Wednesday 21 February 2018

Colm Hassett - Drummer with The Frantics and ex Whipping Boy

Colm,when did you start drumming?
As a young kid I was always beating ( with knitting needles or wooden spoons) on upturned pots and pans to my Dad’s rich and varied record collection which consisted of Scottish pipe band music , The Gallowglass Ceili band, Joan Baez, Johnny McEvoy, John McCormack etc. I then progressed to four plastic buckets of different shapes and sizes , then I somehow persuaded my parents to buy a snare and hi-hat.I remember one Christmas my sister got a Chris DeBurgh and a Queen album , we thought we were the coolest !!  Eventualy I got a bass drum, all purchased from a music shop off Capel St , now gone. When I was 13, I worked all summer long in a fleece processing factory and used my savings to buy my first kit, a  black Maxtone 5 piece with cymbals. The first time I played drums on stage was at a school band competition and our intro song was ZZ Top She's got Legs. We were a terrible band with some original material and an equally terrible name ( During Stone Down )

Did you take drum lessons?
I studied under the great Monica Bonnie for a very short time and latterly under Swapan Chaudhuri on tabla. I have always been fascinated with drumming and the rhythm section. I remember my dad taking me to see The Chieftains in the national concert hall and trying to get as close as possible to sit in the wings above the drummer on kettle drums and going to Elvis Costello in the Stadium on the south circular road because I knew Jim Keltner would be on drums. I went up to him after the set and talked for a bit, he gave me one of his sticks which I held onto for years. I love his style of playing and Elvis was good too.

Apart from Jim Keltner, what other drummers do you admire?
I absolutely love Brian Downey’s playing with Thin Lizzy and I would study songs, playing them over and over and the same with Topper Headon of The Clash , Simon Crowe of  The Boomtown Rats , Nick Mason of Pink Floyd, Steve Gadd on everything. I find different styles of playing drums fascinating regardless of the music genre , like how one drummer can have a totally different way of approaching a song or phrase to another and how players develop their own style of playing , and where does that come from.

What drum gear do you use?
In my days with Whipping Boy I had a Tama Crestor 5 piece 12" 13" and 16" toms and 24" bass drum and a Ludwig 4 " black beauty. I still have them and they sound good but the hardware is terrible on that model, Paiste cymbals long trashed with holes and cracked to bits and yes, still have those stored. I now play a Yamaha maple absolute grey to black sparkle 12",14", 16" toms, 24" bass drum and I have a selection of snares I made myself, a 7" x 14" solid wood cherry , a 4" x 14" solid walnut and a 7" x 14" stainless steel and I have Zildjian K series cymbals.

What projects are you currently involved in?
Last year we just finished recording our debut album, Rivers End, with Fran's artwork on the cover . Fran is a really gifted visual artist. The album was recorded at Helfire recording in the Dublin mountains with Joe McGrath mixing and Stano producing. It was a long drawn out process but in the end we are all really happy with the end product. We are now in the process of ideas for videos and are looking forward to some more recording with Stano later in the year. We found his approach to recording very organic , not rigid and very quick to make ideas or ditch 'em which really helped everyone relax throughout the recording process.

Sunday 4 February 2018

Davie Ryan - Drummer and Recording Artist

When did you start drumming?
I had been playing piano since the age of 7, but always had a keen interest in drums from an early age. Apparently I used to drive teachers mad by drumming with pencils on my copybooks and metal pencil cases. I was thirteen when I got my first drum kit and I was addicted straight away. I never got lessons growing up. I used to just play along to records in my garage and that’s how I learned. A bunch of us started a band in school, pretty early on and I started gigging regularly from the age of 15. After school, I studied music in UCC for four years and then I did a masters in jazz performance in The Cork School of Music. 

What is your drum gear setup?
I endorse Sakae drums so that’s mainly what I play these days. I have the Sakae Trilogy kit, which has that great vintage, warm sound. Depending on the project then I have various sizes. I have 22”, 20” and 18” kick drums and then 12” rack and 14” and 16” floor toms. 
In terms of snares then it’s the same deal. For a lot of live stuff I tend to lean towards a 70’s Ludwig Supersensitive 14”x7” but in studio I have a lot of different options depending on what sound we're going for etc.
Cymbal wise: again I have a good few options but my main set up is Istanbul 22” Traditional Ride, 18” Bosphorus Gold Series Crash, 18” Zildjian Kerope Crash and 15” Meinl Dual Hats. 
Protection Racket all the way for drum cases.
I use a Roland SPDSX a lot for live stuff these days. It’s a great piece of kit!  

