Friday 7 February 2020

So how did you start Drumming?
I suppose it’s in the DNA as they say, as my Dad played recreationally and my older Sister played from very young and eventually toured with some showbands in the late 60’s early 70’s. Though there was a Drum kit in the house I was always more interested in Motorbikes as we had the famous annual Skerries 100 race just outside the door. 

But then Skerries also had the famous Red Island ballroom, where my older sisters raved about the famous Rory Gallagher, Thin Lizzy and Horslips gigs. Though I eventually caught Rory and Lizzy years later, I did however catch Horslips in late 75/76 and it changed my life! 

After witnessing the great Eamon Carr and his big Green Ludwig kit up close, and of course his gorgeous playing, I was blown away, and then I knew I wanted to actually play Drums. I was reluctant to tell my old man afterwards that I wanted a Kit, as I was underage and was not supposed to be in Red Island at all, mingling with all the Hippies and the smell of freshly rolled lawn! 

He’d have been furious if he knew I’d sneaked in through a toilet window after being refused entry at the door ! But my fate was sealed, and I wanted to be a Drummer.  

So after much badgering and pocket money, I cobbled together a rackety old set. I can’t remember the make, but then eventually bought my Silver Tama’s in 1980. They are rare now, originally bought in 1980.  I've lovingly minded and maintained them all this time. They have a lovely history and have been used by RTE for Late Late shows and other different recordings over the years by Horslips and others, but always loved and cared for by yours truly. They have a big birthday this year!

Who are your favourite players?
Well as I was such a Horslips fan in my teens, I suppose the brilliant Eamon Carr was my original inspirational hero. He has since become a great friend and mentor. I also love and adore all by Thin Lizzy, and when I started to play and try and emulate my original heroes on the skins I quickly realised just how amazing Brian Downey is, and still is! We only spoke recently and I told him, I recon he’s probably one of the most underrated drummers in the world, (He laughed politely!)
I also believe he’s one of the most inspirational players due to his mastery of Groove, Pocket, and the sheer simple beauty of his shuffles, rolls and constructions within whatever track he’s playing. 

Who here hasn’t played a Lizzy tune?... and when you really listen to what he played you realise, Phillip Lynott and Lizzy were giants, but they would never have been the band they were, without Downey’s brilliance and very tasty and clever drumming. 

Some are great at individual styles but I believe Brian could play Heavy, intricate, and also with groove and sympathy to the actual song he’s inside. Sheer Genius!. 

My other inspirations I suppose were all players that I could actually watch and learn from, as I went to see everyone, at every gig I could attend and I still do! 

I loved Robbie Brennan and his many collaborations with Auto Da Fe, Scullion, Stepaside, and latterly Grand Slam. There’s variety for ya ! 
I also loved watching Fran Breen and Peter Mc Kinney, and they have played with just about everyone.  On a world stage I greatly admire most Drummers, but especially Bonham, Copeland, Mark Brzezicki, Vinny Colliuta, Mel Gaynor, and of course Simon Phillips. 

The new breed of Carter Beauford, Todd Sucherman and some of the new guys and girls on Drumeo are just unreal. 

On the home turf, Simon Freedman, Rob Kennedy and Johnny Boyle are fantastic, especially the latter two on the “Whole lot of Zep” outings. 
My personal fav of the last few years is Eamon Ferris, he’s an amazing drummer from the Vibe for Philo house band “The Low Riders” and currently touring with Sinead O Connor. His precision and accuracy are gorgeous to watch and hear.  

Do you have favourite songs and albums ? 
Gimme anything by Horslips, Thin Lizzy,  Big Country, Simple Minds, The Cult, Frank Zappa, include some Led Zeppelin, Thunder and the Police and I’m rocking. My fav drumming tunes are many but I’ill pick these, as I just love them for their construction and execution. 

“Down by the Sea” off the first Men at Work album is my kind of thing, its got everything. ( Have a listen to this hidden little gem) 

Another I adore is Joni Mitchell’s “ Dream Flat Tyres” Vinny Colaiuta is right inside and driving this brilliant track. 

I love “Rise” by The Cult, I just love Mat Sorum’s style and push throughout this ripper. 

What’s your current drum gear setup?

