Friday 28 August 2020

Stephen Byrne - Drummer with One Morning in August


How does it feel to be releasing the One Morning in August debut album?

It's an absolutely brilliant, great feeling. John and I have played covers for years at sessions and with a collective of musician friends of ours at gigs, but to finally have our own original music, is a great feeling. When I was young, learning the drums, I wanted to get into a recording studio and be part of creating music, writing your own drum pieces, playing it, recording it and listening back to yourself and what you've made. I can't wait till Friday!

Apart from music, what else are you interested in? 

Lots of things, I'd give everything a try. Mainly into running and fitness at the moment. I cover about 40 kms a week on roads and trails and on the spin bike. Big rugby fan, I like going to Leinster and Ireland matches, motor racing, photography, videography, aviation. When it comes to TV, I love all sorts of documentaries.

How would you describe your drumming style?

I think it's sort of funk based, when learning to play I used to borrow cd's from Christy Stapleton. There was everything in there from Art Blakey the jazz drummer to Simply Red, Led Zeppelin and lots more. I like to think that stuff influenced me. I think my style mostly resembles Chad Smith from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, that mix of energetic funky rock. When it comes to our stuff, I try to create pieces that fit the song and the tone and feel of it.  

Who are your favourite musicians?

So many, Jimi Hendrix, Thom Yorke, Noel Gallagher, Pixies, Zeppelin. My favourite drummers would have to be Dave Grohl, Neil Peart (Rush), Danny Carey (Tool), John Bonham.

What are your favourite songs / albums?

Very tough as there's so many but here's a flavour....

Radiohead - The Bends

Oasis - Whats the story morning glory

REM - Automatic for the people

Smashing Pumpkins - Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness

Pixies - Surfer Rosa

Queens of the Stone Age - Songs for the Deaf

What's next on the horizon for One Morning in August?

Hopefully playing live gigs but that is way off yet with Covid-19 and all. We'll also get cracking on writing some new music; there are lots of ideas for songs all ready to go.

How have you been coping during the COVID-19 pandemic?

I found it very tough initially; I have a boy in school and a girl in a creche so they were at home with me for three months while I worked from home. The lack of social interaction was tough and thankfully I kept up the exercise regime to help keep the head right. Not knowing what's coming down the tracks is tough on people.

Sunday 9 August 2020

Keith Walker - Power of Dreams


How does it feel to be releasing new music with Power of Dreams?

It feels great! It feels like it’s supposed to be happening. It's not forced or unwarranted and that makes the record (Ausländer) quite special.  Hearing the record now as a full body of work makes me very happy and I think it will resonate with a lot of people.


How would you describe your drumming style?


I'm a rock drummer by nature, but my style has evolved over the years. Since moving to the US 20 years ago, I've played with punk bands/indie pop bands and electronic bands. Playing different styles of music is very beneficial to any drummer and has helped my drumming a great deal.


How have you been coping during the COVID-19 pandemic?


I've been coping pretty well actually. I live in Phoenix Arizona, where unfortunately the state has handled it rather badly. And as a result, we are currently in the middle of a second wave. There are still major restrictions on doing most normal activities. I've been very busy thankfully throughout with the recording of the new PODS album; spending time with my daughter Violet, also with the good fortune of experiencing large growth with my e-commerce clothing brand Baby Teith. I'm an optimist and while this is all very strange and disruptive, I see the light at the end of the tunnel.


Who are your favourite musicians?


Prince is my favourite all round musician, rest his soul.  


Drummers : Ringo Starr (The Beatles) Stuart Copeland (The Police) Thomas Hedlund (Phoenix) Larry Mullen Jr (U2) Josh Freese (NIN/The Vandals) 


Guitar: Johnny Marr (The Smiths/The The)


Bass: Andy Rourke (The Smiths) Kim Deal (The Pixies)


Synths: Gary Numan, Trent Reznor (NIN)



What are your favourite albums?


