Q&A Scene: Drummers’ Special: Ben Ellingworth

How long have you been drumming?
Why did you first pick up the drumsticks? Ive been playing drums from about the age of 10 I think? I picked up Drums for a couple of reasons, my older Brother was in a band and I just fell in love with how fun it looked, and also I moved to a new town and started a new school, and I guess it was a good survival tool and a means of disappearing into a craft that I could focus on and not have to fit into the social circles.

Which drummer influenced your playing?
I discovered Iron Maiden when I was around 11 or 12 so Nicko McBrain was huge for me as a kid, I think his dedication to single kick playing still carries through to my playing now. I loved a bunch of different players for different reasons, From Igor Cavalera and Mike Bordin to all the instructional video dudes like Weckl, Bissonette, Coliauta etc. Honorary mention to Danny Heifetz from Mr Bungle a little further down the track for showing me that drumming didn’t have to be heavy to be brutal and intense.

Describe your kit.

My kit for the last 18 years has been a Hybrid setup consisting of both Acoustic and Electronic drums. I use a Yamaha Birch Custom Absolute hook lug with a Yamaha DTX multi 12 pad module. Ive always seemed to play for artists or bands that require that element of samples, loops, or triggered sounds. It’s a fun kit to play once you learn to drive the thing

The Kit Config is 10×8, 12×8, 16×15, 22×20, 14×6.5 Brass recording custom Snare, and I swap between a 14×5 Jimmy Chamberlain signature and an Evetts Custom jarrah 13×7 Snare.

For Cymbals I use all Paiste – 15” masters dark hats, 17” &19” Masters Dark crashes, 8” 602 modern essentials splash, 10” Twenty series metal splash, 22” 602 modern essentials Ride, 14” PSTX Swiss FX hats, and an 18” PSTX Swiss FX crash. Los Cabos drumsticks in a 5B wood tip

How do you prepare for a show?
Nothing too far out, I like to eat about 2 hours before, but have been known to demolish all the humus and salsa on the rider before a show as well. I like to stretch out a fair bit and then just run some alternating hand rudiments while listening to some good tunes and getting into a healthy frame of mind, try and eliminate any static or interference that comes with a normal amount of pre show nerves, one last minute cheeky shot of Jameson’s with the rest of the crew and im good to go.

Which artist/band was/is your favourite to play drums with?
The Artist I’ve most enjoyed playing with and continue to is definitely ILLY, The dude is crazy talented, has mad drive and ambition and that’s really infectious to be around. I’ve learnt a lot about the balance between discipline and being a good support role and creating an exciting show that people remember. I also spent the majority of my touring life with the band I was in for 10 years MM9. I basically learnt how to tour and co-exist with other musician’s and crew during that time which is something you need to live through to learn. I also learnt how to have a pretty hard shell for touring during that time, there’s a certain amount of unease and uncomforting experiences along with realism that build your tolerance for a life on the road in an up and coming band that make the years of playing for an artist or band doing well that much more awesome. “Earn them stripes”

How would you describe your sound in food form and why?
Definitely homemade Pizza (not a bought one), reason being is that it’s something you create on the spot depending on how you’re feeling. Its emotionally reactive and can change depending on the mood. Even though ive got the ingredients to create something I know tastes good from a previous experience, I would like to think I have the options ie a culinary reportoire to change it up last minute.

Tell us a quick, on the road or studio, anecdote.
Worst yet funniest gig of all time was being booked to play a new years eve show in some regional NSW town with a 2 piece intensely brutal and noisy Drum n Bass act I did for a while called Kinetic Assassins (terrible name). I remember walking into this huge venue that had reserved dinner table seating, which set off alarm bells immediately. It was the venue bookers last show as he’d had a falling out with the owner, hence booking us for what would be considered the biggest ill-fitting group to play this particular gig. What followed that night was 80 people (no one of which under the age of 60), some angry, some very frightened, leaving there tables and huddling up the back of the room together like a waddle of freezing penguins seeing out a brutal winter. I think we played for about 25 minutes until we realized we better stop incase there’s either a heart attack or a lynch mob…..Still got paid, and just made it back for the count down at the house party we were having at my place.

What, or who, inspires you?
I’m really inspired by my friends and peers, the drumming community has always been a real good vibe and one that’s built around sharing ideas and concepts and being encouraging. I love watching good people do good things and working hard for something they want. I think I’m inspired by peoples work ethic and the realization that the journey is the best bit, that there probably isn’t too many “Apex” moments in a craft that doesn’t stop presenting new goals and benchmarks, so soak it up, do your best, and focus on your own abilities and strengths, all the while not allowing yourself to be influenced by anyone else but to be inspired by the elements and surroundings that you find yourself in and that are applicable to how you roll down your own path.

