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No Conservatoire
BADBADNOTGOOD’s Alexander Sowinski

Steve Gadd

Poly Versus the Sound Guy

Elbows & Appendages
Richard Jupp

Anna Prior
How To Ice Biscuits

Sheffield Steel
Issue Fifteen, Winter 2016/17 52
VK Drums’ Alan van Kleef

The Drum Thing
Deirdre O’Callaghan


Christian DiGirolamo. Julia. Winter 2016/17 Copyright © The Drummer’s Journal 2017 The proprietors and contributors to The Drummer’s Journal have asserted their right under the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the owners and authors of this work. Dan Wiseman. Ellie Shapiro. Rob Grad. Matthew Social: Vicky Batrak Proof Reader: David Smith Contributors: Julia Kaye Photographers: Ellius Grace. Mindy Abovitz Cover: Zach’s Hands by Deirdre O’Callaghan MASTHEAD Issue Fifteen. . Bex Wade. Ben Smith. Matt Budd. Kate Darracott. Editor: Tom Hoare tom@thedrummersjournal. Beto Benitez. Greg. Tracy Hoeft. Deirdre O’Callaghan Illustrators: Reid Chancellor Max Respect: Marion Design: Luke Douglas luke@thedrummersjournal. Luis Cardoso. Elspeth Leadbetter. Katie Bursey.


So we didn’t even ask. Anna Prior. So what if he says no? So to accept fiction as fact. then went out and did it. Eventually. Steve Gadd was because I was scared he’d say no. Do not set the bar low for 2017.That was an error. we slept on them. Issue Fifteen O ne of the reasons this magazine exists is to try and This issue is comprised of people who did not set their do something a bit different. It was during responding to you that I realised that my excuse – that we Here’s an example. They gave us a false sense of comfort that we could Thanks to the person who emailed in and asked why hide behind if things didn’t go our way. We were told “no. To go out on a bit of expectations low. Tom .” We just accepted this as fate. we put in an interview request. purely out of fear of being shot down. This includes Steve Gadd. person. about being a session player. Not only did we rest on our laurels. Welcome to Issue 15 of The Drummer’s Journal. He dreamed a limb and just see what happens. dropped out of music Initially. One of the reasons we’d never approached tried and failed – was a lame duck. drummer for Metronomy. handy excuse when we’d get knocked back by an advertiser made her mind up she was going to be a drummer when or told that we couldn’t arrange an interview with a specific she was 14 and would not be swayed otherwise. so anything school to pursue music that he found value in even if his that exceeded them was a pleasant surprise. drummer for BBNG. Steve Gadd hadn’t been in the magazine yet. EX SPECTATION Volume Three. It makes you more likely I realised we were being ridiculous. It was also a teachers didn’t. we set our expectations pretty low. Alex Sowinski.

08 NO CONSERVATOIRE BADBADNOTGOOD’s Alexander Sowinski Words by Tom Hoare Photography by Ellius Grace THE DRUMMER’S JOURNAL .

.” music worth its salt is still plentiful. as want to work. We picked up the phone and chatted to the Did you grow up with jazz music? band’s drummer. You build with opportunities and take albums in the process. it created a bit of a buzz. BadBadNotGood is an intravenous injection of jazz infused hip hop. extending a middle Yeah. It’s a progression that underpinned there was a bit of a disconnect between what or anything. I found a lot of love for it. the meaning of the melodies. so we music media make it seem like we’re swimming thought. that’s not what If you’ve ever felt that you’re becoming musically Whatever it was. it was a huge disconnect. But they do possess similar traits to jazz bands of the past. but in high school. 09 D isillusioned with their jazz conservatory The Drummer’s Journal: Was leaving school program. and new face of jazz Davis did it. the development of the genre. being a real band and actually playing shows and having an income. even if the we were doing.” in saline solution. But we were enjoying what about for us. we played. travel as much as you want to well as releasing five of their own critically lauded travel. any of this is anaemic. a reminder that the simplicity of some of the forms. band. exactly what American hard-bop bands were “We’re not trying doing. white conservatories was I was going to do that. though. turning away from entrenched modes of How did your jazz professors react when you to spearhead a playing and incorporating outside influence in the form of soul or blues. risks. jazz and rap sort of arrangements. opting Alexander Sowinski: It wasn’t obvious. Not my entire life. And that meant leaving the school. that it would be a risk. Alexander Sowinski. began talking to managers What began as recording instrumental hip hop and taking some legitimate steps towards being interpretations in a basement and uploading a band. In the 1950s. “Well. At the instead to concentrate on their own project. let’s take a risk and pursue it. three Toronto-based music an obvious decision? students decided to drop out. I only ask as I guess you’ve wanted to be a insofar as they’re a group of musicians deviating drummer since you were a kid? from a norm. The Creator. and what the school maybe expected us to play. I didn’t really have a plan how finger to the European. We knew it was going to It’s safe to say BadBadNotGood aren’t really a jazz be tight. a time we were still in that in-between stage of band called BadBadNotGood. Miles left? We did a performance at the end of the year. I think so. certainly not in a traditional sense. So we started to record some more. Art Blakey did it. Work as hard as you likes of Frank Ocean and Tyler. The whole industry is still pretty much them to YouTube branched into backing the create your own career.

10 BadBadNotGood Discography: (left to right) BBNG (2011) BBNG2 (2012) III (2014) Sour Soul (with Ghostface Killah) (2015) IV (2016) THE DRUMMER’S JOURNAL .