Radiohead - The Bends

The Beatles - Abbey Road

The Smiths - The Queen is Dead

Prince - Sign o’ the Times

The Pogues - Rum Sodomy and the Lash

The Blue Nile -  A Walk Across the Rooftops

Kate Bush - Hounds of Love

Pixies - Doolittle



What drum set up do you use? 


For Ausländer I used a 1968 Ludwig super classic (Pictured) a truly beautiful sounding drum set - I love vintage drums and have mainly played 60's Ludwig sets here in the US over the past 20 years. 


Drums - Kick 22", Snare 14" Ludwig Acrolite, 12 Rack Tom, 16" Floor  


Cymbals - Zildjian 18" A Custom Crash, Zildjian  14" A Custom Hi-Hats, Zildjian 20" A Custom Ride



What advice would you give someone embarking on a career in music?


Don't be afraid of your own power. Listen to good advice when it's available. Be true to yourself and stay true to your vision. Have fun and when it's not fun, take a break and do something else.



Pic with Keith On drums photo by Ana Baraza and the other is by Killian Mckeown

Saturday 1 August 2020

Lorcan Byrne - Drummer / Percussionist

What type of drum kit do you use?

I play a DW set predominantly, with an all maple Gretsch snare with wooden hoops. Zildjian K Constantinople ride and hi hats and various bits of bells and shells, laid around the kit to keep me entertained. 

Who are your favourite players?

There are so many to mention, but probably the drummers that have had the biggest influence on my sound would be Brian Blade, Mark Guiliana, Marcus Gilmore, Roy Haynes, Stewart Copeland and Danny Carey. Tigran Hamasyan is a jazz pianist that has probably left the biggest mark on how I approach rhythm. 

What are your favourite songs / albums?

 Again, it's hard for me to pick a few but some that I always come back to are Jeff Buckley: 'Grace', Pearl Jam: 'Vitalogy', Tigran Hamasyan: 'Mockroot' and 'Shadow Theatre', John Coltrane: 'A Love Supreme', Charles Mingus: 'Ah Um' and Bon Iver's self titled album.

Can you tell us some of the artists that you have played / recorded with?

Basciville, Colm Mac Con Iomaire, Ailbhe Reddy, Bill Whelan, The Man Whom, Sacred Animals and The Ocelots. 

What advice would you give someone wanting to play drums?

Listen to as much as you can, and whenever you hear something you like try to learn how to play it. Also, listen to what the other instruments are playing and make sure you understand the context of everything you're playing. 

How did you cope during the COVID-19 lockdown?

I was lucky that I felt inspired to practice a lot during the lockdown. I think this was probably due to the slew of videos of amazing drummers shredding in their homes. I'm very grateful to have my own space where I can focus on improving my playing, and to keep me distracted from the apocalypse. 

Sunday 19 July 2020

Colum Young - Drummer with Emperor of Ice cream

What type of drum kit do you use?

I have a few drum kits: a Yamaha, a Canopus and I practice on a '67 Ludwig white pearl marine in sizes 22 x 18, 12x9, 13x9, 16x16 with a Ludwig supraphonic snare 5x14 that I bought in New York with Zildjian A's cymbals, 14" hi-hats and 18" and 21".

Who are your favourite players?

When I started out on drums my favourite players were from the bands I was listening to, like Dennis Davis (Bowie), Michael Shrieve (Santana), Ginger Baker (Cream), Phil Thompson (Roxy Music), James Gadson (Bill Withers), Phil Collins (Genesis), and Chris Frantz (Talking Heads). Growing up some of the Irish players I listened to were Fran Breen, John Wadham, Jerry Fehily and Darren Beckett. 

Then, when I started to really study drums and take playing more seriously, I learned so much from drummers like Kenny Clarke, Papa Joe Jones, Max Roach, Elvin Jones, Tony Williams to name a few innovators on the drum kit who continue to inspire me. My first teacher in New York was Eddie Locke, a phenomenal player and mentor, who taught me as much about the tradition of Jazz as playing the instrument itself. Of course, there are some incredible current drummers--Billy Hart, Marcus Gilmore, Dan Weiss and Tyshawn Sorey--who are doing really exciting things and exploring new boundaries on the drums.