Tama 5 Piece
Snare 5.5x14
Tom 12x8
Tom 13x10
Floor Tom 16x16
Bass Drum 22x16
Remo Tops and Evans bottoms. 
Iron Cobra Double Pedals
Zildjian 14 ZXT Hi Hats
Paiste 404 16 Crash
Sabian AAX 18 Crash
Zildjian ZBT 22 Ride
Meinel Classic 8 Splash
Old China’s Small &Large

What gigs / projects are you currently involved in? 
I’m currently on a Sabatacal from my regular hot seat with Skerries/ Dublin based party-rock-pop outfit called "Risky Business". We released our first Album "Unfinished Business" in 2018 to rave reviews and great airplay on both RTE and Nova Radio stations. 
We do everything from corporate gigs, weddings and birthday gigs alongside our own perennials. Our annual "Risky Christmas" is now in its tenth year. We’ve played gigs in Canada, weddings in Spain, London, and recently an Irish pub anniversary in Portugal for the second year running. We’ve also played Electric Picnic on the Trailer Park stage for the last five years running.

I also have a great hoot playing with my other Muso’s ”The Hipaclaptics”  We play a Dirty Guitar Rock, glam-punk set, including anything from Slade & T Rex to Billy Idol & The Clash, including our twist on some other glam punk classics. It's a real fun, dirty rock'n'roll vibe, and the punters love the craic of it. 

I’m also teaching some Kids/Adults through my “Silent Drum Lessons” page on Facebook. I love how stuck in the kids get during lessons as I’m completely self taught and would have loved lessons like it when I started. 

So how did you end up with the drumming gig with the legendary Horslips?

Ohh it’s a dream come true for me as I landed the Slips gig when both the original Horslips drummer Eamon Carr and most recent Horslips drummer, Ray Fean (Who’s another Irish drumming legend !) both proposed that I periodically dep in the hot seat as sometimes Ray is fully booked with gigs in the US and UK with Celtic Woman and  also the new award winning “Come From Away" Musical tours. 

At first I couldn’t believe it!!!  Think of how many times I Drummed all those tracks in my bedroom as you do, in yer teens! 

What an honour it was as I've been a huge fan ever since Eamon Carr inspired me to play drums after first seeing Horslips live in 75/76.  

I'd already sat-in at some other Horslips gatherings over the years, so although initially daunted, I knew all the tracks and slotted in perfectly. 

It's funny that its all come full circle for me, as I looked after the set up of Eamon’s legendary green Ludwig kit for many Irish gigs in the late 70's as I travelled around as an eager roadie/fan watching my heroes, (I'll include a pic, don't laugh, I had hair then!)  

My first real opportunity to play with my Celtic Rock heroes came about at the end of last year, at the John O'Connor Literary Arts festival in Armagh last November. Playing a set of Horslips classics, that included collaborations with the event organiser, Pulitzer prize winner Paul Muldoon as part of the Muldoon Picnic, along with some original numbers with guest vocalist Lisa Lambe.

The next opportunity came from the festival in Armagh, when we were approached to take part in the BBC Two NI TV Arts show “Collaborations"
which aired last year. 
We did the horslips classic “Sideways to the Sun” in collaboration with the trad outfit Ulaid. 

Later in November of 2018 I also played the Horslips Con in the Black Box in Belfast  to hundreds of fans that travelled from all over the world. 

Last year we did some sold out gigs in Donegal and then a brilliant live TV special for TG4 at the Fleadh in Drogheda, Its just been mad, but such a thrill. I pinch myself sometimes between songs, especially when I watch the front row bopping along, where I’m normally in the middle of them !

“Sword of Light”

What advice would you give someone wanting to take up drums?
 Ohh Id say if you feel it in your heart go for it, as all the best ones play from their hearts. Go to as many gigs as you can and watch how others work and execute their parts and you will always learn something new. Watch some online tutorials but don’t get dismayed by all the flash intricate players you’ll find online, most are so technical and dextrously excellent they put other drummers to shame but I doubt they could play with a real band and become part of it without wanting to do intricate solos all the time ! 

Best advice is be yourself and just play, and play, and play, ohh and remember to practice! 

Thanks Myles ......