"The most important thing for me, talent aside, is finding musicians that understand the music. It sounds flippant. But I’m not a fan of the gospel chops approach of playing higher, faster, louder, better. I think a lot of people don’t really grow out of that. I’ve seen so many people blow auditions by getting their chops out, because they feel that they need to prove they can play rather than just play the song. The majority of things I book are song based. So, chops aren’t that important. You need to have a degree of facility or technique beyond the music you’re playing, but that’s kind of a given. We all studied lots of things we don’t necessarily need so they would open up our musical vocabulary.
Personally, I’m really looking for people with ears, people with a good attitude and people who go the extra mile when the paycheck doesn’t necessarily dictate that they have to. I want them to want to go that extra mile because they care about turning in a good performance. Obviously, budgets these days are a real fight. I’m also looking for people who are socially aware and know how to behave in front of an artist and with other musicians. And because I’m a drummer, I’m always looking for the feel.
From a non-musical perspective, I need people to be punctual, always. You can never be the last in the lobby. You should always strive to be the first for a bus call, a lobby call or a sound check. To turn up last, a minute before the call time and say, “I’m here on time” really isn’t good enough for me. Specific timings are set out by tour managers as the latest you can arrive, not the time you should arrive; because there’s something that can go wrong – public transport or your own private transport, etc. If people are late for me, I usually give them a three strikes option. And on the third strike, they get fired. I’ve seen it through on a couple occasions, and it’s not particularly pretty. I don’t think people think you’re actually going to do it. But in a professional environment, music can be a bit deceptive: it feels quite social; everyone is getting on; you’re not in an office. I think sometimes people forget they’re at work, and they think they can take a lot of liberties.
Of course, maintenance of equipment and general personal hygiene, etc., as ridiculous as it sounds, are all really important. You don’t want guys coming on tour with a toothbrush and one shirt when you’re away for six weeks. But you’d be amazed."
Read the entire interview here.
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