Monday, November 3, 2008

The Members, #5: Darren Leader

Next up in our Members Series is Darren (the drummer) from Zebra & Giraffe. You will remember them from when they totally outplayed the Dirty Skirts at the Assembly last month.

  1. What other bands have you played in before and how have they influenced the way you play today?

Literally the first band that I played in worth mentioning was Harris Tweed. I joined them when I was 19, my first year out of school! It was an amazing learning experience, and one that gave me so many great memories too! I learnt about playing as a controlled drummer as all those drum parts were relatively simple, but were very specific. I learnt a lot from Darryl (Torr). But I then went off the band scene for a while. Later I joined Zebra & Giraffe and a band called Voodoo Child simultaneously. The Voodoo Child thing was purely a temporary slot as their drummer had to have an operation. I’m now just part of Z & G.

  1. How long have you been playing drums? How did you get started?

I’ve been playing drums since I was about 8, so 12/13 yrs. I literally can’t even remember “starting” to be honest. I’ve just kind of always played for as long as I can remember, but I started lessons at about 8 yrs old! I grew up playing in church, so that was my first kind of “education” as far as I can remember!

  1. In South Africa it is next to impossible to be a band member for a living. What do you do to supplement your band income?

Ya you’re right! I give drum lessons privately a lot! That’s pretty much my main source of income, which my band income supplements… I also have a few business ventures going with my dad which helps a lot, and do some drumming session work when I can! I’ve always believed that as a muso, in any country actually, but especially here, you need to have multiple sources of income, so if one dries up suddenly, you can still eat!

  1. What are you studying? Where? What do you want to be when you get big?

I hope I never get big! But I’m studying a Bcom, retail management degree. I kind of see it as a side project to the music thing, and if all goes according to plan music-wise, I wont need to use it! We will wait and see I guess…

  1. How does it feel being part of a band like Zebra & Giraffe that seems to have hit almost instant fame in South Africa?

Ya its pretty crazy man. I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the “fame” thing although I would like to clarify and say outright that we are nowhere near ‘famous’ at all! Haha… Fame is an extremely fickle thing! It’s amusing to me that before you get onto stage and people don’t know that you play in a band, they wont look twice at you (especially girls actually!), but as soon as you walk off stage after playing they suddenly wanna talk or get you to sign something even though I’m the same person as I was when I walked on stage 45 minutes ago you know? It’s pretty funny actually. But ya, it’s cool to be part of something getting a bit off attention!

  1. What is your best Z&G gigging memory? And most embarrassing?

Ah wow, it’s really early to say man… I think this like only our 2nd or 3rd month of gigging, so we haven’t had much time to rack up embarrassing experiences yet, but I guess it would be on studio 1, live on tv, and in the second chorus of ‘the knife’, like the biggest part of our biggest song, and I dropped my stick! Haha… All the power just vaporised! Oh well it wasn’t too bad! My best gigging memory so far would probably be our show at The Assembly in Cape Town with the Dirty Skirts recently! Or our big show at the Alexander Theatre in Joburg to start off our tour. Both great crowds and such good energy… We can’t ask for more!

  1. Who are your heroes?

Um… Probably my parents just cause they are super supportive of my musical career, and just such great people. Definitely my grandfather too.. Just an amazing and wise guy.

  1. Biggest influences? Why them?

Influences musically would definitely be Neill Ettridge and Andre Luke my drum teachers. I also have a lot of drummer friends like Matt Marinus (who actually played drums on the Z & G album), and Dave Nilsson. Then guys from church like Raymond Green, and other guys I’ve played with for a long time!

  1. What are you listening to mostly these days?

Wow that’s a hard one! I listen to a lot of strange music actually!! I love jazz, so I listen to a lot of that like Pat Metheny, Christian Mcbride band, Mike Stern etc. and a lot of fusion stuff! At the moment, band wise, which I guess you’re more interested in, I’m loving the new Kings Of Leon (as is everybody), I love Mutemath, Bloc Party, Death Cab, Damien Rice, anything with Dallas Green (Alexisonfire, or City in Colour), Circa Survive and some old school stuff like Tower of Power and Earth, Wind and Fire. A whole lot more, but that’s enough for now!

  1. Who would you say is the most exciting South African band to keep an eye on in the next year or so?

Gee… The S.A. music industry has just improved so much in the last while that there are actually quite a few, but I think Fokofpolisiekar, with their new album is gonna be popular. I’m also so excited for everyone to hear the new Harris Tweed (Dear Reader) album! The new material is really different, but every aspect is great! I have so much respect for that band!

  1. What is your favourite thing to do when not playing drums?

I’m a homebody man… I like being at home and comfortable. I also have a close group of friends that I hang out a lot with when I’m not away. Mostly chilled out stuff like movies or just a good old braai is on my list of cool things to do! I’m also addicted to the t.v. show Scrubs! I have pretty much all the dvd’s and so I watch a lot of that in spare time. I also practice a lot drum-wise when I have off time. It’s therapy!

  1. Where do you see yourself in five years time?

I Have no idea which is one of the reasons why I love being in the music industry. I hope to be a lot more involved in the session scene. That’s my passion and my ultimate goal (to make a career out of playing music). I also hope to be finished my degree and I hope to continue growing some business ventures as that interests me, and just continuing to do what I wanna do! Never settling into something that bores me or taking the ‘safe’ option u know?

  1. Anything you would like to add?

Um… I must say I’m impressed with the way that the scene is growing and how people have started to really support the local music scene, but I just hope that people are supporting it because they really like the music and not just because its local you know? I think some artists try guilt people into supporting their music just because it’s local. Supporting mediocre music breeds mediocrity, so I just hope that people continue to support the music but for the right reasons! Oh and I need to find a girlfriend, so please mail suggestions to Richard!! Any help is greatly appreciated! Haha… Only joking! Cheers man.

He really does want a girl friend. Send me pics. :)

Catch Zebra & Giraffe in Cape Town twice this month!!! First at Ratanga for the Hands up Summer Festival (8 November) where they will be playing with the Skirts (again) and then (my highlight) at Kirstenbosch on 23 November for the Kirstenbosch Summer Concerts! Check it!

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