Quick Q and A with Dave Mattacks

Take one look at the music resume of Dave Mattacks and your jaw will draw.  Your eyes may pop out of your head too.  This much in demand drummer has played with some of the most well-respected musicians in the world.  Here is just a sampling of them: Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Richard Thompson, Joan Armatrading, Cat Stevens, Mary Chapin Carpenter, XTC, Jethro Tull, Sandy Denny, Elton John, Jimmy Page, Brian Eno, and more.

Dave has some serious chops. His ear is fine-tuned and he’s able to make the most of each song by lending just the right amount of percussion at just the right time.  The sign of a great musician is knowing how to use the space and the silence to its advantage.

The fact that this legendary drummer lives in my hometown, Marblehead, is beyond thrilling. The fact that he’ll be joining Harvey Reid and Joyce Andersen on stage at the me&thee is beyond awesome.

To learn some more about Dave Mattacks, visit his website.

Here’s a video that illustrates Dave’s technique.

Here’s another video that shows Dave in action.  You might recognize the lead singer.

Your drumming is admired by musicians far and wide.  (Feel free to blush here.)
How would you best describe your drumming style?

It’s difficult to be objective about one’s own playing, but I’m happy if the words “musical” and / or “economical” are used in my orbit.

 Can you recall the first time you sat behind a drum kit? 

I think I was fourteen.

 What led you to learn the play drums?

The misguided assumption that it would be easier than the piano, my first instrument

Was your family supportive?  (Drums are often a parents’ worst nightmare!  😉 )

Very much so…. I owe them a lot.

What was your first band and what did you learn from that experience? 

I can’t recall what we called ourselves, but we were in our early teens and modeled ourselves on “The Shadows.” (The UK’s answer to the “The Ventures.”) I learned that I had a lot to learn!

Do you like teaching drumming?   

I’ve embraced it more over the last 15 years or so …as I’ve gotten a little better at it, it’s become more rewarding.

Have you met any exceptional young drummers who we should keep an eye out for?

I’ve been fortunate enough to “mentor” a handful. There’s (unsurprisingly) some very good ones emerging everywhere.

When you look back at your career, what can you say are the biggest highlights?

I’ve been very fortunate that there have been many.

If you had one gig to relive, which one would it be? 

Impossible to answer.

 Do you prefer playing live gigs or doing session work?

If I’m doing too much of one, I want to do the other.

Tell us about your music production work.  We know that you did a fine job at producing Debra Cowan’s Fond Desire Farewell

Debra’s was a very enjoyable and rewarding project. I’d love to do more but these days …with CDs being virtually “dead” – it’s not easy to get production gigs.

You are often found playing with the KBMG band.  How would you describe the sound of that band and what’s it like playing with Dan King, Dave Brown and Wolf Ginandes?

I’m very fond of Dan’s songwriting (and his singing and playing). The factor I like the most is that because of our length of tenure playing together I feel we’ve got beyond being just four good musicians working together and have really become a good band. As to what do we sound like? Come and see us (details on my website) and you tell me!

How did you end up moving to Marblehead of all places?

My friend Boston guitarist Duke Levine – who I met in the mid-90s — before we started working together with Mary Chapin Carpenter — introduced me to Marblehead resident and film composter, Mason Daring. He very kindly put my wife and I up at his house when I was working on some music with him and we fell in love with the town. Sixteen years later we’re still here—but in our own house, I hasten to add!

Do you have any immediate plans for recording or long-term touring? 

Recording, yes. There’s always freelance work. I’ll also be working on the next “Feast of Fiddles” CD (see their website for details. But I’ve no longer term touring plans at present.

One comment

  1. Having seen DM many the time with Fairport and Richard Thompson, he has always ranked highly in my list of favorite drummers. Not being one myself, I just admire his approach. I think someone once called him a thoughtful drummer. Though I have no doubt he is one heck of a nice guy…in terms of his drumming I have always enjoyed seeing that approach. You can see him thinking of ways to mix up the sound and texture and not just boom crash boom type of thing. There is subtlety and nuance to his drumming and he’ll always be a favorite to me. Also, just came across your blog, and if you are interested, I write one myself called Soundtrack Of A Photograph. I pair my own photographs up with the music I love, which coincidentally has included Fairport, Richard Thompson and many more.

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