It was like. or anything. It has been for Before the band took off. You just hear about it and you’re like. [Laughs] Ok. cocktail gigs or these corporate people and do different sessions. maybe I can do that one day. I’m not really going for the Modern certain things more than if you were just a Drummer cover. we weren’t trying to trying to find my own voice and developing as be anything specific. The more experience you not trying to spearhead a new face of jazz or have recording in the studio. where it’s just background music. then you appreciate for us. I knew about people who are professional session drummers and just go to “Jazz is still associated with generation of musicians who back different sessions all the time. working on music and releasing little tidbits of our ideas. 11 Has how you perceive what jazz music is people who are so much better from a technical changed over time? perspective. But it’s also an expressive. But it’s also an expressive. There are some younger groups idea of what it was going to be like to play trying to recontextualise jazz and music scenes music as a career. we were just having fun a musician.” I had to balance between the band to become? learning about something I really love and We didn’t have a plan. I just like doing it. “Oh. We’re you experience it. There is a lot of positivity going on which helps it develop. or these corporate events I’m not great at explaining things clearly. “This is the way this person does it. and has that matched up? in general. Does that make Are people’s opinions on traditional and sense? I could just be talking about nothing… contemporary jazz becoming more polarised? I don’t know how to describe it.” I don’t know really. there’s a big difference between using THE DRUMMER’S JOURNAL . It’s funny. Do you ever think about why you became a drummer? Drums play such a massive role in hip hop. Does this get overlooked? evolving art form. totally. No. I like I’d agree that drums are so important in hip using my own creativity. “This person Did you have a rough idea of what you wanted uses this technique. but I try just to enjoy the way I do Yeah.” or. things. The fact it grew and had a buzz I feel like you learn more about music the more to it was way beyond our expectations. writing music. evolving art form. stuff. or people in touring bands. being inspired by the creativity of others is important to me personally. but jazz is still associated with cocktail gigs. I see all these other hop. that makes sense. that’s good as sometimes I think or wedding bands. Also. that’s not what any of this is about contributing to a session. rigid way of being taught. There’s this group called the Honest Collective in New York who are a younger I had no idea.” events where it’s just background music. The school thing is quite a heavy. did you have an so many years. Seeing good people do amazing listener.

That’s important. using programmed drums. We all know what’s been happening in the last few years in terms of violence and police officers. and you see and hear this in specific music. which is exciting. but especially in US hip hop. lyrics. I’m a big fan. it’s all just amounting to different tastes and expressions of music that you can either vibe with or not. Everyone is pushing each other to make deep. and the output of socially conscious music? Totally. Traditionally hip hop has not shied away from being critical of itself… I think it’s all been progressive. or using live drummers on sessions. I think we have such a diverse amount of flavour between trap music and dance. using breaks. for the Modern You’re so diplomatic! Drummer cover. In rap right now. Do you see any parallels between what’s been going on politically in America for the last few years. creatively speaking. old school soul. THE DRUMMER’S JOURNAL .” [Laughs] I don’t have any negativity to the old school or the new school. 12 samples. jazz progressive. it’s all been “I’m not really going moving forward. expressive music. production and rapping. There are so many applications. there is so much out there. gangster rap. It’s exciting. between both the beats. electronic rap.



STEVE GADD Accession Words by Tom Hoare Photography by Bex Wade .

sound great. is pretty much Up until this point. and not fuck a single thing up. I downloaded the charts and set about trying to decipher them.” about the top ten drumming performances of all I probably took longer than the time and Steve Gadd’s performance on Aja was average person to realise he’s number one. at 11 am. that could be true. I thought it would be humanly impossible about being a for someone to simply sit down session player. learning Aja was the thing everything in sight. It took me months. could ever do it. it was conceivable that I could deserted. off the bat. In a London hotel. At the time. It felt pretty good. I constructive. There’s a rumour about Steve Gadd’s performance on Aja. I think I read an article learnt more about Steve Gadd. it felt like an new rudiments on a practice pad. which. I was below average. I listened to the song so much it absolutely ruined my desire to ever hear it again. I I didn’t know much about Steely Dan at the time.A bout seven years ago. I sucked at reading notation so it took me an absolute age. So. for reasons that are still not entirely struggled to comprehend how “I used to dream clear. at best. that stopped me selling my kit and giving up altogether. It felt utterly pointless. never have touched the drum set again. but the reality of it was anything but. I can see the reception . I was sitting in a own ability. now it was just a constant reminder that lived somewhere where it rains routinely. Whereas playing had once made me damp basement flat in Glasgow. we’re sat in a little booth in the restaurant. I decided I needed that he did the whole thing some sort of project in an effort to do something in one take. I I was unemployed and filled my days with video could sort of play a bastardised version along with games and half-arsed attempts at trying to learn the track itself. desaturating As pathetic as it sounds. Every time I played it I failed to see anything of value in my From where I’m sitting. To offset my failing job search. I decided the best use of my time would be to learn how to play Aja by Steely Dan. By the end of it. My decision-making process was that one of the greatest drummers fickle. to have ever lived. Then I didn’t know if I what a great album Aja is. you’ll be familiar with that overwhelming greyness you get on rainy days in the city. other than people online constantly raved about and play it. If you’ve feel good. That might actual accomplishment.

” to check out. Ryan Gosling and Christina Aguilera. he appeared on a TV variety forget about all His arms are covered with tattoos.” contests and the people who got picked could appear on the show. “Actually. looking got my first tattoo. “I don’t know about that. I think. the bullshit. I was on the show. He also looks like someone who “I read that you were a bit of a child prodigy…” “It’s about getting knows how to take it easy. it’s always “Yeah. He grins.” been pretty special. Someone told me that I was quite comfortable. There’s a queue of flustered people waiting “Early 20s. kind. go across the country and have these little talent “This is 13 in Japanese. I know exactly why I commotion.” He nods his head thought. “Poor guy.” “Didn’t you also meet Gene Krupa when you were “How old were you when you got your first tattoo?” quite young? . gesturing to a Japanese numeral on his arm.” he “Yeah. I got to meet Walt Disney.” He pauses in Steve peers around and observes the minor contemplation. ‘I’ll show you a permanent decision!’” toward the concierge.” tinge signifying they’ve been there It launched the careers of a vast number of child for a while. so I takes a sip of coffee. but for me. reclining back on his seat. It’s hard the groove feeling to imagine him getting stressed about anything. “Looking back. maybe. I got picked. He lets out a small chuckle and incapable of making any permanent decisions. and considered demeanour. who seems to be having a “Were you in rebellion?” bad morning. and some of them have that green show called The Mickey Mouse Club. it’s associated with people like them. I guess so. Someone is speaking in quite a loud voice to the concierge. “Thirteen is my lucky number.” so good that you When Steve was nine. “Disney would begins.” he nods. More recently. It might be Mickey Mouse possible to mistake this for shyness. He spots me surveying stars.” “I thought 13 was usually considered an unlucky number?” “And you got to meet Mickey Mouse?” “For some people. Steve has a quiet. 17 desk. It was a show mostly featuring kids who had prodigious talents.

to do what I did on those records.” THE DRUMMER’S JOURNAL . 18 “It was like I’d been practising my whole life for that reason.

