Wednesday 15 October 2014

Interview with Wayne Sheehy Part 2

Tom: What happened then?
Wayne: I was called by Ron Woods engineer and producer, both of them called and said would I come down and play on one track called Testify. It was a beautiful old R & B song and I had been playing with Frankie Lane in Milltown the night before and travelling with John Ryan in his Morris Minor, he was probably the worst driver that God ever put. We eventually got to Reilly’s house and John dropped me off and I was hungover, very unprofessional and very bleary eyed. Ronny Woods comes over and says oh right yeah how are you?, I am just having some beans on toast for breakfast and this was three or four o clock in the afternoon and I went over and I met the gang and I ended up playing on Testify which is a beautiful old soul groove, four to the floor, but it has a particular swing to it.  A very specific groove that Bernard and Ronny wanted and the reason I was asked was because I was a great man for the click and I could still make music feel fluid while locking into a click and that was my strength really. So I ended up playing on Testify and then, as I was leaving Ronny goes, we want you to come back, so I came back the following week and I ended up playing on another three songs and replacing Simon Kirke on the whole album.

Tom:  And then you got the chance to play with Ronnie on tour
Wayne: I kept bumping into Ronny occasionally partying and I would meet him in Lilly’s or somewhere and we would get an invite down but I was touring with Hinterland and we had gone to The States and some other places so I was coming and going and then I was in The Rock Garden and I got a message to say would I call Munro Sound in London. So I couldn’t sleep that night and the following morning I called Sherry Daly in London and she said “Alright Wayne I just want to know how you are fixed for the next year?  Are you free for the next year” and I said well what for Sherry? “Well Ronny wants you to be his drummer for the next year” and I said hang on a second and I put the phone down and I danced. I danced around the living room and she said what are you doing and I said I am dancing and she said you haven’t got the gig yet we don’t know how much you are going to cost and so anyway I got the gig and that was that. That was an extraordinary moment. The Ronny thing opened a myriad of opportunities that still twenty years later keep opening up and through Ronny I ended up playing with Bo Diddley.

Tom: What other artists were you playing with?
Wayne: Bobby Womack and when I was touring with Ronny we had The Neville Brothers play with us. We had Aretha and Van. He guested with us in LA, no in California for two shows. I was privileged enough to play with Ronnie, Mac, Rod and Ronnie Lane in his wheelchair.

Tom: Wow, that must have been special
Wayne: Ronnie Lane in Texas, in Austin. “Oh La La” from his wheelchair and there wasn’t a dry eye on the stage so that was quite a privilege and it was amazing. I want to put one thing straight we partied but we never got on that tour bus once over in about sixty shows in America, never mind the rest of the world, without sticking on a video tape of the show that night and the whole band would sit around the three tables on the front deck in that tour bus and we would watch the show and we would tease each other and it was done in such a beautiful spirit of no recrimination. If someone made a blunder it would be ha ha! It would be fun, but you know the person, the perpetrator would always say that won’t happen again, so it was a celebration of the show and yet a great learning curve.

Tom: That feedback must have proved invaluable.
Wayne:  Every beat, every hit, every single thing you did for that three and a half or six minutes of the song, it was like walking on ice. So every single beat had a meaning and had intent and Jesus it really worked, it was on fire you know and Steve Jordan is the greatest living exponent of that type of playing. I just listen to that. Conor Brady, the lovely Irish guitarist has a gorgeous feel for that as well.  Conor is the only guy I know in Ireland who would give a shit that much and Keith Duffy, the bass player. 

Tom; What did you do next?
The next thing is Ronny’s tour ends and Andrew calls me and we are talking Commitments. Andrew has enough of The Commitments and this is his own super band and Jesus was it a great band, f**k*n hell, we rocked and that was real groove stuff as well you know beautiful grooves, travelled all over the world for two years with Andrew and of course my connection with The Stones. Then I was befriended by everyone bar Jagger. Keith called me my little brother, which was really a compliment and they are still kind to me to this day. I put the word in, is there any chance that Andrew Strong could open the Voodoo Lounge Tour and then Keith O’Donnell who was managing Andrew at the time pushed me to make the call and he then had gone to their agent and pushed and we f**k*n got it.

Tom: Wow, that’s brilliant.
Wayne: So there I was back with The Stones again and I remember playing The Olympic stadium in Budapest or Prague, one of them and a hundred and forty thousand people, it hit the outdoor records. I think it is gone now. I think Madonna broke it sadly, but that was just amazing.

