I bought my first Drum kit when I was 16 from a guy wearing a Transvision Vamp t-shirt.
I was educated in music by my uncle Brian, a man only 7 years my senior. In the 80’s I was listening to The Police, Big Country, U2 and The Beatles. Particular attention was to be paid to the drummers of these bands, at the strict instruction of uncle Brian (an aspiring drummer himself.)
Stewart Copeland was my favourite. I listen still to The Police back catalogue with amazement at some of his genius. Anyone who wants to hear the drums played properly should invest time in Stewart Copeland.
Mark Brzezicki was of a similar, but less polished ilk. Some of the drumming on the live album, ‘Without The Aid Of A Safety Net’, is outstanding. Spotify it. I went to see them in a little club in Manchester 2 years ago (obviously without the legendary Stuart Adamson) and he’s still a drummer with great style and panache. I was lucky enough to meet him that night, and I’m pleased to report that he’s a lovely, accommodating man to boot… I didn’t ‘boot’ him. I mean ‘as well’.
Ringo Starr, in my opinion, is a vastly underrated drummer. Yes, they had their simple, jangly songs at times, but listen to the majority of Abbey Road, Sergeant Peppers, or The White Album and you’ll find some complex and technically difficult drum lines.
However, U2 were (and are) my favourite band. Anyone who has heard any of my drumming would be able to tell that I took the easy option in the battle of Larry Mullen vs Stewart Copeland to be my model drummer. Larry Mullen is an engine, a metronome and an inspirational drummer.
In the summer of 1993 I got my first job as a glass collector at The Mossend Brewers Fayre. I was there purely for the entertainment of the older staff. Many, many practical jokes were played on me, I’m only wee now and I was a lot wee-er then. One example is being asked to count the matches in the cellar because the auditors were coming the next day. I went into the dry store and reported back dutifully “There are 94 boxes of matches in the cellar, Mark!” To which Mark replied “Yes. This is good and well. However, the matchboxes say on them ‘Average 50 matches’. We need to know if there’s an average of 50 matches per box. Off you pop. There’s a good lad.”… I went.
Still, months of wages were saved in order to buy my first drum kit. Saturday shifts 1-10, Sunday shifts 12-9, 2 nights in the week 5-12. After all, I NEEDED a drum kit.
Do you remember ‘Loot’?
That was before yer internet. A yellow paper filled with ads selling anything from record players to walkmans, laser discs to cars. An eBay in paper form. That’s where the drum kit lay. Somewhere in Glasgow, a Transvision Vamp fan realised his dream of being the next… Transvision Vamp drummer, was just pie in the sky.
Bold uncle Brian arranged for us to take a look at the kit at his house. A 5 piece Pearl kit, immaculate condition, black and chrome finish. £250.
I practised in my room at home, playing along to Achtung Baby, The White Album and Crowded House’s Together Alone. (I still lived with my Mum and Dad. My Mother is now deaf in one ear. Reports that excessive drumming by me, and my 2 brothers thereafter, caused this affliction are unconfirmed.) I felt that I took to drumming quite naturally. I’d been playing ‘pillow drums’ for years, after all. Transferring this to a real drum kit didn’t appear to be too difficult. Except for the feet. I had an initial problem with my feet.
After months and months of practice and having mastered my own inimitable version of ‘Everybody’s Got Something To Hide ( Except For Me And My Monkey)’, I decided I needed diversity.
I decided I needed a band…