Interview with Jeff Rich Interview by Ben Pierson.
I have to admit, going to interview the drummer from one of the best known bands in history with a hangover and only 4 hours sleep under my belt, may not have been the best move on my part but none the less, as I made my way to meet with former drummer of Status Quo, Jeff Rich, I was looking forward to it.
Everyone loves an English rock band right? And surely everyone’s heard of at least one Quo song? If you know nothing of the Quo, they formed in 1962 with Jeff Rich joining in 1985 after working with Stretch, Judie Tzuke and the Climax Blues Band. After 15 years of touring Jeff left the band to spend more time with his family, he currently visits schools to get children more interested in the music business and runs a drum masterclass as well as offering one to one tuition.
Jeff Rich - I suppose I’ve been to around 6,500 schools by now all over the UK, I’ve been doing this for many years now and the whole point of the workshop is to inspire the students. So I do a combination of around 65% Primary and 35% Secondary schools.
Stabbed Panda - And what sort of things are covered in the workshops that you do?
JR - It covers initially how I got into the music business and I go through my career and then tell them a bit out TV and stuff like that, then I go on to how drumming has developed. I’ve got African drums, Military drums…
SP - So you go through the whole history of drumming?
JR - Yeah, and it’s all interactive I get them up playing with all the different drums, then I’ve got a large kit set up and I go onto that, play a solo for them on the kit to show them what can be achieved, then they all get up and play percussion. Now, in a Primary School I’ll have about 150 up at a time playing percussion.
SP - Wow, I bet that get’s a bit noisy!
JR - Yeah, but they love it! Just here we had at least 100 up playing percussion.
SP - So as you clearly care for music as part of your life and you use these workshops to inspire a younger generation, how do you feel about where music currently stands in education?
JR - Well, unfortunately, music’s been pushed down the curriculum a huge amount because of funding problems and the government still haven’t realised that, if you play an instrument your academic work comes along because it’s a discipline but they still haven’t grasped that fact. So unfortunately it’s become more difficult to learn to play instruments in schools because it costs so much money and parents have to pay for instrumental lessons whereas before it was subsidised so there's a huge problem at the moment getting music into schools and getting awareness in music and that’s where I come in, trying to inspire them. I come from nothing, my parents couldn’t afford to buy me a drum kit, I did it myself and I tell them that if you want something you can do it yourself but you’ve got to be determined.
SP - Do you have any other projects in the works at the moment?
JR - I’ve got a 3 piece band called Triple J that’s mainly original material and we’re about to do a festival in the Isle of Man and one in North Wales. I also play with a blue band based in London, I’m doing a gig with them week after next, so I still play live but I pick and choose when I want to do it so that’s great.
SP - Sounds good! Now, how many albums do you think that you’ve recorded on over your career?
JR - Countless. Countless albums. I think with Status Quo I did about 12 or 14. Loads, loads.
SP - And what advice would you give to any musicians wanting any session or live work?
JR - First advice would be to make sure you have an academic base behind you because you won’t make a lot of money out of music to start with. So if you want it to work, make sure you have some qualifications so that you can still be earning money in the meantime. My son from my first marriage, he’s now 33 and works for Fender Guitars, he got a degree in guitars in London, played in some bands and all that but of course it’s so difficult to make money out of music but luckily because he had his degree, he got this job with Fender. But he still plays live, he’s in a band, recording at the moment but it’s so difficult to get out there they do gigs and all that but it’s almost like winning the lottery how difficult it is to make it big in the music business.
SP - How about drummers in particular? Any advice for recording, any do’s or don'ts?
JR - Yeah, make sure your bass drum pedal doesn’t squeak. Seriously! That is one of the worst things ever, You got a squeaky pedal, the microphones pick it up really badly, oh, it’s awful! Don’t take a huge kit into the studio, try and have a basic kit. Kick drum, small sizes, small toms, small floor tom and a few symbols but keep it really basic because it's so much easier to mic up and there's not as much to spill into the mics as well.
SP - And what would be your personally preferred gear for studio or live show?
JR - Well as I said before, small kit in the studio, small sizes. I use this big kit for doing big gigs and the schools because the kids love to see a big kit and it looks great, it’s a lovely sounding kit. But it wouldn’t be practical to do small gigs in pubs and club with this because, you know, it’s too much to lug around. It’s alright for me at the moment because I’ve got my technician doing it!
SP - And a fine job he’s doing! Lastly, where can people go to find out more about your master classes?
JR - My website is www.JeffRich.co.uk and it’s got all the information you need and people can email me through the website as well. I do get round to answering my emails.
Thanks again to Jeff for giving us his time.