Follow Gavin Harrison as he travels across nine cities in Asia!
By Bob Wiczling
Watch video highlights from his first couple of stops!
The tour continues - watch video highlights from Taiwan and Singapore
Clinic 1 - Tokyo Japan:
We met up at Heathrow London at check in . Gavin of course is a British Drummer, and although having played in Asia before, this is the first time Asian drummers will have the opportunity to see Gavin in clinic. Winner of Modern Drummer's "Best Progressive Rock Drummer" for 4 consecutive years in a row, his arrival in Asia is more than eagerly anticipated.
It's a twelve hour night flight to Tokyo and with time zones kicking in there is not much opportunity to sleep. Gavin is very relaxed though, and ready for the two week adventure ahead.
Once landed and through customs we head for the hotel. Japan is an incredible place, very different for us Brits; but to find ourselves checking into a Japanese Disney themed hotel, right next to Disneyland Tokyo, after a 12 hour flight and very little sleep was starting to feel surreal. Not much chance to enjoy our "Jetsons" futuristic styled rooms before we head out to the venue to start to set up for tomorrows performance.
A big thank you to Shige Kokaji and the team from Zildjian distributors "Yamaha Music Trading" who have organized the production brilliantly. Gavin will be performing as part of the Rhythm & Drums Magazine drum festival. It's important we set up the night before as tomorrow there will be little time for sound check. The set up goes well. The kit and Gavin's set of Zildjians look great. Gavin will also be performing a section of his clinic on an electronic kit featuring our exciting new Gen 16 AE, "Acoustic Electric" Cymbals. It's the first time these have been out on a clinic tour in Asia so it's going to be a surprise treat for the audience.
Set up compete it's back to the hotel for a sleep, difficult to do when your body clock is telling you it's time for breakfast!! p>
Show day and it's an early morning call and back to the venue for soundcheck. The venue is a Japanese wrestling arena so Gavin is set up in the centre of the audience. All goes well, all sounds great, and with everyone happy, there is a little time to relax before show starts.
Gavin receives a great and very warm welcome from the audience. There is a really big crowd and they hang on to every beat of Gavin’s performance. It's a treat to see Gavin play, technically of course it's brilliant, but he has a style that is fresh and captivates the audience, it's so musical, not just a celebration of beats per second.
As Gavin switches to Gen16 the house lights dim to reveal the translucent glow of the blue lit AE pick ups. Gavin plays through a variety of patterns featuring many world percussive and electronic sounds topped with the versatility of sounds that the Gen16 cymbal system offers. It's a cool contrast to his acoustic drum set tracks.
Gavin plays great!! The audience responds in kind. A great night in Tokyo!
Clinic 2 - Taipei Taiwan
Its day two and a three hour flight south to Taiwan.
On arrival we have just a few minutes to drop our cases at the hotel and it's straight off to the venue.
Today's Clinic is hosted by Zildjian Distributors, KHS Musix. It's in their Headquarters building and they have their own theatre sized venue. It's a great facility, purposly built for concert events with wonderful acoustics.
There is a really cool crowd in tonight. Gavin starts his set with the Porcupine Tree track "The Sound of Muzak", there's a huge cheer from the audience who are obviously big fans of the bands work. It's a great crowd with lots of questions to throw at Gavin.
As you would expect from someone of Gavin's experience, there is a lot of good advice to be had, and that's such a valuable part of any clinic event.
Between questions, Gavin treats the audience to several amazing tracks. His clinic is all about playing with the music and he is an exceptionally musical player.
Special thanks to Chanel and the Musix team, and a big thanks to Otto who did a great job as Gavins translator.
Next stop Hong Kong.
Clinic 3 - Hong Kong:
Hong Kong is without doubt one of the most spectacular cities in the world. Over seven million people in just 1000 sq kilometers.
Zildjian distributors Tom Lee are synonymous with the music industry in this area, from a huge chain of retail stores to music schools and concert production. It's always a treat to work here and we know we are in for a good clinic.
Marvin meets us at the airport and we drive to the hotel past the sweeping harbor views from Kowloon across to Hong Kong Island.
It's another fast bag drop at the hotel, a stop for a dim sum lunch and onto the venue. Today's location is situated within one of the Tom Lee stores. It's a large performance centre and it's totally sold out.
Set up goes smoothly and the sound is great. Gavin has an interview with the Hong Kong music magazine and then takes a few minutes to warm up before show time.
The room is crammed with drummers and they give Gavin a huge warm Hong Kong welcome.
