music

New Recordings for 2020

Hey all,

Hope you are all doing fine.

Just a quick post to share some new studio recordings I had the honour and privilege to participate in:

  1. https://imp-act-sg.bandcamp.com/track/the-island-of-alsocanla (available for paid download at SGD 2.90).

Imp Act is a newcomer to the more progressive sector of the Singapore Rock and Metal scenes. Consisting of Eugene Ng, Willie Lyou, Jayash Prakash, Benjamin Hwang, Nivian Chia, and Qush Abdul, they released their first single, Another Life, also available on their page at Bandcamp.

Round about early to mid July (or mid to late July, I forget now..) Eugene, who is also very talented recording engineer and producer, called me to consider the possibility of replacing the original drummer in Imp Act. I could not do it, but offered to session for the band till they found a suitable replacement. It didn’t take long for them to find one in Jayash Prakash, and I’m glad that things worked out for them quickly. In the interim, the band approached me to assist them with writing and performing the drum part for their latest single, Island of Alsocanla (Singaporeans and Malaysians will get the last word, lol!), and we recorded the drum track on 19th September.

The drums were done at Mr. Tony Goh’s excellent recording facility, Greenroom Suite, overseen by Eugene, and assisted by a capable two-man team, Mark, and Ray, who also mastered the single. It was also the first time I met the music veteran, Mr. Goh, himself. On the very kind referral from Eugene, I subsequently worked with Tony for one of his clients on an album project which I share more details of below.

Drums used on Island of Alsocanla consists of:

Ludwig Accent CS Custom kit with Ludwig Supraphonic LM400 snare.

Soultone Cymbals.

In the same drum tracking session, Eugene produced me on providing sounds from my kit for a sample pack, which is also available on their page at Bandcamp for SGD 2.90.

It was fun working with the entire band and recording team on this track, and I extend best wishes to everyone involved during the session. I’m personally happy with how the whole track came out. This is a testament to the creativity, talent, and excellent skill of the band and recording team. I hope you feel the same when you listen to it.

2. Thomas Willemsen’s Sentimental Ride

This was another fun project to work on. Thomas Willemsen is a talented songwriter who counts The Beatles, and in particular, John Lennon, as his key musical and songwriting influences. Being a Beatles fan myself, it was an easy process for me. Special thanks to Tony for trusting my ability to play this music after only seeing me on the Imp Act drum tracking session, which is whole different world stylistically. If I’m not wrong, he went on Eugene’s word, that I could play the classic 1960’s and 1970’s stuff, and I am very grateful. As with Eugene and his team, I also learnt a lot by observing as quietly as possible how he works during a session, the microphones he used, his choice of outboard signal processors, amps, and his commitment to capturing the old school “whole band in the studio playing the music together” feel.

Drumkit used on this project were a hybrid of the following:

Ludwig Accent CS Custom rack tom and floor tom

DW 18″ Bebop bass drum with the front head off

Omar Hakim Signature snare by Pearl and Ludwig Supraphonic LM400 snare

A Custom Ping Ride, A Custom 16″ Crash, and K Dark Hi-Hats by Zildjian.

We also experimented with the classic Beatles drum recording technique, famously known as the Tea-Towels-On-The-Kit (literally) technique. You can hear this type of drum sound on The Beatles’ albums from 1968 to 1970. It made sense to Tony and me to employ this type of drum sound for Thomas’ music.

I wish to thank Thomas for his very clear musical directions, which made it very easy for me to provide him what he needs from the drums on his songs, which are very personal to him.

Also thanks to the other band members, Matthew, Jack, Colin, I-Shyan, David. Although I didn’t track together with David and I-Shyan, the string players, I appreciate their excellent contributions on top of the basic rhythm tracks. It was indeed very easy to work with Matthew, Colin, and Jack, who are all very experienced at this stuff.

Sentimental Ride is available for purchase at the iTunes store. It will make a great Christmas gift. The YouTube link above is a slightly lower quality audio sampler of the album. Get the paid version! The recording and mixing quality is great!

Yamaha Live Custom Hybrid Oak Drums – New

 

As much a die-hard Ludwig fan I am who once loved Tama drums (and still have a soft spot for them), I have always been impressed with the quality of the drums that the Yamaha corporation make across the different price points. I have been fortunate to play many different models of Yamaha drumkits over the years, from the entry-level Stage Custom to the top-of-the-line Recording Customs, both on stage and in the recording studio.

The Recording Customs, which have seen a reissue a couple of years ago, are everything you could ask for in a drumkit: extremely well manufactured shells, uniformity and consistency of tone, dynamic range, quickness of response, incredible clarity, and ideal projection across all the drums.

Then enter these Yamaha Live Custom Hybrid Oak drums…The Yamaha company has outdone itself again! They took the same shell construction method of their now discontinued Phoenix (PHX) line of drums and came up with these incredibly fine sounding instruments, which history will judge them to be among the greatest drums Yamaha ever made.

