Hello, and welcome to my new monthly blog here on mikedolbear.com. You may have read last month’s introduction piece where I answered some basic questions about myself, what I do, who I work with, how I got started in the industry etc. This month I thought I would embellish some of this information so that you had a good idea about myself, and where I’ve come from. Here is a very brief description…
I wont bore you too much with the past but in short, my name is Martin Oldham and I am a professional Drum Technician running a business called DrumTechSupport (DTS) that has been growing since its launch in 2011. I setup DTS the day after I left my last role in full time employment as Head Of Drums at Europe’s largest backline hire company, John Henry’s in London. It was a job I enjoyed very much, looking after 250+ kits, developing my skills and experiencing new things on a regular basis. As eluded to in my intro piece there was a tipping point toward the end of my time at JH where I knew I would have to leave if I wanted to pursue this career properly. Knowing that I also wanted to do a number of different things in the future I decided to launch the business and the brand with immediate effect.
I hadn’t left JH without an upcoming project – part of the ‘tipping point’ for me was the offer of becoming the full time drum/percussion tech for Friendly Fires. This job started for me a few days after leaving John Henry’s; bizarrely enough the first Friendly Fires rehearsal took place at John Henry’s and within less than a week I was back at JH but in a very different capacity.
The end of 2011 was a whirlwind of learning, touring, traveling and expanding my network of contacts in the industry. My day-to-day routine had changed dramatically, I was adjusting well to the ‘being your own boss’ nature of freelancing while also being realistic about the challenges that this presented. Going from regular full time employment with a structured system of payment, holidays, pension, sick pay etc to a life where none of these things were guaranteed was a transition that took some time to get used too. I remember that I tried to keep very busy at all times and not worry too much about the ‘what if’s’.
Friendly Fires was a great gig to be involved with. The initial touring schedule was increased on a regular basis with dates stretching well in Sep 2012. However I managed to also continue to diversify into various avenues within the same industry; I increased my studio teching work at RAK, Miloco and other London studios, I utilized my knowledge and passion for vintage drums and began sourcing equipment for clients around the UK, and took on repair and restoration work when I could to round off a very busy and successful 2012.
2013 was real turning point. Up to this point I had been running DTS for around 14 months. I now had some idea of the seasonal nature of the industry, for example if you weren’t in Australia in the early part of the year it meant that you probably weren’t on tour – the early part of the year is very quiet for UK based tours, but in Australia it is the height of summer festival season. That’s how my 2013 began with my new role with DJ Fresh with Kodish on drums.
One motto I have learnt to appreciate is ‘Work breeds work’ – meaning that if people see you working you will more likely get offered more work. This was the exact case for me. I was offered the Tinie Tempah directly off the back of my work with Friendly Fires. TT then led me to working with James Arthur and before I knew it 2014 was upon us. All the while I tried very hard to continue to fit in studio work, drum sourcing, working with individual clients etc to help me grow the brand/business of DTS.
The following year I found that more people now knew who I was and what the business could offer. I continued to juggle TT and JA while sill meeting the demands of my other clients. I was now also happy to welcome some repeat business from people I had worked with previously – most notably The Libertines whom I had worked with in 2011. 2014 was also the year I became a father, which was a new challenge I was very happy to take on. Ending with large studio sessions and touring plans for 2015 I was glad of the rest over the festive season.
A one off show with Emile Sande was to be my first engagement of 2015 before beginning a mammoth campaign with Rudimental in support of their second album. Touring with Rudimental would see me travel the globe until late 2016 – again trying hard to grow the business through other projects at the same time. Studio work was more frequent, the sourcing side of the business was doing very well and all this meant that 2015 was again busier than the previous years.
This trend carried over to the following year 2016 – which would be another turning point for the business. Due to the growth and the amount of work I was being offered I realized I needed assistance and people to help. This led me to start providing drum techs for artists where I wouldn’t personally be attending. This arm of the business has grown massively since the first act I took on – Jack Garratt. Again I found myself busier than ever with all the pervious things as discussed and now managing multiple techs and artists.
More returning clients filled my touring schedule in 2017 – it was great to get back on the road with Pendulum. Juggling acts such as Pendulum, Chase and Status, Rudimental etc can be tricky at times especially during a hectic summer festival season. This coupled with the growing DTS network of techs meant I sacrificed personal things more than ever before. There was however still room for more and for new things – 2017 saw the launch of The UK Drum Show which I am heavily involved in. It also saw DTS secure distribution of Kentville Kangaroo Drum Skins and launch them at TUKDS and have a presence at London Drum Show ’17. This was also the year that I launched DTS into the public market as well as the services that we provide for the private, more established, artists.
2018 I hope will see more of the same. Already there are multiple touring campaigns to take care of, studio sessions to prep for and lots of other things to be getting on with – not least the Stage Management and Teching of the Young Drummer Of The Year 2017 (full report in the next blog).
That was just a brief overview of whats been happening over the past few years – Thanks for reading and any questions please feel free to contact me through one of the channels below,
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Website – www.drumtechsupport.com
Facebook – www.facebook.com/drumtechsupport
Instagram – www.instagram.com/drumtechsupport
Twitter – @drumtechsupport