Forum Member Profile - Andy Hilton aka Spart
Visitors Profile - Spart
Name: Andy Hilton aka Spart
Date of Birth: 17/11/65
Status: Married, father of six.
Tell us about yourself
I grew up in England but have been resident in Ireland since 2002. I live in the bucolic, rural paradise known as County Cavan... for ''bucolic'' read ''wet''. Cavan is one of those undiscovered gems now so rarely found.
As well as pursuing a largely financially unrewarding musical “career” I have worked over the years in construction and “property development”. For the last two and a half years I have been a “home maker”, which is confusing to insurance professionals. During this time my wife has been a full time student in Belfast, she should graduate next summer as a speech therapist.
I have no formal training, though I partook of a few brief pointers from Mr Francis Seriau in the late 80s at the original DrumTech school – it was actually a terraced house in Acton. Due to his insistence on the use of a certain D. Weckl’s “Contemporary Drummer Plus One” method, I was left with an over-riding intolerance for all that jazz/fusion/funker keyboard drivel.
It lasts to this day.
How and when did you get into drumming?
The Royal Albert Hall, 1976. My fathers treat to the family was a seat in the Gods for Shirley Bassey. This gig left me with a lifelong love of the big band and horns in particular. The experience left me with the fundamental image of the drummer as the power behind the throne.
1982. My brother mysteriously acquired a battered Hayman set, which was hastily appropriated. I spent many hours annoying everybody. Brother Gus later took up the trumpet.
1985. I move to the smoke. At University I met a young Mat Osman, later to join those well known Britpoppers Suede. Student bands followed in quick succession but by 1989 I had arrived at the door of Spasm, somewhere in East London. A great bunch of “alternative” rock types. We did a lot of gigs all over the place and made a couple of singles which never did anything. I played with various other offshoots from this “scene” through the early 90s and somehow wound up with a Country Punk outfit by 1994. Further singles, no money.
By now I am Dad. Real work is imperative. And thus the hiatus begins. I’m still playing, though mostly alone. Fathers of young children may be able to empathise with this, on all levels.
In 1999 I got the call. They must have been desperate. Would I like to make a record with my old compadre Big Al? Seems he wanted to make an LP featuring his latest ramblings under the moniker The John Wayne Army. This is the same erstwhile Elvis eviscerator from Dundee I have known and grappled with (metaphorically speaking) for some dozen years. Big Al tells me he has Pathway studios in Stokey block booked, how about it?
I ask if he will please call the LP “The Old Country Union”? He demurs. After a short interval I find myself plus drums in a space roughly the size of a Shetland Pony stable, for that is what the venerable Pathway once was. We bash out the tracks, he is happy, nay ecstatic. Do I want to play a few gigs? His wallet creaks and I am back in the saddle. Nothing happens and I emigrate shortly thereafter.
What are you doing musically at present?
Currently I am playing a regular gig with keys, bass and vox in the pubs. Mostly swing, light jazz and daft covers. I also play with the Cavan Sinfonia, which is not as grand as it sounds. Occasionally I get called for a pick up gig - Paddy’s Day can be frenetic. I have some recording coming up for a local guitarist who has his own studio. I like to do musicals when asked, it’s fantastic fun.
I have also been restoring vintage sets for the last few years. I never really used to have much interest in the mechanics of the drums, such as they are. A couple of years ago I was asked to do up an old Premier from the 60s for a friend’s son. I was amazed at the build quality of these drums. I had had a 60s Gretsch Round Badge since 1993 and the Premiers were pretty much their equal in workmanship, if not actually superior. Doing up drums is not rocket science, as they say. Consequently I have been enjoying a very rewarding hobbyist approach to the task. I’ve sent sets all over the world, so I guess I must be doing something right.
Most memorable drumming experience?
Easy. The night I met my wife. Picture the scene. A rooftop in edgy East London, the soft yet insistent pulse of passing sirens. I am shooting a video, playback tinkles and TV types with clipboards abound. A vision appears clutching one of those huge light reflectors. “Would you like a hand with that? I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.
Of lesser importance but nonetheless memorable…
A support slot for ExtremeNoiseTerror. Or Ear, Nose and Throat depending on your point of view. Play the gig and exit stage left whereupon I literally run straight into Mr J Peel. Apologising profusely I stutter out my deep indebtedness for his showing me the way of true musical appreciation during those dark hours listening to his ground breaking radio shows. He is pleasant in return, self effacing even. Turns out he is there with his son, whose 16th birthday it is. He makes no reference to my “Never Trust A Hippy” T Shirt.
One of many failed auditions. This is for an “up and coming rock band”. I am too jazzy!! I recommend my best friend. He gets the gig. They go on to do some great tours and make quite a few records. They feature in Ms P Anderson’s first full length Hollywood feature (It’s rubbish). Thankfully my mate is the most indiscreet drummer you could ever meet and virtually vomits vivid tales of rock star shenanigans. All parties shall remain nameless.
Kit set up?
I like to employ a 20”x12”/14” or 18”x12” bass drum, 12”x8” tom tom, a 14”x14” floor tom and a 14”x6.5” snare drum. Occasionally I will take a 16”x16” floor tom as well.
Cymbal wise, it is usually 14” hihats, 22” ride, 20” ride and 17/18” crash. Sometimes I take a 20” swish with six rivets if I want to be really loud. Bosphorus or Istanbul.
Favourite drummers and why?
In no particular order:
Ringo. Why ever not? If you don’t get him now, you never will.
Pete Thomas. The best drummer for the best lyricist of the last thirty odd years. Symbiosis in action.
Joe Morello. Taste, style, musicality.
Peter Erskine. Ditto.
Jon Hiseman. I love him for his quiet British understatement.
John Wright. Has everything the engine requires, original in a clichéd world, and he can sing.
Levon Helm. Best singing drummer ever.
Favourite drum DVD?
Sorry, don’t do these. I was once given a Dennis Chambers release, it was VHS. It gave me a headache.
Favourite bit of kit?
All my old Super Aces. Bossy Masters series cymbals.
Anything you would like to add?
Firstly many thanks for asking. I enjoy the forum and it is pleasing to contribute.
I would also have to volunteer that for me “drumming” is about “music”. I have always erred toward listening to and hopefully playing with people who have something to say. I’m not into chops monkeys, I tend to think that anything that doesn’t serve the song is a bit pointless. Sure, self expression is important but it’s the collective effort that counts.
Please log in below if you wish to add your comments on this item. If you are commenting for the first time, you will need to register for security reasons.
|SHARE||PRINT THIS PAGE|