Between playing tracks, Gavin answers many questions and demonstrates various techniques. Then in complete contrast to the style he has been playing on his acoustic kit he switches over to an electronic kit featuring a full set of Zildjian’s new Gen16 AE cymbals. For those that may not be familiar, these are Zildjian’s unique Acoustic Electric cymbals designed to offer a real feel alternative to the rubber pad cymbals found on most electronic kits. They are designed to produce a very low volume when struck but then the volume can be increased and the sound manipulated in a variety of endless combinations. Gavin solos on these, running through a fascinating list of percussive pieces that really have the audience captivated.
A great clinic, followed by another long autograph signing session, that sees the crowd queuing, literally, right out of the door of the venue. A big thank you to all at our distributor, Tom Lee, for a great night.
Three dates down and you can see Gavin is really getting into his stride!
Bangkok Thailand tomorrow.
Clinic 4 - Bangkok Thailand
For the first time in 5 days Gavin gets a well deserved rest. We arrive in Bangkok and have the evening free. We are treated to a Thai dinner by the wonderful Theera family, Zildjian’s Dustributors in Thailand, they take great care of us.
It's hot outside, even though it's now night time, but it's a welcome break and the Thai food is delicious. The restaurant is by the river and across on the opposite bank shines a brightly lit temple completely covered in Gold leaf. Nearby the Royal Palace, residence of the much revered King of Thailand.
Clinic day starts with a drive across town to the Thailand Cultural Centre, venue for today's show. It's a sellout, all tickets sold very quickly such is Gavin's popularity here.
Set up is relaxed and now becoming well practiced so getting easier each night. The stage features the two kits, Gavin's Sonor acoustic with his acoustic Zildjians to the left of the stage, and an electronic kit fully decked out with a set of Zildjian Gen 16 AE Cymbals on a Gen 16 Rack.
Sound check complete Gavin settles into the first of a series of three magazine interviews, Rhythm Magazine, Drum Note and GuitarThai. Com - one of Thailand’s key musician sites.
Its "meet and greet" time next, as three excited young drummers join Gavin in the dressing room. The winner of the Gavin Harrison Z Club signed cymbal competition, named View, has arrived with his friends to meet Gavin and receive his prize. They have lots of questions and View is knocked out with his signed 16” A Custom Crash prize.
Another huge cheer as Gavin takes to the stage. Over 500 keen drummers in tonight and they are immediately fully engaged in the Gavin clinic experience.
Our friend, Hong, is in charge of translating Gavin’s words tonight and he does a fantastic job!
Voted "Number 1 Progressive Rock Drummer" for four consecutive years by Modern Drummer Magazine, some may not have expected to hear Gavin play along to Big Band arrangements as part of his clinic. However, Gavin grew up listening to Jazz. At the age of 8 he would watch his father play Trumpet with the BBC Radio Big Band. He would sit next to the drummer, Paul Brodie, and watch him play. Gavin's a great Jazz player and steams through tracks such as "Futile ","Cheating the Polygraph" and "Killer Joe".
Show over, we head back to the hotel with a stop for a quick bite to eat with the Bangkok Drummers Society; what a fine group of enthusiastic drummers they are and so welcoming !
It's been a good day. Time for Gavin to get some sleep, alarm clock call at 4.30am for the next flight!
Clinic 5 - Manila Philippines
Traveling each day to new territories offers the opportunity to really experience some of the extreme cultural changes from Country to Country. Bangkok to Manila is one such extreme.
Getting through the airport immigration was our first challenge. We have a saying that describes it well in the UK "A complete Bun Fight" - hundreds of passengers scrambling to get through a few lanes. However, thanks to a few words and smart moves from our Zildjian colleague Kim, we were through the admin and out to be met by Neil from Zildjian Distributors JB Music, responsible for helping with organizing the clinic.
The next challenge was the ride to the hotel. Now most cities have their traffic problems and Manila is no exception. It was a very long slow ride into town, however, fascinating to us Brits seeing vehicles of all shapes and sizes from SUV's to two wheelers with side cars crafted in a very homemade fashion. Most striking are buses called “Jeepnees”. Great looking open sided vehicles crammed full of passengers.
It’s a fascinating place and most importantly the people we meet are all so warm and welcoming; lots of smiling faces. It's also a very musical country; lots of musicians, lots of bands and hence lots of drummers!
The venue tonight is a club called "Area 5". Another very enthusiastic crowd. Maegan Aguilar a well known Philippine female drummer acts as MC welcoming the crowd, and we then we bring Gavin out onstage.
The question and answer sections of clinics can sometimes be hard work. Some crowds are quite shy in putting their hands up. Not so on this tour as every night has produced not only a flood of questions but also a lot of very good questions!