What are your favourite albums / songs?

I remember stocking shelves in a supermarket as a kid and they would always play Paul Brady's "Nothing But The Same Old Story." I loved that song and the album Hard Station. Jimi Hendrix was a big inspiration, especially Band Of GypsysKind Of Blue was my gateway into the world of Jazz so of course Jimmy Cobb was a big influence. I got to see him and hear him play many times in NYC when I lived there, which was a dream come true. Any John Coltrane album; Elvin Jones was another huge inspiration. I got to hang out with him a couple of times, once at a drum workshop in Dublin before I moved to NYC. When he asked if I knew anyone there, and I said "not really," he turned to me and replied, "well, you do now." That gave me a lot of confidence to make the leap.

Can you tell us some of the artists that you have played / recorded with?

I left school when I was 16 with the life of a drummer in my mind and started playing with a local band in Cork called The Dancing Bastards from Hell, affectionately known as just "The Bastards." It was a conglomeration of well known musicians in Cork at the time. I only really got the gig because they had basically run off every other drummer in town with a lot of onstage slagging. That was as much a part of the Cork scene as it was how you played. It was a tough apprenticeship in those days but fun. I think they left me alone because there wasn't any other drummer left and I was so young. The band was banned from Trinity College and the entire town of Mitchelstown amongst many other claims to fame. 

Then, of course, I started to play with the Emperors Of Ice cream, Bass Odyssey and a host of other local bands at that time. Whenever the great Louis Stewart was in town we played together. He was another game changer for me as a young drummer. Here was this world class guitar player who encouraged me and was supportive of my playing. I also got to record with Bic Runga and Nick Seymour (Crowded House) before I decided to try playing in Berlin for a year and then NYC for 18 years. In New York I had an opportunity to play with Saul Rubin, Greg Glassman, Stacy Dillard, Asaf Yuria, Pasquale Grasso, Alexi David and Dida Pelled, among many other bands. I recently moved to Amsterdam and am enjoying getting to know the scene here.

How does it feel to have The Emperor of Ice cream back together again?
I'm really enjoying getting back together with The Emperors. Graham Finn--the Emperor's guitar player--is also in NYC and we'd try to play together whenever we could, and it's been great to get back working with Eddie Butt, Haggis and Eddie Kiely, our manager, again. It all happened very organically. Starting with a nostalgic newspaper article in the Irish Examiner; the interest in the band and enjoyment of the singles we've released so far has given us a wonderful opportunity to finish an album we started 25 years ago.

The long awaited debut album from Emperor of Ice cream is about to be released. Can you tell us what can we expect?

We're proud of this album and want it to cement our time together as a band--where we grew up, the time we shared--and also who we have become as musicians and people since then. It's been exciting to see our two singles, "Lambent Eyes" and "Everyone Looks So Fine," do so well in Ireland and it's been fun re-recording a number of these songs from our locations around the world. It's all pretty remarkable considering we popped up again after all these years and can't play live currently with COVID-19 to support the album.

Hopefully next year we'll have a chance to show the folks who have supported us that we can still play our asses off and give people a great night out, which we could all do with right now!!!

How did you cope during the COVID-19 lockdown?  

Obviously I miss playing live with other musicians but I try to be positive and use this time for personal practice on the drums. I have a ton of stuff I'm working on--like four-way coordination and melodic playing on the kit. And, of course, we're putting the Emperor's album together and promoting it online and with social media. 

Between the album, practice, listening to music and learning more on the piano there's no shortage of things to do during lockdown. But, you know, it's also important to take it easy on the expectations we have of ourselves right now and focus on finding the joy in drumming and music, however we can. 

