good thing but it's not the be all and end all and then Irish drummers, I don't know what it is, I think they have a great feel for the music. I think you know they really do the song justice you know. I don't know what it is I think it is they all have a good feel they all have a good head for music and understand the music a bit more so than other drummers. Then American drummers, they just play to themselves I think. They just try to show off a lot like yeah and then, English drummers, there are a lot of great English drummers I would say yeah they have a good feel and they know their music really well. I think they prepare really well for the song you know.

Conor, I suppose that is probably one of your own strengths in that you do seem to really nail it on the song. In relation to drummers getting a lot of tuition and a lot of lessons do you feel that maybe there is a kind of a compromise that maybe by getting too many lessons and too much tuition that you kind of approach things nearly in too much of a structured way and sort of loose that spontaneity?
Yeah, well, when I got lessons as I said, it was never really strict or anything you know. There are a few beats, you learn them off and you will get better. So, maybe that is something to do with it that if you really nailed it into your head you know like real proper stuff that you would be great in a sense you know.

Ok, I suppose concerning your own music, are you involved in the writing side of things as well?
Yeah no the way we write mainly these days it is just the four of us in a room and just start jamming kind of thing, so in that sense yeah, it would be a case of me writing a few bits and bobs but its mainly Dan and Dave who do most of the writing in the band so my main thing would just be the drums yeah . It's all my own like and it's not them saying this is the beat you have to do so yeah but me as in writing a song as in music and lyrics, I wouldn't venture into that now but drumming wise now is all writing I love doing that, I love the writing side of things its great it's kind of trial and error in certain parts and that those thing that aren't working well and stuff you know go back, leave it for a while and come back to it then maybe think of something else you know so writing is a big part. I love it. It's great, yeah.

The drum kit that you are playing at the moment you mentioned that you have a cymbal endorsement from Zildjian. Kit wise, do you think you are going to progress over the next couple of years, I know some drummers start off with a small kit and they expand into bigger gear, is that something that you want to do and move away from the standard kit?
Yeah, the kit I have actually has two floor toms that I don't use. I just use one of them and I keep thinking I should get the other one in because I used to play the two floor toms and it was great. But I think yeah I am looking into getting a new kit, a Ludwig kit, a classic one from I think the seventies.

Oh wow that's great!
I am looking into getting one of them but I think that is a standard kit as well, just kick, snare and two rack and floor tom.

What size high hats are you using?
14". The ride cymbal is 22"and I have 17", 18" and 19" crashes.

What size base drum size do you use?
It's 22" the snare is 14", rack is 12" and the floor tom is 16".

Ok. Very good, playing live what is the hardest song for you, what's the one that could cause most problems?
Yeah, What You Think You Know is quiet aggressive and All The Luck In The World actually the ending of All The Luck In the World live goes on for a while and is quiet aggressive and so that probably gets the sweat going I would say but that is probably the last song of the set so hang on for that one yeah. Yeah, those two are probably the most aggressive I would say. Although, What Do You Think You Know also is quiet energetic that kind of gets you going. Then you have Blind Leading the Blind which is nice and relaxing - that's a little breather for me.

Do you get a chance to play many paradiddles or any other of the drum rudiments like flams or drags throughout the set?
No, not a huge amount actually. There are a few flams yeah actually Closer To You actually has flams in it, the flams throughout every snare. We kind of cut that for some reason I don't know why. It's well what I'm saying is good I think but there were flams the whole way through. I kind of change it up every now and then live you might just do a different fill and stuff so yeah I do throw a few bits and bobs in every now and then but not a huge amount. I mainly stick to what's on the albums. I explore a few things every now and then but not a huge amount, no.

Ok Conor, are there any songs that you would love to cover live yourself?
I would like to play Live And Let Die by Paul McCartney.

Why that song, in particular?
I saw it on that Paul McCartney show the other night. We have seen his band live a couple of times and it's amazing, I don't know maybe it's just the fireworks that he has going for it. Yeah I think live wise it's something I would love to play. When The Levee Breaks by Led Zeppelin. I was actually watching you-tube today actually and I love the drumbeat in that song.

You mentioned earlier about playing left handed, is that something you would consider?
No, you can see some people playing left handed they can just switch fairly handy. I don't know, I was only joking now saying that but I think it's impossible. I can't do it for some reason.

