In his early years, star drum­mer Ash Soan trans­ported his kit to gigs in his 2.4 Targa, and now, back in a 997 C4, he tells fel­low skins-pounder Ti­pler how he plans to re­play those hal­cyon days

911 Porsche World - - You And Yours: Ash Soan -

There’s a good chance you’ll have heard Ash Soan per­form­ing on some of the mu­sic you’ve lis­tened to over the past 20 years. As a sea­soned ses­sion drum­mer, he’s played with and backed a vast range of mu­si­cal su­per­stars, in­clud­ing Van Mor­ri­son (at the Al­bert Hall), Mar­i­anne Faith­full (New York) and Rick Wake­man (Ha­vana, Cuba). Too old school for you? How’s about Will Young, Adele or James Mor­ri­son? He’s also drummed for Squeeze, Del Amitri, Nel­lie Fur­tado and dozens of oth­ers. You can even see him live without leav­ing the com­fort of your sit­ting room: for sheer ver­sa­til­ity, check out the back­ing band on ITV’S The Voice UK: there’s your man, in his fourth sea­son as house drum­mer on the show, lay­ing down the beat for the ben­e­fit of the wannabees. More per­ti­nent to us, though, Ash is a 911 buff too. Just as he prefers to work ex­clu­sively with leg­endary per­cus­sive makes like Gretsch and Zild­jian, so he adores Porsches, and 911s in par­tic­u­lar. He’s just snared his sec­ond one: a black 997 C4, with just 31K on the clock, ac­quired from Wil­liams Craw­ford at Sal­tash, Corn­wall.

Ash traces the mo­ment when Porsches first ap­peared on his radar as a school­boy in the 1980s: ‘I re­mem­ber hav­ing a white Match­box 930 whale-tail Turbo, and I used to draw them and I loved that shape and ev­ery­thing about it. But when I ac­tu­ally bought my first one it was a Boxster 986 in 2003, just a 2.7 – and that was it, I was to­tally hooked.’ We know, some of us, that a nor­mal five-piece drum kit and hard­ware can be ac­com­mo­dated, without too many com­pro­mises, in a 911. But what about a Boxster? ‘I never at­tempted that; it would have been con­sid­er­ably trick­ier, with the bass drum on the front seat, toms in the back and front lug­gage boots, but the er­gonomics are quite dif­fer­ent to a 911. But it’s no prob­lem in a 911-shaped car.’

Par­lay­ing the para­did­dles for the Porsche, it wasn’t long be­fore Ash got his sec­ond one, a 1974 911T Targa, in 2005. He was do­ing pretty well on the mu­sic scene by now, and bought his fa­ther a Rolls Royce Sil­ver Shadow around the same time. ‘I found this cheap 2.4 Targa for £13 grand, and I loved it. I used to bomb around from gigs to re­hearsals, bass drum in the front, snare and toms in the back and stands un­der­neath the bon­net. It’s shal­lower, but there’s more space there than mod­ern 911s. Stands right up against the bulk­head pan­elling, cym­bals, snare drum in the foot-well, bass drum on the seat and toms in the back. My kit is still a stan­dard five-piece – I’ve never re­ally ever gone for those enor­mous kits, never felt that I needed to do that.’ That’s lucky, be­cause any­thing big­ger would se­ri­ously chal­lenge the 911’s er­gonomics.

Ash got his first drum set aged 11, and a mu­si­cal schol­ar­ship to Sal­ford Tech kick­started his jour­ney up the per­cus­sive path­way. As res­i­dent big-band drum­mer at col­lege he also played for a num­ber of Manch­ester bands be­fore mov­ing to Lon­don in 1991. It wasn’t that easy to be­gin with: like many an as­pi­ra­tional mu­si­cian he spent a year or two on the pub and club cir­cuit. His luck changed in ’93 when, per­form­ing in a Green­wich pub, Ash was spot­ted by Mas­sive At­tack’s bass-player and hired on the spot for the Tom Robin­son Band. A year later he au­di­tioned for Scot­tish rock band Del Amitri, and spent the next three years as their drum­mer. In quick suc­ces­sion, he was drafted into Faith­less and then Squeeze, be­fore tour­ing with Belinda Carlisle, Mar­i­anne Faith­full, Sinead

O'con­nor, Sh­eryl Crow, Rob­bie Wil­liams, James Mor­ri­son, Will Young, The Water­boys, Trevor Horn and Seal, Ron­nie Wood, Dionne War­wick – and many more. He backed Mike Old­field at the open­ing cer­e­mony of the 2012 Olympics, too. See ash­ for the full Monty. He also lays down drum tracks and gives lessons at his Wind­mill stu­dio in Nor­folk. ‘Ac­tu­ally, my ca­reer has mainly been in­volved with the record­ing in­dus­try,’ says Ash, ‘and over the past 20 years or so I’ve recorded on fifty­one Top 20 al­bums for artists in­clud­ing Cher, Seal, Rob­bie Wil­liams, Billy Idol, Adele, Dionne War­wick and Rumer, James Mor­ri­son, Cee Lo, Ce­line Dion and Ro­nan Keat­ing. And 45 of those al­bums reached the Top Ten. My discog­ra­phy also in­cludes 21 Top Ten sin­gles, and I've recorded 18 Num­ber One al­bums and 11 Num­ber One sin­gles which have fea­tured on var­i­ous pop and rock charts around the world.’

