Memories: 25 years of Rhythm
We're pretty certain you now know that this year is Rhythm's 25th anniversary (we've gone on about it enough!), and we've celebrated with an extra-special issue.
Rhythm wouldn't be the magazine it is without a super-talented crop of writers and photographers helping us bring you the best drum content on the planet. These guys and girls have had their fair share of experiences (and scrapes) so we caught up with some of them to hear their favourite memories of working on the UK's Best-Selling Drum Magazine.
Brett Callwood, writer
"I've had the honour of writing for Rhythm for six of the magazine's 25 years, and in that time have had the opportunity to interview some of the players that I respect most, and I've had the occasional bizarre experience courtesy of the magazine too. I think it was in 2005 I was sent to Glasgow from my then-home in London to cover the International Marching Bagpipe and Drum Competition. Not to say that the talent on display that weekend wasn't tremendous, but how many times can a man listen to 'Flower of Scotland' in one day?
"My two big features with Nicko McBrain from Iron Maiden stand out as my favorite Rhythm memories so far. Nicko gave me my first Rhythm cover and the interviews with the man were incredibly enjoyable because he's so damned funny and down to earth.
"Taking a group of Rhythm competition winners backstage at Wembley to meet Dream Theater's Mike Portnoy was a blast, because they were so excited and he was so great with them all. Other interviews that stand out are the MC5's Dennis Thompson, the Stooges' Scott Asheton, Sabbath's Bill Ward and Duran Duran's Roger Taylor (the latter being my favorite band when I was a pre-teen, so the nostalgia experience was invaluable)."
"Most of all, it's just an honour to be able to say that I write for Rhythm. I hope to write a more extensive memories piece 25 years from now."
Adam Jones, photograher and writer
"In my time as a photographer for Rhythm I got to photograph Mitch Mitchell – big hero, obviously. During the shoot I managed to break one of his chairs while standing on it to get an over-kit viewpoint (this was alluded to by editor Simon Braund in the interview). The interview took place at a time when Mitch was still quite reclusive and he made it clear when we arrived that he wasn't into it at all. However once he sat down with Simon he became more welcoming and talked at length about his time with the Experience. He'd arranged to go out somewhere on the same afternoon as the interview and his phone kept ringing. He got quite frustrated with the person on the other end – he was clearly reliving his past with us and didn't want to be interrupted.
"During the shoot I managed to break one of Mitch Mitchell's chairs while standing on it to get an over-kit viewpoint", Adam Jones, photographer
"On the back of Mitch's cover interview Simon and I were invited by Mitch to an exclusive party at the Hard Rock Café on September 18th 1990 – the 20th anniversary of Hendrix's death. We drove down from Cambridge and got there early on. Mitch played with a guitarist called Danny Gatton and all number of musicians got up and jammed for a few songs. We smiled every time Mitch came near but he didn't come and chat. Eventually at some point in the early hours we plucked up the courage to introduce ourselves to him. By then he was pretty worse for wear but, charming as ever, said he remembered us and thanked us again. It was a long drive home…"
James Cumpsty, photographer
"I started on the magazine in April 1989 and knew pretty much straight away that it was the most friendly community within the music biz. Working out of Cambridgeshire, going to soundchecks and gigs in London was a real buzz. Plus the festivals then - Reading and Phoenix were all very cool - seeing the Pixies and Nirvana... classic. Having known editors Tim Ponting, Simon Braund, Ronan MacDonald, Louise King and now Chris Barnes I have seen my fair share of editors!
"So, shoots that spring to mind… Chris Whitten, with Paul McCartney. Having Sir Paul run through his entire set in front of myself and Simon with just Linda McCartney in the audience with us has to be pretty special. Working in the US with Louise King, and getting interviews with David Silveria, Chad Smith, Stewart Copeland and Travis Barker at home, going to some pretty special places with drum/cymbal manufacturers, some very memorable Paiste restaurant trips in Swiss castles, and great nights out with Zildjian after their Day's in Glasgow and London.
"Some very hairy moments included sitting behind Joey Jordison. I am warned that Clown in Slipknot will not see me and he hits 'everything' he encounters! Shooting covers a couple of times with Charlie Watts have been great memorable days, especially when one of my photographic hereos Terry O'Neill puts his head round the door as he saw a Gretsch kit being brought into the studios and had to see if it was Charlie's (he is a drummer too).
