‘even if you’re the drummer and are only there for advice, do NOT think it’s a good idea to drink a litre of rum to yourself, especially not on a Wednesday night’
– Scott Bickers, Jonny and the mental breakdowns drummer.
I can barely remember what I had for breakfast let alone back that far, and I’m still dreaming of being a musician! I always wanted to be involved in music though. I just loved music as a kid and would wear tapes out in my Walkman by listening to them over and over. I had very selective taste in music at a young age – I got hooked on the Jackson 5 because I loved the rhythms, and I remember asking for Graceland by Paul Simon for my 7th birthday. I loved that album, and again it all seemed very rhythm-heavy. As your archetypal angsty, troubled, weirdo teenager growing up in the 90’s, I was lucky enough to go through those important years surrounded by some amazing bands and decided that I wanted to play guitar as this was a lot more practical. To be honest it shouldn’t matter how far you get in your musical career, you never stop learning and should certainly never stop dreaming.
Choosing to play the drums..
I actually began messing around on guitar first, just because it was more practical. Drums was always a dream but stayed that way for a long time I think largely due to cost and practicality – I had a shoe box for a bedroom and neighbours that I didn’t particularly want to fall out with! I actually started drums because my two school friends suggested one summer that we start a band. My friend Richard said he was gonna buy a guitar, Russell a bass, so I was like….ok I’ll play drums! Which I did with this cheap little starter kit. So many happy memories came from those drums. Prior to that I remember in a music lesson at school I got hold of the drum kit one time, and that was my first ever go on a kit…..and my stupid ‘music teacher’ actually told me off for playing them!!!!!! I really enjoy playing guitar and bass but drums will always be my thing. There’s nothing more satisfying than smashing the hell out of them. Or even just sitting in the pocket of a groove. Love it.
In terms of drummer influences it’s a bit of a mixed bag I guess. Obviously I love the stomp that Bonham had, and I also really admire Stewart Copeland. It always amazes me how he finds places to accent and phrase where I never would have thought about it, so it’s like he puts a whole different perspective on a groove. Same could be said for Topper Headon, he’s a classy drummer. One thing that I read that always sticks with me is how when Jim Marshall taught Mitch Mitchell, he told him to imagine ‘dancing around the kit’. That’s so true. When you dance, you move instinctively, and that’s how drums should be played. Not calculated, but instinctively. I am purely a ‘feel’ player, never had a lesson or anything, I don’t have many chops or techniques in my armoury, but that suits me down to the ground. I’ve always loved music that’s ‘technically simplistic’ if that’s not an oxymoron. Four to the floor, loud, fast and heavy. That’s how I like to play. No messing about.
My successes and failures..
Hmmmmmm depends how you define either word! Haha! I’d say all of it has been one big success because it’s all brought me to where I am now. Playing fun music with the most fun people at fun venues with other fun bands with fun people watching…… having fun. A smile = success.
Haha LOTS of funny stories. Being in this band, there’s a funny story from every show but if I’ve learned a lot of lessons too. Mainly that when you’re going to record the lead guitar parts, even if you’re the drummer and are only there for advice, do NOT think it’s a good idea to drink a litre of rum to yourself, Especially not on a Wednesday night.
Recommendations and worldly advice..
Recommendations to aspiring drummers would be – forget the fills, get the groove and timing nailed. Also, don’t be afraid to lead the song. Take it where you want it to go and the others will follow. As for getting into the music ‘business’, my first tip would be – never think of it as a business. If you’re getting into it for money then quite frankly good luck with that, but your primary reason should ALWAYS be because you love it and enjoy it. My other tip would be, to be nice to people and stay grounded. You bump into the same people all the time being in a band, so you want a reputation for being nice, and easy to deal with. Make friends for god’s sake! It’s a rule to live everyday life by!
Hmmm…. I don’t really like to plan anything, I’d rather take each day as it comes, but now I’m loving every
minute of being in Jonny & The Mental Breakdowns and I believe we’re making better music all the time. My wishes for the future are simple. Take the band from strength to strength, and be happy.
Good starter instrument..
Well I started playing guitar on a black Les Paul copy made by some super budget brand. I think it was Hondo or something like that. I also started drums on a cheap kit too. It’s tricky but I’d urge anyone no matter what instrument they play, to pay as much they can afford to pay for their gear. Not because you can’t create great music with the cheap stuff, but I find that if it isn’t much good, it CAN put you off playing. I’ve had cheap cymbals that have made me NOT want to hit them. You should WANT to pick up that instrument because of how it feels, not just how it sounds.
Having said that, I still play the same Tama Rockstar Classic that I bought well over ten years ago. It cost me £525 but it’s a great kit so long as you replace the heads when necessary, and you keep it tuned!
I’m not really much of a gear head, to be honest, and I have to say I love my kit. Though if anyone wants to offer me an endorsement then cool thanks! Hahaha ; ) As for brands I love some of the British Drum Company kits, Natal do great hardware, DW make some stunning kits and Brady do some really interesting stuff. I’d always rather spend my money on cymbals though. I’ve always played Sabian and Paiste but a full set of Zildjian K’s would be lovely, I just don’t have the money! If I was going to play guitar I’d obviously have a Blackstar amp, probably a Series One like Jack our guitarist, and a white Gordon Smith GS-1. Beautiful handmade guitars from Northamptonshire with roots in punk.
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