” We chat about Steve’s early career. Knowing that.’ That’s odd statistical anomaly that kids from rich. and when he got out. but it was First Draft pretty good duty looking back on it. My grandmother kept horses. Those are not good odds. everyone to see him march in a veteran’s parade. As soon as I graduated put on records. dad. “Up until I was three. My uncle was a drummer in high school. so terrifying?” in the morning we’d go out to the barn and tend to the horses. 11 American soldiers died per day for 19 years. chances of being killed as a US soldier were 181 to one. with 16. But meeting of the war. ‘I could still serve and For a supposedly randomised process. As soon as you get out of basic training. THE DRUMMER’S JOURNAL . first drum I ever saw: a red parade drum.” “How did that feel?” “It sounds pretty idyllic. on average. When college in early 1968. I didn’t want to shoot The draft was supposed to be a randomised lottery anybody. then we’d go back into the house and “Yeah. I went exemption.” a lot of love in the family. “It was. John Beck.“Yeah. Steve graduated He leans back and smiles. Your Gene was special for me for sure. Canada. I had from Eastman I got my draft papers. This was the bloodiest year you’re a kid everything is exciting. my mom. I thought. white what I did. it was an have some control over what I was doing. He was my hero. or have a medical He’d been in the army. “I didn’t want to fight. There was a lot of “Was the prospect of being drafted not absolutely support and love. If you didn’t move to Canada.” the Washington DC area. The guys in those bands don’t usually have to go overseas.” families were drafted far less than those from lower socio-economic classes. “It was all exciting. or were married with kids. I did get drafted. Everyone got them. He graduated “What was your perception of the war at the time?” from Eastman School of Music at the time when the Vietnam War draft was at its most voracious. I’ve been arranged auditions for some of the military bands in playing drums ever since.000 US casualties alone. Instead. “Were you more excited about meeting Mickey Mouse or Gene Krupa?” During the Vietnam War. my teacher.” “I knew I was going to get them. you’re making Sergeant’s money. That’s the had to go. It was a great way to grow up. I didn’t want to be in the army. But I couldn’t exactly just move to requiring citizens to enlist in the armed forces. brother and I all lived with my dad’s parents.


You can waste a lot of energy worrying the road. We went to college together and graduated at the same time. “Pretty much. It was before people were making millions things start to flow. I feel like I’ve continued striving to get to where I want to “I used to dream about being a session player. really. do you feel THE DRUMMER’S JOURNAL . He’d had a medical deferment and hadn’t gone to and I’ve realised it’s a process and not an event.” as you could be. When you’re freelance. That’s how I got my foot in the door. didn’t know if I could ever do it. It just went If I’d known what from there. ‘Slow growth is about that. I be in terms of taking care of myself physically. But there was always something to keep good growth. and sort of ease though what’s going on around you. He introduced me to Mike Mainieri. back. to days was that you just wanted to be able to make find inner peace. You get yourself to a point where a living. so he’d been in New York for the three You’re constantly trying to go a certain direction years I’d been in the army.’ we all go through those things.” drugs and alcohol “Was there ever a period where you were out of would have done I work?” wouldn’t have gone “You go through periods where you’re not as busy near them.” “When you look back over your career. You find the eye at the centre of dollars as musicians in this industry.” of the storm.” “There are things “That’s how you first got work as a drummer?” I’d do differently. I look at my life. The transition was good.’ or. It was sheer luck. you’re constantly waiting for the phone to ring. instead of getting nervous about it. I ended up living with and it’s inevitable you’ll run into some bumps in him and his wife and collecting unemployment. All of these sayings like. Vietnam. That’s what my goal is. ‘Three steps forward two steps me going. The trick is. try to start enjoying the time you have when you’re not working. I went to New York like it’s been a constant upward progression?” and stayed with my friend Tony Levin. The deal in those mentally and spiritually. It turned out he’d gotten to know a few people in the industry. “I don’t just look at my career. 21 “When I got out of the army.

which still tend to stand out.” Steve’s career is emblematic of a period when the recording industry was booming. Linda and their kids too.” Steve pauses and rubs the back of his neck. There are still some sessions. Instead. I’d gotten to know because it’s what unites people. it’s more about getting was a cloud hanging over the sessions for sure. the groove feeling so good that you forget about all There was some security around. given now iconic. “It was just a tragedy really. As a heavily abridged overview.” Martin. James Brown. There is a sizable body of writing devoted to Chick Corea. I don’t know if I’m as spiritual as “Those were crazy times. It was like It was recorded only two months after Lennon’s a light went on. Ringo was there. I got to spark of light that’s inside me. I wondered what scope of his work. I think everyone the bullshit. “Is this why you’re a musician?” “What was the atmosphere like?” “I’d say it certainly has something to do with it. 22 “Would you say you’re a spiritual person?” assassination…” “I think I am.” a time when albums and Steely Dan on Aja and on Paul Simon’s 50 Ways not singles became the driving sales force of the To Leave Your Lover. I Eric Clapton.” was still in shock really. reason. Steely Dan. “It was like I’d been practising my whole life for that “You made a record with Paul McCartney in 1981. I try to find the little him a bit as we’d worked together before. Charles Mingus. There not really about performing. the door opened and I walked into THE DRUMMER’S JOURNAL . but the fact that so much of it is these sessions had come to mean to Steve. exploring Steve’s experiences on these tracks. and try to connect know Paul. they’re commonly regarded as his magnum opi. to do what I did on those records. career-defining for Steve but also for the artists themselves. Kate Bush and Paul imagine he must have been asked about them McCartney. Simon and Garfunkel. And George with the little spark of light that’s inside all of us. The truly impressive thing isn’t just the relentlessly over the years. It’s “There was no escaping what had happened. It’s often referred Some of Steve’s most well-known work was with to as the “album era. I think it’s important Montserrat. She used to manage studios and worked on a few projects with The Hits him. Steve was the go- to guy for the likes of BB King. however. They would become not only industry. “My wife had worked with John too. We did that record in I could be but I’m trying.


