I started drumming in the late-90s after seeing Vinnie Colaiuta on TV. It was Sting Live in Oslo, from 1993 but being repeated a few years later on late-night Channel 4 in the UK. I couldn't believe what I was seeing - I'd never seen a musician of any kind who combined such robust muscular playing with such musicality and finesse. Who obviously had so much technical ability but chanelled it so subtly. Vinnie remains my main inspiration and that video, which I watched countless hundreds of times in my youth, is something I still get loads from every time I watch it on my iPad. If you've never watched it, take a look.
The other drummers who influenced my approach (if not my actual sound!) were Aaron Comess of the Spin Doctors, Chad Smith of the Chillis, Dave Weckl, and my friend Gideon Letch of the band Pillow Talk. Gid taught me essential things about how it was okay to enjoy yourself playing the drums! I was always very reserved behind the kit, and seeing Gid was completely liberating for me.
These the bands I've played with that mean the most to me. More info and audio clips coming soon.
This was the first originals band I was in, from about 1997 to 1999, and our recording of the song Wallpaper / Heartbreaker remains my favourite recording of me playing drums.
We didn't even know the song yet, and there's a dropped snare (which became part of the drum part because I liked it) that came out of my literally not knowing where the song was going next. But I love how all my influences are so easy to hear, and I love the abandon of the playing - I'd only been playing a couple of years and I've basically not improved much since, and I can't recapture that liberated style of playing. I overthink everything these days...
We recorded one album, Your Laugh Is Like You Have No Brains, which you can hear a few other tracks from on Soundcloud.
Toyshop Hero was a band with two friends from school - Richard Park and Russell Searle. I've done loads of things with Rich since, but Western Scifi was the last thing I did with Russ before he went on to have a proper career in music, forming The Research and then joining the Cribs. He wrote an entire album in a very different style to Toyshop Hero, a lot more light and shade, a more lofi approach. Rich and I came along and changed it a little, rewrote some of our parts, and what resulted is my favourite band I've been a part of.
You can hear some more of the album on Soundcloud. Western Scifi split in 2002 but reformed for one gig in 2016 to celebrate 15 years since recording the album. We're playing the Farnstock Festival in July, and if we video any of it I'll put some on this site.
I'm going to upload a Heroic Trio track to Soundcloud shortly.
In a change of direction in 2002 I formed a band to play dance music, live drum & bass with no loops. We formed for a University Battle of the Bands competition, which we won, and it went on to be the most successful band I've ever been in.
We appeared (briefly!) on Channel 4, as part of our being the house band at a live Hip-Hop night in Spitalfields, called Kitchen. As part of that I got to drum for an amazing array of artists, including the Grammy winner Estelle, soul legend Omar, Godfather of UK Hip-Hop Rodney P, double-timers MC Det, Skibadee, Shabba, and Dynamite MC, plus the Ragga Twins.
On a couple of nights we backed Roots Manuva. We did Dreamy Days with him, and Witness. Then we suggested we do some d&B and ended up doing this version of our tune Nightvision, featuring Roots Manuva free-styling over the top of it... You can hear various other Scassa tracks on SoundCloud.
The best representation of us in the studio is probably Dinner Lady's Wings, featuring MC Gusto at his finest.
Eventually the band fell apart around 2007 as we'd all moved to different towns - basically we stopped just before drum & bass crossed over into the mainstream and live d&b in particular became really popular...
I mentioned Gideon Letch above, he's the main drummer for the non-serious-but-actually-quite-good stylings of Pillow Talk. They have about 5 drummers, including Benny Calvert, and it's the most fun band I've ever been in. We still play, very occasionally. The song Gloves is the only one I've played on in the studio.
Finally since 2013 I've played with Lightbulb Moment, a good old fashioned rock covers band (although we play more interesting songs than most covers bands). It's been really nice after playing a wide variety of music (including a Swing band not listed above) to get back to just playing rock.