JAMIE OLDAKER

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What was the first album you ever bought and what’s your favorite track on it today? I don’t remember the first album I bought, but I do remember one of the first albums that I remember hearing as a young kid. My dad played me the 1937/38 jazz concert at Carnegie Hall with Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Teddy Wilson and the great Gene Krupa…..He is still my hero and my favorite drummer!! My dad also played me John Phillip Souza marching records as well and told me to listen to both and I would be allright….Ha !…I listened to Joey Dee and the Starlighters along with Chubby Checker with my parents……then the Beatles came along…favorite song was “Love Me Do”…great cymbal crash in that song.

Who were you favorite drummers as a kid? Growing up , I had a lot of drummers that I listened to….never tried to copy anyone…My favorite to this day would have to be Gene Krupa.

What groove, or musical style, came most natural to you at first? I started playing to records that I heard on top 40 radio…Beach Boys, etc. until the British invasion came to America…I still enjoyed the loose feel of Gene Krupa with the Goodman band….He seemed to play the way he wanted to…no rules. I am a huge bebop fan….1960 jazz from New York.

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Looking back, was there a pivotal first ‘big break’ for you as it were?  Playing on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1971 was cool and my first semi rock star tour and album was with Bob Seger and I recorded the album Back in ’72 which contained the original version of ”Turn the Page “…  As you know, my career then started to go forward!!

Of all the kits you have owned and played, what is your all-time favorite?  Well, I have had a few…one was an old Camco kit which I wish I still had and my first Ludwig kit my Dad bought me when I was first starting out….Today, I am playing Sakae Almighty maple kit…..I left Yamaha after a 40 year relationship and endorsement with them….My favorite Yamaha kit would be my Maple Customs which are no longer available……Sakae made all Yamaha drums for 50 years.

Do you have a philosophy when it comes to recording?  Recording is a personal preference, but I will say that it is different than playing live, so I would recommend to any young drummer to learn how to do both…I did, and it was beneficial in my career.

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How important is your mind-set before going on stage and what do you do to get ‘ready’? Going on stage is still frightening to me…Their is always that split second thought before I go up on stage that I question if I really know what I am doing….Ha ! We are all insecure……But once the music starts, everything comes back to you and you feel comfortable ……I will walk around by myself before I go up on stage and think and say a few prayers to help me have a good show and remember the songs!!
Of all the studio material you recorded with Eric Clapton, which drum track are you most proud of today? I don’t really listen to myself after I have recorded an album….We spend enough time listening to tracks back in the studio, that by the time it is released, I don’t want to hear it anymore!!! probably “I Shot The Sheriff”, “She’s Waiting”, “Wonderful Tonight”, “Double Trouble”, “Motherless Children”….They are all pretty good I think. No real favorites.
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What is the scariest moment you ever experienced on the road or playing live? Private plane with Eric going through bad weather was no fun, splitting my head open at Pine Knob with Eric, still played the show with a nurse holding a towel over my head….21 stitches after show….Military chaos with Peter Frampton in South America…..Held hostage by government for a few days…. more of this in my book!!
What 3 albums make your deserted island play list? Miles Davis…Kind of Blue, The Tractors…Christmas Album, Novabossa….Novabossa. – Jamie Oldaker.com
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JIM VALLANCE

JimVallanceWHAT WAS THE FIRST TUNE YOU LEARNED TO PLAY ON THE DRUMS?

It was a very long time ago (1965?) but I think the first song I played on drums was “Little Red Riding Hood”, by Sam The Sham and the Pharaohs.

DRUMMER JOKES ASIDE, IT SEEMS THE BEST ARTISTS (AND PRODUCERS FOR THAT MATTER) CAN PLAY SOME DRUMS, OR IN FACT BEGAN ON THE DRUMS: HOW DID UNDERSTANDING RHYTHM HELP YOU AS A SONGWRITER AND PRODUCER?

There’s this presumed orthodoxy that everything begins with piano … learn to play piano and the rest will follow.  That’s why so many kids are forced to take piano lessons.  If it were up to me, I’d say “start with drums and the rest will follow”.  Rhythm is the most basic musical building block.