Saturday 11 July 2020

Rob Barrett, World Drumming Champion, Educator and Top Barber from Dublin.

Rob Barrett is a well respected drummer, educator and Top Barber from Dublin. Having started his drumming career, as a marching band drummer at the tender age of 9, he then went on to become one of Ireland’s most accomplished pipe band drummers with the St. Laurence O’Toole pipe band, under the tutelage of the brilliant Stephen Creighton. Rob has won almost every major honour, including several World Drumming Championships’. When it comes to kit drumming, Rob has been a well respected player for many years.Rob spent 10 years working in the Drumgeon in Musicmaker, where it is fair to say he was regarded as a reliable source for any drum advice. He also built up an amazing roster of drum teaching accolades having worked with some of the world’s top drummers
What type of drum kit do you use?

At the moment I go between an Ayotte Velvet series steel hoop kit and a 1970’s Pearl Wood/Fiberglass. 
The Ayotte is a 22x16, 12x9, 16x15 Maple kit. 
The Pearl is a 22x16, 12x8, 13x9, 16x16. 
My main snare is a Ludwig Acrolite 14x6.5. 
And I’ve a mish-mash of Sabian cymbals. I’m kind of known for having loads of hi-hats. I’ve got 3 or 4 different sets on my kit at any time. 

Who are your favourite players?

My favourite players right now are: 
Stephen Creighton who is my pipe band mentor and World renowned Drum Sgt of St Laurence O’Toole pipe band. 
Dan Mayo is a super experimental kit player who combines acoustic drum sounds with modular synths and heavily processed effects. 

What are your favourite albums / songs?

Wow there’s so many great albums and tracks to pick from so I think it’d be easier to give you the tracks and records I can’t stop listening to recently. 
My favourite albums currently are:
Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp a butterfly
Favourite song currently is:
Illingsworth - Magic Deck

Can you tell us some of the artists that you have played / recorded with?

My first serious band was Distractors who were a Finglas based rock and roll outfit that toured Ireland for 3/4 years and played all the usual venues and festivals. After Distractors I took a few years break to concentrate on Pipe band drumming. 
I am the current drummer for Dublin rapper Rebel Phoenix @rebel.phoenix
Alternative band Errorists @erroristsband
Experimental improv band RRestlers @rrestlers
Dublin blues legend Mary Stokes @mary_stokesblues

What advice would you give someone wanting to play drums?

For anyone thinking of playing drums I’d suggest getting lessons. Try out a few different teachers and find out which teacher suits you best. Go into Musicmaker and make friends with the lads in there. They are a great source of info and advice for all levels of drummers alike. 
Also try and remember that no matter how serious you do or don’t take it, it’s only drums!! It’s supposed to feel great and be fun always! If it doesn’t enrich your life and soul it mightn’t be for you. 

How did you cope during the COVID-19 lockdown?

I know it may seem a little strange but I really enjoyed the lockdown. I didn’t realise how much I needed a recharge and a rest. I’d been grinding and working flat out for quite some time whether cutting hair in Trench or drumming with various acts and artists. So when the lockdown happened I took a breather and was mindful of getting into a daily routine. I didn’t drink any alcohol, started practicing yoga and spent a lot of time with my practice pad a sticks. I revisited a lot of my pipe band tunes which was great!! 
I know that gigs won’t be happening any time soon so I’ll keep up my practice and enjoy working in the barber shop now that we’ve reopened. 

Rob  is regarded as a great drum tuner and can still be found working with some of Ireland’s top bands/drummers/studios. His @kungfudrumming classes are a popular fixture in @yellowdoormusicstudios and has brought a sense of community for the resident drummers while refining their craft. 

Saturday 27 June 2020

Dennis Cassidy - Promotor / Collaborator & Drummer with various artists including jazz/hip-hop collective Mixtapes From The Underground

What type of drum kit do you play?

