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The Drummers' Perspective - Andy Edwards
Andy EdwardsAndy Edwards

Interview Post: August, 2004
Occupation: Drum Clinician - Midlands, UK, Website: www.AndyEdwardsMusic.com
Excerpts from Biography: Born in Kidderminster, UK, on the 21st April 1968. My dad was a drummer and he got me started playing drums in 1979. I am one quarter Indian and am a descendant of Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan.  Eventually I formed an experimental fusion band with Paul Wetton called Sinister Footwear. I recorded an album with Nigel Hawthorn (yes, the actor in Yes Minister!). In 1997 I was asked to do a local gig with Robert Plant which lead to the formation of The Priory of Brion which also featured Kevyn Gammond, Paul Timothy and Paul Wetton. From 1999-2000 we did around a hundred gigs playing all over Europe alongside BB King, Skunk Anansie, Billy Cobham at some of the great music festivals. In 2000 I became an endorsee of Tama Drums, Meinl Cymbals, Aquarian Drum Heads, and CAD Microphones, and was asked by Tama to do some drum clinics with Simon Phillips. It was such an enjoyable experience I decided to do more clinics which lead to me playing with such incredible players as Steve Smith, Thomas Lang, Marco Minneman, Horacio Hernandez etc. In 2001 I was voted one of the ten best drum clinicians by Rhythm Magazine. From 2002-2003 I played for guitarist/songwriter Ian Parker which was a great experience. After touring with Thomas Lang on his UK clinic tour I decided I wanted to set up my own drum school and devote the rest of my time to creating my own music project. 

Questions
The Drummers Lounge (TDL)

Answers
Andy Edwards (AE)

