A week ago Steve got in touch, inviting me to come and sit in on Grant Gilmour’s drum session. I had nothing to do that day, so I jumped at the chance to catch this. I met Steve and Grant in a local pub in Todmorden before we rang a taxi to go to the studio. Robinwood Studios isn’t in the centre of Todmorden, it is close but I wouldn’t like to walk the way carrying my gear.
We were waiting ages for the taxi. Even though I grew up in Todmorden, I have family in Todmorden I always seem to forget that it is a village/small town and that everything moves at its own pace here. In Manchester, or Rochdale for that matter everything is now, maybe I have gotten a bit to familiar with that which is a shame, as really there is nothing to complain about.
We headed in a taxi, up Burnley Road towards the studio. I had my contact lenses in for the first time (I have eye troubles beyond the norm), which gave me a beautiful reminder of what this part of the world is like. The green hills and panoramic landscapes really do take your breath away at times. With previously heavily distorted vision without my lenses it is hard to appreciate this, with my new found vision Todmorden truly is a beautiful place.
Billy was again surprised to see me waiting at the door. “We recording bass today?” Billy enquired. “Yes” I joked. “But you haven’t got your Bass!!” Billy informed like a northern version of Columbo, you really can’t get anything by him.
Grant set up his drum kit with Billy, while Steve and I proceeded to talk about our favourite films. Something that became a bit of a feature throughout the day. Steve, Grant, Billy and I are of the firm belief that the original Alien film is a horror film. It was such a breakthrough, as I have always thought that, yet many people in my circles have regarded it as just another sci-fi flick.
Billy and Steve were straight in the control room uploading the Throwing The Switch track onto the computer. I got to listen to the first few sections. I am not going to give anything away, all I am going to say is I have played bass throughout this track and I am unsure of where it is going to go next. This track is simply an epic, going through many stylistic changes that will make you uncomfortable. My reaction was skeptical at first, unsure of where the track was going, then I was getting into it in a big way, clapping along and getting excited. Rhythmically this track is complex all completely up my street and hopefully up your street to.
Some of the time signatures are complex. A 4/4 pulse over a 13/8 pattern really threw Grant at first, as it it did me when I came to record the bass part many moons ago. Grant just gets it though, it’s hard to explain. He went threw it a few times perplexed, having Steve come into the live room and play the rhythm on toms a few times. But when Grant locked into that groove he was like the Terminator, no deviation until the job was complete. A talent that you don’t see every day.
There was one moment where Grant was asked to play a sort of drum solo over a complex pulse. African, tribal toms were the order of the day. The section lasts for quite a long time, but Grant got in there and played the part perfectly needing only 1 take. Steve, Billy and I were gob smacked. Steve stating that if we were to do that, they’d be a drop or a slight coming out of phase. Grant was like a drum machine, so precise and a great guy to be working along side.
Apart from the 4/4 pulse over 13/8 the drum parts were polished off in next to no time. Every time I see Grant play I am amazed at the skill and artistry of the man. When talking to him, he is humble and has his own musical insecurities as we all do, but as you continue in conversation with Grant you get to meet that kid at heart. A musician who gives off the impression that all he wants is to just wants to play every minute of every day.