Here are some nuggets of golden advice that I’ve picked up over the years, and I think are really useful.
1. 10% CPU
Learnt From : Gavin Harrison (Porcupine Tree, King Crimson)
When you’re playing a gig, you should be using a maximum of 10% of you CPU so the other 90% can be used to listen and react to all of the other musicians on stage an enjoy it.
2. Record and listen
Learnt From : Billy Ward (Joan Osborne, Yoko Ono, Independent)
Always record yourself and listen back, this will help you progress 10 times quicker than if you don’t, and closes the gap between how you think you hear yourself, and how you actually sound.
Learnt From : Andy Newmark (Sly and The Family Stone, Roxy Music)
(After getting the Bryan Ferry gig) – ‘Bryan will like you playing behind him, you smile more than I do’
4. Get into the artists’ minds
Learnt From : Ralph Salmins (The Waterboys, Van Morrison)
Always try to get into the artist’s minds, and understand where they’re coming from and what their aim is. If you can have empathy for how they’re feeling, it makes it easier to not take things too personally in certain situations
5. Conviction and performance
Learnt From : Cherisse Ofosu-Osei (Mika, Bryan Ferry)
Play with conviction! There’s no point of having all the technique in the world if you don’t look like you know what you are doing, or are enjoying it!
6. Play appropriately for the room and song
Learnt From : YouTube – Drummer at the wrong gig
This goes for the parts, and the performance. If you’re playing in a small club, or TV studio, don’t play like you’re in a stadium! The sound guys won’t thank you for a massive racket they can’t control, and if you’re over-performing, frankly it just looks a bit silly. You can bring energy and fun to the gig without always throwing yours hands/sticks/hair all up in the air… same goes for if you’re playing a ballad, don’t ruin the vibe with over performing/playing … In saying that, if you can get famous on YouTube from it, and that floats your boat, then absolutely go for it!
7.Doesn’t matter why you initially get the gig, it’s about keeping the gig
You can (and not) get called for any reason for a gig – you’re female, male, black, white, long hair, bald, younger, older, tall short, are a pirate, enjoy long walks on the beach. There’s really no telling the reason you will be called, and you don’t have much control over that. What you do have control over is, once you’re there, prove yourself and make it absolutely concrete to them you can do a blinding job!
8. At your worst, still be at a high level
Learnt From : 12-year-old Me and Cherisse
This is something me and Cherisse adhered to since we were kids, and still do! We have to be at a level that, even on a bad day (and everyone has bad days) we are still solid and hold a very high standard of musicianship and performance.
Are there any other nuggets of gold you’ve picked up along your musical journey? Share them below.