Gavin's book "Rhythmic Illusions" was the subject of one such question. Written between 1985 and 95 it covers the subject of Rhythmic manipulation using the concepts of displacement and modulation. Gavin demonstrated displacement and explained that you can create the illusion of a new downbeat by playing a rhythm and then moving it to a different place in the bar. He then demonstrated metric modulation giving the illusion of a new tempo.
After the show Philippines Zildjian Artist, Jun Regalado, visits the dressing room for a chat with Gavin.There is no rest after the show as Gavin runs three interviews with local music press and then onto his signing session.
A very big thank you to The Fernando family and all at JB Music for the great organization and great hospitality today.
Clinic 6 - Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
Question from the audience "Gavin how do you practice ghost notes?"
"In the dark" Gavin responds dryly.
The audience cracks up. He does of course go on to explain properly and in detail, but it's Gavin's warm personality and sense of humor that endears him to his audience, plus of course, he knows a thing or two about playing drums.
It's date six and we are in the city of Kuala Lumpur , Malaysia. The city has a special feel to it. It is tropical hot, with masses of palm trees lining the roads as you drive in from the airport. It has a super modern feel.
Our hosts and organizers of today's clinic are Zildjian Distributors Bentley Music. Their facility is all in one location, offices, a great music store, a music school, and their very own Bentley Music Auditorium. A great venue, again.
Starbucks seems to be the traditional starting point of most set ups and a cappuccino is on its way to give Gavin a boost. No matter where, no matter when, there is always a Starbucks nearby! It’s a small world.
It's an afternoon clinic and the house is full, more seating is brought in to accommodate the demand.
One of the lessons in today's clinic is counting odd time signatures. Gavin explains the concept of a group of 5 counted as a group of 2 plus a group of 3; and a group of 7 counted as a group of 2, 2, 3. Because it is very easy for drummers to count groupings of 2 and 3, any odd time signature can be broken down into those very manageable numbers. You just have to learn how many groups of 2's or 3's are in the particular time signature you are going to play. He then goes on to play a piece in 19!!
After the show we are treated to a wonderful Chinese meal. It's a dinner of endless delicious courses with tremendous hospitality, for which we are extremely grateful.
A real treat for us on our way back to the hotel that night, was a stop for a quick tourist shot of Gavin below the incredible Petronas Towers. Beautifully lit against the black sky, it's a wondrous sight.
Next stop Singapore.
Clinic 7 - Singapore:
It's a very short flight to Singapore, about 40 minutes. With a population of just under five and a half million people it's a small destination but it's a city and a country all in one; a huge financial centre in Asia. It's pristine everywhere you look. An incredible skyline dominated by the amazing Marina Bay Sands Hotel & Casino. A complex of three skyscrapers all inter joined across the top by a boat shaped pool, bar and gardens.
Tonight's hosts are Zildjian distributors Yamaha Music Asia. Azman and Trevor take good care of us. The clinic is in the Asia Civilisation Museum and a very cool and intimate Auditorium. All is good for the set up. We have a new kit provided at every location, so it's a complete set up of drums and heads. Gavin gets all tuned and starts to put his kit together. At the same time we set up the electronic kit and its set of Gen 16 AE Cymbals.
Sound check goes well and Gavin has a short time to relax. He gets a visit from Local Zildjian Artists Robert Nalin and Mark Desouza, great guys and a chance for a bit of drummer chat.
The clinic is soon underway and the music and Q&A begin to flow. Gavin shares his thoughts on his cymbals. The set up for the tour consists of:
13" A Custom HiHats
18" A Custom Crash
15" K Thin Crash
20" K Ride
18" K Custom Dark Crash
12" 0riental China
16" Oriental China
18" Z3 China
Gavin discusses his choices and what works best for him. A huge recommendation for the 20" K Ride that he finds works great in all musical situations.
After the show Zildjian’s Sales Rep, Kim Pang, who originates from Singapore, takes us to the top of the Marina Bay Sands building for a chance to take in the most incredible of views. Singapore at night. It's really something special.
Clinic 8 - Beijing China:
It's a long 5 hour flight north to Beijing China. A change of weather too, from the tropics of Singapore to the more temperate climate of Beijing. There's a positive chill in the night air as we arrive just before midnight. It’s the first two day stretch without a clinic and for the first time Gavin gets to enjoy a proper days rest.
