WHY we are all dancing to the beat of the drum.
Drums are the world’s oldest instrument, the raw, primal heartbeat of a society.
Drawing on the beat of our own hearts, drums are our common denominator. The heart is the metronome of the average disco, rap, hip hop beat that inherently triggers those “feel good” emotions. They create a language accessible to all of us.
In ancient times, the drums were used between villages, the combination of tones and beats as a means of long distance communication, in addition to ceremonial and religious functions.
Drums were used to keep the pace and rhythm for troops, helping to hold the lines before all hell broke loose on the battlefield. Traditionally, drums were even used in executions: When the drums stopped the blade would drop!
They say a band is only as good as their rhythm section. I cannot imagine the Rolling Stones without Charlie Watts (my personal favorite drummer to date). He is their secret weapon.
Self taught, I began playing the drums at nine. I have memories of hitting our leather armchairs while my mother listened to the BBC Home Service on the radio as she cleaned the house. My first actual kit was more like a toy. Called the ‘Gigster’, it was glitter gold and consisted of a 5 inch tom-tom, a snare, one hi-hat and one cymbal.
When I played my first gig at school, I had no idea what I was doing, and I swear I basically channelled my entire performance. It was the first taste I had of actually being good at something, since most of my academic life had been a complete failure.
My next set of drums was my dream kit, made by Ludwig. At the time, Ludwig was the only company that made military, marching-sized bass drums, so a lot of the London drummers back then would configure kits to include the bigger Ludwig military equipment, using oversized tom-toms and bass drums.
Of course I had my irreverent phase, reminiscent of the early Sex Pistols, complete with punk antics; walking through my kit, smashing and destroying, leaving disaster in my wake. That would often leave me to play the rest of the show with only a snare drum with a built in microphone, in my hand – the forefather of my famed, talking drum solo.
“All of my drum kits are coated in 18 carat gold.” – MF
I have a kit made up for each tour, and this year John Good has outdone himself, drawing on my connection to Hawaii to make me an all Koa wood kit. My friend, a Kahuna, (Hawaiian elder), will be coming to LA to bless the wooden drum kit and the upcoming tour.
All of my drum kits are coated in 18 carat gold. John Mac Vie, (being a Scotsman and very good with money), and I always joke that one day I will find him scraping off the gold plate from my kits! And he jokes back that I will be the crazy old man busy melting down all the gold drum stands, since I have an entire warehouse of them! Call it the new rock ‘n’ roll retirement plan!