Tom: You played with Elemental as well
Wayne: Ah, Elemental would have been 89/90 I think. We did the Andrew Strong tour and that was the end of that period and then I met Conor and Rob back in Ireland. Rob Malone was the bass player with Lir and Lir were the best musicians in Ireland.

Tom: I remember Lir having a great drummer.
Wayne: Craig, fucken hell, Craig could do more with one hand than I could do with two and the boy was a genius. I think he is the greatest loss to Irish drumming. He was an amazing technical drummer.

Tom: Yes he certainly was an incredible drummer.
Wayne:  You know you always have got the Robbie Casserlys’ and the Jerry Fehilys, the chops and god knows Ray Fean has got some beautiful chops as well, but Craig was just an extraordinary player. So anyway, Rob joined us, joined The Sofas and Felim Gormley from The Commitments and Justin Carroll and Conor Brady of course. We built up this incredible following. The Edge and Bono used to come down and  the Edge used to kneel at the front of the stage. He used to sit cross legged at the front of the stage, Bronagh Gallagher, all The Commitments heads, The Frames heads, Carl Carlton and anyone Carl was touring with. Any musician, who would come into Dublin, would come to the DAA club on a Friday night if we weren’t off touring doing something else with other people and it became a great vehicle for depping and Justin Carroll was only sixteen at the time but he was a mistro of the hammond then you know. He is Van’s man. He is living in New York and he is an incredible musician, they all are and we had this extraordinary band.

Tom; I wish I had got to see you live
Wayne:  It just took off but the down side of The Sofas taking off was that we were constantly being poached by other bands so it was only about twelve, eighteen months afterwards that Liam and Fiachra would come and jam with us and we would always have guest slots every week and travelling  musicians who would come into Ireland would guest with us so we played with f**ken everybody and ah the next thing Liam and Fiachra said would you come and join The Hot House Flowers and so myself and Rob became lesser flowers I would describe us.

Tom:  Did you not feel part of the set up with Hothouse Flowers?
Wayne:  We weren’t in the inner sanctum but we were considered Flowers and we played on the album Born and again Chris O’Donnell was managing The Flowers then. So Chris calls me and he says Wayne, The Bridge of Babylon tour is about to go out in about six months time, any chance you would put a push in for The Flowers. So Ronny was a fan of The Flowers and he had used them on his solo album and low and behold we got that, so I was back on tour with The Stones again. The Bridges of Babylon tour was another great experience and from that I think it was then I actually started working with Beau and  I think that’s when I did Man amongst Men which I  am miscredited for actually. I am playing on about four tracks but I only get credit on one track but The Hot House Flowers, that was great. We had a lot of fun you know and there are a few nice stories. I got very close to Fiachra and we became very good friends actually. There was always friction between Liam, Fiachra and Peter. They always had counselling, they had to go to counselling every month. Yeah, very dysfunctional relationship between them and they decided they were going to go trad and then Rob and I were let go, but it was done in a nice way. Then that’s when the Juliette thing started. that’s when we did Burn in a black suit. and I ended up working a lot with Ger Kiely so Ger put a team around himself,  myself and Rob Malone and we ended up working with Juliette and The Sofas of course.

Tom; Who else where you touring with around this time?
Wayne; I was doing a lot of work with Carl Carlton around this time am we are talking the early ’98 to like 2002/2004. So I did a lot of work in Germany with Carl and that has never really stopped you know I still work with him now. Carl introduced me to Eric Burden, so I became an animal and I did summer festivals with Eric and Carl and we talked Eric into playing more war songs funny enough. I prefer the war songs to the animal songs to be honest, so I got to play the house of the rising sun a good few times. I don’t really think Eric really liked my playing to be honest, I think I was too heavy. Then the Robert thing came through, Carl and Robert Palmer and he had just finished one of the most beautiful albums with Carl called Drive.

Tom:  That must have been an incredible experience!
Wayne: I worked with Robert and he was just extraordinary and words can’t describe what an incredibly under celebrated genius. I only got to become a friend of his three months before he died but we got really close and he was so great for my confidence he told me I was one of the finest drummers he had ever worked with and that was really nice to hear from him. I wish he was still around, we all look for mentors you know and I felt that Robert would have been the mentor for me. He left the message on mine and my wife’s  answering machine two days I think before he died saying, Wayne I think we are going to work quiet a lot together in the next few years. That really upset me.

Tom:  Yes it’s sad to think he isn’t around.
Wayne: He was an amazing man oh Jesus, what a waste Tom!  So, I have had some great teachers you know like Ronnie and Robert.

