How long have you been drumming? Why did you first pick up the drumsticks?
I’ve been drumming now for around 32 years. The first couple of years were on snare drum and glockenspiel, and then I started on drumset in March 1989. I first picked up the sticks because I wanted to join the school band after starting organ lessons when I was eight years old. The keyboard chair was already taken, and so I joined the percussion section. I loved it, and I was inspired to start playing drumset after watching James Barton play with 1927 early one morning on Rage. I could see what he was doing from a side-on silhouette view of the drums and I sat there all afternoon coordinating myself to play what he was playing. By coincidence, I had the opportunity to play that beat in music class at school the very next day, and so, in my mind, that was the day when I officially became a drummer by vocation.
Which drummer influenced your playing?
Many drummers continue to influence my playing. Early on it was Phil Collins, Chester Thompson and Jim Keltner, but I started gravitating toward jazz and jazz-rock, so my ears were particularly turned on by hearing Andrew Gander, Jack DeJohnette, Vinnie Colaiuta, and Tony Williams. More recently I’ve been in love with the drumming of Pierre Favré, Paul Motian, Billy Hart, and Rudy Royston Jr too. I’ve spent a lot of time listening to each of these guys – sometimes obsessively – and, whilst I do still transcribe and learn to play figures of theirs that I love the sound of, I recognise that I don’t sound anything like any one of them, nor do I consciously try to anymore. Their figures always end up sounding like I played them, and so I’m working on developing more of my own figures these days.
Describe your kit.
I play a set of Sonor ProLite drums in jazz sizes that I’ve had now for just over three years. They’re one of the latest evolutions in the product lines of the company I believe to be manufacturing the best drums on the planet. They’ve got thin maple shells and they tune up beautifully over a broad range. My snare is brass as I like the extra crispness that gives me, and I had Steele Turkington at Kentville Drums install an old Sonor internal muffler so that I’ve got some sonic options. I like my bass drum to growl with no muffling at a pitch that goes below the bass so the bottom end doesn’t get muddied up. I’ve played Sonor drums for 18 years now, and I love them dearly.
My cymbals are all from the Bosphorus Master Vintage and Turk lines. I’ve been playing these now for about eight years and I can’t imagine anything else giving me that sound. Bosphorus Cymbals changed my life for the better when I first heard them. The company is just over 20 years old, but the exquisite quality of their craftsmanship comes from the same Turkish hand-made tradition that’s been passed down for generations since the 1600s. They’re very special instruments.
How do you prepare for a show?
Let’s say it’s a show featuring new music. I take the time to memorise the music as best as I possibly can, and to rehearse with the band as much as possible. Once we’re in the venue, I like to make sure that my drums are in tune and that they sound good in the room. Sometimes I need my own quiet space before, during, and after the gig so I’ll retire to a dressing room to collect my thoughts and make sure I’m mentally as close to the music as I can be before going on stage. It’s great when it’s a band of friends who can simply carry on the conversations and the laughs that’ve been going on for a long time. This helps me feel relaxed. If I’m playing in a band with people I don’t know, it helps to try to get to know each other as much as we can as soon as we can so that when we go on stage, we feel as much trust, respect and rapport with one another as possible. Without that, the music really doesn’t happen as far as I’m concerned.
Which artist/band was/is your favourite to play drums with?
Lately I’ve been enjoying playing with the Steve Barry Quartet. I just recorded eight pieces with Steve that he spent five years composing for his doctoral degree in composition. It’s some of the hardest music I’ve ever had to play, and it was so rewarding finally capturing it in the studio. I’m looking forward to playing in Bali with Steve later this year. More generally, I always love the opportunity to play with my own band, the Dave Goodman Quartet as well as my mainstays Fabric, Trioflight and Ten Part Invention. Earlier on, I had a great time playing with Mike Nock, David Theak’s Theak-tet, and the Matt Keegan Trio. I learned a lot from those experiences.
How would you describe your sound in food form and why?
Garam masala is the first food form that comes to mind, and this, I think, is for three reasons. Firstly, I think of it as the essential ingredient in certain Indian and South East Asian dishes like Rogan Josh, but you won’t find it in any popular Western corporate fast food outlets. In this way, I like to think of my sound as being an essential part of any band that I’m in, but it doesn’t work in just any band. Secondly, garam masala is a combination of spices that can vary in amount to achieve the desired balance of flavor and effect. My sound is variable within the properties of specific kinds of ensembles in the right environment whilst retaining something that’s coherently self-consistent. Lastly, garam masala is slightly medicinal in the ways that it raises the body temperature. Art Blakey said that music is supposed to “wash away the dust of everyday life”. I believe he’s right. When we seek to perform music for people, we’re really inviting ourselves into the infrastructure of their minds, and so we have the duty to honour and respect the sanctity of that privilege by being good and as honest as we can possibly be when playing. There’s a quality of wholeness that comes about when It’s done right, and to be whole is to be healed.
Tell us a quick, on the road or studio, anecdote.
This is a little story describing how context defines the quality of what we do. I was touring with the Matt Keegan Trio in 2005, and there was a problem with the booking in one of the Melbourne venues. We’d been double booked in the same room with a troupe of proud darts players and enthusiasts. We were aware that a game of darts was unfolding up the other end of the room while we were setting up because there’d be long silences interspersed with cheers like, “good darts, Johnny. Good darts!” Evidently, Johnny had just scored a bullseye. We were unaware, though, that there was any conflict in the booking, so we started playing when it was time.
We’d been traveling already for a couple of weeks by the time we got to Melbourne, and so we were starting to take the music right out into avant-garde territory. We started to play our set that night with a bit of free improvisation as an introduction to the first tune. I had my head down with my eyes shut to try and focus on the subtlety of the sounds coming from Matt and Cameron [Undy, the bass player]. Before too long, I heard these loud, male screams getting louder and louder, and so I opened my eyes to see a man running down the room reaching for something in his pocket. We didn’t know what he had in there, and so we were instantly on high alert. As he got closer to us, I could make out that he was yelling, ‘Stop! Stop! We’re trying to play darts here. I’ll pay you to stop!!!” Turns out he was reaching for his wallet! We stopped playing and let them finish their game before carrying on with our set. It was kind of scary at the time, but it’s hilarious to look back on now.
What, or who, inspires you?
I’m inspired by any event, person or artefact that shows evidence of a striving for quality. Music inspires me in its magnitude and its majesty. Outside of music, I’m inspired by my family life, as well as by the works of James Joyce, M. C. Escher, Joseph Campbell, James P. Carse, David Bohm, and John Ralston Saul as well as education, logical processes, and complex systems in general.
Which song do you wish you wrote the drumbeat for?
New Life by Chick Corea.
What’s next for you?
I’m rearranging my quartet music to perform with a larger ensemble including woodwinds. Once that’s done, I’d like to record and tour that music with the band.
What is the best thing about the Sydney Drum and Percussion Show this May?
It’s a great opportunity for people involved with all aspects of drumming to come together under one roof for a period to celebrate music together.
What’s your scene?
Creative, original thinkers with a sense of humour and a favourable disposition toward humanitarianism and the public good.
For the month of May, leading up to the Sydney Drum & Percussion show, What’s My Scene will be celebrating DRUMMERS. Stay tuned for our exclusive Q&As, Snap Scene features, and much much more.
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
SYDNEY DRUM AND PERCUSSION SHOW DETAILS
SATURDAY MAY 27 | ROSEHILL GARDENS GRAND PAVILION |10.00am – 6.00pm | TICKETS
SUNDAY MAY 28 | ROSEHILL GARDENS GRAND PAVILION | 10.00am – 5.00pm | TICKETS