of fun. “I couldn’t envision it.” THE DRUMMER’S JOURNAL . It was also a lot band at Ronnie Scott’s jazz club. Did the reality of it match up to it made me realise you don’t have to sit down and what you’d imagined?” learn to play Aja to appreciate Steve Gadd. It was at a time when the industry was changing incredibly fast. session musician. there are things I’d do differently. I certainly don’t feel nostalgia in a way that I wish I was back there. It was the old and the new coming together. the music industry was booming. one thing Later that evening. I’m alive and healthy. Many waited in line to shake his hand or have of a sudden you’re working and it doesn’t feel like him sign a CD. That’s run its course now. All bar. I can’t really explain it. “In the late 60s. After the show. If I’d known what drugs and alcohol would have done I wouldn’t have gone near them. It was a lot of work. Today. I got called to play on a lot of those sessions. I’m good. but how he treats people. I’m playing music. I mean. Steve played a gig with his own after another. I couldn’t imagine it.” much every person there. I focus more on the fact I’ve got a lot to be grateful for. He must have spoken to pretty work because you’re doing something you like. My family is alive and healthy. 24 another world. It dawned on me that he commands a lot of respect not just because of who “You talked about how you dreamed of being a he is. I don’t really think about that. It’s just how things go. Most importantly. Record companies were signing a lot of artists. That era had a life of its own. It just felt good.” “You don’t feel sentimental about it?” “I feel nostalgic if I look at pictures or see old friends. We were partying and playing some good he hung around for ages talking to people at the music. but not really about the industry itself. Stuff started happening. I don’t really think about the past and I try not to project about the future.

Never before available to the public. this collection was developed collaboratively with drummers on the cutting edge of “America’s Original Art Form. Joe McCarthy and Lewis Nash. then we’ve just the thing for you. Greg Hutchinson. For full specs. GO TO TDJ TV You’re going to want more than one. Find us on YouTube and gorge on interviews and other miscellaneous footage we’ve assembled into watchable shorts. go to VicFirth. TDJ TV If your attention span requires the continuous motion of a moving picture.” including Jeff ©2017 Vic Firth Company .


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58. makes it blend into the receipt’s curves into the distance like a small print nicely. I wonder if this is the onset of frostbite. A sentence corridor where you never seem to about consumer protection is reach the apex. lined the address is scrawled in pencil with redbrick Victorian houses. 56. I cross-reference the number on the front door with the address written on the back of the supermarket THE DRUMMER’S JOURNAL . The way they two. clear night in northern receipt in my right hand. The fact Manchester. makes me feel even colder. It’s one of these the suburbs at night. It Streetlights are intermittently dotted could be an eight. It could be a six.ELBOWS & APPENDAGES Richard Jupp Words & photography by Tom Hoare I t’s a cold. camouflaging the second digit of the house number. My hand has drained of any vaguely resemble warmth somehow colour and gone full Voldemort. They put out that forward between the two houses in orange glow that’s symptomatic of front of me. I look back and along the verge. The street.

loudly. strings. and something street is peering out of an upstairs window. I realise what they have likely just observed is not songwriting. With strides towards me. they became known for imagine he’d be good at it.” entirely normal behaviour. 56 and knock at the door. He has a genuine repeats itself. I But then I’ll sit and ethereal. brass. We sit in here and I feel my hands given. their early album life working towards a common goal. are now pointing at me. who were loading tools into releases. The music He tells me he’s in the process of joke. to his kit and there are countless “I look at stuff what appears to be a large shed in the garden. reached more and more people then simply starting again. It looks like there’s a light on inside it. “I probably spend a bit too much time online. twice. Fleeing mainstream. 36 B oth houses are in complete darkness. Instead. amassing a global following in the has his laptop open on a shelf next discover I can’t jump very high. I go next door to 58. They were signed I turn back around to face the house. the man doing the striding. I choose number house behind drawing breath. I can’t do that. What set them apart from on there. He up and down in an attempt to try and peek over it. and some days itself to introspection. ‘I’m a fucking There’s a gate in the fence but it opens from the countless other bands were songs that didn’t shy away other side. But the excitement with potential concern. Jupp left the band. I think. As an effort to dispel any Elbow achieved a great deal. Number 58 has a high wooden fence which obscures The studio is a single sound- the view round the side of the house. The process to beat up a potential thief. Jupp is incredibly approachable. I thought I’d glimpsed is actually a self-contained I use my phone to try and call the number I’d been Richard Jupp. Jupp was the drummer for a band called conditioned room that’s pretty about 7ft tall. I now feel and subsequently dropped. It felt a bit like the Richard Jupp: I just had this sort of gravitational The garden gate of 58 opens suddenly. imposing figure. They do not wave Music Prize. The Drummer’s Journal: First things first. often cascading. Elbow play atmospheric rock music that easily lends YouTube browser tabs open. a van further up the street. It’s likely not as glamorous. emotion. priming their phone in in playing music. Some builders. and sold millions of which he talks about it is impressive back.’ looking at the house. I until The Seldom Seen Kid propelled them into the manage to suppress the sudden urge to leg it. Nothing. It rings out. and a man end of an era. watching me. This fence is For 26 years. is inherently textural. over time. I decide the best thing to do is jump Elbow. Sometimes setting himself up as a teacher. I wave at them. pull into the music world. Why did would not be a hallmark of innocence. But it’s I turn around and notice that someone across the lyrical discernment and a sculpted approach to a different career from touring your play. stature in the British music scene. unsure how to proceed. a Brit award. I imagine the observer in the I wondered how such a decision affected his interest nothing to distinguish them. They won the Mercury profitable. I critical claim. It was certainly Ultimately I was struck by the idea of spending your very self-conscious. you become a drummer? In March 2016. piano. I actually think this is about to happen. The garden shed For a second. Nothing. They released six albums and won widespread much every drummer’s dream. records. passion for drums that’s infectious. I retreat back onto the driveway and stand from dealing with. A dog in number 54 is barking not an overnight success.” he muses. likely for both him and his band mates. I knock the hope of capturing footage of a homeowner about again. achieving it. But they once occupied a sort of underdog in itself. But I see the roof of process. Certainly not someone you want slowly defrost. and evoking. And probably not as will happen. is an teaching studio. and I don’t know where THE DRUMMER’S JOURNAL . latest top 40 album. accusing you of trespass.

