The bands and drum­mers you need to have on your radar this month

Brighton rock with many gen­res run­ning through it

Rhythm - - CONTENTS -

Yon­aka make post-rock that’s some­where be­tween Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Sav­ages, given punch and power by the tribal drum­ming of Rob Ma­son, whose play­ing on key tracks like ‘Ig­no­rance’ and ‘Drongo’ back the al­ter­nately breathy and pow­er­ful vo­cals of singer Theresa Jarvis and at­mo­spheric, riff­ing in­ter­play of Ge­orge Ed­wards’ gui­tar and Alex Crosby on bass. There’s soul, pop and even grime el­e­ments in ev­i­dence on ‘Wouldn’t Wanna Be Ya’, mak­ing Yon­aka an in­trigu­ing and promis­ing band to watch out for.

What was your in­tro­duc­tion to drum­ming?

“I was in­tro­duced to drum­ming through my fa­ther at nine or 10 years old. He is a guitarist and would al­ways be play­ing in his room and round the house – he had ban­jos and man­dolins knock­ing around as well, so I just nat­u­rally watched him play­ing. That said, I was never re­ally in­ter­ested in learn­ing the gui­tar; I was al­ways tap­ping away and re­mem­ber try­ing to keep the rhythm on things I was lis­ten­ing to. We went to a big mu­sic shop and he let me loose on a demo kit andI fell in love with it straight away. I was a mas­sively hy­per­ac­tive child so me and the drums were a pretty good fit!”

Who are your drum­ming he­roes?

“I re­mem­ber the first drum­mer I re­ally took note of was John Bon­ham. My dad had a hugeCD col­lec­tion rang­ing from old Bri­tish folk right through to clas­sic rock and disco. While I loved lis­ten­ing to old Zappa stuff and AC /DC, it was when he showed me Led Zep­pelin and I saw pho­tos of his kit thatI re­ally re­alised that drum kit tun­ing, sizes and ma­te­rial re­ally af­fected the sound. My old man would al­ways go on about how recog­nis­able and im­por­tant tone is for gui­tarists but whenI heard Bon­ham’s drum­ming, it made me re­alise drum­mers can have their own tone too. When I first heard ‘Kash­mir’, it blew my mind how sim­ple but con­structed it was. Af­ter that I started lis­ten­ing to Nir­vana, I re­mem­ber watch­ing a video of Dave Grohl play­ing live and be­ing blown away by how much en­ergy and power was be­hind his play­ing and how taste­ful yet sim­plis­tic his parts were.”

Which Yon­aka song per­fectly cap­tures your sound and style?

“I love ‘Ig­no­rance’ be­cause it was one of our early songs and has a bit of ev­ery­thing we’re about as a band in it. We all love dif­fer­ent styles of mu­sic and have vary­ing in­flu­ences and this track cov­ers elec­tronic el­e­ments, a big cho­rus and a fat rif! It’s a good point in our set to rock out and it al­ways goes down well live.”

What has been the proud­est mo­ment of your ca­reer to date?

“I’ve been lucky enough to record in some beau­ti­ful stu­dios like RAK and Me­trop­o­lis with drum rooms that are beyond beau­ti­ful. Play­ing a sold-out room at Koko prob­a­bly takes it, though [Yon­aka sup­ported Frank Carter & The Rat­tlesnakes there] – it’s such an in­cred­i­ble look­ing venue and I’d gone to so many gigs/nights there grow­ing up in Lon­don that it felt like a per­sonal achieve­ment to be per­form­ing on that stage. Record­ing live for Ra­dio 1 at Maida Vale stu­dios is some­thing I will never for­get ei­ther.”

What’s the best drum­ming ad­vice you have been given?

“Be pa­tient with ideas and when de­vel­op­ing grooves. I would al­ways be so im­pa­tient when read­ing or try­ing to play grooves when I was younger – my teacher was con­stantly telling me to break stuff down and fo­cus on it phrase by phrase and re­ally con­cen­trate on play­ing each limb and hand with con­trol. It would stress me out so much butI re­alise now how im­por­tant that bit of ad­vice was.”

What gear are you us­ing?

“A Mapex Saturn kit I got about three or four years ago. I only use a 22"x18" kick and 14"x14" floor in Yon­aka. They re­leased a lim­ited run of them with birch and wal­nut shells and I got the last one in the shop be­ofre they in­tro­duced the new line of Saturn kits. It was an ex-dis­play so I got it pretty cheap but it sounds in­cred­i­ble miked up. I also use a Pear­lMasters cus­tom maple snare and Roland trig­gers as well as a Roland SPD-SX that I use to run tracks, blend my elec­tron­ics and sam­ple with the acous­tic kit. I’ve just got my mitts on some beau­ti­ful new Meinl cym­bals too!”

How do you ap­proach play­ing live with Yon­aka?

“My ap­proach with play­ing live is based around the con­sis­tency of my per­for­mance and de­liv­ery of my parts, lock­ing in with Alex [bassist] and hold­ing back where nec­es­sary.”

Do you work off the gui­tar or bass in cre­at­ing parts and grooves?

“I don’t have a par­tic­u­lar in­stru­ment I lis­ten to when cre­at­ing parts. Some ideas come from hear­ing Ge­orge’s [Ed­wards, gui­tar] parts, a lot of times we lock in on stabs and cer­tain lit­tle hooks in a track. Me and Alex nat­u­rally lock in with kick pa­terns and some­times Theresa’s lyri­cal place­ment and rhyth­mi­cal phras­ings are awe­some to play off as well!”

What is the one piece of gear you couldn’t live with­out?

“My in-ears. They were the most un­com­fort­able things to get used to be­cause I had only used stan­dard noise­can­celling ear plugs and stage mon­i­tors pre­vi­ously. It took a month or two to get used to hav­ing ev­ery­thing in HD and di­rectly in my ears. The lack of ac­tual noise and the feel­ing of not hav­ing a wedge be­hind/at the side of you was an ad­just­ment but now I’d never go back.”

What’s the key to a great live per­for­mance?

“It sounds cliched but it’s im­por­tant to just en­joy your­self and what you’re play­ing. In­ter­ac­tion on stage is a big one for me as well. I feed off the en­ergy of ev­ery­one on stage with me and in the au­di­ence.”

What was the first kit you ever owned?

“A Pearl Rhythm Trav­eller. All the drums were su­per small sizes and cut down re­ally thin with no reso heads on. I think the idea was that it didn’t make as much noise as a stan­dard kit and it had in­ter­change­able mesh heads you could put on in­stead of the tatty lit­tle bat­ter heads. The shells were about 4" deep, apart from the snare which didn’t sound too bad but the whole thing was this weird nail pol­ish red colour. A few years later, I got a Pearl Ex­port for my birth­day and I think the neigh­bours and my par­ents deeply re­gret­ted it!”

Rob Ma­son (right) with Yon­aka

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