I’ve always had great drummers in the Spines – they like my songs and the fact that I’m crap on drums and can’t tell them what to play.
Barton Price was to be the first but before we got to do a gig he was headhunted by the Crocodiles then the Models. He was a pop powerhouse type drummer.
#1 – Caroline Easther: Her timing is impeccable, always had an ear to the lyrics of a song. As the (more or less) sole guitarist in Negative Theatre I had tended to play the whole band on the guitar. Working with Caro changed that, it meant I had to pare down while tightening up my time sense. She was one of the first women drummers in NZ pop/rock and went on to play with the Chills and Verlaines.
#2 – Tim Robinson: A song drummer through and through. Great instinct for my songs and very powerful. He’s had various stints in the Spines and is the only drummer to play with all four bass players I’ve had. He became Rick Bryant’s drummer for some years.
#4 – Ross Burge: Charlie Watts, Ginger Baker and Steve Gadd all rolled into one. He came into the band at short notice on the eve of a nationwide tour and learned the set as we played the gigs. I tried to write songs that Ross could show his prowess on – odd time signatures and dynamics. We would work my riffs up into these wild jams. I loved playing live with Ross – insanely funny and deeply funky. He’s played with a host of great NZ musicians since – the Mutton Birds, Dave Dobbyn, Tim and Neil Finn….
#5 – Neill Duncan: When we reformed in the 90’s Neill took over on drums and he was great – a melodic drummer with a jazz feel.
#6 – Anthony Donaldson: Really a jazz player, he wanted to try rock drumming when he played with us and he was great – he had an electronic pad with effects and got really funky with his improvisations.
#7 – Phil Roundtree: Heavy rock merchant – he had a big powerhouse sound and an amazing double kick technique. Around the time I was expanding my guitar sound and it got quite Deep Purple with Phil. A Wildman.
#8 – Colin McNamara: Good drummer, strange guy – prone to exaggeration. He told us once he had lined us up the Bob Dylan support and would I be interested? Les caught him once sneaking off with his sticks just before our gig – he’d had the cold shoulder from some woman and was sulking off home without telling us.
#9 – Jordan Ratray: Wonderful young heavy metal drummer with amazing chops. He liked the funky stuff.
#10 – Riki Gooch: The master with his own unique style – orchestral. He took a lot of pressure off me as the frontman too; he has an onstage presence and power. Look at the bands he’s played in – Trinity Roots, Fat Freddy’s Crowded House… you get some idea. He is also a great producer.
#11 – Mike Niland : A hard hitting Riki-style player. He always wanted me to turn up the guitar – which suited me!
Someone once told me that you need two things to make a great band – a great drummer and a great singer. We always had the great drummer.