Prince's drummer talks 'smashing it like a dude'

Cora Coleman Dunham on her DW Collector's Series kit
Cora Coleman Dunham on her DW Collector's Series kit

Prince's drummer Cora Coleman-Dunham, alongside bassist and partner Josh Dunham, are performing at the London International Music Show (LIMS) this week (11-14 June). Unfortunately The Purple One won't be there, but you might think a backing band would be relieved to play without the watchful eye of a 'superstar' once a while…

Our friends over at Rhythm Magazine caught up with Cora mid-preparation to discuss 'James Brown grooves', 'fat drummers' and what it's really like to play with Prince.

"We came in and sat down and he [Prince] said, 'Hey, I just want to try a couple of ideas,'" recalls Cora. "Most of what we recorded, we learned; there were no charts or anything. It was like, 'Hey, try this groove.' He might sing what he's hearing or sing the bass line to Josh."

"Okay, big, fat dude on drums.. It's relentless," Cora on what it's like to work with Prince

"It's kind of like James Brown"

"Then he'll say, 'Okay, play with that.' We'll groove on it; we can groove on it for a good 15 minutes or so. It's kind of like James Brown. James Brown would sit on the groove until it's just really right."

Prince, also being a distinguished drummer (and, well… lets call him a distinguished multi-instrumentalist, shall we?) has a hand in most aspects of recording. Drumming being no exception: "Having a bandleader that plays several instruments has its advantages and disadvantages," she continues.

"Smash it like a big, fat dude"

"He'll get behind the kit and say, 'Okay, you can roll on that snare at the beginning. Then make a clean break or let it linger.' "When he sits down and plays, he's really saying, 'This is the energy that I want; approach it like a big fat man. Smash it like a big, fat dude!' So you think, 'Okay, big, fat dude on drums'. It's relentless."

You can read more about Cora's rise to greatness (and an exclusive interview with Chad Smith about keeping beats with Chickenfoot) in the current issue of Rhythm Magazine, available from today). And if you're going to LIMS, be sure to check out Cora, MusicRadar and Rhythm (stand #H21), too.

Tom Porter worked on MusicRadar from its mid-2007 launch date to 2011, covering a range of music and music making topics, across features, gear news, reviews, interviews and more. A regular NAMM-goer back in the day, Tom now resides permanently in Los Angeles, where he's doing rather well at the Internet Movie Database (IMDB).