I took piano lessons like every other kid of my generation — except the ones who took accordion lessons! — but it’s drums that taught me how to play music with feeling.  Even now, when I play guitar, I play like a drummer.

WHAT WAS THE ALBUM THAT GOT YOU HOOKED ON ROCK & ROLL AS A KID?

I wasn’t aware of albums when I was a kid.  It was all about singles, 45 RPM vinyl disks.  The first ones I bought were “She Loves You” by The Beatles and “Glad All Over” by The Dave Clark Five.

RodneyHiggsHOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE STAGE NAME ‘RODNEY HIGGS’ WHEN YOU WERE IN PRISM AND DOES HE, AS AN ALTER-EGO OF SORTS, EVER PAY VISITS TO YOUR MIND SET?

I live part-time in London … I have an apartment in Kensington. I’ve always loved Sherlock Holmes, that whole Victorian-era thing.  Rodney Higgs sounded like a character from a Sherlock Holmes story.

DID BEING FROM CANADA MAKE IT HARDER TO BREAK INTO THE MUSIC INDUSTRY AT LARGE OR DID YOU SEE IT AS AN ADVANTAGE?

I’ve always wondered if it made a difference.  There were hundreds of bands in Los Angles, all of them within walking distance of the big label offices.  Whether it was Devo from Akron or Nirvana from Seattle, I think there was some novelty attached to bands that were from somewhere other than LA.  So yes, I think it helped to be from Vancouver.

IN YOUR PARTNERSHIP WITH BRYAN ADAMS, HOW DID YOU GUYS WORK ON SONGS TYPICALLY? DID THE APPROACH CHANGE AT ALL OVER THE YEARS OR DID YOU HAVE A FORMULA TOGETHER?

No formula, but certainly a democratic approach to writing songs.  There’s no ego … the best idea wins, no matter who came up with it.  We both write melody and we both write lyrics.  We can bounce lyrics and melodies back and forth until the best idea becomes apparent.  Sometimes I’ll play guitar, sometimes bass, sometimes piano.  It depends on the song.  Bryan usually plays guitar when we write, although he’s actual a very good piano player.

Cars_JimVallanceYOU HAVE WRITTEN WITH A NUMBER OF MAJOR ARTISTS OVER THE YEARS, WHICH WAS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE FOR YOU AS AS SONGSMITH?

I’m 60.  I’ve been writing songs since I was 16.  You’d think it would get easier, but it doesn’t.  It’s hard work.
Every song, every artist, comes with its own set of challenges, the main one being, you want to do the best job possible.  I admit I was nervous the first time I wrote with Steven and Joe from Aerosmith — same for Ozzy or Alice Cooper — but you get over that quite quickly.  Then it’s all about focussing on the task, spending the time — hours, days, whatever it takes — writing, re-writing, honing it until you’ve got it right.
Honestly, every song is a challenge.  There’s nothing quite so daunting as staring at a blank piece of paper waiting to be filled with lyrics.  Somehow it just happens. There’s that great story about Andrew Loog Oldham locking a young Mick Jagger and Keith Richards in a room, threatening not to let them out until they’d written a song.  That’s kinda what it’s like.  That’s what it takes.
ONE OF YOUR CURRENT ‘PET PROJECTS’ IS JOHN LENNON IN GERMANY FROM 60-62: CAN YOU SHARE A PEARL FROM THE YOUNG TOUGHS DAYS IN HAMBURG?

An interviewer once asked Lennon to divulge the secret of the Beatles’ success.  Lennon replied, “We were a really good band!”.  And they were.  Listen to their recording of “Kansas City”, which is straight from their Hamburg set-list.  That’s four guys in a studio, singing and playing at the same time.  No ProTools or overdubs, just a really good band taking their Hamburg club show into a recording studio.  That’s where they got good, playing eight hour sets at the Top Ten Club and the Kaiserkeller.  There’s no substitute for that kind of apprenticeship.

 HOW DO YOU RATE RINGO AND WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE OF HIS DRUM TRACKS IF YOU HAD TO PICK ONE?

