Hello, Modern Drummer people. I am Piers Hewitt, and I play in a London-based band called the Boxer Rebellion. Whilst we are used to interviews, this is a nice little privilege to have some space to myself.
We have been around for over ten years now and released our fourth album, Promises, on May 14. We also just wrapped up a tour of North America, which is pretty much the highlight of being a drummer for me. It doesn’t matter how much bigger we have gotten, and how much bigger we could get, I am still constantly humbled by people coming out to see us in far flung corners of the earth. I believe this is a good way to view being employed as a musician in general, at whatever level. Very few people get the opportunity to do it, and given I can barely think of anything I’d rather do, I am always grateful for it.
I started playing at the age of seven, and by fourteen I was playing with various musicians regularly, right through to deciding—at the age of nineteen—to study for a diploma in Drums and Musical Performance at London Music School, which is now London College of Contemporary Music. It was simply the best choice I have ever made, going from only ever having one tutor to having a whole host of different approaches from real top-quality players, one or two of which had played on records I had bought growing up. I took as much information and inspiration as possible and still have everything we worked on, which includes everything from personal approaches to independence to rudimental studies from Wilcoxon.
Drumming is not always black and white, and you should try to learn from as many great drummers and situations as possible. One thing I have definitely learned is there will always be someone out there better than you at all sorts of things, but this doesn’t have to be viewed negatively. I would always encourage drummers to write their own music. Play to your strengths, practice your weaknesses, and get a healthy balance in your practice, which means you are able to have discipline in improving but always making sure you enjoy some of it too. The more you seek this balance, the more you start to enjoy the less desirable aspects. Set targets and goals for necessary rudimental practice, using determined periods of time, and play to a metronome. Use your metronome in the same way that people use weighing scales, and you will find progress encouraging. All the time you play to a metronome, you are undoubtedly developing better time, too. And playing along to records is a great way to develop as well. You can play with some of the best musicians in the world this way! Reflect on what you can do, work on what you can’t, and more importantly, enjoy it.
Photo by Rob Funcken