Greetings all and welcome to the July update from My Life In Drums. This month sees me writing you from the Turf Tavern, the famed Oxford boozer where Bill Clinton allegedly ‘did not inhale’…
It’s been a nice mix of rehearsals, gigs and recordings plus a couple of EU trips in the last few weeks. I love the travelling and as mentioned in previous entries I like to dig out a drum shop when chance befalls.
After a recent show in Winchester with Co-Pilgrim (to celebrate the release of album Moon Lagoon! Out now! I stayed down south to seek out a new spot for me, Graham Russell Drums, down on the coast.
Crossing the threshold for the first time can be an affecting spiritual endeavour and I’m sure the readership know the procedure … a quickening of the pulse at the sight of the cymbals, a heightening of the senses as the wall of snare drums comes into focus, and a dose of adrenaline into the central nervous system when you realise: there’s a second floor.
Let us take a moment to praise the wonderful Drum Shops of The World! These cherished spaces where we can let loose our passion for all things percussive. And not just the drums and cymbals but the other bits too – the cases, clamps, covers and connectors; sticks, spares, screws and snares; the odds and ends, the novelties, the latest technologies; the new innovations and old favourites! All present in exciting three dimensions to touch and hold and feel and a potent reminder of what Internet shopping can’t ever properly provide. All hail these humble outlets, hidden away on industrial estates, suburbs and side streets across the country.
I spent a good half-dozen hours considering every cymbal in the shop, eyeing every head and holding every snare. I loved the stock of second hand pieces that they carried and I came away with a trio of old Zildjians, a bunch of miscellania and an original 80’s Yamaha logo drum head for my original 80’s Yamaha 9000 kit!
I say we give them all the support we can. Long live the glorious Drum Shop!
Back to work Monaghan – somehow you need to fund these compulsive purchases! Up to Glasgow with Saint Etienne for a live BBC Scotland thing. Such occasions used to make me nervous but these days it all feels a lot calmer; a reminder that – in music as in life – what makes you nervous today can feel a whole lot more familiar given a little time and experience. Fear not, tense friends, and keep going.
Though interestingly I perpetrated an alarming number of stick drops during the first few songs of the set. What happens in the heat of performance must be and I never chastise for a dropped stick. The Mike Monaghan Dropped Stick Theory™ goes that if we were never allowed to do so we would play all tight and stiff and that’s definitely not where good drumming comes from. A fumble is no folly! Play away with abandon, only be prepared with a spare (or three!) at hand.
Fortunately I managed to cover them suitably and on listening back to the radio broadcast the following day (narcissist!) couldn’t even pick em out. (Can you… ).
Home then for a few days to bask in this fine weather we’ve been having. Cue my annual boozy backyard barbecue which this year turned into a late-night long-haul Pink Floyd listening session – max respect to the skilled technicians who installed the neighbours double-glazing.
I dig Nick Mason’s sweet chilled vibe with the sticks. The drum sounds in particular carry a certain magic – a combination of the kit, the tuning, the mics, the production, the era – and right now I’m obsessed with this amazing video of the band playing at Pompeii!
That Ludwig double-kick drum kit got me all afroth and sent me down a slippery slope of Internet searches for quality vintage double-bass drum sets. They’re rarely seen these days outside of the metal vernacular but there was a glorious period of great English rockers rocking the double-kick sets – from Mason to Baker to Moon … even Ringo allegedly gave it a go!
I’ll take this one to the (all new) MD.com forums as I’d love to hear other’s thoughts on Nick Masons playing? And if any readers out there have any leads on double bass drum set for sale please let me know…!
But the barbecue was a blinder and the halloumi divine. Harry even decided to test my theory that riding a unicycle is actually easier after several pints. Results were inconclusive but we’ll commence further investigation when the cast comes off in 4-6 weeks.
Bringing prog into more contemporary echelons, did anyone else catch Radiohead at Glasto this month…? It was interesting to see how drummer Phil Selway and aux drummer Clive Deamer played together and arranged the parts across the two kits. Also the way that Selway and bassist Colin Greenwood played so close together (physically, but also musically) despite the enormity of the stage – and occasion.
I really dig Deamer’s deep sweet jazzy ride groove on track Ful Stop (track 3) – though I was disappointed that the TV coverage barely gave us a moment on the man across the whole set! Perhaps there was some confusion in the cutting room between the two three-piece playing bald-headed Gretsch thumpers!
I’m a big fan of his playing and was sad to see so little of him on The Box. I know I bang on about Deamer and Radiohead a lot but I’ve always found it inspiring to have such a world-class world-beating band based so close to home.
That’s about all from me. Besides life behind the tubs I otherwise only took a brief moment out to turn thirty this month, doing so on a glorious high (in glorious Swindon needless to add) after beating my brother in a game of bowling. Anyone with a sibling rivalry will attest to the great joy (think opening the door to a new drum shop) upon seeing out the tenth frame – even if he did promptly beat me back with double my score!
See you in August. If I’m not in a drum shop you’ll find me at the Bowlplex…