37 .

interesting to learn or listen to. musician as opposed to just being a drummer. That outlook helped me grow as a factor. This sounds really though. listening That’s what it’s all about? Peter Gabriel. Got into trouble Worked in bars. hung out with what you ended up playing… the great and the good. I did my homework. and when we weren’t hanging out we were in school. ACDC. yeah. different I think it is for me. Then we got dropped. only seemed to become Because of the band.” And he did. Not really. even when things were A levels. hard to get a record deal. to different stuff. We weren’t rhythms. It was just a massive learning curve. “You should go with that sort of stuff. It was a good occasionally. I just kept falling Ultimately. though. don’t get me GCSE. it’ll keep THE DRUMMER’S JOURNAL . getting into a bit of trouble here and there. I wanted to do well. saw me play. That Sort of. And as a That must have felt shit… drummer. They were just like. But I’ve done stints in factories. We were trying to write our We started out doing blues covers and… “I’ll sort this out. different drummers. We were trying time. A levels went a bit wrong. that feeling is just everything. “I want to do that. It certainly wasn’t easy. What did you do when the band wasn’t earning band on the circuit. that made the decision to stick pretty bad. though. I felt that it was going to happen. It didn’t happen. And the lads be a success. people we’d looked up to like Yeah. guitar] was in the same school. right? were working to be able to hang out as a band. and the agency work.” I think they could see I was enjoying it. the shit shift work. Is it cheesy? out together. own stuff. he had that image. what took anything? the band’s profile up a notch? “The star-quality What were you like? Quite studious. I really felt like I’d been kicked in the Which is a radically different style of music from can lose yourself when playing. It didn’t happen. 38 the reason for playing drums came from. Mark [Potter. bollocks. The only real thing I can think listening to African percussion music. We went on one of our first tours and I was Mark Potter said he never doubted Elbow would really a musical family. it. massively. and it sort of took over a bit clearer once I everything. I’ve known Pete [Turner] the bass player since Er… well… sort of mindset was almost secondary to the success I was six years old. But every time something wrong. He was kind of like the bad guy in Back when you were just another school. but things Wrong? Did it feel rocky when you started? bad happened. I just remember Phil saying. so I could afford a new cymbal or new things changed. where you Yeah. There was always something else The reality of the situation was a bit up and down. What made you realise it might be possible? with Island Records. We’d recorded this album. really shit. and thinking. “I’ll get a loan. record demos.” in love with drums. I wasn’t music. lots of thing. I think they thought I was going to quit and go to university. I was doing it As soon as we got Phil Chadwick on board. Initially. I did alright at for a reason. He was taught to play or anything. I was listening to Anthrax. We got a record deal around for me. looking at Larry Mullen Jr would just take the piss. very. It was year we got dropped because they were bought out by I read you were a metalhead when you were younger? packed and my mum and dad came down and they Universal. snare drum. We had a Did you have a backup plan in case things didn’t work out? stopped drinking. we just wanted to earn a living by playing BMX. a bit of a rocker. Did you feel the same way? of would be seeing U2. Sorry. our manager. Drum gear costs so much bloody money. I meant was it a bit touch and go… Oh! Yeah. or at least. For me.” I remember Guy being quite happy that I’d fluffed my few put downs. but within a We did a gig in Bury at a place called Monty’s. Phil would just say. “Fucking hell!” I suppose. In some ways. riding It’s true. Slayer. We had a lot of self-belief because we hung You’ve known your former band mates since you cheesy. We would just hang around. And it was just like. It was amazing.

” . 39 “It’s been a great chance for me to sit and play and not think about how someone is going to react to it.

What did winning it is going to react to it. I can’t do that. Then to other people You’d been a band for 18 years before you won the Mercury Music Prize. The “star-quality” thing. For me.” But then I’ll sit and play. I’ll have to go down in disguise. and now you’re I’ve always been drawn to these like being a rabbit in the headlights because suddenly going back to the start in some ways… independent. because you’ve spent 25 years doing mentor as opposed to just being a teacher. I’m looking forward to it. What do you associate Has how you feel about playing drums changed? think. thought. there’s already a we’ll see what it’s like. There was always something that The reality of it will be strange I’m sure. and by then I’ll have forgotten whatever was making me because I’ve represent? feel shit earlier. because of the recording and touring. “Oh fuck!” It was a bit what most people strive to achieve. With music. I’ll work on a few tracks. Part of me was relieved From my perspective. lot of people doing that. My playing has come on so much. make so much difference to how a person plays. but I’m when you know. It’s been a great chance for me to sit and play and just not think about I’ll never be able to do that. massive kick in the teeth at the time too. That felt like another Will it be strange seeing the band perform? How decision. the hard work starts now. your current situation is quite odd. but always something else on the horizon. He’s a great guy and a cracking drummer.” I think and it’d be another two years before I could think into coordination. That’s how you honestly feel? been in the same band forever. I’m the opposite. and I realised I needed to do something else. and something will happen what I can bring how it’s going to fit into something. How was it as a process to make that decision? Did don’t get me wrong. 40 us going for another six months.” and the other part was like. but things only seemed to become you feel like you knew what you needed to do or a bit clearer once I stopped drinking. surfing. but guy called Alex Reeves. When I look does it feel thinking about it now? back on it today. It still excites me. These I could have handled it better. There was going on at the minute so I haven’t given it too much I know what you mean. I’m glad we didn’t make it I don’t really feel anything in the best possible way. solo stuff. [Pauses] It’ll be weird to hear the new stuff. I seem to exist in a constant state on the first album. so I’m still relatively young. we’d do another record own body is important. I got a bit carried away with it all as opposed I knew if I didn’t do it now. It was a fucking good time. about it again.” run. well. I just thought about it a lot. you know. That’s Better in what sense? what I like most about the drum set. who played on some of Guy’s Going into teaching. I know that sounds like a cop-out. that translates to thinking. That’s when the fun bus pulled be one of those too. That was intense. are things that aren’t necessarily a technical skill. “Ok. and doing it In many ways. like people were taking photographs of us and inviting us Yeah. and groove. I knew I needed to. I’m very lucky in the fact that I can do it. I’d had a good were you going back and forth about it? THE DRUMMER’S JOURNAL . leave it with me. It was scary in some ways. “I’m a fucking joke. I just saw that pattern continuing. but I’ve a lot of indecision… happened that kept pushing us forward. and about it. though. or how someone and I’ll come up with something. and some days I in many ways for Elbow. Sometimes you just have exploring what I can bring to other people because I’ve to trust your instincts. I’m 43. There was a lot of mixed emotions. “I’m exploring with that album now? Winning the Mercury Music Prize. then made a then they ran out of money. we got signed to V2. After a while. to be honest. but Then I’d be 45. How did you know the time was right? therapy classes. especially online… The Seldom Seen Kid was a breakthrough album I look at stuff online. I didn’t really go back and forth So we did. and that sense of being aware of your at least. musicianship. I know they’re using a Yeah. I teach some music up and things started to get a bit more intense. solitary activities. and I suppose drumming can to awards ceremonies. band forever. I wanted to be more of a been in the same We were a 20-year overnight success.



