A Bit About Me
Yes, Dov is my real name and it’s not short for anything, I used to have a laugh and say it was short for Dovalopolous but I can’t be bothered with all that anymore but it’s surprising the amount of people who can’t get their head round three letters.
Here we go then! I grew up in the 70′s listening to my parents favourite music in the back of the car and round the house, I remember this Hi Fi cabinet almost to the ceiling filled with amps, pre-amps etc. they were the size of breeze blocks. It was all thankfully great music mostly Rock and RnB like Steeley Dan, Boz Scaggs, Led Zep, Eagles etc. dare I say a bit of disco thrown in like Rod’s “Do you think I’m sexy” I remember that song pumping away downstairs while I was trying to get to sleep at night. Was it just my parents or do some people still have friends round for a dance like nearly every weekend? It was either just them or it’s just not done any more.. shame.
My Dad, Skip Alan was the drummer in The Pretty Things which has a place in Rocks finest 60′s / 70′s bands shelf, when my Dad first joined the Pretties they were better known than the Stones and “the” band at the time, the kind of band that you really didn’t want your daughter to go and see, they had the long hair and were quite outrageous. There are some pretty amazing early clips of my Dad beating up a cymbal on stage, I think he was Ziljians main cymbal tester.
The Pretties unfortunately never made it to super-stardom like the Stones due to one thing or another but it didn’t stop them from making great music. By the time I was becoming self aware my Dad had left the Pretties and the band had kind of gone their separate ways, but there had been and was a drum kit in the house for as long as I could remember and like all good little boys I wanted to be in a 60′s rock band just like my Dad. I say 60′s rock band as bands like that just don’t exist any more. So picking up sticks at eight years old seemed a pretty natural thing to do, it was at that point that our poor neighbours wished they lived somewhere a few miles away.
My drum teachers in the early years were my Dad, John Bonham, Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa, Steve Gadd and I used to play along with Huey Lewis and the News quite a bit too. They didn’t actually teach me! but listening to their playing, working things out and playing along was almost the same thing really.
So a love for Big Band and Rock came about and still get’s me excited today. I got started on using traditional grip straight away as that’s what my Dad did and Buddy did. I luckily saw Buddy play twice, once at Chichester Theatre and then at Ronnies, I’ll never forget the moment he looked at me from behind the drums, he was such a role model!
In those days.. (yawn, yeah yeah) we didn’t have all this youtube business going on with the blow by blow instructional videos of licks and grooves, you had to take pictures and sound-bites in your head of Buddy playing at Ronnies. It was actually a good thing I believe as my ability to learn songs and remember how to play them seems pretty heightened.
Dad was good friends with John Bonham from Zep. He and Plant, Page & Jones used to come and watch the Pretties play quite a lot and the Pretties ended up on Peter Grants Swan Song label. John gave my Dad his Green Ludwig kit, the houses of the holy one, unfortunately until his untimely death, the estate claimed back all what was his no argument! We still have one of his Snare drums though.
So fast forward a bit here, school years were filled with orchestral playing, timpani’s, snare drum and tuned percussion, it wasn’t really what I wanted to do but the timpani’s are pretty amazing instruments and enjoyed the experience, if your not lucky enough to play in one of the last few remaining UK orchestra’s then school is pretty much the only chance you’ll get to play these remarkable instruments these days.
The good thing about my school was that every year they held a music competition in the great hall and there all the teachers, parents and Guildhall adjudicators would attend. This was about the same time I was getting heavily into Led Zep and listening to Moby Dick probably a lot more than you should at 14. Well out came a full sized drum kit and two timpani’s and I gave my own rendition of Moby Dick for everyone, wow the drums sounded amazing in the Great Hall! Least to say I won the drum section of the competition, it wasn’t really fair as there was only one other drummer who had been playing for a year.
One of my first drum teachers at school (St Dunstans) was Ralph Salmins, he was only in early twenties then but he was great and taught me to read drum music and write it too, he was the first teacher I looked up to.
During my school years I formed a band called Slam and we had a horn section, so we used to play Defunkt and Tower of Power and made up a lot of our own music out of the jams we used to have. We used to play quite regularly down the Half Moon in Herne Hill and at a few Universities.
It felt like I had something, when you have a passion for music and playing an instrument, practising is enjoyable and comes easily. I always wondered what I was going to do with my playing, it’s not like you just go out and get a job with it so my idea when I left school was to just keep practising and get as good as I could.
Things really started to happen during and after I went to Drum school, once I had finished my formal education I couldn’t wait to be taught all about my passion for music and drumming. There was only one place in the UK where they taught popular music and drumming and it was called Drumtech, there are a plethora of these schools now but at the time Drumtech started off in a semi-detached in Acton and grew quite drastically due to popular demand and under the management skills of Francis Seriau. Francis was a great drum teacher and among other things, he taught me about drum concepts, playing to a click, different styles and techniques that helped make my playing sound a lot more professional.
One thing drum or music schools can never give you and that is experience. Experience is just something you have to just go out there and get, you can practice for hours on end but it won’t prepare you for performance level. While at Drumtech I became the drummer for Pillbox an indie pop rock band, we used to tour the UK and were in the studio a lot too, it was a great chance to be creative and get lots of live and studio experience.
I was at Drumtech one day and sitting next to my mate Bid who played with Edwin Starr and had played with him for the last 9 years, I was just flicking through my diary and he happened to spot all the University gigs I had with Pillbox, so he said how would you like to do a gig with Edwin Starr? What.. Yeah, he said, I’ve been doing this project with another band and some of the dates clash.
So I started doing a few dep gigs with Edwin which were amazing, I remember the very first gig was a festival, couple of thousand people in a park, Edwin pointed at me… what does that mean I thought to myself.. I know this band do a lot on hand signals but know one told me what to do when you get pointed at! So being so keen and green I launched into the latest Dave Weckl lick, solo type thing thinking it was drum solo time. No! Foot! said Edwin, oh ok he just wants four to the floor.
to be continued…..
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