Tag Archives: rock

How to play the drums

OK, this isn’t a real primer in how to play the drums. It’s just that I can play and I have a kit at home. When friends come and visit they often pick up the sticks and try out the kit, before giving up after a minute or two of random bashing.

I often try to give some guidance, but it’s not easy. You do need coordination and practice to play drums, but just by having a basic understanding of a rock rhythm it is possible to play something – even on a first attempt.

First you need to think about which drums you will play to manage a basic rhythm… and I’m assuming you are right-handed. For lefties, just reverse everything to the opposite hand and foot as the kit will be switched around.

Right foot: Kick (or bass) drum, the deep bass drum, the basic rhythm.

Left hand: The snare, the high rat-a-tat sound that counterpoints the kick.

Right hand: The hi-hat cymbal, the high sound that’s really keeping time, you can usually hear the sh sh sh shhhh sh sh sh shhhh sound if you listen to a pop song.

Most rock and pop is played in 4/4 time. You don’t need to understand music theory to just mess about, but try listening to a rock song right now. Count along with the kick drum and you will probably notice that all the changes… the jump from a chorus to a verse or a solo take place on the count of 4 or a multiple of 4 (8 for example).

What this means in simple terms is that there are 4 time markers in each bar of music, so a basic rock or pop rhythm would just be the hi-hat keeping time and then alternating between kick and snare… boom, tat, boom, tat… sounds simple?

If you have a drum kit available then try this – if you don’t have a drum kit then just try it at a desk to see if you can work out the coordination.

First: tap your right hand on the hi-hat – or desk. Just keep a slow regular rhythm… sh sh sh sh sh sh sh sh sh

Second: start the process again and the first time you hit the hi-hat, hit the kick drum – do it together – and then do that on every 4th tap of the right hand. It is simple once you get used to hitting the cymbal and playing the kick (using your right foot) at the same time.

Third: start the process again and alternate between the kick and the snare, also hitting the snare at the same time as the hi-hat.

So now you should have your right hand playing a constant timing marker on the hi-hat sh sh sh sh sh sh sh sh sh… then every fourth one you also hit the kick drum and alternately you hit the snare. That means every other hi-hat hit will be just the hi-hat alone, and the other times will be the hi-hat with either the kick or the snare.

What does my left foot do? Well, on a real drum kit that controls the hi-hat… you can have the hi-hat open or closed and it makes an entirely different sound, but this is getting a bit complex if you just want to see if you can manage a basic rock rhythm. Don’t worry about your left foot for now, just see if you can get that kick-snare-kick going all the time keeping time with the hi-hat…

It can get a lot more complex. A lot of rock – particularly metal – drummers use two kick drums so both feet are playing bass and drummers like Keith Moon from The Who never bothered with a hi-hat – he would just keep time on the regular cymbals. So once you know that you actually can keep time and play a basic rock rhythm then there are other styles of music that use different times (try listening to blues or jazz, it’s not 4 beats in each bar) and even within rock it can all be a lot more complex!

Easy enough? I’m going to try this blog on the next guest to my house who gets on my drum kit to see if they can manage a basic rhythm in the first lesson…

Você pode ajudar os Dead Kennedys? : Can you help the Dead Kennedys?


This is a message from West Coast punk legends The Dead Kennedys. TAM lost their guitar cases in Brazil so I’ve got the message here in English and Portuguese to see if anyone has any information…


On Saturday April 20, Klaus Flouride and East Bay Ray’s guitar cases were lost by TAM Airlines in Brazil on their flight from Sao Paulo to Recife. We would like to ask anyone in Brazil that might work at TAM Airlines or know someone who does to help us find the two guitar cases. One is a SKB bass case and the other is a Gator double guitar case. Here is a photo of them. If you have any information, please message us here. Thank you.

No sábado 20 de abril, os cases de guitarra de Klaus Flouride e East Bay Ray foram perdidos pela TAM quando os músicos viajavam de São Paulo para Recife. Gostaríamos de pedir a alguém no Brasil que trabalhe na TAM, ou conheça alguém que trabalhe lá, que nos ajude a encontrar os dois cases. Um deles é um baixo SKB e o outro é um case de guitarra dupla Gator. Aqui está uma foto dos dois. Se você tiver qualquer informação, por favor mande uma mensagem para nós aqui. Obrigado.

Dead Kennedys


Photo by The Dead Kennedys

If you’re in London tonight…

If you are in London tonight and you want to see a great gig then you could do far worse than going to see some mates of mine play at a great venue – the Camden Roundhouse.

This historic venue used to be an old railway shed with a turntable where they could turn engines around. It was also the only British venue that The Doors ever played in – though I never really rated the ‘poetry’ of Jim Morrison myself.