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44 ANNA PRIOR How To Ice Biscuits Words by Tom Hoare THE DRUMMER’S JOURNAL .

The English Riveria (2011). fatter grooves evoking Jabo Starks. It’s not what it once was. and instead took a year off. with tight. 45 A nna Prior. I don’t doubt it. The release of Metronomy’s third LP. I felt it polite not to ask. soul. electronic pop music has slowly but surely carved out a sizable hollow in the chalky bedrock of the British music scene. The Drummer’s Journal: It’s a shame what happened to NME… Anna Prior: Yeah. and new wave synth. Did you used to buy it? Yeah. partially fuelled by some sort of dispute with the neighbours. A house move is imminent. They opted not to tour following the release of their most recent record. which isn’t exactly standard practice. she decided she wanted to be a drummer for a living. a position that seems deliberately stand-offish. by her own admission. I joined some proper bands THE DRUMMER’S JOURNAL . It was a sleek. On the wall in the living room is a poster for the band in which she plays drums: Metronomy. Since the release of Metronomy’s debut in 2006. Two years later and she’d made it into the NME. down-tempo blend of funk. does not suffer fools gladly. there are boxes piled up in the hallway. their melodic. won them critical acclaim. You can just pick it up for free now. When I was a bit older. Two years later she already had her first paying gig. I always did. poppy beats alongside much looser. At her flat in south London. When Anna was 14. They occupy that grey area between the mainstream and the underground.

It was mostly loads of pissed off art students wearing hairnets. 46 “I used to work in a biscuit factory icing biscuits.” THE DRUMMER’S JOURNAL .

“Hi!” There was an IMAX bands never really came to Doncaster. His parents owned a Paddington Bear factory there. 47 with management. You’d get wind that an NME reviewer might be [Anna’s phone rings. If I need money then I’ll just Doncaster. though. I think because I’m from people from I did not know that. like you do. you’ve What was your first band like? got shitheads like In school. I’ve kept every single clipping. But otherwise. I also worked in the Science Museum. I’d just stand Jeremy Clarkson. But of Thrones . “Oh my god I’m so excited!” Then I’d go and check every Sorry about that. the north. Unfortunately. It’s an old coal-mining town. There are some Sounds like a good gig. And it’s driving these big vans around London. I’ve had some pretty bad jobs shitheads like Jeremy Clarkson. Occasionally Keane screen there too so I’d stand in there for would play at The Dome. in the past. They were huge in the 90s. get a job. THE DRUMMER’S JOURNAL . They take donated food from Tesco and Waitrose and distribute it to homeless shelters. We should probably backtrack a bit. around like confetti? Then I moved to Leeds for a bit. always need drivers. I used to work in a biscuit factory icing biscuits. and I’d be like [drastic increase in pitch. That does actually sound fun. Silverchair. that much. Then I ended up in London. They do a lot of good. though. “I don’t really like Keane health and safety. It’s for a charity called Fareshare. fluttering hand motions]. there with a radio and a name badge We also played a couple of Nirvana covers. wearing hairnets and little pinnies. It was “There are some mostly loads of pissed off art students I had no idea he was from Doncaster. Touring and be like. It was all 3D dinosaurs and that sort of thing. and they week to see if we’d made it into NME. And did you make it? Yeah! I think I’ve been in it three times.” Did you have to clear up the popcorn that people seem to throw Poor Keane. I’m always up for it. It was pretty low pressure. in case there was a fire or whatever. super-creative people from Doncaster. sometimes I’d supervise the glasses. You said once that moving to London was the best decision you’ve ever made… It’s oppressive that you can’t buy snacks… It was because I met Joe Mount [of Metronomy]… Also. you’ve got Yeah. super-creative icing away. I volunteer at this place down the road. I can drive anything. I was in a Silver Chair cover band called Ignition. and it’d be like. brief intermission] at your gig. I’ve got a really good work Diana Rigg – was once a Bond girl and was more recently in Game ethic. It was quite fun. What are you delivering? Somewhere. You couldn’t buy snacks because it was all educational.” Wow.she is from Doncaster too. Are you from Yorkshire? I grew up in Doncaster. otherwise.

too? musician that didn’t exist before. and they’re like. Though I am still a Luddite in some ways. a bit crazy. though. and inbetween sets the OAPs would play bingo. You didn’t fancy becoming a surgeon? I never knew what I wanted to do really. It’s probably the only thing in my life that I’ve been naturally drum nerd really. We did covers and played all the workingmen’s clubs in Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire. it came quite naturally to real drum kit and geeking out about them. some shitty comments and stuff from people in the past. we were playing really small stages. a musical apprenticeship.” Or that my life is somehow images of surgery on the IMAX screen. and it did kind of scare me in a way. they all go on a little conveyor belt through some disinfectant changed in 2011 when The English Riviera came out. Then it went and they’re reused. so I’ve had to make it work There’s no acoustic sound. I suppose it was. I’m a bit of an acoustic me. and they were showing these incredibly graphic got this job because you’re a woman. I’ve always wondered what happened to those. at the bottom and. as a woman. I love all the vintage stuff. How would you describe how your career has progressed since then? I’m quite conflicted about saying this. and trying to hold down a job and do gigs at the same time isn’t that easy. Wait… am I being good at. I see it like I’ve done It sounds like you had a revelation. “You Science Museum. there were these ideas of being a A Luddite? I thought you played electronic percussion. All of a sudden. Pretty much all the science easier because being a woman on the drums is a novelty. there was a convention for orthopaedic surgeons at the I think some people look at me. Learning to play made the world seem smaller and more accessible. Playing drums changed my life. I started how I thought about the world. When you’re done with When I first joined in 2009. I threw all No. doing shit gigs. but there was an element of luck involved. I grew to quite like bingo. preachy again? What was your first paid gig? I was 16 and playing drums for 50 quid a night. When I first had drum lessons. meeting the sounds cliché. It changed right people and being in the right place at the right time. my eggs into one basket quite young. Hitting a plastic pad is soulless for me. Markus Felix via Creative Commons You know. It doesn’t feel real. the 3D glasses you get at IMAX. I’ve had centre staff were like [makes retching noise]. over time. in my mind at least. It It’s a combination of working hard. 48 Supervise the glasses? I think I was in the right place at the right time with Metronomy. I like being surrounded by the noise of a really. It all them. it’s felt a bit like I’ve been getting promotions the same as you would in any job. We’d do two 45-minute sets. I got drum lessons when What would you say to someone who thinks like that? I was 14 and then just sort of knew I wanted to be a drummer. Why are you conflicted about saying luck was involved? One day. I’ve worked hard and been skint for years. But THE DRUMMER’S JOURNAL . It was pretty gross.