Which song do you wish you wrote the drumbeat for?
There are so many for different reasons ie simplicity, technique, complexity, musicality, feel etc. id have to say the 6 second break in the song “Amen, Brother” by the Winstons just so I could say that I created the Amen break which went on to be up there with one of the most sampled breaks to be ever used across dozens of genres.

What’s next for you?
I have more shows and festivals for the 2 degrees album cycle with ILLY that will keep me pretty busy for the remainder of the year and possibly into the new year. My band here at home Warflags has shows as well around June in Melbourne and Sydney, as well as finishing off the debut EP with them.

What is the best thing about the Sydney Drum and Percussion Show this May?
Again id say it’s the community, it’s a great introduction for any new players to come and immerse themselves in everything drums and percussion. If you’re looking for new gear its all going to be there or if you want to check out some players or maybe sit in on a discussion panel its all going down there.

What’s your scene?
Myself, and any one can to join if you’re a good human, but I would recommend you discovering your own scene. It may seem lonely but there are fewer rules and you can wear whatever you want. :-)

Australian Music Association has today announced the inaugural Sydney Drum & Percussion Show set to engulf the Rosehill Gardens Grand Pavilion on May 27 and 28. Proudly presented by Australian Musician, the monster exhibition promises to be an electrifying presentation of all things hit.

Boasting an impressive live performance program with some of the world’s best players and biggest names including Thomas Lang (George Michael, Tina Turner, Peter Gabriel), Virgil Donati (Tommy Emmanuel, Steve Vai), Michael Schack (Netsky) and more (with Lang and Donati playing together for the first time ever), the show will also feature a huge array of drum gear and brands and will act as the country’s largest pop-up drum and percussion shop. You can see, try and buy drum kits, cymbals, orchestral and traditional percussion, electronic percussion, hand percussion and accessories from all the major brands, plus never-before- seen gear. There’ll be some tasty home grown and handmade gear too.

Run by the same team that put on the annual Melbourne Guitar Show (MGS) and based on the successful MGS model, the Sydney Drum & Percussion Show will also host information seminars, demonstrations, and live performances from Australia’s most talented drummers and percussion players including Lucius Borich (Cog), Lozz Benson (Urthboy, Drummer Queens), Stan Bicknell (Kimbra, Miami Horror) and more.

From double-kick drummers, groove and touch drummers and jazz stylists, to exotic percussion players, orchestral percussionists, and hard hittin’ rock n rollers, there’ll be something for everyone.

The voice of the Australian music products industry, the Australian Music Association (AMA) is thrilled to present this drum-centric weekend.

“There’s so much about percussion, it’s the world’s most accessible form of music – people take their first steps in music through percussion,” says AMA CEO Rob Walker. “We are excited to showcase our industry’s products and the wealth of local talent that Sydney and Australia has to offer, as well as international guests – three of the best in the world! We seek to educate and entertain, and showcase and grow our drum and percussion community.”

Punters will have the opportunity to participate in drum circles and other hands on percussion workshops, see Australia’s leading percussion ensembles, Taikoz and Synergy Percussion, as well as leading student percussion ensembles from The Sydney Conservatorium and combined school’s ensemble, Drumfill. They can experience the latest electronic drum technology, meet a stack of the industry’s finest drum and percussion players, take part in workshops on drumming for fitness and wellbeing, performance clinics, panels and more.

Additionally, the 2017 Sydney Drum & Percussion Show will provide a hands-on chance to see, hear and play a broad range of the world’s favourite brands. It will also see exhibitors offering great show deals.

If you can hit it, ring it, shake rattle and roll it, it’ll be at the Sydney Drum & Percussion Show.

The Sydney Drum & Percussion Show will be held at Rosehill Gardens Grand Pavilion on May 27 & 28, 2017




About Mary Boukouvalas 1442 Articles
Mary is a photographer and a writer, specialising in music. She runs Rocklust.com where she endeavours to capture the passion of music in her photos whether it's live music photography, promotional band photos or portraits. She has photographed The Rolling Stones, KISS, Iggy Pop, AC/DC, Patti Smith, Joe Strummer, PULP, The Cult, The Damned, The Cure, Ian Brown, Interpol, MUDHONEY, The MELVINS, The Living End, Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins, Rage Against The Machine, The Stone Roses –just to name a few - in Australia, USA, Europe and the Middle East. Her work has been published in Beat magazine, Rolling Stone magazine, Triple J magazine, The Age Newspaper, The Herald Sun, The Australian, Neos Kosmos, blistering.com, theaureview.com, noise11.com, music-news.com. She has a permanent photographic exhibition at The Corner Hotel in Richmond, Victoria Australia.

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