How do you feel about drum solos in the middle of a set, is it something that you would say yeah I welcome it or is it something that you would run a million miles from? 
Yeah, seeing it live, I would like to watch a drum solo. Live that's great like or that's amazing but me, myself playing a drum solo, I don't like it. Like the lads go, there are a few bits and bobs that in Tony Was An Ex-Con I do, well they think it's a solo but it's not a solo really. It's just I do the breakdown in the song with the toms and everything and the cowbell. I do it at the start of the song. I do it myself like all the lights are on me and I am just there. I am basically on the same beat for eight bars or something and then the song kicks in and that's what they think that's amazing that's the drum solo and it's like it's not a drum solo really. I must show you a drum solo the next time whatever like. But yeah, I don't enjoy it, like I'm not a fan of that now before Tony Was An Ex-Con I don't like that but they are like that's the best fucken part of the show you have to do that - oh right so, it's in so you have to do it. Even in rehearsal yesterday, I am like I am not doing the whole thing before Tony Was An Ex-Con they were like you have to do it, it's in rehearsal you have to do it so I was like "Oh Jesus" so yeah no I don't enjoy doing it at all during shows but I love watching them. It's great.

So is a drum solo something we will see more of in The Coronas set?
Maybe I should kind of think of them in that way, maybe I should do them live, I don't know because I like watching them so maybe someone else out there is saying Jesus I would love to watch him do a drum solo or something but yeah I haven't done a proper one or anything no. I suppose alright yeah they take a bit of time because they look spontaneous but actually a lot of building and thinking goes into them. Sometimes you see the exact same thing done every night from certain people. Travis Barker, he has got a serious drum solo but I think it's the same one every night though. I think it has to be because like I don't know because you have to time it right and stuff I think that most drum solo's that people are doing they kind of have the basics of it down and they just kind of mess around with it every now and then during different gigs but no I wouldn't be well up for doing it during a gig anyway. Quite nerve wracking as well, yeah.

Is there an element of spontaneity with The Coronas playing live or are you the type of band and musicians that say well this is what we have rehearsed so this is what we are doing?
Kind of yeah, we just play the songs as we have rehearsed but then in certain times like we have gone extra on certain songs like it's not strictly that I do the exact same thing. Like Danny would feel this song should go on longer. We should do another one here and just keep going so I think on the San Diego song we do a few things at the end, sometimes we do, sometimes we don't. I think on Heroes sometimes Danny could do it in Irish which means he does the whole verse to verse in Irish and then he will start again in English if you know what I mean so he can do both like so that's one thing but that doesn't affect me that much. We have done a few things that go on for longer but we just turn around and say yeah here we have one more like, All The Luck In The World every now and then we would go here go for one more because there is kind of two parts to it so we could go for one more every now and then so we do have that freedom to do what we want.

Drumming wise what is your proudest moment to date?
The proudest moment I would say it is the Marqui gig we did in Dublin and we sold it out. We are kind of from all around there, Rathfarnham, Terenure and it's kind of where all the big gigs were around here for us like the local gigs that we saw like, The Killers there, Damien Rice and The Frames. We saw loads of bands there from when we were younger and for us to play there and to sell it out that is probably one of the main things that stands out for us but I would say that if we did this interview on the 15th December 2012 it would be the O2 that we are doing on the 14th. That is going to be pretty special I think.

And what have ye lined up for that night?
I'm not sure if we have confirmed the supports yet. We are still thinking of a few people to get in. We haven't fully thought of it yet yeah, we must get on that. But, I'm sure there will be one or two Irish acts but yeah it will probably be mostly Irish, actually, it will be all Irish.

Excellent, a few Irish bands have done live albums, any prospect of The Coronas recording a live album from the O2 gig? 
 Yeah, we are recording it. We record most of the big gigs we do anyway, actually all the gigs we do. We haven't discussed it before we do the gig anyway we might get back and listen to it and say Jesus we might just have put that together and put it out live. We did a live EP before and that came out with the album, it came out after Heroes or Ghosts I think. Yeah. I think it was a bonus edition.

How did it do?
I think it came out and we sold it live at gigs. It definitely had like four live songs on it anyway and a video and stuff of the gig but it's an interesting thought alright yeah we might discuss that now.

Any favourite Irish live albums?
The Frames actually were great, the live one was amazing. Yeah, we haven't fully thought about a live album properly but I'd say we will now for the O2 alright.

Date; 15th October 2012
Location; College Green, Dublin.