Who are your main drumming influences?
I have a lot of influences that have varied over the years so I would find it hard to narrow it down to a few. As a teenager in my garage I was playing along to stuff like Thin Lizzy, Sting, the Police, Led Zepplin and Dave Matthews Band, so Brian Downey, Stewart Copeland, John Bonham and Carter Beauford were all big influences in my younger years. 
Then I started getting into jazz, so guys like Brian Blade, Elvin Jones, Tony Williams, Max Roach, Steve Gadd, etc., had a big influence on me. If I had to pick one though I think I would have to say Brian Blade because he can do it all!

How do you approach a song and how do you decide what drum beat works best?
I approach it from the point of view of "what’s best for the song?". I don’t think there is any other way. The main thing is to leave the ego at the door and try and work out what is best going to serve the song. It also depends on the artist you're working with, it’s about making them happy and trying to figure out quickly what they want. Then it’s about finding the right drum sound and knowing what will work for the overall sound. 

Your favourite songs or albums?
Very hard to narrow this down too! I listen to a lot of different styles but if I was pressed to name a few albums they would have to include, Hadestown by Anais Mitchell; the craft of the songwriting and the production on that album is sublime! Also, Abbey Road by The Beatles for obvious reasons, Bon Iver, which is an amazing sounding album, and The Liberty Tapes by Paul Brady - this album just jumps out of the stereo and captured him at his peak. 
When I want to chill I listen to a lot of music without drums, mostly folkier stuff. When you're playing a lot it’s nice to give your ears a break from drums and maybe I’m able to switch off a bit easier. I couldn’t even begin to start listing favourite songs because we would be here all day but the one that I’m kind of addicted to at the moment is Thinking Of A Place from The War On Drugs. 

What upcoming projects are you involved in?
An album I played on and helped arrange music for, Placemats and Second Cuts by Marlene Enright was nominated for The Choice Music Prize so we’re all pretty excited about that! It’s a really great album and she totally deserves it, so fingers crossed. We have to play live at the awards night in Vicar Street on the 8th March (2018), which is going out live on 2FM and filmed for TV. We will be doing some shows throughout the year too so you will see us on the road. 
This month sees the release of the second album from The Niall McCabe Band called The Village Hall. We just got the master back last week and we're really happy with how it’s sounding. We are doing an album launch in The White Horse in Ballincollig and then we will be doing a nationwide tour in March. 
Jack O’ Rourke is starting to record his second studio album over the next few months so I will be in the studio a lot with him and the inimitable Christian Best (best drum sound ever!).
I was in the studio last month with the incredible vocalist Gemma Sugrue. She’s recording her new original material for the first time so it’s a really nice project to be involved in. 
This month I’m going into Wavefield studios with John Blek for his next solo album. It will be some light kit stuff and some percussion bits so should be nice. His last album Catharsis Vol 1 was incredible! 
Anna Mitchell’s second album is out this Friday. I really enjoyed playing on that record with some great people so it will be nice to see that one fly. 
NOTIFY, which is kind of a Trad - Jazz crossover group that I play with are also recording some new music over the next few months so keep an eye out. We are playing at the Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow at the start of February so looking forward to that. We are also in the process of booking a tour in The States this summer and Japan next November so that should be great!

Other than that I have lots of live gigs going on and I teach in The Academy Of Popular Music and a small bit with Music Generation. I have a couple of shows with Rubyhorse soon and some gigs with Ariel Posen, an incredible guitarist from Canada. Then I have some weekly things like The Jazz Improv session in The Crane Lane in Cork every Tuesday night. I work regularly with trombone player Paul Dunlea and also with Súp, (jazz trio with Cormac McCarthy on piano and Eoin Walsh on bass). Between all of the projects I’m kept going so it keeps me on my toes. I’m very lucky to get to work with so many great artists and musicians on a regular basis.

Note: NOTIFY also played for Tony Clayton-Lea’s Culture Vultures event as part of the Ballincollig Winter Music Festival on the 27th January

You can find more information on Davie Ryan on his website: