The Power of Drumming- Dave Neale
Drummer- Death in Vegas.
I started playing the drums at the age of 5 after embarrassingly seeing the band Bros on top of the pops. I was bought a snare drum for my Birthday, and the bug started from there. It was a very musical household. My parents introduced me to Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Beck, Korn, Black Crowes, Sepultura etc. It definitely meant that even from such a young age I was listening to great drummers like John Bonham, Dave Grohl, Keith Moon, Abe Cunningham.
I played in a punk band in my teenage years and was heavily influenced by Travis Barker at the time who subsequently turned me on to Stewart Copeland. I studied pop music at sixth form college and then went to Brighton Institute Of Modern Music to study Musicianship.
After leaving music college I played drums for the band Rooster. Over the that time we toured the world, had a gold selling album, were most played international artist of 2005 in Japan and had 3 top 20 singles.
From there I have gone on to play with Ebony Bones!, where I gained some valuable touring experience around Europe. I have supported Maroon 5 in Dubai with Slava and, with Diana Vickers I continued to play the live venue and festival circuit including many T.V. appearances and studio sessions in 2010. In the last year I have been a member of Death In Vegas, doing extensive world tours and festivals.
I am certainly not a tickler when it comes to my playing. When you talk to any sound man they will all tell you a kit will sound a hundred times better if it is hit hard and consistently. That is mostly down to technique but also passion for what you are doing. If you can lose yourself in the music and really think about how you relate to the rest of the band then it should all fit into place. A powerful drummer is just a player that can move the audience physically and emotionally.
I always think that a drummer is the backbone of a band. There are a few exceptions but generally we aren’t the front men. Our job is to keep the song together and make people dance or jump about! At college I would see so many musicians that would overplay over everything. People would be constantly be practicing intricate solos and flashy fills and overlooking the most important factor of all; Playing the simple things well. I have so much more satisfaction playing a straight groove and seeing people nod their heads and get into the music as apposed to doing a big fill and a couple of drummers in the audience go “Ooh, check him out.”
Dynamics are also very important. A song needs to eb and flow to give more impact for the bigger sections. Even dance music still has quiet sections and big choruses. That’s where music gets it’s emotion and keeps the listeners attention. Even loud drummers need to have their soft and tasteful moments!
Being a session player I have to adapt to lots of different situations. One minute I could be playing a pop gig and the next a muddy rock festival. This lifestyle doesn’t suit everyone and I certainly feel there is nothing quite like the band atmosphere, but if I was to give anyone any advice on getting into this line of work it would be:
Be a nice, friendly person
Don’t be flashy. Keep it simple
Use appropriate gear e.g. Don’t use great tree trunks for sticks if you are doing a jazz gig
Learn to appreciate different types of music. It’ll get you more work and improve your versatility
- Say “yes” to as much as possible!
I love looking out at an audience that are getting really into the music and just thinking “I’m a part of why they are having so much fun.” I suppose that sounds very self indulgent but there are times when I listen to my favourite songs and I lose myself and want to just let go and go crazy. I am always looking to try and at least give some of that back to other people. I also love hitting things for a living! Getting the chance to travel and play gigs at festivals and venues I have been to as a fan, is a real buzz, and over the time I have been a musician I have met some amazing friends and talented people with some absolutely crazy stories to boot!
Dave Grohl has to be up there as one of the all time greats. He has played on some of my favourite album and is one of the most powerful drummers I’ve ever seen. Not only that, but he is very musical in his playing, creating some of the most recognisable fills of any other drummer.
Abe Cunningham from Deftones is an extremely tasteful player. His grooves are incredible and help to give the band such a sexy vibe to their songs. The song “Digital Bath” is one of my favourite drum grooves.
Travis Barker influenced me a lot at 15 or 16. I would go as far as to say his technique is probably as perfect as it gets. He mixes up a lot of styles together which makes for some interesting beats and grooves.
I play a Yamaha Maple Custom Absolute kit in silver sparkle.
12”, 16”, 24” I love big drums as they give a lot more power and punch to my playing.
Snare drum wise I am using a 14” brass Yamaha snare, but I’m in the process of talking to Supernova Custom Drums (www.supernovadrums.com) about get a snare drum made for me soon with a bit more “crack” to it.
I use Zildjian cymbals.
14” A custom hi hats, 20” K Crash Ride, 21” A Custom Rezo Ride
My website: www.davenealedrums.co.uk
Death In Vegas website: www.deathinvegasmusic.com
See Dave playing with Death in Vegas this summer at various festivals!