Rhythm (Christmas '04)
We talk to the drummers behind some of the greatest music ever recorded...
THE TRACK - 'HAPPY HOUSE' (1980) THE ARTIST - SIOUXSIE AND THE BANSHEES - THE DRUMMER - BUDGIE
Where was the track recorded? Set the scene for us...
"We demoed the track in the old Polydor demo studio just off Oxford Street. It was almost the first session I did with Siouxsie, Steve Severin and John McGeoch. The tracks that ended up on the single and album were recorded at Phil Manzanera's studio, The Coach House, out in Surrey. It had this '30s decor and Japanese-style moveable drapes which could alter the acoustics of the room. The producer was Nigel Gray who was hot off The Police's first album."
How did you approach the track? What made you play the part you did?
"The demo drumbeat was a cross between Ginger Baker and Keith Moon, steeped in reverb. By the time we did the master, we figured maybe I should play a bit less. So I worked out this beat based around the floor torn. It was a bit weird and I couldn't figure out how to do it, so I put my floor torn where the snare drum normally sits and I put the snare drum outside of the hi-hat. That way it was easy to get from the snare drum, hi-hat and back to the floor torn, from the outside in. It wasn't so easy when we went back to the regular kit layout on stage."
What were your impressions on hearing the track for the first time?
"The biggest excitement for me was when I saw the finished single in its sleeve. It was the first time I'd been part of a writing process for an original song released on a major label. I remember sending copies back home to everybody in Liverpool."
What set-up were you using?
"It was a black Pearl kit the Banshees had, which was eventually handed over to Altered Images. Just a regular kit with two rack toms, floor torn, snare and cymbals. The heads were clear Remo CS Black Dots. I was just getting away from that boxy '70s sound, but those heads were still pretty dead. I'd started using top and bottom heads again. I'd taken the bottom heads off and then I went on tour with The Slits, supporting The Clash on their Give 'Em Enough Rope tour. Topper Headon was the first proper drummer I'd spoken to and he looked at my kit and we reworked it. He said get the bottom heads back on and this is how we tune them. There are not a lot of cymbals on the track, but they might have been Paiste. We had a few Paiste Rudes, which we thought looked good. They were quite dull, heavier than usual Paistes."
Which recording are you most proud of?
"It has to be the most recent thing, Hai!. Working with Leonard Eto in Tokyo was the culmination of everything I ever dreamed of. Walking into a studio totally unrehearsed and unplanned and spontaneously drumming with a master Taiko drummer, I thought I might fall flat this time, I might have bitten off just a bit too much. But it was one of those magic moments you can only dream of and to be able to construct some songs out of that jam... When Siouxsie and I got on the plane going home, I said, 'If I don't do anything else that's it, it doesn't get better than that',"
Interview: Geoff Nicholls.
Contributed by Bonnie Bryant.