He’s played with Paul Weller, Ian Dury, the Who, Charlie Watts, Ginger Baker, Oasis, Ocean Colour Scene and a host of others. Now, one of the few drummers that Ginger Baker will admit to liking takes five from us.
1.) What’s your favorite Beatles song and why?
I’m going to say it’s “She Loves You.” I think they wrote far better songs, but it was the song that I first ever learned all the lyrics to, because I had an uncle that was a DJ, and he gave it to me as a gift. I played it on my Dansette record player, and I was incredibly proud of myself that I learned all of the words to that song. So I’m going to just react. I know they’ve got better songs, but that’s the one that comes to mind.
2.) Who are three songwriters—living or dead—that you wish you could sit down and write a song or play drums with?
Oooh. Kate Bush, the magical, mystical Kate. I kind of fell in love with her at 15, and I think she’s an artist that never ceases to surprise. She really doesn’t give a damn at what’s going on commercially, and I just love the way her records sound. I think she’s absolutely amazing. Um, Marvin Gaye, because of that whole What’s Going On? period, which I thought was just some of the best soul that’s ever been written, really. That kind of whole anti-war sentiment that was done so brilliantly. I think he was taken from us far too soon. I’m going to exclude Paul Weller, because I think that’s a bit obvious, but I would say—without a doubt—that Paul is one of the best singers and best songwriters that this country has produced, possibly ever. If I was gonna pick a third one, it would be someone like a Johnny Mercer, because I would love to have played in some of those big bands that Sinatra was playing with under Nelson Riddle when Johnny Mercer was writing. But it would have to be someone classic like that, because I just think that some of those recordings are absolutely consummate, and I wish I could’ve played on some of those.
3.) If you had to pick one song that you’ve written that you really think sums you up as a drummer, what would that be?
I think it’s probably “Sunflower.” It’s the one that wins the awards as one of the 90 Best Beats or whatever. I loved that time. I love Wild Wood. And it was on that that I really was able to sort of go to town, and do—as Paul says—“a big, fuck off fill.”
4.) What’s the one song that you wish you could’ve written?
It’s pretty obvious, but I was listening yesterday to “God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys. I know it’s one of those that always gets in the polls and it’s a bit obvious to call that one out. But just listening to it again yesterday and learning the fact that it was the first time that the word “God” had ever been used in a pop record. It still blows me away, that record. It is one of the most perfect pop songs ever written. The sentiment is just absolutely beautiful.
5.) Is there anything you’re listening to these days that you’re particularly digging?
Always listening to music. I reluctantly got into Spotify, and at the moment I’m listening to a nice combination of British classic jazz funk by bands like Atmosfear, Central Line, early Level 42. Through my daughter, there’s always a nice air of people like Skrillex and the dubstep stuff that all the youngsters like, which I actually really love the production of. There’s some really modern stuff in there. I’m always listening to classic soul with my partner Sally. We love soul music, we love Sinatra. Never not open to new music, but don’t quite hear as much great stuff as some of the critics that wax lyrical are going on about. I always check it out. I’ve got the new Bowie album. I’m still taking a little time to get into it. I think it’s really, really good. I’m not sure I actually prefer it over “Modern Love.” You know, I love music. When we sit to eat in our house, we put music on. It might be the Stone Roses, it might be Sinatra, it might be Buddy Rich, but it’s one of those things we do with all the kids. We like to cook, we like to eat and we put music on. I’m very much aware of my 16 year old and 20 year old, they’ll play me stuff and sometimes I don’t even know who the artist is, but if you can appreciate it, it’s always good to just register it. It’s a house that’s filled with music most days.