Watch the demonstration in the link above. I’m sure you’ll agree with me! PS: That Japanese drummer has the most pristine single stroke roll around the kit. His groove is happening too.

Here’s an excellent review cum demonstration of these drums:

Songs From The Big Chair – Tears for Fears

SFBC

Spotify Link: https://open.spotify.com/album/06J93pgtDCUw6bsAQINhCs

Also available for purchase on iTunes.

I revisited this seminal 1985 work by one of the decade’s defining bands, Tears for Fears.

The songs have taken on a whole new layer of depth of meaning for me, especially with

where I am right  now,  the knowledge I’m gaining, and the newfound awareness I’ve

attained.

Since this is a drumming site, I should put in a word or two about the drumming…….AND

the drum programming. In my opinion, this is a textbook example of when excellent

live drumming (courtesy of one Mr. Manny Elias) meets excellent drum programming

to create a rich rhythmic tapestry. The sounds are dated, yes, but I think the rhythmic

creativity has never been topped since.

Give this album a spin……or as we say in today’s parlance…a stream….

My recommended tracks:

  1. Shout
  2. Everybody Wants To Rule The World (for the uninitiated drummers, see if you can figure out how this shuffle groove goes. Your ears might trick you…)
  3. Broken / Head Over Heels
  4. I Believe
  5. Listen

When Do I Stop Lessons?

This post is aimed at clarifying (hopefully) this often asked question by students who have been learning the drums for some time, who seem to be going nowhere, and are contemplating of quitting lessons, but are not sure if they should do so?

Note: Although this post is aimed at the drumset student, it is also applicable to any other music student.

I have thought for some time about what I would do if I were in the shoes of such a student, and I came up with a list of questions I could ask myself, in order to derive at a conclusion, and hence a decision to either continue or cease lessons. I then explain some possible reasons. Please note that this list is not necessarily a complete one, but I hope it serves as a springboard for the other relevant questions you can ask yourself:

  1. Am I able to continue committing time for lessons?

Sometimes, a temporary or indefinite break from lessons may be needed. If so, let your teacher or the school you take lessons at know. Be sure to check the lesson termination policy with your school, or if you are a private student, directly with your teacher. This, in fact, should have been communicated to you before you embarked on lessons.

2. Am I struggling to find time to practise?

Oftentimes, our other commitments at work, school, and even our social and family lives pile on, and we have lesser and lesser time to practice. If this were to happen to me, it is only reasonable for me to stop lessons for awhile, so that I can hopefully free up some time to catch up with practising the material I worked on in past lessons. Of course, it is still your prerogative as a student. If you do not mind continuing lessons because you may enjoy the therapeutic benefit that comes with them, continue by all means. Who is to say you are wrong?

3. I have been taking lessons for awhile now, but I am still not sure if the drums are still for me as a musical instrument?

This could be due to a number of factors including, but not limited to, the following:

A. I am struggling with co-ordinating my limbs to play the instrument.

Yes, for some students, psycho-motor co-ordination on the instrument, can pose a big challenge. But as I have mentioned in my FAQ a couple of years back, this is precisely why you take drum lessons. I say it is important to have a teacher who is willing to go at YOUR pace, and break things down intelligently so you can manage it. Please speak to your teacher and ask him/her for help in this area if need be.

I may even be so bold to suggest that if your budget and time allows for it, do take some dance lessons – hip hop, swing, latin e.t.c. – and learn to loosen up your body in order to GROOVE…You may want to do dance lessons first, then take drum lessons later.

B.  The lessons are not very motivational or inspiring…

Ah….this one goes a number of ways. Either the problem lies with the teacher – who might be boring or unmotivated to teach – or the rapport between yourself and your teacher is not happening. Like in a counselling session, where if the relationship between the counsellor and the client fosters conditions for positive changes with the latter, so too does it apply to a teacher/student relationship.

It could also very well be that you are just not feeling a connection with the drumset, and that is fine. There is a likelihood that you may connect better with a stringed instrument or a brass instrument, or a woodwind instrument. At least, you gave the drums a shot, and you are the richer for it for having gone through the experience.

C. The lessons are ok, but I just do not like to practice on my own at home.

I had students like this many times. All teachers can relate to this. Some students may have the false impression from other sources that you can learn AND master a drumming technique or concept within the lesson itself. There is no need to follow it up with individual practice to further refine the technique or concept. This is obviously not true. If one aspires to play at the level of the Pros that he/she looks up to, then individual practice time is a non-negotiable element in the game of progress.

Some students just take drum lessons to take their mind off possible stressors in their lives. Hence, they see lessons as a form of therapy. As a teacher for many years, I have gotten better at asking the right questions to the student at the trial lesson, to clarify WHY he/she decided to give learning the drums a try. A competent teacher should be able to help draw out the answer from within yourself as to your motivation to learn drums in the first place. Then, it is up to you and your teacher to see if you can both come to a mutual agreement to either continue with the lessons or not.