TDL: If you could describe your playing as a food, what would it be?
AE: Indian food, because it is hot and spicy!
TDL: What was the first percussion instrument you learned to play?
AE: I started on the piano when I was about seven years old but we didn't have one in the house, so it was hard for me to practice. My first percussion instrument was my Mom and Dad's sofa! After two years of hitting the sofa, they got me a kit.
TDL: What attracted you to percussion?
AE: My dad had played the drums when he was young so he had some sticks and brushed which I used to mess about with and I found it really easy. I think the first motivator was the fact that I was good at it! Then, I didn't have a kit, so I had to get good so my parents would buy me one. By the time they bought me a kit I could pretty much play it the first time I sat behind it.
TDL: What musical influences did you have as a child?
AE: I liked rock (AC/DC, Sabbath, Zeppelin) and my dad played a lot of jazz in the house (Dave Brubeck, MJQ, Gerry Mulligan).
TDL: How did those musical influences as a child, affect your musical choices for the future?
AE: I've always liked the energy and excitement of rock and the way musicians in jazz could really stretch out and express themselves. So I like music that does both (i.e. Mahavishnu, Miles, Zapa, Weather Report. I'm always happiest, musically speaking, in those sorts of situations.
TDL: What was your motivation to learn to play?
AE: I think motivation is something every musician needs to understand and utilize. When I was young, I used to get up and stick a record on. This would inspire me to play, which would then inspire me to practice. Later on I felt I had become a 'proper' drummer and so I got into a regular practice routine where I would make myself practice. This reinforced the idea of practice being a chore and I stopped playing for a number of years. To get back into it, I started listening to the music that had first got me into playing and that did the trick. I then studied motivational psychology, which has become a part of my clinic.
TDL: What other instruments do you know how to play? Do you feel that they interact with each other on some level musically or are they completely separate?
AE: I play guitar and produce. It is more important for a drummer to have a rudimentary knowledge of harmony and sound engineering as this will help to get involved in the whole process of making music. If you know about harmony, you can get more involved in the writing, and if you know something about equalizing, mics, and effects, you can control what you sound like, which is obviously pretty important.
TDL: What musical styles today, give you the most creative influence?
AE: I don't really like a lot of today's' bands. Every new band that comes out seems to be a new version of an older band but with better looking members (haha). I find a lot of today's electronic music a lot more exciting. I think there is a lot of good pure pop out there and a lot of good experimental music too, but we seem to be missing the grand musical gestures in the middle. There are a lot of reasons for this. CD's are not as good a format artistically as records. MTV has made looks a more important commodity than musical ability, and has created only one method of breaking an act, as well as the internet, which is undermining the role of a record company.
TDL: Who have you studied with?
AE: I have never had a formal lesson, but have gigged with some amazing drummers who I have learned a lot from. Four that come to mind are Simon Phillips, Thomas Lang, Mark Schulman, and Marco Minneman. I did a week-long drum clinic tour with Simon and I learned more in that week, than in any other time in my musical life.
TDL: Who have you performed with?
AE: As well as the above, I've done clinics with Billy Cobham (my hero), Steve Smith, El Negro, Johnny Rabb. I've recorded and performed with Robert Plant, Ian Parker, and Aynsley Lister.
TDL: Everyone has dreams growing up to do something daring, dangerous, risky, or just simply 'out of reach'. How were you approached to play with Robert Plant? Why you? What set you apart?
AE: When I was a kid I dreamed of playing with Led Zeppelin, and I sort of achieved that dream. Since I've played with Robert (Plant) I've probably been asked this question more than any other. I knew Robert before I got the gig through a mutual friend, Kevyn Gammond, who had played with Robert in his pre-Zeppelin days. Robert had always wanted to reform that band (which also had John Bonham on drums), and so Kevyn asked me if I wanted to do it. After a couple of rehearsals, we had formed a band, much as you would form a band with your mates. The interesting bit for me was when the band stopped, I no longer had a dream, so I had to re-evaluate why I played the drums. I now believe that the urge to play music is much more important than the urge to 'make it', and these two impulses tend to work in opposition. So if you want to make it, your best chance is to stop trying to 'make it' and devote yourself fully to making good music. 
TDL: What preparations would you suggest to the next generation of percussionist for this type of endeavor?
AE: Make sure you are doing something worthwhile musically, and that is fully represented. Learn how to set goals, and to break those goals down into smaller and smaller goals. Make sure goals are positive and specific. Understand what motivates you as a musician. Make sure that you are financially secure, with enough time to apply yourself musically.
TDL: Describe what a drum clinician is?
AE: I think people aren't quite sure what a clinician is, but I see my job is to motivate both musically and mentally, and give the companies I endorse (Tama, Meinl, Aquarian) some profile, but I think the key here is motivation. People go to a clinic to be inspired. Any drummer that can do that can do clinics as far as I'm concerned.
TDL: What drove you to pick this as a career?
AE: I feel I have something to say to musicians which is useful. This has come from my specific experience as a teacher and musician. Also, what I do drum-wise is not that applicable to most musical situations and so clinics allow me to express myself. At this moment in time, I want to play challenging music and relay some of the stuff I've learned from playing in the different musical situations that I have worked in. In a few years time I may want to play pop songs or whatever so I shall try my best to do that. 
TDL: What would you say is the number one element to becoming an established musician?
AE: If you can specifically define what you mean by an 'established musician' this will answer your question. If you are a millionaire, then you could sit around playing to your hearts content - element here, being rich. If you mean being respected by your fellow peers, then element may = a talent for self promotion. If you mean making lots of money through playing then element = some awareness of business practice. The ability to make sublime music however will help greatly in al of these situations, but that process is at complete odds with the aforementioned elements. This is the crazy contradiction of music!
TDL: How does a person, at any age, choose a musical instrument?
AE: People build an aesthetic model of the world filled with things they like and don't like...'I hate spaghetti but I love ghost stories'. If that model involves shiny things that make a lot of noise and annoy the neighbors, then you might be drawn to drums. A good way to determine what instrument to try to play would be to go back and listen to your formative music and try an determine what it is you like about it. If you are drawn to the bass lines, then the bass may be the one for you.
TDL: The statistics of musicians that never make it to the 'big show' are staggering. How can we, as an industry, turn around this loss of talent into a benefit for future generations to come?
AE: Music is a strange past-time in that it seems that once you start playing, the next stage is to try to become world famous. People can love cookery or country walks, but they don't feel the need to become world famous in that field. I think this stems from insecurity on the musicians' part as they feel as though they haven't 'got there' yet. Of course, all they need to 'be there' is to play music. Our culture is on the brink of an artistic revolution as we all access recording technology (computers) and a huge promotion and distribution mechanism (internet), so we don't need the record companies anymore...and they know it! Also, technology creates no commercial constraints so musicians like me can write in 21/16 and people can listen to it all over the world. Yes, you won't make as much money as you could the old way, but why did we get into it (music) in the first place? 
TDL: Individual talent in music seems to be on the decline. If given the chance to inspire children and adults, from all walks of life about percussion, what words of wisdom would you give?
AE: Individual talent exists as it always has, but it is no longer the main currency of the music business. My words of wisdom would be 'Music is the reason, and that is reason enough!'.
TDL: As an industry (percussion), how can we excite and draw in the next generation of great musicians?
AE: Get out there and play! Communicate and transmit! Music will always exist as it makes people feel good (like food and sex - can't see those dying out!).
TDL: What does the near future hold for Andy Edwards?
AE: Last year I was out a lot on tour with the Ian Parker Band which was great but I didn't feel that artistically fulfilled so I stopped everything and put my own band together which did its first two gigs last week. This summer we shall record a CD then get out and do some gigs and clinics.
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