Been a while since I posted an update on here, so here’s what I’ve been up to the last few months:
I spent a lot of April and May touring with Ultra90s, playing the dance anthems and club classics of the 1990s. Boom Shake The Room, Ice Ice Baby, Rhythm Is A Dancer, Set You Free, etc. We even squeezed some Drum & Bass and Happy Hardcore in there too. As we travelled with full PA, lighting rig and instruments, we have to play giant Tetris loading the van after each gig. This was further complicated as their usual van was being repaired, so we had a significantly smaller and less comfortable van. Physically exhausting, especially when we have a 3-5 hour drive after some shows to avoid daytime traffic. My day slipped by 5 hours or so – in bed at 4am (earliest), up again at 12 noon most days. Not complaining though. There are FAR worse ways to earn a few quid! This is the same band I played with at Katie Price’s wedding vow renewal ceremony earlier this year (see photo).
For those gigs I used a Sonor Jungle kit (10″, 14″ toms, 16″ bass drum) and my trusty Ludwig 400 snare. We trigger the bass drum to emulate the sound of the original tracks. Slightly unconventional cymbal setup: 15″ Paiste 2002 hi-hats, 18″ Signature Fast Crash and a 20″ 2002 crash (modified by Ben Camp at cymbalmagic.com). No ride cymbal required. Nice and easy to haul around. Plus I get to control my in-ear mix from my iPhone, which is all very cool
Whilst I wouldn’t claim that 90s dance music is my favourite music to listen to, playing it live is a great thrill, and not without it’s challenges. For one, the whole show is played to a click so we sync to the pre-programmed light show and projections. Secondly, I’m emulating or playing over beats and grooves that were produced originally on computers or drum machines, so I keep it pretty simple and hopefully sympathetic and authentic. And it has to be consistent. It’s a hard hitting show, and tempos range from 90bpm to 180bpm. The toughest material is the Happy Hardcore section – 13 minutes non-stop at nearly 180bpm seems ok for the first few minutes, but once you throw in a few 16th note snare build-ups for 8 bars at a time, I begin to sweat! Perhaps I’m just a big wuss.
Back in May I also I spent some time in the studio with the splendid Malaya Blue recording two new tracks. We recorded them at The Grange near Thetford in Norfolk – a beautiful studio, under the watchful eye of producer Paul Long and engineer Dave Williams.
I used my Mapex Meridian Maple kit – the first time I’ve used this kit in the studio. As usual, I used Paiste cymbals (17″ and 18″ Signature Fast Crashes, 20″ Twenty Masters Collection Ride, 15″ 2002 hi-hats, and a 22″ 2002 ride). I added a ProMark cymbal sizzler to the 20″ ride for one track. I used my late 70s Ludwig 400 snare drum – the drum I’ve used for 99% of my live and studio playing for the last 7 years.Malaya has put a cracking band together including bassist Trev Turley, Andy Walker on guitar, Phil Marshall on sax, Andy Cooper on Hammond organ. Graham Pettican join us in the studio for some piano, plus on some live gigs we have the additional guitar antics of the legendary Will Johns.
The single was released a couple of weeks ago and contains 2 tracks – Hope and Let’s ReInvent Love. Paul Jones played Hope on his BBC Radio 2 show on 13th July.Malaya has a number of gigs in the next few months. Check her website for more information. Due to prior commitments there are a few MB gigs I can’t do, but she always picks excellent deps.
I’m also still working with the lovely Claire Barker Band doing weddings, functions and the occasional public gig too. Playing mixture of songs from 1970s to present day keeps me on my toes, and also allows me to dabble in some sampling and triggering which I’ve always enjoyed.
Finally, I’m hoping to increase my website design work this year, so if you need a website for your small business or organisation, give me a shout or head on over to simondring.net
And yes, before you say anything, I know that this website (simondring.co.uk) needs a facelift – good things come to those who wait.
Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, my wife and I have just bought our first house, so I am now living in a much bigger place, but surrounded by dozens of cardboard boxes.
A couple of musical gems before I go:
Here’s Chic playing at the iTunes festival a couple of years ago. The drums alone are fantastic, but the bass player is AMAZING! For die-hard Chic fans his playing may be too different to the lines originally laid down by Bernie Edwards, but I love them.
Finally, not content with just being a legendary songwriter, singer, keyboard player and harmonica player, here’s Stevie Wonder nailing it on the drums…