Tom ;  Where were you based around this time?
Wayne:  Oh Jesus I was spending a lot of time in Cork, around about 2006. I started hearing about a rock star and I can’t bear anyone who calls themselves a rock star and neither can anyone else in Cork, as you can imagine. One of the beauties of living in Ireland is that people don’t buy into bullshit you know. So, anyway there was a seminal rock band in Canada at the time, a massive Canadian band called The Tea Party and the singer and principal writer with the Tea Party was a guy from near Toronto called Jeff Martin. He was the rock star, so I spent six weeks one summer hiding under the table when this Canadian dressed from head to toe in black, ah Wayne are you in there man if you are could you open the door I want to talk to you. I just had no interest in it because I was happy with what I was doing with Dempsey and Carl. I was doing a lot of work in Germany with Carl and the sound dogs and doing a bit of theatre work as well and I was away working with Trevor Knight and always working on projects,  you know drumming on peoples records,  Jules and other people even though Jules fired everyone eventually!

Tom; Did that bother you?
 Wayne; I wrote her a horrible letter,  she fired everyone singularly. I was the only person left from the original band. She had been talking to someone who told her that she needed fresh blood, keep injecting new blood into the band all the time, but I hate that. I thought it was very cruel so that means that peoples’ loyalty is never rewarded and I remember writing her a letter and she has never spoken to me since. I have tried to make it up to her but she has never forgiven me for the letter but anyhow Jeff finally caught up with me and asked me to manage him but at this stage John was doing a line share drumming with Damien. I wasn’t doing a great deal but production was starting to get a little bit busier but anyhow four / six months later I was a crap manager and back playing percussion with Jeff except Jeff used twelve strings amazingly well and had an incredible voice and I added two extra gem bays I was using three gem bays in A, B & D gem bay and now the octopus was really truly born and it was fucken huge. Off we went touring the world as a two piece and it was highly lucrative. A very amazing show, we played some massive shows, just the two of us. We were doing big shows, we were doing about a thousand seaters in Australia and in Canada about five hundred. We did do a twenty five thousand open air headlining and we headlined all the festivals in Australia as a two piece going on after Sinead ah with Damien and the opening act that was wild, very wild but anyway  the drums were the kiss of fucken death because  we were going to work on an album which was to be a representation of what we did live as a duo and he got the sniff of rock again and I think he wanted  to prove to the boys in The Tea Party, who he had fallen out with acrimoniously that he could make another rock album and he had found me as a secret weapon so we wrote in a very strange way. I would write out an arrangement and he would discuss the arrangement and then I would record it with a click playing with nothing else but what I heard in my head.

Tom: Did you find this a difficult process?
Wayne: Jeff would work away on the drum tracks and he would write on top of it and then he would play it down the phone and I would make suggestions. I would send something down on pro tools and it would come back up and he would say, what do you think?  I would say yeah and so we built this rock album and then Jeff moved to Australia, Jeff’s wife wanted to move to Australia for a while so he moved to Australia and finished off the album in Australia and we had formed a band at this stage. We had decided it was going to be a band called the Armada and it was cursed just like the other fucken album.  So we went out touring as two entities in Australia. Jeff Martin and Wayne Sheehy  and then The Armada. So we would tour with the former and not make a fortune but do well and then we would lose it by sticking on the rock band part at the end. The production costs were huge. We released the album it went down well but it was a bad move as far as I am concerned. Because I couldn’t afford to, because I had a young family to be trucking over to Australia to lose money continually so we did a couple of tours towards the end of the band we got Jay Cortez, a beautiful Australian kid to come and play with us, a multi instrumentalist ,which I am, which Jeff is and we just had all these amazing instruments on the stage, harmoniums and zithers and all sorts of things and I think there was about sixty five/seventy instruments on the stage my full ray including orchestral base drum is here somewhere yeah, it’s all on the face book page actually. (Shows the face book page) That’s it.

Tom: Wow it looks impressive!
Wayne: So, that’s what we did with Jeff and we did three full days in Sydney with a full back system and Jay playing with us and filmed it with fourteen cameras and there in editing at the moment for a DVD to come out and so that’s still one more product to come out of there and I will me meeting them and I am over there with Damien next month and ah for four days, three shows for four days in Australia.

Tom:  Are you and Jeff working on other projects?
Wayne; He is very annoyed that I am coming over with Damien. He feels it’s kind of rubbing his nose in it but I have offered to buy him dinner in Sydney and all sorts of things because I would love to see him again I would love to work with him. But he is still a rock star you know, he has still issues. I am not sure about that chapter yet so that was it really and then Dempse and I am away in Malta. The most exciting thing I did last year I guess apart from Dempse was recording an album for the singing surgeon who was professor Austin Leahy but that comes out next month.

