Forum Member Profile - Barry Ireland - Bazarre
Forum Member Profile
Name: Barry Ireland aka Bazarre
Tell us about yourself / How and when did you get into drumming?
Like many kids who took up the calling, I used anything that resembled sticks to hit anything that produced a noise. Spoons on saucepans were good, if one ignored the splinters of flying enamel. I have suffered a lifelong affliction of Tapping Syndrome. I was ten years old when Nan bought me a Gigster snare with calf heads. An ex-drummer gave me a beaten-up Broadway bass drum and pedal, several blocks, cowbells and a steel-shelled tom, most likely from the 1930s. At work, Charlie made a set of legs and leg mounts for it and it became my first floor tom.
A few weeks before my 15th birthday I was approached by the singer of the best rock band in Essex, The Strangers. They’d watched me play a few times and they wanted me to join them. These were all older guys, 18 to 20, with their own cars and day jobs, and they played loads of gigs and had a big fan following. I practised with them a couple of times and did my first gig at a posh County Hall ballroom “do” on my fifteenth birthday. I got paid well - this was the life.
These guys smoked, drank and snogged different girls after every gig, so I was introduced to any vices I had not already picked up. I had the time of my life playing with that band. We were gigging three to five nights a week. I was still at school, doing ''O'' Levels. Quite amazingly, considering all those late nights and falling asleep in lessons, I got seven good passes.
Instead of going on for A Levels and into engineering, as I had always intended, I found myself a much better-paid job in commerce, the intention being to learn about business for the future. We got an agent, a great chap who quickly got us support gigs with the likes of Joe Brown and the Bruvvers, Eden Kane and Long John Baldry. Our BBC audition for Saturday Club was not successful – we’d had a riotous food-fight in a fish and chip cafe just before the audition and turned up covered in ketchup, batter and squashed chips. The boys at Aunty turned their noses up at us, unsurprisingly.
Our agent got us the gig at the Star Club in Hamburg just before the Beatles took it on, but it would have meant playing full-time and giving up our jobs or careers. We were divided about taking it on. I, for once, was too sensible: I discovered that the money was poor and the living conditions highly questionable. So we missed our chance and the Scousers scored. That produced the beginnings of a rift in the band and I was losing interest in playing pop-rock covers. I had a good day job. I’d already found a gorgeous red head (a band fan). Marriage was on the cards, I had to move away due to promotion and the end of Part One of my drumming life occurred very suddenly.
Whizzing through the next 30 years, I started my business in 1979, had kids, messed with restoring guitars, did a bit of rally-cross racing and built some kit cars. The kids grew up, always to the sound of music and fun as I had, and went off and got good careers. I got into writing. I’d always dabbled in sci-fi and weird fantasy but I got serious and set to work on a series of comedic fantasy novels.
One Sunday evening in November 1999, the telephone rang. Although I had not spoken to the caller in thirty years I recognised the voice immediately as Peter, the singer from my old band. He said, “Hello mate, I’m getting the band back together. Are you in or what?”. I said, “I’m in.” Part Two of my drumming life was about to start.
I did a couple of practices, mostly old numbers we’d played all those years ago, and everything just seemed to come back to me immediately. That was a great time, getting back with the guys and playing to live audiences. After an arterial plumbing job (quadruple bypass), I’d changed my attitude to life considerably: chasing the buck was not so important as living life, enjoying my family … and now playing live music again.
“You’re only here once” took on a very realistic meaning.
What are you doing musically at present?
Since 1999, the old covers band, The Mark Shelley Band, has been gigging. We’ve gone into more modern stuff at last. I also found a couple of brothers locally, guitarist/singer and bassist, who were looking for a drummer. They liked my playing and we got along from the start. The power trio Hard Shoulder was born. This was more the music I wanted to play – we’re producing heavy blues-rock, but with influences from classical to jazz. Kind of Neo-Prog, perhaps?
Due to our bassist''s back injury and subsequent operations, our forays into gigging were cut short. But we’ve been recording and developing originals, and hopefully he’ll be able to stand gigging before too long. Playing occasionally with the old covers band is now very enjoyable as I don’t do it often enough to get bored. They’re good musicians,and when we do new tunes, everything seems to fall into place easily. Drumming and music and bands have taken over for the second time in my life and I’m desperately trying to fit in novel writing too.
My most satisfying gig was the second one when getting back into the saddle in 1999. It wasn’t backing or supporting anybody famous, it didn’t have a massive crowd, but it was just a great gig at the sports and social club of the company my late father had worked for. We played a blinder. My son and daughter were there with their partners and it was the first time ever that they had heard me and the band. Also, several muso mates from way-back-when had been invited, one making the trip from Scotland to Essex just for the gig. If I had messed-up I would have been in for a sad time. But that was not the case. I was showered with compliments. It was such a special night.
Kit Set Up?
When I took up playing again, I found a nice old Premier Elite kit in Mahogany Duro. 24,16,14,12, and a 2000 snare. The collection has grown from there. I just love the sound and feel of those Prems. I like restoring things, so the kit is getting bigger and better. When it got to 22, 16 and 14 floor toms and 14, 13, 12 and 10 toms – all 8” deep! – and a lovely 2001 snare, I re-wrapped all of them in Slingy-type white satin flame. Dave Carrera made me an 8x8 tom shell and I fitted it with the correct hardware.
For smaller venues I needed a Premier 20” bass drum cut down to 9” deep al la the Heritage Series. It has very nice plain lacquered wood hoops, also from Dave, and the satin flame wrap and looks pretty cool. So it’s all Premier period stuff or new that matches exactly. I use Premier 252 and double pedals. Favourite cymbals are Paiste hats, Sabian HH ride, Bosphorus ride/crash, and several other splashes and odds and sods. I added a Dream Bliss 16” crash last year which is about the cleanest sounding cymbal I have ever heard.
Favourite drummer and why?
That’s easy. Joe Morello, Ian Paice, John Henry Bonham and Keith Moon. For me they cover the mixture of everything that I want to achieve in playing - finesse, technique, power, musicality, innovation, and when it fits, the attitude of “balls to the rest of them, I’ll do it my way.”
The drawn-out demonstrations on huge kits used by big named drummers don’t do much for me. I fell asleep during one. At the same show Steve White did his demo of different grooves with his keyboardist and bass player. Now that was drumming. And Vinnie. I saw him play with Jeff Beck – simply astounding.
Favourite drum DVD?
I don’t really go in for that kind of thing. My son gave me the JoJo Mayer DVD over a year ago and it’s still wrapped. Do I really want to discover at this advanced time of life that I’m doing everything wrong?!
Favourite Bit Of Kit?
I love all of my Premier Elites, but at the moment, my little pride and joy is the 8x8 Elite (reproduction) tom. It has such a clarity of sound and a hell of a tuning range. The way I have it tuned now, it produces a sweet sound yet the available volume when played harder is astonishing. For a little ‘en it really kicks ass. I’ve just started making a custom snare shell which will have burr walnut finish and will be fitted with Premier 2000 hardware including the Flobeam snare mechanism. That may become my favourite.
Anything you would like to add?
Finding the Mike Dolbear website and forum a few years back was a blessing. I thought I knew quite a bit about vintage drums and drumming. Wrong! I’ve learnt a lot from the forum members. And I’ve made some priceless drummy mates through it. Live long and prosper Dolbear.com.
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