The BibleCode Sundays are supporting the Dropkick Murphys tonight, so at one gig you get to see the best British and American flavours of Irish folk/rock/punk… all in one night. I hope Diageo have supplied extra Guinness to the pubs of Camden for the flood of London Irish that will be on the streets later.

I was supposed to be flying from Brazil to India for a conference next week and I was going to stop in the UK to see this gig, but my travel plans were changed so I’m still at home. It’s a real shame, but I’m working hard to ensure that the BibleCodes get down to Brazil this year – once the London Olympics are over…

Buy tickets for the show here

Strangeways, here we come

On September 28th 1987, The Smiths released their last ever album ‘Strangeways, here we come’. It’s hard to believe that this is almost exactly 24 years ago now as I can remember the day itself.

I was 17 and at Frogmore Sixth Form then, taking my A-levels. In those days new records and movies came out in London first and then dripped out to the provinces over the following days and weeks. Even though we were only just outside London, it would still be impossible to get a copy of the album on the day of release, so me and a mate – David Ovington – took off on a bus to London that morning.

We got out at Kensington High street and bought copies of the album at Tower records, before crossing the street and catching a bus in the opposite direction.

We both went directly back to the sixth form common room and played the new album, much to the interest of the other assembled teenagers who were impressed at our dedication to Morrissey.

I haven’t bought a physical album for years now. The last one I know that I bought was the Manic Street Preachers, Journal for Plague Lovers, and that was because I specifically wanted the artwork. Apart from that, everything is downloaded or streamed these days.

For that reason, it harks back to a very different age. A time when two teenagers would spend most of a day just travelling to get hold of a piece of vinyl on the day it is released – a romantic idea that is already history and to the kids growing up today will sound archaic and deluded.
Morrissey and flowers all over the pub...

Help the Biblecodes get to the Feis

Remember the old Fleadh festival in London? Well, these days it’s the Feis – the biggest festival featuring Irish and international acts with a Celtic flavour.

Promoter Vince Power has put together a line-up that includes Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, The Cranberries, Christy Moore, Hothouse Flowers, and The Undertones… the line-up looks great.

And there is space for another act, but it’s being decided on by social media. The Supajam system features a load of acts who want to be on stage with Van and Bob, but I’d like to ask you – my friends – to go and offer some support to The Biblecode Sundays.

All you need to do is to add a comment of support, or vote on the songs they have uploaded – just a click or quick comment is enough to help them get the gig.

If you came to the last tweetup I hosted in London, or came to my last birthday party, or came to Angelica Mari’s book launch, then you will have seen how good these guys are. Do them a favour and add a comment so they can get up on the big stage with Van the Man…

Ealing Tweetup Feb 2011 with Biblecode Sundays

Ealing Tweetup has a supporter!

The green power management people with an office in Ealing, 1e, have agreed to support the next Ealing Tweetup on February 15th…!

Ealing Tweetup

1e supported the recent launch of Angelica Mari’s new book in London. Just take a look at the images here to see how much fun that party was – and the great thing is that the same band who played at the book launch will be at the next Tweetup.
Reboot book launch @ Waxy's on Dec 2 2010

Yes, it’s the Biblecode Sundays playing live in Ealing on February 15th… check out this link for more information and to sign up for your place…!

Reboot: The Book Launch on Dec 2nd @ Waxy’s

There is a great blog post here by Rod Trent of 1e that outlines the book launch planned for Angelica’s book on December 2nd in London. It’s going to be a great party and a great way to launch the new book. You can see Angelica’s video invitation here. If you are still not sure about coming then think about this:

  • The first 50 people to arrive get a free copy of the book
  • Everyone gets a free EP of music from the BibleCode Sundays
  • The BibleCode Sundays are playing live
  • We are taking over the Church bar in Waxy O’Connor’s right in the middle in London -and the bar is free thanks to 1e.
  • The food is also free thanks to JD Marketing (they do the marketing for Betfair, who feature in the book).
  • There is a £100 Amazon voucher for whoever uploads the best social content from the evening, tweet, photo, video, blog…
  • 1e are giving away goodie bags full of pens, squeezy polar bears, mints, and various other things, though the bag itself might be the most useful item to carry all the other freebies!

As if you needed any more reasons to party, me and Angelica are getting married the next morning. Yes, launching a book on Thursday and getting married on Friday… and Angelica leaves the country to move to Brazil on Sunday, so this might be your last chance to say goodbye. She will remain as an associate editor of Computer Weekly, but she is entering the realms of virtual working. So you won’t see her often back in London – or me for that matter!

