Friday, August 27, 2010
[MusicRadar.com] Steve Ferrone has sat in the drummer's seat for Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers since 1994. But the British-born sticksman is still seen by many as 'the new guy.' It's a label he's grown accustomed to over the years. "I'm always the second man asked to the dance," he says, laughing. "But I'm not complaining because I've been to a lot of nice dances."
And that dance card has been full ever since Ferrone replaced the late Robbie McIntosh (not to be confused with the guitarist of the same name) in the Average White Band in 1974, right as the group was releasing their breakthrough smash Pick Up The Pieces. Over the past four decades, Ferrone's impeccable taste, timing and groove have paid off handsomely: he's been 'the new guy' for Eric Clapton, Duran Duran, Peter Frampton and The B-52s, among others, and has played on countless sessions for everyone from Johnny Cash to Michael Jackson.
Even so, when it comes to touring bands, does he mind being thought of as 'the new guy,' or even 'the replacement'?
"Not at all," he says, again chuckling good-naturedly. "I've replaced Stan Lynch in Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers. I've replaced Phil Collins with Eric Clapton. I've replaced Roger Taylor with Duran Duran. There's a few choice ones right there. No, see, these drummers have played on amazing records, and I have a tremendous amount of respect for their work. To be asked to go in and sit down and play the parts that they established, I'm flattered and honored. Also, I guess it means that, on some level, I'm that good - or at least in somebody's mind I am."
Having now clocked in 16 years as a member of Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers, currently touring behind their latest release Mojo, it's doubtful that Ferrone will be abdicating his drummer's throne to anybody else in the near future. "It's a wonderful group of people in this band," Ferrone says. "Tom and Mike Campbell are such brilliant writers. No, I'm quite happy to be a Heartbreaker." He thinks for a second. "That always sounds funny, doesn't it? I'm a 'Heartbreaker.' Of all the bands with great names, this one's right up there."
In the following interview with MusicRadar, Steve Ferrone talks about playing with Tom Petty And The Heatbreakers, along with some of the other illustrious names on his CV. He also discusses his approach to playing, and it's one which involves, oddly enough, the art of the dance.
What is [your] general philosophy about drumming? Do you have one?
"What I like to do is feel the song - I see it and figure out what I like to call the 'light and shade.' When I was a child, I was a tap dancer, and I remember a big part of our instruction revolved the light and shade of certain routines. I see drumming the same way I see dancing. It's all dynamics.
"Because of my tap dancing, I can visualize a piece of music and feel it physically. Basically, I can sit down with a band and pretty much play a song without ever having heard it before. I'm not saying I play it perfectly the first time. [laughs] But I have a sense of the flow, the dynamics, where the choruses and verses are going. If you have rhythm - and let's face it, dancing is a great starting ground for a musician - you're usually able to know how a song should go."
I would assume this helped in recording Mojo, which is the most 'jam-oriented' album the band has ever done.
"Well, yeah, we recorded the whole thing live pretty much. Tom would come in and start playing a groove, and I'd start playing along. He didn't present finished demos or anything. The songs fell together during rehearsals. That's the way it's been with us for a while.
"Songs used to develop during soundchecks, too, although we rarely do soundchecks anymore. With the new technology like Pro Tools, we just record the sound from the gig before and adjust the levels to the next room. Soundchecks are kind of a thing of the past now."
READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE.
Posted by Dan Goldin at 1:08 AM