Tom: So your back behind a drum kit again
Wayne:  With Damo last year I did the Westport Festival and the Galway Arts Festival and another festival playing kit. I am playing am I am in love with Gretsch.

Tom:  What kind of Gretsch drum kit?
Wayne: I am playing a classic Gretsch from the seventies and I absolutely fucken love it. I also would like to say I love drumming again.

Tom: Ok, that’s great.
Wayne: And I am enjoying the kit and I am working with a new country star with Cork who is just incredible, Nicole Maguire, you are going to hear a lot about her. She is super.

Tom: Any other projects?
Wayne: That’s up to date really that’s it just a lot of production work. I have to think about my drumming. When I am producing I am drumming very simply on the records I am producing there is an element of meat and potatoes when I am producing and get it over with as soon as possible but drumming is almost becoming a kind of a hindrance.

Tom: Is it sort of an anti drumming maybe to somebody?
Wayne: I need to analyse it Tom, it could be, you know. I need to think about it.

Tom: What advice would you give someone starting out?
Wayne: Ah, that’s a hard one but the best advice I ever gave to someone is don’t spend too much time alone in your bedroom, with an electronic drum kit or an acoustic one for that matter drumming with your favourite bands, find your local, find a local gang of players to put ads up in your school and get playing with other people as fast as possible. As well as playing in your bedroom where you are learning your chops, but playing with other people and God when you are playing in public, just keep it simple.

Tom: Ok.
Wayne: Play simply, play the songs, listen, play, don’t  listen, there are so many drummers Tom that they don’t listen. They only hear the fucken drum. I don’t hear the drumming, I feel it you know. I don’t hear my drumming, I feel it. That’s really what kept me going and it’s a tough shitty unmerciless business, how many better players than me are driving fucken trucks and serving in Mc Donald’s and God knows I am one of the lucky ones.

Tom: What songs impress you drumming wise?
Wayne: The collection of drummers that play on “Woman in Chains” by Tears for Fears. it’s one of the most exciting commercial tracks, it’s got everything, you have got Phil Collins and you have got the producer Chris Thomas.  Then you have got Manu Katche and I love the production on that and the sonics. If I am travelling and I can’t bring my own speakers I use the production on that so I do love that pure technique. There is one more track actually I would like to “When the Levy breaks”

Tom: What Irish drummers impress you?
Wayne:  The Horselips were on after us in Westport festival you know and the next thing I could fucken hear someone drumming behind me and I pulled behind and it was Ray so we have a great relationship you know he is real, he is a complete c**t, I love him. He is a really great drummer, he is Ireland’s greatest drummer. I love him and I love Brian Downey, as the all time greatest drummer in Ireland never to be surpassed. He is the most beautiful player and and I also rate technically Robbie Casserly. The two of these boys got sucked up into river dance and no one ever heard from them again and of course you have got Jerry Fehily and you know it was a sad story with Jerry but he is back playing again. Graham would probably be the most popular drummer in Ireland at the moment but he also enjoys that. He works it very hard but he is a nice player, I don’t get him with the Frames I don’t get him with Glen, I don’t get it so much.  I prefer him to play rock. I think he is a better rock drummer, The Therapy thing is what he did best you know but he is lovely. He is a lovely player you know and a very nice man. Rod, yeah, gets a fucken rough deal as well, you know against the grain and all that with Gerry Mc Evoy he would kill a rhythm like I think Rod you know worked in a kitchen in London, a kitchen porter and Rod yeah that’s what I mean Tom it’s an unmercifully, an unforgiving business.

Tom: Wayne what do you believe is the secret of your success?
Wayne: Well, my success wouldn’t be that great really in one sense really it’s like you see that’s how driven I am. Me, I believe and I love songs. I am a little bit of a drummers drummer but I am a musicians drummer and musicians love playing with me because I give a shit about the music and I think that’s it you know and also I am always on time in every sense. I am good to tour with and I don’t let people down so I am a good team player.

Tom: Wayne, I am looking at this from an Irish drummer’s point of view and so what is the difference between Irish drummers and other drummers?
Wayne: We are mid Atlantic, we have a mid Atlantic advantage and that is the only way to describe it I have played with a lot of American players and early British players who were all influenced by the blues. A lot of young English players and European players tend to play up on the beat and they tend to play always up on the beat. We don’t, we are good groovers here, but generally like Graham is a beautiful pocket, Ray is a gorgeous pocket, I have a good pocket, Robbie had a beautiful pocket but Brian has an amazing pocket. Larry has a great pocket you know, so we are very groovy and we are also nice guys.

Tom: Yeah, I know.