Q&A

Stu Warm­ing­ton, Di­rec­tor of March­ing Per­cus­sion, Bri­tish Drum Com­pany

Rhythm - - BEAT! -

At what age did you start drum­ming?

“I started drum­ming from the age of four, like most peo­ple I started on saucepans and wooden spoons in my grandma’s kitchen. I would cover the kitchen floor in them and play them like a kit. It didn’t take me long to fig­ure out even at that early age I’d be bet­ter suited with just the one drum.”

Big­gest drum­ming in­flu­ence?

“The big­gest in­flu­ence with­out a doubt was my fa­ther, who was a Drum Ma­jor in the Bri­tish Army. He lived and breathed drum­ming all his life so that nat­u­rally fil­tered down to my­self. He was a man of great stature and a dis­ci­plinar­ian in ev­ery Corps of Drums he taught whether it was the Bri­tish Army, Boys and Girls Brigades, Army Cadets or Youth Jazz Bands. He had a stan­dard and if you didn’t meet it you were out. It’s be­cause of his love of mil­i­tary bands and his high stan­dards that my other in­flu­ence is the Royal Marines Corps of Drums. I re­mem­ber see­ing them when I was young. The white pith hel­mets and the im­mac­u­late stick­work made them stand out from ev­ery other mil­i­tary band. I knew from that age I’d end up join­ing the Royal Marines Band Ser­vice. My fa­ther al­ways told me the Royal Marines were the best so af­ter see­ing them on TV per­form­ing at the Royal Tour­na­ment held at Earls Court in Lon­don I knew that was the Reg­i­ment for me. Since the in­ter­net has come along I sup­pose my out­side in­flu­ence would be the Top Se­cret Drum Corps. I’m ob­sessed with the brand and how the com­pany works as a whole. We all know they’re the top en­ter­tain­ment drum corps in the world but peo­ple just see the per­for­mance – there’s a whole load of back­ground stuff that goes on that I find just as in­ter­est­ing as their per­for­mances.”

What type of sticks do you cur­rently use?

“I have a few dif­fer­ent go-to sticks that I like to use. For prac­tice I have a set of KP3s, these are Jim Kil­patrick’s drum­sticks but are heav­ier and thicker than most. I also use Vic Firth Corps­mas­ter MS6 Chop Out sticks that have rub­ber tips that I can put in my bag and take any­where and not worry about tak­ing a prac­tice pad with me. For per­form­ing with the Royal Marines Corps of Drums I found a com­pany that could make me some sticks made from Horn­beam and with a rounded tip. These have a thick butt but are ex­tremely light­weight and are great for the Royal Marines’ style of stick­work.”

Do you have a favourite rudi­ment?

“I ab­so­lutely love sin­gles. If I just want to chop out, I put a mu­sic track on and go with sin­gles, adding ac­cents, flams, drags, did­dles and dy­nam­ics dur­ing the track to keep it dif­fer­ent each time.”

Which other Drum Corps would you most like to play with?

“I was lucky enough to per­form with the Top Se­cret Drum Corps in 2014, that would’ve been my num­ber one choice, so if I had to choose another it would be the Nor­we­gian Guard Drum­line. They are all con­scripts but their dis­ci­pline is se­cond to none and their drum dis­plays tend to be com­pletely dif­fer­ent to ev­ery­body else. They think out­side the box and push bound­aries. I’ve taken a lot of my in­flu­ence from them when writ­ing for the Royal Marines Corps of Drums.”

What is your proud­est drum­ming mo­ment to date?

“In 2014 to cel­e­brate the Royal Marines’ 350th An­niver­sary I or­gan­ised a World Record At­tempt for the Long­est Group Drum Roll which at the time stood at 28 hours, 19 mins and 3 sec­onds. I man­aged to get The Sun news­pa­per’s open-top bus for the event and we parked it up at the Tower of Lon­don. We had Tom Hardy and Har­ri­son Ford launch the event. We had some pretty bad weather but we went on to com­pletely smash the pre­vi­ous time, set­ting a new Guin­ness World Record for the Long­est Group Drum Roll with a time of 64Hours, 27 min­utes and 59 sec­onds. The men and women of the Royal Marines Corps of Drums per­formed un­der some ex­tremely ar­du­ous weather con­di­tions and I’m very proud of what they achieved.”

What has been your most mem­o­rable gig?

“The 2015 Rugby World Cup open­ing cer­e­mony has to be the best gig in a 20-year ca­reer, with a view­ing au­di­ence of 4 bil­lion peo­ple across the world. The 20-minute com­po­si­tion which was writ­ten by Steve Sid­well was in 5/4 time but due to the com­plex move­ments in­cor­po­rat­ing the stairs on the stage we had to count in 4/4 for the move­ments but play in 5/4. That was tricky es­pe­cially with a faulty click track in our in-ears but also quite funny at the same time. The at­mos­phere in the sta­dium was elec­tric and I’ve never ex­pe­ri­enced any­thing like it in my life. This was def­i­nitely a once in a life­time gig.”

Any­thing ex­cit­ing planned for 2018?

“As the Di­rec­tor of March­ing Per­cus­sion for the Bri­tish Drum Co, 2018 is go­ing to be an ex­tremely busy year for me as we have the Tra­di­tional March­ing Band range be­ing re­leased very soon, then later on this year we have the Pipe Band range which is also due for re­lease. This is a very ex­cit­ing time for the Bri­tish Drum Co March­ing Di­vi­sion. In 18 months, the drum kit side of the com­pany has grown faster than we ex­pected. We now have dis­trib­u­tors all over the world. So, 2018/9 we will make our mark on the march­ing world. It’s all very re­ward­ing see­ing your dreams come to life!”

Any ad­vice to share with us?

“I have two quotes that I of­ten use when teach­ing: ‘Prac­tice like it means ev­ery­thing when ac­tu­ally it means noth­ing so you can per­form like it means noth­ing when ac­tu­ally it means ev­ery­thing.’ The se­cond quote I use when I speak about per­for­mance anx­i­ety is: ‘Pres­sure is noth­ing more than a shadow of great op­por­tu­nity.’

Stu with the Band of HM Royal Marines Colling­wood car­ry­ing out Lon­don Du­ties

Stu in his Drum Ma­jor role dur­ing the Lon­don Olympic Games in 2012

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