A great man (I think it was Mr Miyagi from The Karate Kid) once said:

"There is no such thing as a bad student. Only a bad teacher".

Wise words.

And some that really make sense to me, having been involved in drum and music

education professionally for the past 10 years. In that time I have been extremely

fortunate to have met some truly inspirational teachers and I would like to dedicate

this blog/magazine - (you could call it either a blogazine or a blagazine, depending

on if you think I know what I'm talking about!) - to those drummers who have really

made a difference in the world of drums and drum education.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

"Cities Of Glass" drummer Imran Mair - exclusive interview!

It's a drummer exclusive, with new band "Cities Of Glass"s master of rhythms: Imran Mair.

For those of you who don't know Cities Of Glass you should definitely have a listen if you like such bands as We Are Scientists or Killers...

Imran, welcome to Drumazine!  We'd like to find out some more about you...

Imran Mair: Hey, my name's Imran.  I'm the drummer in the band Cities of Glass (based in Fleet, Hampshire) and I am just about to finish my final year in college and plan to do band full time.
Dzn: How long have you been playing the drums for?

IM: Well I first started playing drums when I was around 8 years old, so that's about 10 years now - it really doesn't seem like it's been that long thinking about it!
Dzn: Who was the biggest influence in your early learning ofthe drums?

IM: I first properly got into music when my brother bought me the Foo Fighters album 'The Colour and the Shape'.  I was just completely absorbed into their sound and was so taken aback by how awesome the drums and vocals sounded.  At the time, I played trumpet in my school brass band, but it was the drum kit that I was really drawn to.  I remember sitting right next to the kit at one of the school concerts and a teacher sat down and played this really simple fill across the kit - my jaw dropped.  The want to knock out beats and play in a band kept growing from then on and eventually culminated in my parents finally agreeing to get me started on some lessons.
Dzn: And who inspires you now?

IM: I'd say Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins remain huge influences, but Abe Cunningham from the Deftones is definitely another big one for me.  That said, whilst I'm a big fan of rock, I find that a lot of drummers from other genres also really inspire me.  I'm really into Questlove from The Roots right now - he's got such solid grooves, and generally just a great vibe in his in his drumming which I'm really into.  Tony Royster Jr. is also another big inspiration - it's great when I can spend a good part of a day just sitting down and attempting to break down his hand-foot and sticking patterns, as dorky as that might sound!
Dzn: How often do you practice?

IM: I make sure I practice everyday - what a cliche, but it's true!  I never used to be that diligent with practice, but when I really began to take band seriously and just drumming in general, it really became clear to me how important it is. Even if I don't always do the rudiments and exercises I work through at lessons, just playing as much as possible has a huge impact on playing - well I certainly notice it anyway.
Dzn: And do you have a specific practice routine?

IM: This is something I've started doing over the past year or two, purely because I find it easier to see how well you are progressing.  I generally start by warming up with rudiments to a click track, and then I work through the stuff I'm covering at the time with my teacher (Jon Gibbs) and then just finish off with some general playing or drumming along to tracks (usually ones that I feel that stretch and challenge me).  Finishing on a smash through of some songs or messing about stops it seeming boring or too routine.
Dzn: How do you challenge yourself as a drummer?

IM: I find when I play the same thing over and over, my playing stagnates and I end up playing the same old grooves and fills all the time.  To overcome that, I often sit down and listen to tracks that I really like the drumming in and work out what is being played and why they are being played i.e. why would they choose to use that awkward sounding groove or a really simplistic fill in that place, and then try and incorporate that into some of my practice.  Also, just bringing it up with my teacher and getting an different perspective on playing or ways to work through grooves, etc. really helps to challenge my current habits when playing.
Dzn: Do you play any other instruments?

IM: Drums is my main instrument, but I've really got into piano recently.  I used to play the trumpet and I can play a few other other instruments as well, but the piano is the main one I practice regularly.  It really helps to keep things interesting.

Dzn: Would you say playing piano helps you as a drummer?

IM: I think it does.  Sometimes when you've been playing drums a lot more than usual, it's quite a nice break things up a little bit and have a bit of variety.  Otherwise you just get so bogged down with drums and beats.

Dzn: Have you ever had any problems, either physical or psychological that have affected your playing?

IM: Luckily I haven't as of yet, but fingers crossed it'll stay that way!

Dzn: Onto equipment!  What gear do you play? (drums/cymbals/anything else you would like to 

IM: I play a Mapex m tourer (12" rack tom, 14" floor tom, 22" kick drum), 14" Pearl Dennis Chambers Signature Snare, 14" Sabian AAX Stage Hats, 16" Sabian AAX Stage Crash, 18" Sabian AAX Dark Crash, 20" Sabian AAX Stage Ride (all my hardware is Mapex).
That's about it for the moment! But I've got my eye on a Ribbon Crasher and a Sabian HHX evolution crash - hopefully I'll be able to invest sometime soon?

Dzn: With the advent of new technology on what seems to be a daily basis, what modern technology do you incorporate:

a. into your practice? IM: For me, I really just practice with a metronome.  That's about it, and I haven't yet found any need for anything else yet - who knows maybe there will be something that pops up that is perfect!

b. into your live set-up? IM: I've often fancied the thought of playing around with a sampling pad, but it's mainly just budget restrictions right now which prevent me from doing so.  I think the addition of samples to my drumming and the band sound could really open up so many options to our sound (and it's one extra bit of kit to play with).

c. into your recording set-up? IM: Similarly, it would be great to experiment with a lot of samples on recordings.  With a sampling pad, these would then be recreated live and it could add a whole range of extra layers to our sound.  I think it would provide a lot of scope for bigger sounds and extra percussive sounds.

Dzn: Do you have any other jobs than "drummer"? (If so, is this a financial necessity or because you enjoy a diverse lifestyle?)

IM: Unfortunately, i don't.  I do need a job, but with college and band I don't have time at the moment. However, from May onwards, I will have finished college and will then be able to get a job instead to start earning money alongside band - finally.

Dzn: Have you got any advice to other drummers out there about practice or the music business or anything else?!

IM: I think just keep challenging yourself and push your limits. People always say that you never stop improving or learning, so just make sure that whatever you're doing is always helping you to develop and progress as a drummer really - that's what I've been told.
Dzn:  Amazing stuff!  Thanks so much for your time and answers!  Is there any other stuff you'd like to tell us about?  And tours, releases or projects you're working on?

IM: Please check out my band Cities of Glass at facebook.com/citiesofglasstwitter.com/citiesofglass or youtube.com/citiesofficial.  We're releasing our new EP on 13th Feb on iTunes, so have a listen and let me know what you think!

Dzn:  We've had an sneaky early listen - it's awesome!  Thanks again, and good luck with the band!

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