Karl Brazil's Girls Aloud drum setup in pictures
Readers familiar with Karl Brazil’s diary in Rhythm Magazine can be forgiven for thinking that the drummer’s life is all stadium gigs and private jets.
It is a notion that isn’t entirely dispelled when Rhythm met up with Karl during his stint backing Girls Aloud on their arena tour, as he was, at the time, due to jet out to Los Angeles immediately after the tour to record James Blunt’s new album, before hitting the stadiums with Robbie Williams.
But, those turning green with envy should know that Karl has fully earned his time at pop’s top table. Since getting his first break with Brit reggae artist Bitty McLean, Karl has worked tirelessly to build the stellar reputation that he enjoys today.
In doing so he has toured and recorded with everyone from Feeder to Take That, often juggling studio dates and shows, racing up and down the motorway between the two.
Somehow Rhythm managed to pin Karl down in the same place for longer than five minutes - actually on the Nottingham leg of the recent Girls Aloud tour - to find out how he became a pop drumming tour de force.
Here we bring you pictures of Karl’s Girls Aloud setup along with snippets from that interview, which you can read in full in the July issue of Rhythm (issue 217).
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Gretsch USA Maple: 12", 16", 18", 20", 24"; 14"x5" Pearl Brass Sensitone snare; 14"x5" Gretsch Hammered Brass snare
Tell us about the Girls aloud gig...
“One thing all session drummers worry about is where the next gig is going to come from because things only last so long. Pop tours can last a couple of months in the UK and that’s it.
“Girls Aloud was bandied about before Christmas time, over Christmas it all went quiet. I worked with the girls years ago. The thought of doing a full arena pop tour with the feathers and explosions, the more I thought about it the more I thought, ‘Yeah, this is going to be fun.’ It’s different and outside the box compared to everything else I’ve been doing.”
Sabian: 18" Artisan crash; 15" Artisan hi-hats; 12" Evolution splash; 19" Artisan crash; 12" Evolution splash; 21" Legacy ride; 18” 3-Point Crash; 18” APX FX Crash; 22” Legacy Rivet ride
What is the secret to keeping so busy? How do you keep on getting the calls?
“I think you’ve got to work with producers that are busy. With gigs, there’s plenty of good players. We’re all in the same circles, there’s lots of great UK session players and there’s lots of great MDs.
“It’s swings and roundabouts, people are coming off different things and it’s about timing. The business is about friends but you’ve got to be able to cut the mustard once you get up there.
“Getting up there with the band as a team is great. We’re fortunate that the phone is ringing and people want to work with us.”
Roland SPD-SX; Roland PD-8 x2; Porter and Davies BC2; Vic Firth 55A’s; Heads: Remo - Emperor X snare heads; coated Emperors on toms; coated Powerstroke 3 on kicks; Protection Racket Cases and drum mat
So what is the key to becoming a stadium pop drummer, is it a balance of personality, versatility, ability and work ethic?
“I think you’ve answered that yourself there. For me, all the things I like to be as a working drummer is professional, efficient, I hope I’m good to get on with, a good team player.
“When I’m on stage I’m very much a perfectionist. Nobody likes making mistakes but everybody makes them, being able to recover from a mistake is important. You need to be strong, you’re playing big gigs and responsible for a lot of stuff, I like that responsibility.
“When you’re playing in a band it is so important to listen to the rest of the band. It’s easy on these gigs to fill every space with a fill, but to me it is more impressive that when somebody gets the chance they play something nice and the band plays together. We’re 45ft apart on this gig, but I’m still listening to Malcolm the bass player and getting off on his playing every night.”
Now check out Rhythm’s current Summer issue with Joey Jordison on the cover. Or subscribe to Rhythm here for a monthly dose of new gear reviews, kit buying guides, pro drum lessons and all-star interviews.
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