Musical greats answer our 10 big questions on what they look for in a drummer. This month we speak to Steven Kerry, front of house engineer and tour manager for bands such as Funeral For A Friend, Fightstar and Young Guns
Devised by: Gavin Harrison Words: Gemma Hill
1 What are the most important elements that you look for in a drummer?
Consistency of hits and, of course, timing. The ability to play to your surroundings is also a great trait – to keep the consistency of hits but be able to adapt the intensity is a real talent for drummers.
2 Is reading notation important?
I think it depends on the situation. It isn’t particularly important in the environment I work in.
3 What is the minimum level of ability you would expect to work with?
A player that can go for a whole set mostly error free and not excitedly raise
4 What are the most common mistakes drummers make?
To try and overplay – especially drum fills.
5 Do you have any comments to make on dynamics and balance with the elements of the drum kit?
In the scene that I am involved in, most of the dynamics are ironed out at the mix to sit the kit at a constant intensity 99 per cent of the time!
6 Is playing with a click important?
I have worked with some great drummers not using a click and I think it can make for a more ‘live’ feel to a performance, however I prefer it when they are to a click. To me, you can put on a more professional show and involve a lot more in the production running everything to a click.
7 How essential is it for drummers to have a good personality and attitude?
In a perfect world they all would, but it’s irrelevant to me at the end of the day.
8 Do you have any comments to make about tuning and drum sounds?
I like the kit to be quite dead, with very controlled resonances. I rely a lot on some great drum technicians when out on tour.
9 Have you had any drummer related problems in your work?
Of course, most problems involve combining drug use with international travel. Problems on stage are frequent when a drummer isn’t using IEMs and a sub. I’m not a fan of drummers using full range monitoring on stage.
10 Who are some of your favourite drummers to work with, and why?
Jason Bowld because he is technically fantastic – he hits his drums so hard and consistently. Also a session drummer called Reuben Humphries (sessions for Charlie Simpson, Noisettes, Trevor Horn, Danton Supple). He plays exactly what should be played, exactly how it should be and is an incredible talent.