A Quick Biography Of My Drumming and Playing History
Inspired by my step uncle Johnny Marter, a professional drummer, I started drumming and playing in school bands aged 12.
At 13 I got a beautiful stainless steel Pearl Export drum kit. After being in various bands I started performing regularly in pubs with originals band ‘The Craze’ at 16 years old.
At 18 I joined the successful local band ‘Spider Murphy’, with Ron Sayer on guitar and Charlotte Joyce on vocals.
I played locally with ‘The Ron Sayer Band’ and ‘The Emma Hall Band’ from and around the same time that C/O/R/D formed in 2000.
In 2004 C/O/R/D signed an international recording contract with Island Records. We recorded an album, toured, played festivals, appeared on Television and Radio shows and released an album and various singles, of which ‘Winter’ charted at number 34.
Due to struggling album sales C/O/R/D were released from Island in 2007, and became a trio forming Tin Man who played many local shows and had brilliant fun recording an album for NRONE Records. We unofficially dispanded in 2010.
I played with local function band Beat Connection from 2007, and still perform with them today.
I formed Energy Function Band in 2010, now a successful wedding and function band.
I formed The Black Dogs in 2014 with some carefully selected local musicians to play Classic Rock - Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Whitesnake etc - the music we love and grew up listening to.
Overview Of My Teaching
My experience of playing professionally with C/O/R/D helped me attain the knowledge, understanding and confidence I needed to teach the drums.
I built a solid base of private students when I started teaching in 2007, and soon begun teaching in various schools in the Norwich and Norfolk area after that; including ‘Langley at Taverham Hall School’ where I still have the pleasure of teaching today.
As well as in schools I teach from my home studio, Create Studios in Norwich and also for Sistema/Norca; a local organisation that specialise in orchestral and percussion based group work.
I enjoy teaching people of all ages and of all levels of ability.
Why Have Lessons?
With so much teaching material readily available on the internet via the likes of YouTube and social media, it’s easy to get confused and overwhelmed.
Having an experienced teacher brings clarity to your learning and performing.
Here are some fantastic reasons to have a teacher and some benefits I can bring to your journey of learning:
To know you are investing in intelligent practise
To have someone help you with stick grip, posture and technique
For someone to help you perform with finesse and stylistic awareness
For moral support and encouragement
For someone to listen to and monitor your time-keeping
For someone to prepare you when taking a grade examination and provide a mock exam with clear and accurate feedback
To provide quality teaching materials
To expose you to new and exciting styles, rhythms, beats and drum fills
Advise on what equipment to invest in
To have a role model regularly inspire you
For each of my private students I offer to set up a google drive folder that we can both access. For students under the age of 18, access would be given to the parent/s in the first instance.
It would typically have a skeletal record of what was covered each lesson, a progress table, and can include video clips of the student as a reference of their progress, or of myself demonstrating something to be learnt that the student can watch in-between lessons.
I can also add MP3s of appropriate songs.
Google Drive is a fantastic way of parents to keep up to date with their child's progress.
Approach And Teaching Style
Playing the drums is awesome, and learning should be awesome too.
I am an approachable, patient, encouraging, flexible, friendly tutor that builds a genuine rapport with my students.
I strive to give 100% every lesson. It’s valuable time and I wish every student to progress and learn something new every lesson.
I have a comprehensive framework for learning, and incorporate learning and playing along to songs as soon as possible.
I talk frequently about the importance of time keeping, the ability to feel the pulse, and how this can help benefit a student's playing.
I maintain a consistent focus on students having good stick grip, posture and technique, all integral to playing the drums comprehensively.
I teach people of all levels of ability and understand that not every student progresses at the same speed.
Students come to learn for a variety reasons; to work towards their next examination grade, to learn material to perform in a band, or just to unwind after a hectic day at work. I am happy to accommodate all of these scenarios and more.
I encourage learning theory, reading notation and even the writing of drum music. However, if you would prefer to just play by ear that’s absolutely fine too.