"Following people like Steve White's career, meeting him just after he got a gig with Paul Weller - straight out of the Youth Jazz orchestra, through all those great albums and concerts, meeting him every now and again and catching up. There is a lot of humour around the silliness of touring and I think they all do a very hard job, and answering questions about tom sizes seems to put their feet back on the ground and remind them why they got into it in the first place. There is a lot of respect for what has gone before, and getting to meet most of the names, it goes both ways. Well known clinicians name checking younger players and helping get them established.
"So to have at least one spread or image in a magazine for over 20 years is a milestone that I am very proud of and I guess this Industry has shaped me too. It has certainly taught me to work fast! Especially at soundchecks when there really is only 20 mins for the interview and pictures. Made a few good friends along the way too, so thank you Rhythm. Been a big part of my working and social life.... here's to another 25!"
Mark Walker, writer
"Interviews were always the highlight of working for the magazine for all sorts of reasons, the main one being meeting great drummers and on some occasions one's childhood heroes, such as Ian Paice, Alan White from Yes, Bob Siebenberg from Supertramp, Clem Burke from Blondie and of course the legend that is Steve Gadd. But there were all sorts of fringe benefits too, not least the access all areas backstage vibe and getting to see the show – interviews were virtually always on gig days after sound check. Of course it wasn't always plain sailing, and some management were very protective of their artists – I remember being virtually locked in a bare room with nothing but a classroom style chair and no phone reception backstage at Wembley Arena waiting to interview Atom Willard who had recently joined The Offspring. He was as perplexed as I to the heavy handedness of the security.
"I remember being virtually locked in a bare room with nothing but a classroom style chair and no phone reception backstage at Wembley Arena waiting to interview Atom Willard", Mark Walker, writer
"But backstage at Wembley Arena also has great memories, not least interviewing Caroline Corr whose whole family and organisation were as lovely as you would imagine, and John Miceli from Meat Loaf's band. Mr. Loaf stuck his head in at one point, took one look at what was going on and said 'I hope you're saying nice things about me John'.
"It's also where I had my worst recording experience. In those days we didn't even have minidisc recorders, it was a walkman cassette, which wasn't always clear at the best of times. When I interviewed Mark Schulman, who at the time was playing with Cher, there was a lot of background conversation in the dressing room and the sound of the support coming through the walls. When I came to transcribe it a few days later it was virtually unintelligible, and to my shame I didn't check it with Mark first. I made several errors (such as saying he bought his first drum machine with his brother's birthday money as opposed to his Bar mitzvah money), and I can only say after all these years I hope he has forgiven me...!
"After interviewing Jonathan Moffett having backstage access at Wembley Stadium for Michael Jackson was a real privilege, as my pass allowed me into the press section at the front of the stage where I could see clearly every move he made. Say what you will about MJ, but as a dancer there was no one like him, and having the opportunity to see it at such close hand is something I will always be grateful to Rhythm for.
"In fact I will always be grateful to Rhythm for so many of the great experiences and wonderful drummers and people I have met in my life. Thank you, congratulations on 25 years, and here's to the next quarter century..."
Ronan MacDonald, Editor
"Neal Wilkinson being the nicest guy on the planet; Chad Smith in a straightjacket; Vinnie humping the telly; Tony Williams being profoundly inspirational; keeping James Cumpsty awake on the motorway by repeatedly punching him in the leg for 50 miles; Big Country being absolutely deafening; Charlie Benante shattering my rock/hip-hop crossover dreams; drinking… lots of drinking…; EMF's drummer being better than I expected; Phil Collins being a diamond; Trilok Gurtu blowing my mind; Roy Haynes being legendary; Airto's raygun; coveting Dave Weckl's hands; the extraordinary poshness of Switzerland; Hagi being spiritual; doing my first and only drum clinic with Simon Hanson; Sting's house; acid jazz… lots of acid jazz; Vinx fixing the trapped nerve in my back; crashing Elton John's 500-quid-a-ticket Planet Hollywood launch party; David Lee Roth being unexpectedly unassuming; judging a battle of the bands in Leicester with Kelvin from Music Youth; drums… lots of drums…"