Click here to go and register for the event on LinkedIn…

James Gardner, CTO of the DWP with Reboot

A movie-themed Christmas party

I know the lads who play in the BibleCode Sundays, a really good Celtic rock band from west London. They are a great band and don’t get the recognition they deserve in terms of album sales, but if you go and see them in a pub you will be blown away – and will almost certainly come away as a convert, seeking out their stuff online.

Andy Nolan plays accordian in the band and he has recently written a movie called ‘Clan London’ based on gangland London, particularly in the Irish community. I haven’t read the script, but from what I can see of Andy’s comments online it looks like West Side Story with more violence, more Guinness, and with a bit of Goodfella’s chucked in for good measure.

Andy is already casting the movie and he has a director ready to work on the project, but he is still working on more funding and distribution for the project, so he has organised a big party in Hendon, north London, on Dec 11th.

Guests include Noel ‘Razor’ Smith, world-champion boxer Steve Collins, the director of the film, Stephen Patrick Kenny, and there will be a DJ slot by Tony Lundon of Liberty X. The BibleCode Sundays are going to play a live set as well so it looks like it will be a really good evening, and should focus a bit of attention on the forthcoming movie – both Steve Collins and Razor have agreed to take parts in the film!

The party takes place at the Claddagh Ring in Hendon. Details are all online here. I’m going to be there. Let me know if you plan on coming too!


Live Aid is 25 today

Do you remember July 13, 1985?

Live Aid was the biggest concert of the time. A massive gig at Wembley stadium in London, mirrored in Philadelphia in the USA, and using satellite technology for broadcasters to jump between the gigs – amazing technology back then.

I was only a kid, but I remember watching most of the concert on TV. I remember it seemed quite chaotic, roadies and technicians all over the stage trying to keep the show going as mics failed or cables were pulled out of where they should be plugged in.

I remember being impressed that Phil Collins could play a gig in London and then fly on Concorde to the USA, to play another gig on the same day with Led Zeppelin – though that has gone down in history as one of their worst shows ever and I don’t think it’s featured on any of the official films of the event. Jet lag… or they just didn’t rehearse together much…

Status Quo seemed like the perfect opening act, three-cord rock. u2 became the global act they still are because of that day, and Queen revived a flagging career and were popular again until the premature death of Freddie Mercury, because they blew away all the other acts by involving every single fan in their act.

This gig was also special as it created the era of the charity concert. Now there is charity fatigue as rock concerts seem to be staged for all manner of good causes, but this one started the ball rolling.

Is it OK to throw bottles at artists?

In today’s edition of The Sun, Jane Moore argues that Morrissey was wrong to walk out of his concert in Liverpool last weekend. He had started the gig and was on to the second song when a bottle, thrown by an audience member, hit him in the face.

Morrissey walked off and never came back to complete the concert.

Moore claims that ‘in her day’ the Sex Pistols actively encouraged missiles, and when she once saw The Damned you could see saliva dripping from the face of Dave Vanian – and it was not his own saliva. Clearly Moore is a punk aficionado and believes that the artist should accept whatever the audience (literally) throws at them. She claims Morrissey protests too much.

But is it really acceptable anymore for an audience to behave like this?

Back in the days that Jane Moore talks about, Joe Strummer ended up with hepatitis after a fan gobbed in his face. Is that really the kind of concert atmosphere we should look on with rose-tinted glasses?

I remember once seeing Buzzcocks and witnessing a beer can narrowly missing the face of singer Pete Shelley. He stopped playing for a moment and asked everyone in the crowd who was thinking about throwing something at the band to ‘do it now so we get it over with’… hundreds, maybe thousands, of missiles suddenly rained upon the stage. Then the gig carried on… and there were no more beer cans lobbed at the band.

Because, in practical and rather obvious terms, it’s dangerous. The artist is usually facing lights and can’t see missiles as they approach. The crowd has an unfair advantage in targeting a singer on stage half-blinded by a number of spotlights. Most venues these days prevent glass from being brought inside or purchased, but a plastic beer bottle that’s mostly full weighs about half a kilo. Try getting someone to throw a half kilo weight at your face and see if it’s a laughing matter.

Add to that the fact that a concert stage is jammed full of electrical equipment and wires. It’s no fun for the roadies and engineers to try breaking up the show when all their equipment is covered in beer, water, and whatever else… and it may even be positively shocking. For a band lower down the food chain than Morrissey, that may be the only amplifier they can afford and to have someone chucking a pint of lager on it could be a financial disaster that messes up their next gig.

I understand Jane Moore’s sentiment, but I don’t think she has really thought it through. Or maybe she is commenting as someone who used to attend concerts and has not been to a gig in decades, so it would never affect her anyway.