I'm a bit of a vintage drum nerd so my main kits are a 60s Rogers Holiday in 20, 12, 14 and a 70s Japanese Badge Pearl in 22, 12, 16. I love that old-school dry studio sound, so both kits are set up with coated P4 heads on the toms and an Emad on each bass drum (with plenty of tea towels on standby) My main snare is a Pearl Sensitone Aluminium 14x6.5 that I use on pretty much everything as it has that lovely warm 70s era Acrolite tone and is incredibly versatile. If I'm doing more of a hip-hop/electronic thing I'll bring the Mapex Brass Master 13x3.5 which is essentially a modern, piccolo version of the Black Beauty. It's cranked pretty high with an O-Ring for extra dryness so is perfect for playing breaks and processed sounds. I'm proud to endorse Sabian Cymbals and Vater Drumsticks (huge thanks to all at Musicmaker) so I have a nice selection of Artisan, HH, HHX and AA models to choose from depending on the situation. My main live set up is a pair of 15" Artisan Light hats with 17" & 18" HHXtreme crashes in both brilliant and natural finishes. For a bigger sound I'll put those same hats with the 21" HHX Groove Ride and 19" & 20" HHXtreme crashes. I also have a really nice 22" Artisan light and 20" AA Raw ride with rivets that I use for quieter/jazzier stuff plus a couple of older model HH thin crashes that go together beautifully. Stick wise I go between the Vater 5B Sugar Maple and Jazz Ride models, as well as their Wire Tap brushes and T3 Mallets. 

Who are your favourite players?

There are so many! Style wise, I'm influenced by everything really. From straight up serving-the-song playing and stick-smashing heft, to unorthodox phrasing ideas and bold experimentation with sonics and textures. I started playing in the mid 90's so cut my teeth to all things grunge, punk and metal as well as some of the acid jazz and hip-hop around at the time. In the early 00's I got deeper into jazz and world music while studying in Newpark, which in turn expanded into free playing, minimalism, and electronica. Mid 00's to the early teens was a heavy diet of funk breaks and even more hip-hop, running the Mixtapes From The Underground project, and in the last few years I've been going down the less is more route, checking out a lot of early country, folk and Americana as well as tons of 60's & 70's Krautrock, psych, post punk and new wave. I've also been lucky enough to work at a record store the past seven years which has given me access to a wealth of sounds, so that's been a pretty big influence too. All of these different phases have informed the musician I am today and I'm always excited to keep exploring and listening as much as possible, with open ears and an open mind. In no particular order, drummers (and producers) such as Tony Allen, Stewart Copeland, Jimmy Cobb, DJ Shadow, Dave Grohl, Delia Derbyshire, Billy Martin, Mick Fleetwood, Jon Brion, MF Doom, Steve Reich, Four Tet, Edan, David Axelrod, Matt Chamberlain, Dave King, Questlove, Dosh, Squarepusher and Glenn Kotche (among many others) are all constant sources of inspiration. 

What are your favourite albums / songs?

Bob James - Angela (theme from Taxi) is a big one for me as it holds so many memories. I used to stay up way past my bedtime to watch that show and I always loved the combination of the opening flute line with the footage of the yellow checkered cab cruising across the Queensboro Bridge into Manhattan. It still gives me that warm and fuzzy feeling all these years later! It's also the first time I heard the majesty of the Fender Rhodes which is pretty much my favourite instrument after the drums. More recently I've discovered the incredible Kentuckian singer/songwriter Joan Shelley, in particular her self-titled album from 2017 which was produced by Wilco main man Jeff Tweedy and features his son Spencer on drums. He's only in his early twenties but has the chops and sensibilities of Levon Helm, Jim Keltner and Ralph Molina combined. It's one of my favourite records of the last few years and is an absolute masterclass in song craft and understated playing. 

Other honourable mentions:

The Cardigans - Life
Joe Jackson - Look Sharp
Feist - Metals
ESG - Come Away With ESG 
Jaga Jazzist - A Livingroom Hush
Beastie Boys - Ill Communication

Can you tell us some of the artists that you have played / recorded with?