You have to re­mind your­self that, all the while, this rhythm-master is also lust­ing af­ter his next 911. ‘Yeah, I used to bomb around in the Targa, do­ing gigs, and I used to get the car ser­viced by Chris Turner, bless him, and he was over­joyed that I was trail­ing around my kit in that car. But then, a cou­ple of years later, quite by co­in­ci­dence, the day af­ter I found out my wife and I were go­ing to be hav­ing a baby, a chap pulled up along­side me at some traf­fic lights and of­fered to buy it on the spot. So, the deal lit­er­ally fell in my lap, and I said yeah, ripped his arm off!’

A decade on, the fire still burned, and Ash’s two chil­dren are still small enough to fit in the back of a 911. The in­evitable pur­chase would hap­pen, and I was able to help. Over the past cou­ple of years, I found my­self in­creas­ingly on the re­ceiv­ing end of mes­sages from Ash, so­lic­it­ing my opin­ion about cars he’d spot­ted for sale. They were, al­most without ex­cep­tion, 997 C2SS or C4SS, and I fo­cussed him on those grac­ing the fore­courts and show­rooms of rep­utable deal­ers of our ac­quain­tance. His home is up a track, so a C4 could be a bless­ing in dis­guise. ‘We knew that there would be is­sues around get­ting up the drive, in any car, let alone a Porsche! But I al­ways knew that I’d get an­other one at some point. In the busi­ness that I’m work­ing in, I’m see­ing them all the time at venues and in stu­dio car parks, which was quite frus­trat­ing be­cause I didn’t own one. Any­way, I’m back in the club now, so I feel good!’

He reg­u­larly tours the world with bands and artistes, so the prospect of a trip from Nor­folk to Corn­wall was not daunt­ing. He’d no­ticed a 997 C4 on Wil­liams Craw­ford’s web­site and en­gaged in a dia­logue with Adrian Craw­ford. It seemed per­fect: just over 30K miles from new, an all-wheel drive C4 to get up his track, black with black. We flew from Nor­wich to Ex­eter, 40 min­utes in the air, and were met at the air­port and driven the 60 miles to Sal­tash. I men­tion this be­cause of the ease and swift­ness of the buy­ing spree: three hours, give or take, from Nor­wich to Sal­tash (Ply­mouth). Ash thor­oughly en­joyed his buy­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. ‘Ob­vi­ously you and I talked about it a lot, and when that car came up and I dis­cussed it with Adrian (Craw­ford) I re­alised that he is gen­uinely pas­sion­ate about the cars, and you can feel it from him. It’s not just a busi­ness, it’s some­thing that’s in his heart,

You have to re­mind your­self, this rhythm master is also lust­ing af­ter his next 911

def­i­nitely. I re­ally en­joy his so­cial me­dia stuff as well. And then our bril­liant jour­ney down there was quite ex­cit­ing, and the whole Wil­liams Craw­ford thing has been re­ally cool. And then it was like, I can’t wait to get in it and drive home! And driv­ing back was a pleas­ant trip; I was stag­gered, ac­tu­ally. A six-hour run, and we just stepped out the other end, feel­ing fresh as a daisy.’ It was in­deed an in­trigu­ing jour­ney. As we mo­tored north­east up the mo­tor­way net­work we basked in the 997’s ease and so­lid­ity, Ash re­gal­ing me with tales of jaw­drop­ping scut­tle­butt con­cern­ing mem­bers of the top-line rock star fir­ma­ment. If I told you, he’d have to kill me.

Now back home, will the kids get treated to the school run? In­evitably! The 997 gets the thumbs up from the whole fam­ily. The only up­grades Ash is con­tem­plat­ing is a Blue­tooth in­dul­gence: ‘I’ll be find­ing out what I can do to get it up to a mod­ern ev­ery­day car stan­dard, be­cause re­ally that com­mu­ni­ca­tion sys­tem is pretty much de­funct, but for £300 it seems you can get it to like your iphone, or an an­droid phone will in­te­grate with it in a mod­ern way. You can buy it on­line and fit it your­self, and there’s a hun­dred guys around the world who’ll show you how to con­nect it, and I’m up for do­ing that as long as it doesn’t in­val­i­date the warranty. That’s where the fo­rums are too, and I ab­so­lutely love them. I know they’ve changed the de­sign ever so slightly, but it’s still a five-spoke, although see­ing these in the metal on my car, they have grown on me, and they’re not so un­ap­peal­ing to me when I see them up close. Ei­ther I’ll learn to live with them or ad­ver­tise them as a straight swap for the Car­rera five-spokes.’

Hav­ing pre­vi­ously en­joyed lengthy runs, four-up, to Por­tu­gal in 3.2 Car­rera and 964, com­plete with top-box, I re­mind Ash that a 911 can also pro­vide do­mes­tic plea­sure, too. So, will there be a Soan fam­ily hol­i­day in this car? ‘Po­ten­tially, very much so! We’ve got to go and see my dad soon over in Shrop­shire, and we’ve had both the kids in the back. My daugh­ter’s five and she fits per­fectly, my son is nine, and he’s over the moon that the cen­tre of the back seat is like a nice lit­tle wall be­tween him and his sis­ter! I asked them, “do you think you could do a long jour­ney in this?” and they seemed pretty en­thu­si­as­tic. The leg room for me and my wife is per­fect, there’s plenty for us in the front and enough in the back for the kids.’

So, fam­ily car and band trans­port – for his kit, at least. Head out on the high­way: that’ll be Ash, drum­ming up a storm in his new wheels. PW

so­lid­ity” Mo­tor­ing up the mo­tor­way, we basked in the 997’s ease and

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