Meet The Rhythmfest Tutors Part 3: James Hester
What are your current projects?
"The live band side of Malachai are on hiatus whilst Scott and Gee promote the album in the US and record the second album, so recently I've been working with Pitchshifter off shoot Gunslingerblack and I'm working on my own project with Damon Minchella (The Who/Ocean Colour Scene/Paul Weller), Kieron Pepper (Prodigy/Dead Kids) and Andy Norton (The Crimea). Geoff Barrow from Portishead had a big hand in the drum sound on this, so it sounds killer. I've just finished an album that's being released that I did with most of Robert Plant's band and was produced by John Leckie called Men From Mars, plus I've been working a lot with Kerrang! favourites Cars On Fire. I'm head of drums at BIMM Bristol and doing my MA in teaching there."
What was your first gig?
"I said yes to a gig, found a kit, learned to play it and did the show all in three weeks. I'm pretty chuffed to say that I've never not had a gig in my diary since. That was 20 years ago. Hooked since that day!"
When did you start playing, and who were your biggest influences when you were starting out?
"Nicko McBrain initially but then Steve White who became my teacher and a good mate. Steve really taught me the importance of being a great drummer but being an even better musician. Between then and now Pete Riley and Stanton Moore have also become influences, teachers and friends. All my favourite musicians influence me."
What is the most important thing you've learnt, perhaps something which changed your approach to playing?
"It's got to be that point that Steve said to me and has been reinforced time and time again about being a musician first. My favourite bass player Billy Fuller says the word 'listen' a lot. That's good advice too."
What advice would you give to young or new players wanting to get gigs?
"Remember what you're asking the audience to do – listen to your music – and do the same critically. Would you go to your show? Be honest and remember that no one cares about your drumming, they just want to hear a great band. Do the right thing for music and forget about your ego and you'll be fine."
What is the one thing a student should bring to Rhythmfest?
"A spare hard drive for the brain. You'll fill it up."
What are you going to be covering in your classes?
"Playing music! I'll be looking at loads of things from applying stickings in lots of ways, some linear stuff, coordination and independence ideas plus how to approach playing a track, being creative and applying all the drummy ideas practically in a musical setting."
What are the essential things a new drummer should be spending their limited budget on?
"A metronome. A drummer with bad time is not a drummer. There are so many reasons to buy a metronome. Come on the Rhythmfest – I'll prove it!"
You can read more about Rhythmfest here.