I've been very fortunate to work with some amazingly talented folk across various disciplines over the years, but definite highlights would have to be: Nina Hynes, Sean Og's Trihornophone, The Dead Flags, composer Garrett Sholdice, Tryst, Fehdah, Loah, AJ Croce (son of Jim Croce),The Holy Roman Army, Butter, Emma O’ Reilly,Shelley Bukspan, Lethal Dialect, Jamie Clarke (ex Ambience Affair) and my own improv jazz/hip-hop collective Mixtapes From The Underground. 

What advice would you give someone wanting to play drums?

Listen to as much music as you can and find out what moves you. Join a band and play shows. You learn more on stage than you ever can in a practice room. Find a good teacher that inspires you. If you can, learn to read music and work on your rudiments. If you want to be a working musician, learn to play with a click, be on time for rehearsals and gigs and do your homework before said rehearsals and gigs. Get a good physio (your body will thank you for years to come) and always, ALWAYS protect your ears. 
There's no right or wrong way to create, so try not to get hung up on criticism or what other people may think. Being a creative person can be hard and there can be a certain expectation to be switched on all the time, from yourself and from others. It's ok to have off days. This is normal so be kind to yourself. If you feel overwhelmed, don't be afraid to ask for help, be that talking to other artists, friends and family or to a counsellor. Playing music is such a privilege, so enjoy it and if you can make a living from it then even better. Most importantly, have fun! 

What upcoming projects are in the pipeline?

At the moment all gigs are off the table with the Covid pandemic, but I was lucky to get to record some great music before the lockdown happened. The main one being with my longtime friend and co-conspiritor A.Smyth on his debut album which we did with the brilliant Dara Nolan at his Astakalapa studio in Gorey. It's a really special record and I'm so proud to have played on it. Also did some nice neo-soul grooves and percussion for my pals, Sligo based La Gracia. My good buddy and local funkster Danny G is putting the final touches to his second album and there may be some new music from Paj and Selk too. I'm also working on a beat tape for my solo project Mother Tongues, which is all made using samplers and turntables (no drums allowed!) so I'm hoping to put that out over the coming months. 

Photo credit; Stephen Kiernan 

Sunday 21 June 2020

Brendan Doherty - drummer with Cloud Castle Lake

What type of drum kit do you use?
It's kind of a mix and match kit made up of '60s Rogers toms, an old Premier 20" kick drum from the '50s and a '70s metal shell premier snare. I use Istanbul Agop Cymbals.

Who are your favourite players?
Elvin Jones, Earl Palmer, Danny Richmond, Jim Keltner, Paul Motian, Ringo, John Bonham to name just a few.

What are your favourite albums / songs?
Stone Flower - Antonio Carlos Jobim
Good Old Boys - Randy Newman
Mingus Oh Yeah - Charles Mingus
Hosono House - Haruomi Hosono
Somewhere Else - Sun Ra
Swing Slow - Swing Slow

How did you get involved in Cloud Castle Lake?
Through a friend. They were looking for a new drummer and a mutual friend recommended me, so I went in and we played through some stuff and it just kind of clicked. It's been a great experience playing with them, and many of the other projects I'm now involved in came about through connections I made through CCL. So I'm forever thankful to the guys for having me on board.

What current plans do the group have? 
It's been a pretty quiet year for us. We're all involved with other projects outside CCL and were all pretty busy individually for the past year, so we didn't have much time as we'd like to focus on the band. Once this lockdown ends though, hopefully, we'll be back in the studio working on new music!

How are you spending your time during this COVID-19 lockdown?
I've been having a crack at learning Ableton, which I've been meaning to do for a long time. Doing a lot of cooking, walking, listening to music. It's been a good opportunity to get some practise done. I don't have a kit set up at home so I've just been doing some much-needed hand technique practise

Photo credits; Igor Kwasniak and Red Keane.