Sunday 2 February 2020

Who inspired you to take up drums?

I started playing drums when I was around 5 or 6 years old. My mother sang in a band when she was younger, and me and my brother got to go to rehearsals and some shows. I remember her drummer, Bocker would always let me sit in behind the kit and give it a go. One Christmas I got a small kit from Santa, and the rest is history. How they got that kit into my room without me hearing I'll never know! I guess you could say it was my parents who inspired me to pick up sticks, as I wasn't really aware of any drummers back then. I just played along to what I liked at the time, not paying too much attention to who the band or drummer was. But as I got more familiar with the drums and actually began listening to, learning and picking apart music, the one drummer that inspired me as a kid was Steven Adler. I had "Paradise City" learned when I was around 7 or 8 and just fell in love with rock music and hitting hard. Nothing's really changed since!

Who are your favourite players?

Growing up I listened to a lot of nu-metal and heavy rock, so my favourite players back then were John Otto, David Silveria, Morgan Rose, Iggor Cavalera, Danny Carey and Dave Grohl. But as I got older and began seeking out other drummers, I fell in love with the greats - Buddy and Gene, Ringo, Keith Moon, Bonham and Tony Williams to name a few. I think you'd be hard pressed to find a drummer, especially rock drummers, who weren't somewhat influenced by those guys. But the contemporary drummers are killing it, and it's hard not to notice the likes of Aric Improta, Anika Nilles, Tony Royster Jr. and Benny Grebb.

As far as educators go, I am in awe of Todd Sucherman and Mike Johnston, I love how they communicate and their playing is just beautiful. As far as Irish players go, Shay Cosgrave ranks high on my list, and pretty much the entire roster of The Hit machine Drummers and BIMM tutors. We have an absolute plethora of amazing players, and I am so proud to even be in the same conversation as some of them.
Your favourite songs or albums?

That's a tough one, as my musical mood always changes. But as far as influential albums, I'd have to go with "Significant Other" by Limp Bizkit. This album opened up my eyes to ghost notes, chops and over the bar playing. I love John Otto's finesse and groove on it, and it remains one of my favourite drumming albums to this day.

I'm really digging Tool's "Fear Inoculum" right now, and I cannot deny the brilliance of their previous albums. Danny Carey's playing on songs like "The Grudge" and "Forty-Six and Two" are mind-blowing. In a similar vein, I would invite people to listen to the Mudvayne album "L.D. 50" all the way through; Matthew McDonough's playing and ingenuity is amazing.

Some songs that have moved me, irrespective of the drumming would be "Come Alive" by Foo Fighters, "Welcome Home" by Coheed & Cambria, "Vengeance" by Zack Hemsey, "Bubbles" by Biffy Clyro and "Shadow on the Sun" by Audioslave. I love listening to music that puts me in a mood or a headspace, I'm not the kind of person who just listens to music for the sake of it, there's always a reason.

What’s your current drum gear setup?

I have a few different rigs at the moment. I rehearse on a sturdy Pearl Vision 5 piece (4 toms, one kick) and a Pearl Chad Smith Signature snare. When I'm out with my tribute bands I use a beautiful Premier Signia 5 piece and a gorgeous Pearl Sensitone snare which I just adore. I also have a brass snare for the Signia that I use for recording. I have a rig over in the UK that's mainly Yamaha drums, but I haven't played it in a while as I usually use other gear when I'm overseas touring. I normally use a DW 5000, and my hardware is a mix of Yamaha, Pearl and Gibraltar.

Currently I use, and am proud to endorse Sabian cymbals and Vater Drumsticks. I've mainly been playing the HHX models, in particular the Evolution series, and I'm in the middle of testing out the new Complex range - they sound fantastic so far, the 14" HHX Complex hats are just what I'm looking for. With regards to sticks, I switch between a 55BB, 5B Extended Play and a 2B stick, using the Vater Stick Shields so I can rimshot for days. I'm absolutely over the moon with all of the gear I use, and am extremely grateful for all of the support I get from such wonderful companies.