49 @DrummersJournal /TheDrummersJournal @DrummersJournal BACK ISSUES Read Issues 1 .15 here .


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SHEFFIELD STEEL VK Drums’ Alan van Kleef Words & photography by Tom Hoare THE DRUMMER’S JOURNAL .

trespassers I think. He readjusts his flat cap. which had been happily winding through look directly at the flame the Yorkshire countryside. T Right: Don’t he train. A few minutes later. “Every effing time. the train pulls into Sheffield station. “Did he just say asses? Asses on the line? Like. before they quickly disappear from view.” an elderly man sat to my “If someone wants right announces. acid for a month. presumably intended to explain why the train had stopped. donkeys?” Someone offers clarification: “No. After three minutes of the train tentatively creeping forward. He ponders the conductor’s announcement with a look of confusion. themselves killed one day.” he seethes. The stones rattle off the windows and the side of the carriage. The man sitting opposite me narrows his eyes as if deliberately dulling his vision to improve the sensory reception of his ears.” “Oh.” a small group of hooded youths emerge from behind a dilapidated signal shed to pepper the side of the train with small pebbles. They don’t go to school. relays an indecipherable message. almost like it knew what was coming. these kids. . The conductor. “They’ll get a patina finish. much to their delight. over a tannoy which cuts in and out intermittently.” There’s a silence.” the shell has to soak in a vat of He wasn’t wrong. The man in the flat cap leans over me to shake his fist at the stone throwers. They just come and throw stones at trains. “They are donkeys. comes to a halt on the outskirts of town.




and everyone alights. I look at the side of the train from the it has a microwave, fridge and kettle. He offers me a cup of
platform. It looks completely fine. In my peripheral vision, I tea, but not before leaving the room to check which mug I’m
see the old man in the flat cap has stopped to look at it too. allowed to use. “People here a very protective of their mugs,”
he smiles. “So don’t break it.”
“British Rail, Class 185,” he says, tapping the side of the
carriage as if he’s proud if it. “Aluminium. It’ll take a lot worse In comparison to the factory floor, Alan’s workshop is “I tried to put my
than that.” almost cosy. In some senses, it’s more like a lab. “I do a lot
of experimentation in here,” he says, gesturing to several large
bed on stilts once. It
tubs of industrial acids stacked in the corner. collapsed in the night
We begin chatting about how he came to start building drums.
when I was asleep.”
“My original plan was to make myself some 24mm thick triple-
flanged stainless hoops,” he says. “I got a quote for them, just
enough for one kit, and it came to four and a half grand.”
In the station car park, a silver BMW is waiting. Inside is Alan
van Kleef. He specialises in making bespoke metal drums, The Drummer’s Journal: Four and a half thousand pounds,
mostly from steel and aluminium. He’s on the phone talking just for hoops?
to someone about finalising an order of custom snares he’s Alan van Kleef: Yeah. So instead, I made my own 12mm ones.
shipping to China. They worked out a lot cheaper, but they were still expensive to
make. They were about £300 a pair.
Alan spent a long time living in East London, and his leather
jacket and cropped, combed hair make him look like a bit of a Did you move to Sheffield specifically to do metalwork?
geezer. His voice has a slight cockney lilt. No. Being in Sheffield did start this off, but mostly it came off
the back of another business I had. When I lived in London,
We drive to his workshop and it quickly becomes apparent that I worked as a sound engineer. When we decided to move to
Alan is not one to hang around. “This is an ex-police pursuit Sheffield, I did one of these courses where you pay £4.5k to
car,” he states. We move off at a green light as if we’re vying for train as an electrician. At the time, the government was making
pole position at Monza. a big thing about solar panels, so there was a lot of work fitting
those. As soon as I qualified, they slashed the solar panel
His workshop is inside an industrial metal fabrication factory, incentives and it pretty much killed the business.
tucked away in the corner. You have to walk through the factory
to get to it. We navigate around enormous towers of sheet metal That sounds unfortunate…
and hulking, hissing machinery. A lot of the guys in the factory Yeah. I just felt, “This is absolutely typical. It’s exactly the sort
look like they could have worked there their whole lives. of thing that would happen to me.” Two years of training,
getting up at 6 am, and commuting across London, all for £50
We go into a room in the back – the kitchen – so called because a day. Prior to that, I lived in Ibiza.



