Friday 15 February 2019

Who inspired you to take up drums?
I've loved drums for as long as I can remember and played different drums from a very early age before getting a drum kit  when I was around eight years old. I never had any formal training on drums but was classically trained on cello right up to my music degree. I played folk music with my family and got a lot of experience with them but it wasn't until I was eighteen and heard jazz in 'A Charlie Brown Christmas' that I became really serious. My research into jazz led me to Miles Davis and Charlie Parker, then Art Blakey, who would become my biggest influence.

Who are your favourite players?
Of the giants, probably Art Blakey and Roy Haynes would be my favourite but I've learnt something from all of them. Of the modern players, Brian Blade, Bill Stewart, Jeff 'Tain' Watt, Ari Hoenig and Carl Allen.

What drum gear do you use?
Most of my work is abroad and I'll just ask for jazz sizes and hope for the best. I only travel with my cymbals which are Istanbul Jazz 20" and 22". My hi-hats are 13" Sabian Manhattan Jazz. I've had that set-up for almost fifteen years and I've no plans to change it. Lately I've been doing quite a lot of touring Ireland as part of a project to bring jazz to more people. My drum kit is a bottom-of-the-line Gretsch Catalina, jazz sizes and they work great. I have a Pearl Master Birch and a Gretsch Round Badge from the '60s. I've had these since the start too. The only change has been switching to Tama's incredibly lightweight and compact hardware last year, which has been great for the island ferries on these Irish dates.

Your favourite songs or albums?
That's hard because my favourites change all the time and they're always diverse. Lately I've been listening to Bill Evans, '60s Burt Bacharach and the rapper Curren$y.

What have you been working on recently?
I played quite a lot with Dutch guitarist Jesse van Ruller last year and that was great. I was in China twice last year with my solo show 'Tapes & Drums' and that was really interesting. I just did two nights in Paris with American pianist David Kikoski and that was exciting. He's played with everyone, including Roy Haynes whose band he was in for a few years. The rural Irish touring has been a lot of fun and very rewarding because most people have no idea drums can be played the way we play them in jazz and it's nice to see them be so surprised. They just associate drums with rock and obviously the original drum kit players were jazz.

What upcoming projects are in the pipeline?
Lots of good things coming up including plenty of trips abroad to interesting places. I'll be touring Ireland for a month in June with my trio, which will be my longest tour. I collaborate with American bassist Michael Janisch a lot. Last year with did a project with Kurt Rosenwinkel and we have some gigs coming up with Logan Richardson and then with Mark Turner.

What advice would you give someone wanting to take up drumming?
You have to understand music to be a great drummer. Focus on feel and less on the technical aspects of drums. You need to have good technique but that's not what will get you gigs.

David at drums by Marian Bencat

David with his Verox by Adam Patterson