The bands and drummers you need to have on your radar this month
Contemporary jazz with an electronic twist
Aussie composer, percussionist and drummer Laurence Pike studied under jazz legend Mike Nock at Sydney’s Conservatorium of Music, and has since produced two albums with his former mentor. He has featured on numerous other albums, tours and soundtracks, focusing on the electronic and jazz music worlds, and has performed with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and as part of the Supersense Festival in Melbourne.
What are you up to at the moment?
“I’m currently performing solo under my own name using drums and electronics, having released my debut album DistantEarlyWarning in March this year. I’ve also been playing with the improvising group, Szun Waves, who are based in London and whose second album
NewHymnToFreedom is out 31August 2018 on The Leaf Label.”
What was your introduction to drumming?
“Seeing Buddy Rich have a drum battle with Animal on TheMuppetShow. I was hooked after that.”
When did you first start composing as well as playing drums?
“Ever since I was able to I’ve always had my own bands. My brother and I started our first one when I was 11. The drums have always been a means to make music for me, not an end, so composing and playing have always been intertwined.”
Who are your drumming heroes?
“Jack DeJohnette has been my hero since I was very young, but Tony Williams, Simon Barker, Jon Christensen, Elvin Jones, Tony Buck, Jaki Liebezeit, Dennis Davis (Bowie), Stewart Copeland, and John Herdon and John McEntire of Tortoise have all had a significant influence.”
Which electronic artists do you take inspiration from?
“Autechre, Aphex Twin and Oval were very formative influences on me, as well Cluster, Kraftwerk, and more recently the Japanese ambient composer Hiroshi Yoshimura. I’ve also been lucky to work with some of my favourite contemporary electronic musicians, such as Jan Jelinek, James Holden and Luke Abbott, who I now play with in Szun Waves.”
Which song perfectly captures your sound and style?
“Probably ‘Life Hacks’ from my album DistantEarly
Warning. I like to try and bring a bit of myself into the sound of everything I do, but I’d say the solo stuff would definitely be the most personal.”
What gear are you using?
“I am really lucky to endorse C&C drums, Remo drumheads and Zildjian cymbals to help me shift gears between the different situations I work in. Although for my recent solo recording I used my Yamaha Maple Custom Absolute kit in jazz sizes, which I’ve had for a decade or so, with Zildjian Kerope and Avedis series cymbals, and the Roland SPD-SX drum pad sampler.”
How do you approach playing your solo material live?
“My solo music is entirely driven by live performance, so the approach in the studio is exactly the same as live. I don’t use overdubbing or post production for the electronic component; I perform the pieces as live takes and trigger the sampler as part of the kit whileI track. So the set-up is a basic bebop-size drum kit with the Roland SPD-SX and some additional hand percussion, bells and chimes.
“From a creative point of view, the solo stuff is all about making things in the moment, and getting myself into a headspace of awareness, which I think is exciting and rewarding for both myself and an audience.”
What is the one piece of gear you couldn’t live without?
“It’s probably deeply unfashionable these days, but I’ve got an old prototype flat ride cymbal which has completely transformed my sound and the balance of the kit for me, I can’t imagine being without it. On a more pragmatic note, the SPD-SX drum pad sampler is an incredible piece of gear, and enables me to use electronics in performance and bring another dimension to the drum kit in a very simple way.”
What was the first kit you ever owned?
“It was a hybrid of old bits and pieces my mum bought for me when I was 10 for $50 off an older kid in the neighbourhood, mainly no name stuff from the ’70s and ’80s. My grandfather took it to his shed and stripped off all the old wraps, painted it a uniform black and cleaned up the hardware for me. I must have played that kit for two hours a day until, after a few months, my parents were convinced I was serious enough about drumming to upgrade!”
What’s the key to a great live performance?
“For me it’s about feeling like I am in a place mentally where the music can make itself, and ideally, the membrane between myself and the audience can be removed. I want it to be a human experience.”