Improvisation is always encouraged. Ideally I would like my students to find their own style, as they progress.
Progression within a fun environment, is my goal.
I have always appreciated the company of children. They can be fantastic characters and are great fun to teach.
I am experienced at teaching younger children and have taught many children from the age of 5 upwards.
I am dbs checked and teach in a number of primary schools.
Parents are very welcome to join their little ones during a lesson if they wish to.
Children progress at their own and often unpredictable pace. I believe it’s important to encourage and inspire them, not place undue pressure on them to achieve.
I often incorporate nursery rhymes into lessons by teaching the children the rhythms of the melodies. It’s a fantastic way for children to learn without the challenges of co-ordinating arms and legs, which can be tricky.
Repetition is important. By revisiting the same exercises and disciplines each week, children will naturally adopt what you are trying to teach them.
What I Like To Teach
Disco, pop, rock, alternative, funk, R&B, soul music, country, metal, blues . . and more
Odd time signatures.
South American rhythms.
Clever drum fills
Feeling the pulse
MY C/O/R/D EXPERIENCE
Being signed to Island Records with Cord was one of the most exciting experiences of my life. If I were to recall all of the brilliant and sometimes challenging things that happened to us I would have enough material to write a book . Here is an overview of what happened.
Singer James Leeds and I were in the quirky post Brit Pop band 'Grande Fromage' for a couple of years until Cord's forming in February 2000, when Mike Jackson and Andy Walsh joined us. Together we forged a new harder, edgier, more dramatic sound with our influences stemming from the likes of Muse, Coldplay, Radiohead and Jeff Buckley; the two former had only just hit the radio waves and the sound was fresh and popular.
Over the next four years we worked hard to improve our songs, playing abilities and stage performances to reach our goal and realise our ambitious dream of being signed.
In early 2004 BBC Radio 6 DJ Steve Lamacq attended one of our shows at the Water Rats in London. Impressed by our performance he put the word out in the music industry that an unknown band from Norwich could be the next hot ticket. I can't exaggerate the euphoria we felt when the phone didn't stop ringing with calls from the likes of SONY, Island and even Record labels from across the pond. All of a sudden the firmly shut door we had been banging on so hard for so long flew wide open with all of our dreams in the balance.
Following much turbulence, further shows and meetings in London with managers, record labels, and industry folk we chose Supervision MGT (Kaiser Chiefs and Franz Ferdinand) to look after us and proceeded to negotiate an international six album deal with Island Records.
Cord are one of the very few Norwich Bands to land a major recording contract, we were
rightly proud, and probably in a bit of disbelief at what could lie ahead.
My personal highlight was recording in many of the country's best and prestigious studios. Wales's Rockfield Studio with Andy Green (Keane's producer), where Queen's Bohemiam Rhapsody was recorded, more recently featuring in the movie sharing the same name. We even played on the piano used to perform that most famous of piano parts. Other studios we recorded in include Peter Gabriel's 'Realworld', Trevor Horn's 'Sarm West' with Danton Supple (Coldplay), 'Olympic' (Led Zeppelin and Eric Clapton) with maverick producer Youth (Urban Hymns by the Verve), as well as Jacob's and Townhouse. To experience how many of our favourite bands were professionally engineered and recorded was amazing.
Recording The Album
The producer is vital to a band's recorded sound. They create the working atmosphere you're in and can make or break you with their creative ideas, recording techniques and input. Cord's album was actually recorded twice (not an unusual occurrence). The first time was with Danton Supple (Coldplay's X&Y), a brilliant sound engineer who strives for perfect recordings and precision playing with both timing and pitch. Danton captured our sound brilliantly and album tracks 'Go Either Way' and 'Give Me Today' demonstrate this. 'Youth' was at the helm of our second attempt and offered a more creative, spontaneous, commercial sound. Unafraid of asserting his authority and creativity, he honed a new sound for us that included the London Session Orchestra performing on our singles. Being allowed to stand in the studio whilst the orchestra recorded it's parts for our songs was mind blowing. In truth I think we would have benefitted from a producer somewhere in-between the two, but both experiences were amazing and we loved every minute of it.