Ringo is one of the best rock drummers, ever. Bonham may have been heavier, and Stewart Copeland may have had more finesse, but you won’t find a more tasteful drummer than Ringo.  Plus, he basically invented the drum fill as we know it.

My favorite  Ringo tracks include “Lovely Rita”, “Carry That Weight”, “Ticket To Ride”, “Rain”.  For that matter, he played great on everything.  Never the same feel twice.

DO YOU STILL PLAY ‘SONG DOCTOR’ AND DO YOU MAKE HOUSE CALLS?

I don’t like the “song doctor” label.  It sounds like all I do is fix other people’s songs, or contribute the last 10% to fine-tune the song for radio.  I might have done that a few times over the years, but 99% of the time I start from scratch, sitting in a room with Bryan Adams or Steven Tyler, blank page, no clue where things are headed, and somehow you come up with a song. That’s a great feeling.  That’s what I love about my job … creating something from nothing. – JIM VALLANCE 

MATT WALKER


1.0  Who was your favorite drummer growing up? Hard to pick one! Stewart Copeland, Stevie Wonder, Neil Peart, Bill Bruford, Steve Jordan.

2.0  Does playing guitar also make one a better drummer? Yes and vice-versa , anything with harmonic/melodic qualities will help a drummer think more musically, and playing drums can certainly help inform other instrumentalists about feel and good time.

3.0  Do you have a favorite stage kit? I like to change it from band to band , tour to tour. My old standby is any good ol’ 4 piece a la Charlie Watts , but sometimes I take it to extremes…last Morrissey tour was a Gretsch USA Custom 6-piece kit, but with and orchestral Bass Drum and a massive 8-ft Paiste Gong as well…oh yeah and about 10 cymbals, all Zildjian.

4.0  Is it okay to be nervous before a show? Definitely, nerves can help step your game up, but to be fair they can also stiffen up a performance. It goes both ways. I don’t really meditate but before a show – I try to find a minute or two to close my eyes and focus my energy…really visualize how I want to play. It really works.

5.0  When you write a song, where does it start for you…. as a riff, a beat, a melody, a lyric? Anywhere and everywhere. I get more song ideas when I am out walking or riding my bike than anywhere…which usually results in me racing home to record it before I forget it. I write more on piano than any other instrument, but when I have the time my favorite writing technique is to spend a few hours going back and forth on the instruments. I might have an idea on guitar, but before I finish writing it I’ll go over to the drums and play with the song in my head, because I’m more comfortable on drums than the other instruments I’ll come up with dynamics and arrangement ideas that I wouldn’t have otherwise. Then it’s always back to the piano to really figure out harmonically what is happening with the song.

6.0  What’s up with MDR? TheMDR is still happening, but a couple of the members have left town so we are focusing more on finishing recording/mixing our last EP. I have been working on a kind of solo project called of1000faces. Its based on my writing but the idea is to record and perform in a variety of contexts with different musicians from all genres. We just played our first show in Chicago a couple of months ago and will be playing again Nov12 at The Bottom Lounge.

7.0  How did the Morrissey gig come about? A few of his band members live in L.A. and are friends with my brother Solomon and ex-Cupcakes band mate Greg Suran. When Morrissey found himself in need of a drummer to tour for “Ringleader of the Tormentors”, my old Chicago pals put my name in for the job which got me an audition….ironically, a year after I became his drummer, the original bass player quit and my brother joined Morrissey’s band as well.

8.0  Any tunes in his repertoire that were more difficult to learn than you may have expected? Some of The Smiths songs are a challenge. Not from a technical stand point, but trying to capture their essence which is largely dependent on the style of drummer Mike Joyce, and the way the drums and bass interacted. Additionally, there was a certain sound they had that lent itself to Morrissey’s vocals – In a live situation, with a catalog as expansive as Morrissey’s, it’s challenging to go from one era to the next in a single set, it’s almost like time travel.

9.0  Who was your favorite 80’s act? Again, how do i pick one?!! Adam Ant, Gary Numan, Icicle Works. Talk Talk, Split Endz, Tears for Fears….its a long list.

10.0  If you could be anybody else in history who would it be? I see this question in some magazine….what is it…GQ? Cosmopolitan? I would be David Bowie because no one can touch him.