New MTWA drummer Tim Brown recently took the time to answer our questions in this interview, conducted especially for www.wishboneash.co.uk.
At what age did you start playing drums and what made you decide to pick up the sticks?
One of my earliest memories is lying in bed and thinking about playing music. I knew i had to be a musician but I had to decide what instrument to play. Piano had too many keys, the guitar seemed to have too many frets, so I decided then that the drums it had to be. I started bashing on anything I could get my hands on 'till my parents bought me an electric drum pad and then a snare drum and a Paiste cymbal when i was eight. I guess the music i was hearing on radio just flicked a switch in my head.
How did you learn to play? What forms of tuition did you take?
I started drum lessons from the age of eight with a variety of teachers in my home town of Leicester. The lessons lasted for five or so years until I could figure out what the drummers were playing in most of the music I was listening to. None of the teachers seemed to be into the music that I loved, so I decided to take a break and set off on my own and let my ears become my teacher for many years. I later returned to lessons and a year studying at Drumtech in London and with many fantastic teachers such as Malcolm Garrett.
Who were your early drum influences and which players do you enjoy currently?
I grew up listening to the music of the seventies and that is still my real love. I remember hearing John Bonham, Carl Palmer, Roger Taylor, Ian Paice and Cozy Powell and guess they are what got me hooked. I, like most boys of a certain age, got into Iron Maiden and Clive Burr and Nicko McBrain became my obsession. Today I have to say I am still really influenced by John Bonham - his feel and musicality and creativity really resonate with me.
When did you begin playing professionally and can you talk us through bands and projects from early days to present?
I played in lots of bands in my hometown and toured with a band called Vivid in the late nineties, but it wasn't 'till 2001 I took the brave step to become professional. I was then playing in function bands, club and pub bands to make ends meet. I worked with a great bass player called Tom Westmoreland, who is no longer with us. My association with Tom lead to us to playing together in Mother Hubbard and then with Sally Barker where I played with one time MTWA guitarist Keith Buck. A producer friend Adam Ellis recommended me for the Aynsley Lister gig which lasted for a couple of years. I have always played a lot when not on the road with Carl Sentance who has a CV longer than both my arms put together and he recommended me to Don Airey and asked me to join his own project Persian Risk.
In addition to live and studio work you are also in demand as a tutor and drum clinician. Can you give a brief outline of this work?
I love teaching and the interaction of it, I teach in schools and colleges and host Drumbreaks drum events with my colleage James Hester when I get a chance. I also have my own Youtube channel full of instructional videos.
How did you come to join MTWA?
Its Danny's fault!!! Dan and I play together outside of MTWA and have known each other for many years. We have always really enjoyed playing with each other and seem to really understand where each other is going musically. He is one of my favourite guitar players so when he asked if I would be interested in playing with the band I jumped at the opportunity.
Were you familiar with Wishbone Ash’s music and history?
I knew about Wishbone Ash from mainly the bands that they have influenced like Iron Maiden. Steve Harris, bass player and founder member of Iron Maiden, has always named WA as a huge influence on that band and you can really hear it, especially in the first album. I had heard a few tunes along the way from the Argusalbum and loved what I heard.
How did you go about learning the music?
I try to saturate myself with music. I listen to it 24/7 and try to learn what all of the instruments are doing. I don't focus too much on the drums to start with I want to know the lyrics, the melodies, the bass lines. Once I have got a particular song to a certain point I will write out a very basic road map for the tune and then focus in on the drums a bit more. I chose to really focus on the original recording to get the essence of Steve Upton's vibe.
How did the first rehearsals go and how have you integrated with the other guys on a personal level?
You can't help but have a great time with Danny, Ray and Martin, they have all been great in making me feel at home in the band. The first rehearsal was quite nerve racking for me, but everyone was very happy and complimentary which really set me at ease. We were only going to play two tunes, but by the end of the rehearsal we had played the bulk of the MTWA set.
An observation of your performance at St Albans would be that your playing retains the original feel of Steve Upton’s classic drum parts, yet you have also firmly asserted your own personality as a player on the music. Is this intentional?
First of all I would like to say how much I love Steve's playing. Steve is unique and played with such freedom on the kit. I really want to give the music that energy and excitement that Steve had by the bucket load, but I have to play like me. I figured out a few years ago that I am only going to be unhappy trying to play like someone else. If you are thinking constantly about "How would Bonham play this?" or "How would Paicey do that?" you will never play fully for the music at hand. I like to give myself to the music and let my personality come through.
Any favourite tracks to play from the WA repertoire you have covered to date?
There are so many awesome tunes! I am really loving "Phoenix" and "Living Proof" at the moment.
What equipment will you be using with MTWA?
I am so lucky to have the backing of so many great companies. I am using Mapex Saturn drums, Paiste Cymbals (2002, 602 and Twenty Series), Remo heads, Ludwig Snare drums, Vic Firth Sticks, Protection Racket cases, Kickport and Baskey accessories.
You’ve joined at a pivotal point in the band’s career with plans ahead to record new studio music for 2014. What are your personal hopes for your future with the band?
I feel so privileged to be in this band at this time, I am really looking to hitting the studio and working along side these great musicians. MT is such a great songwriter and the new material I am sure is really going to be great. I love playing live…… you may have noticed!! So I can't wait to tour, meet the fans, travel and bring the new music to the fans of MTWA.
Finally, do you have any particular message for the MTWA fanbase?
Thanks so much for all the kind words and greeting. I really feel honoured to play this music and I hope you enjoy my interpretation of it. Come and say hi…….. ps. mines a cider :-) Can i also say thanks to Dave for his support and message to me - I will do my best to continue your great work.
Thanks Tim for taking the time to answer these questions.