How important is it to put yourself out there and have a good work ethic?

I personally think that work ethic is the main ingredient that gets players their jobs. I cannot tell you how many times I've looked forward to certain gigs because I know the people I'm working with are professional, diligent and respectful. While musical virtuosity, chops and showmanship can get some gigs, I believe your attitude is what wins people over and encourages call-backs. When I'm looking for musicians to work with, I like to find that perfect balance of good work ethic and musical prowess, and for me, the weight lies in the former. In fact, I've gotten gigs based on my attitude and professionalism alone, which is a testament as to how one should consider how approachable they are, not just how they approach their chosen instrument. But, keep those chops up too, there's nothing wrong with putting a smile on your fellow musicians and the audiences faces with a little flourish here and there.

I'm slowly but surely getting to grips with the social media aspect of the music business, so putting yourself out there with videos and interesting content is key. It also goes without saying that you should have an EPK ready to send to prospective MD's, musicians and labels or promoters. I offer EPK services on my website.

What advice would you give someone wanting to take up drums?

This one kind of depends on what stage of life the person is at, as different people will have certain amounts of time to dedicate to practise. But, every musician starts somewhere, at some point in their lives. Learning can be seen as linear, and if you're dedicated, passionate and thirsty for knowledge, you'll go far. Progress might seem out of reach for a long time at the beginning, but don't lose hope just because, for example, the proverbial you at age 20 can't do the same things as a 10 year old; every single person who undertakes a learning endeavour starts at the same place, the very beginning.

I would recommend keeping fit as there are a few factors to consider when becoming a drummer. Depending on the genre of music you prefer, playing a show or rehearsal might be more or less demanding on your body. Another thing to consider is that until you're lucky enough to have a roadie or crew with you, you'll be lugging your drums in and out of venues. Drumming in and of itself will aid in keeping you fit, but working on your cardio will enhance your playing, or will at least help you get through the longer shows you may eventually get to play.

A last piece of advice I would give would be to learn how to sight-read, even if it's just the basics. Being blind myself, I find it extremely difficult to read setlists during gigs, never mind sight-reading! But, I can sit down and read drum parts, or even write my own to help make sense of more complex music. It will also aid you in getting across some of your ideas when communicating with other drummers or band mates, and will make it easier for non-drummers to lay out ideas they have for you to try.

Can you tell us what projects are on the horizon? 

I'm extremely lucky to be busy this year with various projects and artists. My band Car Crash are releasing our debut album "Blindspots" in February (which you can pre-order here), and I am really proud of it. We'll be playing shows to promote it, and it'll be available on all of the major online stores and streaming services. Paranoid Visions are in the process of recording our 5 EP collection "Countdown to Pharmageddon", the first of which is already out. It's a really interesting way of releasing music, and I'm interested to see how well it does. The first one is doing really well, and we'll be doing a few gigs and tours to promote them. I've also recorded an album for The Black Pitts which is due out sometime this year. I sat in for a recording and song writing session with Andrew Bass who runs Oblivion Studios, and two songs from that session should be available sometime this year.

On the gigging front, I've been asked to play drums for ex-Crass founder Steve Ignorant on his tours for the next couple of years which will take us throughout the UK and Ireland, Europe and various festivals. More will be announced on that, but I am really excited to hit the road and play these songs. Currently I play drums in two brilliant tribute bands Whole Lotta Voltage (AC/DC) and Motorheaders (Motorhead) who are fairly busy this year. I also play drums in The Hit Machine Drummers when I'm not out on the road.

Any final thoughts?

I appreciate the opportunity, and thanks for your time. I would like to make people aware of my website Jay Bagnall Drums where you can book me for gigs or tours, and I also offer lessons and EPK services.

Photo Credits; Jason Cook / Stuart Hayes / Cormac Figgis