Stu Warmington, Director of Marching Percussion, British Drum Company
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