Again, I emphasize, speak to someone about any concerns you have as soon as it affects you – your teacher (naturally), your parents, a friend (preferably someone who has the same background in the instrument you are learning), or even a counsellor. Doing so will help you clarify your thoughts and hence make an informed decision. Insight into why the lessons are not going the way you would like them to is very important to gain.

Sometimes, it could be a personal insecurity or fear that is hindering your progress with your learning. Perhaps you have a fear of making mistakes and being judged for it. You fear being scrutinized for every note you play on the instrument. You may feel that if you do not learn things as quickly as you would like to – perhaps you are comparing yourself to similar others you know – you are inferior to others. In such cases, do seek professional counselling as teacher or even the music school, may not be professionally equipped to help handle these deeper psychological issues.

With all this said, I assert that full insight into why you have arrived at a point where you are doubting your abilities to learn the drums and contemplating on quitting lessons will help you make a much more informed decision.

I hope this post sheds some much needed light on an issue that I find is not addressed enough in the music education field, but one that is every bit crucial.

 

 

The Manfreds Live in Singapore, 24th March 2019

Manfred Mann SG

Happy 2019 to everyone here.

On 24th March 2019, I have the pleasure once again to be part of The Revival Band. This time, we will be collaborating with a local music veteran, Max Surin (Tokyo Square), and opening for The Manfreds, featuring alumni members from the legendary 1960’s UK pop group, Manfred Mann, Paul Jones, Mike d’Abo, and Tom McGuinness.

Side note: Paul Jones was part of a band called The Blues Band, of whom my family owned a couple of their LPs. Great band too. Always loved their track, “Noah Lewis Blues.”

What an honour!

See venue, time, and ticketing details above for the concert! I hope to see some familiar faces at the gig!

Christmas Fiesta High Tea Dance 2018

Here’s a clip from the recent Christmas Fiesta High Tea Dance 2018 that I did as part of The Revival Band:

Video taken by a member of the MoCa Ukes Group (Ukelele group).

Special thanks to

The Revival Band – Martin, James, Ricky, and Peter

The Kallang Theatre Management for their warm hospiltality during rehearsals and the performance.

There is another big gig coming up with The Revival Band next year. Details to follow at an appropriate time.

Gig with Revival Band

Hello all,

Just a little announcement that I will be reuniting with the Revival Band to do a little concert performance at Kallang Theatre on 9th December 2018, 2pm to 5pm.

Also on the bill is local music veteran, Max Surin (of Tokyo Square), and the concert is hosted by another veteran of the local music scene, Jerry Fernandez of Jerry and the Neu Faces, who will also play the show.

Classic Rock n Roll music galore to be expected!

I will post a follow up with details of ticketing.

Cheers!

Wise Words From Ian Paice

I just re-read a feature interview from the October 2014 issue of Modern Drummer magazine with the legendary drummer from Deep Purple, Ian Paice. He’s a huge hero of mine.

Here’s what I think is a great piece of advice for younger drummers that he shared, given his 50+ years being a professional musician in one of the iconic Rock bands of the world:

“If you like playing drums, do it because it makes you happy. If you can find a few friends around you, form a little band. If it goes somewhere else, treat it as a bonus. When we started, we never thought that it would be our careers. We were just kids having fun, and that was enough. For the few of us who had it and had the luck, it became something else. I’ve said before, success is a strange thing. You go chasing it and you won’t find it. But if you stay true to yourself and enjoy yourself and make yourself happy, you might find that success taps you on the shoulder from behind. But you can’t force it.

There are some fantastic young players around the world, and it seems that the industry’s against them. They can’t be pigoenholed; they can’t be put into little pockets of music. The industry doesn’t want to be bothered. Play what you like, play what makes you smile, play from your heart, and just keep on doing it and enjoying it. And if you never leave your garage – if your drums stay in your garage and you just batter the crap out of them – the very least you can do is make yourself smile, because you still have something that most of the world doesn’t have or understand.”

– IAN PAICE, DRUMMER FOR DEEP PURPLE, AND ROCK LEGEND.

The Bellamy Brothers’ Debut Singapore Concert, 23rd Jan 2017

I had a blast last Monday being part of the opening performance for the Bellamy Brothers’ debut Singapore concert on their current tour.

The Bellamy Brothers and their band were really nice to us, and we thoroughly enjoyed their excellent, world-class playing. A big highlight for me was chatting with the drummer, Rocky Marvel, after the show, and for him to tell me that he liked my playing, was beyond awesome. He was so gracious in answering a couple of questions I had about his drum setup and it was just two drummers exchanging thoughts about the instrument we both love to play. Before our conversation and photo taking were over, he gave me the pair of his signature model sticks that he used that night and his namecard! How cool is that?

I wish the Bellamy Brothers safe travels through the rest of their tour and to many more years ahead of fine music they have to give.

I wish to thank the following:

The Revival Band – Martin, James, Peter and Ricky.

The Kallang Theatre Management

The Moulmein-Cairnhill Ukelele group

Thank you all for your wonderful warmth and hospitality. It was a joy and honour to play alongside all of you. I hope we get to do this again!