Ibiza sounds interesting. Were you a raver? collapsed in the night when I was asleep. I also tried to make a
Yup. I was drumming, DJing and clubbing. This was back in bass drum pedal from an old mushroom box and a coat hanger.
the 90s. I used to drum at raves, a lot of drum and bass stuff. Wasn’t so great.
“I used to drum at raves, a Once a month, I was the resident drummer at the Ministry of
Sound. Did any inventions take off?
lot of drum and bass stuff. Most of them broke, probably for the best. But now, I take it a
That must have been one of the biggest clubs in the world bit more seriously.
Once a month, I was the back then?
resident drummer at the It was really in its prime. I played a few raves at Wembley too. How much of an initial investment did you have to make to
I went to some good parties, that’s for sure. get things up and running?
Ministry of Sound.” I probably invested about £30k in machinery and other bits. I
How did you end up making drums, then? bought a CNC lathe, a mill, and a laser.
I had a basic pillar drill I bought from Machine Mart for about
50 quid. I bought an old tumble dryer, put it on its back and A laser? Does that cut things?
welded in a pipe and tabletop and that was my sanding table. It’s for marking. Putting logos on drum shells and things.
That’s about it. I was working out of my garage initially.
That sounds expensive.
Do you ever miss that? It was about £20k.
The garage? Not really. It was tiny. You’d walk in, and there
would be the tumble dryer on the left, the little pillar drill next Did you feel a bit like a kid at Christmas when it got
to that, then a kitchen worktop with a few bits on it. The rest delivered?
of the space was taken up by a homemade tent where I’d do all Not so much, because it took about two weeks to get it all set
the polishing. There was a wasp’s nest too. That was less useful. up and calibrated correctly. It took me a while to get my head
around how it works. It’s incredibly sensitive.
Didn’t you have a background in metal fabrication before
you started VK? What metal do you work with most frequently?
No. I’ve always liked trying to make things, though. I remember Stainless steel. Aluminium I started doing a couple of years
at school I wanted to make my own hi-hat stand, so I got an ago, as well as brass, copper, titanium and magnesium.
old, hollow music stand, put a piece of metal rod through it,
and that rod rested on my foot. I only had one cymbal, so Magnesium? Isn’t that incredibly flammable? I think I
I used a beer tray as the bottom hi-hat, and then two pieces remember doing an experiment in school with magnesium.
of Meccano bolted to hold the cymbal in place. Worked ok, Yeah. You can’t laser cut it because it’s flammable. It’s used in
surprisingly. flares because it’s really bright. It’s also really light. The only
place you can get it in the UK is from aerospace or racing
You were an inventor, then? companies. It’s not cheap.
[Laughs] Maybe. I tried to put my bed on stilts once. It


“Are you sure you want to go in that direction?” But they’re minor things. At least. even if it’s sealed in a plastic bottle. I do a green and blue copper patina using ammonia with Himalayan pink salt sprinkled on it. There are already companies doing that. “Can you do this?” and I’ve never done it before. Do you ever get customer requests that sound hideous? I’ve had a couple where I’ve said. People generally seem to have good taste. The patina for stainless happen to me. it’s pointless me trying to do it. It’s not nice to work with. I always find a way to figure it out. 57 What about carbon fibre? Carbon I’m going to stay away from. I’ve got some hydrochloric acid too but I have to be careful as it’ll corrode mild steel. I enjoy coming to work. And young Tom. You have to repeat that process every few days. [Pause] Do you want to see the laser in action? Absolutely I do. my apprentice. ‘This is absolutely typical. “I just felt. the shell has to soak in a vat of acid for a month. But I like it when customers ask. How many hours do you spend on an average snare? It’s exactly the sort It’s hard to say. It pushes me to try it. But yeah.’” steel I’ve started doing is a mixture of copper sulphate and sulphuric acid. loves watching me almost blow myself up. for me it’s not. I started brazing brass and that’s quite dangerous. THE DRUMMER’S JOURNAL . If someone wants a patina of thing that would finish.



Now the project is complete. THE DRUM THING Deirdre O’Callaghan Introduction by Tom Hoare The Drum Thing is a book by renowned music photographer Deirdre O’Callaghan. THE DRUMMER’S JOURNAL . we’re proud to display a snippet of what the book itself contains. It’s the culmination of four years of photographing and interviewing some of the world’s most iconic drummers. Over the last few years. We hope you enjoy it. Deirdre’s work has appeared in this magazine on more than a few occasions.

Even if they’re not. like playing during the summer in July in New Orleans in a storefront with no air conditioning. “It’s so goddamn hot in here. as we were running all this gear.” – and then ended up almost passing out. 61 Brian Chippendale Lightning Bolt / Black Pus It feels like all the shows I’ve ever played are so crazy. So they’re all just like blinking your eyes really fast for an hour. They all seem really intense. THE DRUMMER’S JOURNAL . Or another one in Louisiana – I remember the outlet caught on fire. even if nothing’s happening. Some have been more intense. I’m not going to take it off. in my mind they’re so crazy because I’m trying to play to the edge of my ability all the time. this fire started in the corner. I thought it would be funny to tape my mask to my head. I think it was because it was so hot. I was like.

Playing. I want it to be biting me. Next page: Zach Hill Death Grips / Hella I have a hard time talking about music because I play music. THE DRUMMER’S JOURNAL . It’s my whole language and I play to express things that I can’t verbalize. I’m slightly a masochist by nature in a lot of ways. let my body host a different type of energy through playing the drums. 62 Julie Edwards Deap Vally I like playing that’s ridiculously heavy. Someone who stays behind and makes everything so pimp – like John Bonham. It’s like I’m concentrating so hard that I’m not concentrating at all. grating on me while I’m doing it. I want to be overtaken when I’m playing and then that’s the time in my day not to think about other things and let something else in.


Look at what J Dilla did with the drum machine. I think drum machines are amazing. You can’t keep up with that stuff. he replicates drum machines. That is more than what any drummer can do. When I play a drum machine. Except Quest or Chris Dave. Questlove. THE DRUMMER’S JOURNAL . I really go to town on the fact that it’s an instrument that needs to be pushed to its limits in the same way a clarinet or a drum kit or whatever should be played. and you’re programming the drum machine in the same way that you programme your body to play the drum kit. you know. No. Look at what Skrillex is doing now with dance music. 64 Pauli The PSM Gorillaz / Damon Albarn The drum machine’s got a spirit in the same way that a human drummer has. The traditional thing to say would be like. Look at Jam and Lewis – those guys made patterns that drummers cannot play. a human drummer has energy and it’s alive and will bring its personality and its touch and its flavour. the drum machine is exactly the same: it’s an instrument.

that song is dirty. Stupid me! I thought it was about candy. we don’t like that song. and they said. But I was twelve at the time and I didn’t understand double entendres. sampled it for his first single. always missing the song when it was on the radio. I had deceived my older cousin into buying me a 45 of a song that my parents wouldn’t allow me to have.G. so they all did regular pop music.’ And after about three weeks of plotting and scheming. THE DRUMMER’S JOURNAL . trying to record it … It was a song called Juicy Fruit by James Mtume. This was one of his breakthrough singles and Notorious B. Juicy. maybe it’s about a stick of gum. It seems harmless by today’s standards … All of Miles Davis’s musicians were heavy jazz cats but in the mid-’80s they all wanted to get paid. 65 Questlove The Roots / D’Angelo / Elvis Costello / Al Green / Jay Z / The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon I got introduced to jazz as a punishment. I asked them for it. you’re not getting it.I. I didn’t know it was a metaphor for sex. ‘No. who was the percussionist for Miles Davis. I really thought. Juicy Fruit.