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Tom Meadows

Tom Meadows

Drummer
Tom Meadows

In demand drummer Tom Meadows has provided the rhythms behind some of the hottest artists in pop, including Kylie, Duffy, Will Young, Leona Lewis, Girls Aloud and many more. He uses Aston Spirit and Starlight mics to capture the beats.

Kylie, Duffy, Will Young, Leona Lewis, Girls Aloud
Happy accident

"My mum was a classical singer, and I started playing the violin from around 4 until maybe 14 years old, though I was just always interested in drums. It wasn’t seen as a thing to do, particularly in my family. I started playing properly though when I was 14 or 15 and it just came naturally to me, I understood it a lot more. I’ve never looked back since then.

Actually what happened to solidify my transition from the violin was, my music teacher dropped a timpani on my violin case and smashed the violin! With the insurance money, I bought my first drum kit! Take from that what you will…

I taught for a very long time, lots of great players and I always felt that there were no close guarded secrets to the way I taught and played. You could put three different drummers behind the same kit and they would all play differently. So I always found there was no point in keeping stuff to myself, because everyone plays and interprets differently.

I taught from around age 17 until I was 26 at schools mainly until I got involved with Drum Tech as head of drums. Which is where Jamie Morrison and a lot of other great players came through. As I got a lot busier with playing gigs, I had to make the decision to walk away from doing this."

Home comforts

“The opportunity with Lucie Silvas was the turning point. Before that I had been doing a lot of Indie projects where I could divide my time between the teaching and playing. I was in a band with Jamie Hince who went on to form The Kills but when I joined Lucie’s band in around 2004, we were doing a lot of promo for stuff I had to be around for. So I was away more often than at home. Soon after that, I got the Girls Aloud gig and also with Duffy. I was away for nine months a year pretty much!

Luckily for me, around the times both of my children were born, there has been a natural universal break in work. When my daughter was born, I went away to Australia for ten days but after that I was home based for the first year of her life, which I will never regret! When my son was born, a couple of years ago, I was home for the first few months. So it’s tough but I have a good balance of home and work life. With Kylie, especially now. The way that she tours tends to be for three or four weeks at a time, then home for a few. Whereas with Duffy, at the peak. I was home for probably two weeks out of a whole year. Touring has definitely changed a lot over the past 12 years!”

Less like a spaceship

“I joined Kylie in 2010 and there have been a lot of transitions of style. So I try and approach whatever I do as purely for the music - whatever I need to do to create the music that has been given to me, I will do my best to do. With Duffy for example, I played a 4 piece kit, with no suggestion of electronics. It was a case of ‘let’s just play the drums as they were on the record’.

There was this incredible transition gig, in between Duffy and Kylie, I did with Christophe Willem. Out of necessity really, that’s how I got in to playing with more electronics as he was using so many samples that I had to play live. I didn’t really think as going in to a new zone, just more of a case of. ‘Okay, what and where do I need pads to be able to play these sounds?’ So my kit became more like a keyboard really!

Back then, the hybrid style of playing had been done before by guys like Andy Gangadeen and Pete Lewinson but it wasn’t as mainstream as it is now.

So I just played what I needed to play. With Kylie, I’ve never done anything as electronically complex as the very first tour I did. That was truly bonkers!

And it changes each time we go out. At this point, my kit is now much simpler with less pads. It actually looks like a drum kit now rather than a spaceship.”

Eureka moment

“When I told my engineer initially about the Starlight and the laser, he sort of went ‘Okay, whatever’ but after the two days in the studio, He said, ‘I want every microphone I have to have a laser!’ Because it just allows a far more accurate and also creative process. So we can take things down, change around a bit and actually have the mic back exactly where we need it. It’s like having a non-destructive edit function. Just those little touches, why has no one thought of that before?!

Also just to have those different modes on one mic is so useful. The dark mode is just awesome. We A-B-C’d all modes, the modern was exactly that. Nice and clean sound. I just love the dark, was as Coles-esque as I could get, without having a Coles!

Over those two days, I got a creative spark back again of just what I could do with these mics.

I put the Starlight against a wall in the room, crunched it and just got this nice, dark, warm, great room sound! The Spirit I’ve used on the outside of the kick and also diagonally in the corner behind me, that sounded absolutely fantastic! The versatility on these mics is bonkers. That to me was my eureka moment, how much you can get out of just one microphone.”

Back to Jazz roots

“I have been very lucky to do some great gigs over the years, doing all of the US late night talk shows. We did SNL, Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien, David Letterman show. I absolutely loved doing those. And over here in the UK, Headlining Hyde Park twice with Kylie has been amazing.

And also recording at Abbey Road was awesome. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many microphones over a drum kit. There must have been 20+ mics.

I am prepping for festival season, so a Glastonbury Legends slot with Kylie, also lots planned with Will Young too. Other stuff, I now have my studio set up. So I want to be as creative as I can.

I have an educational project that I’m starting up with a friend of mine creating a website with video tutorials. I’m also recording a record with a friend of mine, going back to my roots playing Jazz. So that’s one of the reasons I wanted to set up my own tracking studio - to be able to do that in my own time.”

Out-takes

Q. If you weren’t working in music what would you be doing?

A. I think I would be an author. Because I love the idea of working on my own, without anyone else! Haha. The parent of that idea is to be in control of my own destiny, a bit like a songwriter. They can choose to go in and write or not. As a drummer, I’m not in control of my own destiny. I need other people around me to do what I do.

Q. What would your fantasy mic be?

A. A mic that would make me sound better without having to do anything. That would edit my performances as I was playing. And just make better choices for me.

It would have a sentience that could go, “No no, why did you play that drum fill? I’ll edit that immediately!”

Though without sounding incredibly obsequious, the Starlight is fulfilling so many dreams for me right now. Just to be able to have 3 different settings in 1 mic. That’s everyone’s dream right, to have a mic that does a ton of different things without compromising.

Q. What are the 4 words you’d chose to describe Aston, or your experience with the brand?

A. 

Class, Intelligent, Bulletproof, Vital.

Q. What is the first song that made you cry?

A. There have been a lot that get me right where it counts. I could cry at an advert!
I’d have to say ‘Fix You’ - Coldplay

 

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