Once recorded, the album was mixed by Chris Lord-Alge (Green Day/U2), one of the most revered mixers in the world.
We released the singles Go Either Way (Ltd edition), Winter and Sea Of Trouble. In May 2006, two years after we were signed, Winter was Radio 1's Scott Mill's record of the week. This support and general industry airplay helped us score the much coveted 'top 40 hit', with Winter charting at 34.
Unfortunately for us though our next single Sea of Trouble struggled to gain airplay, press and recognition and didn't chart. The painful truth is that when a major record label invests hundreds of thousands of pounds in you they expect a relatively quick and sizeable return. If for whatever reason you can't provide that return you are in a suddenly in a vulnerable position.
We were privileged to be hand picked by Blink 182's Tom Delonge's new Alternative Metal band 'Angels and Airwaves' to play the UK leg of their tour. We played some brilliant venues including London's Brixton Academy and Glasgow's Barrowlands. We also supported American band 'Orson' who managed a number 1 hit with 'No Tomorrow' on the eve of the tour. Playing to sold out shows alongside them was an amazing experience. Cord were received brilliantly, started to build a real fanbase and frequently sold out of demo CDs that we had available to sell. Other support slots included touring with the successful 'Kubb', and 'The Open'. We also played many festivals including Leicester's Summer Sundae and The iTunes Festival in London.
We played on channel 4's The Album Chart Show alongside Amy Winehouse, The Bluetones and Juliet and the Licks. Juliet Lewis (aka a film star) was a truly charismatic, amiable and dynamic character. I'll never forget meeting and taking to her and was genuinely astounded by her energy levels. We played live sets on Janice Long's BBC Radio 2 show and London's popular XFM, and appeared on Phil Jupiter's BBC Radio 6 show as well as many others.
Meeting Chris Martin; what a genuinely lovely humble friendly guy. Recording in Islands Records basement and using the same vocal booth and mic as Bob Marley had done so many years before. Finding out that we'd charted whilst listening to the charts live. Making music videos with directors, stylists, actors, cameramen, in cool locations such as disused banks and derelict Royal Navy bases.
Changing Music Scene
I 've always believed in Cord's musicianship and quality. I also believe that music and culture are organic and if you're not part of the right scene at the right time, you're probably not going to 'make it' commercially. When Cord were signed in April 2004 our sound was relevant. Bands such as Starsailor, Keane and Athlete were successfully being released by major record labels. By the time our album was released in Autumn 2006 the music industry had changed. More alternative, less commercial, edgier and quirkier sounding Indie bands were now riding the zeitgeist wave of the moment. Bands such as The Arctic Monkeys, The Killers, Kaiser Chiefs and Bloc Party were now populating the radio stations . . . and we weren't, at least not enough to survive without a large fanbase that would carry us. Our Island stablemates The Fratellis and The Feeling were also taking off, and it's typical for major record labels to invest heavily in only a limited number of already successful bands each year to encourage their worldwide success. They tend not to invest more money into bands that aren't doing quite as well . . such as Cord.
By the end of our UK headline tour in late autumn 2006, straight after our album's release, we knew things weren't going well. A poor turnout for our shows, challenging album reviews and struggling album sales left us feeling that being 'released' by Island Records was only a matter
of time. By February 2007, just shy of three years from being signed, it was a reality.
Summary and Reflection
Despite not being an outright commercial success, the experience of being signed was a dream come true and one I'll always revere. We did things that most bands would give anything to do. Since downloading and streaming have become the norm, the music industry has gone through a sizemic change. I'm not sure if record deals with such gravitas are still available to bands, making me even more appreciative Cord's journey.