KHS are the Zildjian distributors here. They could not let Gavin visit China for the first time without offering him the chance to see some of the famous and historic sites of this city. They have arranged for Annie, a professional tour guide, to show Gavin around. So we head out in the morning by minibus, first stop, Tianiman Square and the Forbidden City. Annie is incredibly knowledgeable on the history of these places and fills us full of stories of Emperors, their wives, their three thousand concubines, and their fascinating ways of life.
Next stop we head out on - a one and a half hour drive to the, must see, Great Wall Of China. It's breathtaking, thousands of kilometers of wall built by hand to protect China from Mongolian invasion. Much of it remains intact and the particular section Annie brings us to is incredible. Gavin may have thought this was going to be a rest day, but the challenge of the steep climb up countless steps soon takes its toll, probably just as good a workout as his clinic routine! They say you are not a real man unless you can climb to the top. Hundreds of steps and masses of photo opportunities later our group, having achieved only half man status, decided to return. Probably a wise move knowing that Gavin will need to actually be able to use his leg muscles in the clinic tomorrow.
We return to Beijing with a quick drive around and photo op of the Olympic park, and a view of the incredible "Birds Nest" Stadium, probably one of the most exciting architectural stadium structures ever. The day wraps up with dinner and a chance to get to know our hosts, Han and Jason from KHS, we are also joined by Annie and her husband David Chi (who plays with one of the big Chinese bands), as well as Luxien, another of our really great Zildjian artists.
Next day is clinic day and back to the familiar format of the event. The venue is a full on Rock Club, the "Mao Live House" has obviously seen many bands take its stage and the feel of the club is totally Rock n Roll. All the gear is here and we have to thank the guys at Sonor Drums, Remo, heads, Tama pedals and Vic Firth sticks for making sure Gavin always has his correct equipment for each show. It's so important these things are right. It's also key to have a good PA and sound engineer and tonight's sound man is very good!
The stage is tight but we manage to get set up, acoustics in front the AE kit setup behind on a riser. Gavin’s AE cymbals are:
14" AE HiHats
18" AE Crash
16" AE Crash
16" AE China
20" AE Ride
Another great crowd treated to a brilliant Gavin Harrison clinic. Thanks to Zildjian Artist Simon Xu for his translation skills. Also attending the show were David and Luxien, as well as Zildjian Artists Michael Huang, Sun Quan, and Wang Bin. A signing session and back to the hotel.
Next stop Chengdu China and the final date of the tour.
Clinic 9 - Chengdu, China:
It's hard to believe we have already reached the last date of the tour. Nine dates across eight Countries, and thousands of miles flown. Changes of cultures each day and a chance to meet hundreds of great drummers. The one consistent and stabilizing factor is Gavin himself. Always easy to work with, delivers brilliant clinics and has a playing style that is so musical and unique that it's been a pleasure to watch him each night. He really is a true professional.
Chengdu is rated in China as a secondary city. The first being cities such as Beijing and Shanghai. It's called “secondary” as it is very much a developing city. However, we arrived in a super modern airport and the drive into the city took us past showrooms sporting some of the most luxurious brand names in the world. We then passed a massive statue of Ma in the city square, offering somewhat of a strange contradiction.
Tonight’s show has been set up by Lei Gi who owns the music store "Fancy Drums & Percussion". He is really happy to have Gavin in Chengdu. Gavin is breaking new ground as we are informed no international drummers have been through here to do clinics before.
The venue is large and conversely called “The Minilive House". Set up is interesting, a lot of shouting and rushing around by staff and a lot of runs out to town to get bits and pieces of equipment. These sound checks can sometimes get stressful especially when you have language barriers. Luckily the sound man Paul gets it all sorted and puts together a great mix.
In between the bustle of the soundcheck Gavin carries out an interview with a Shechuaun TV station, running a program about lifestyle and music. They have 10 million viewers. They question Gavin about the interesting looking Gen 16 AE Cymbal System set up and Gavin obliges with a demonstration.
It's different here; the audience has a different vibe. It's packed with over 400 people inside. There's a lot of drummers and a few families that have brought their kids down to see this new and extraordinary event. The youngest, who dares to ask Gavin a question, is already playing and has a kit.
Gavin delivers another stormer of a clinic with a few wild questions from the audience, mixed in amongst many serious drummer discussions. The audience has really enjoyed having Gavin here. The line for his autograph session following the clinic, stretches way around the hall. Gavin takes it all in stride but I'm sure looks forward to a well earned relax.
Breakdown, pack away and back to the hotel by midnight. A short snack in the bar, and a chance for Gavin, Kim and I to wind down and reflect. The tour has gone by all too quickly, but it’s been great!
A big thanks to Sonor, Remo, Tama, and Vic Firth for all the help with the wonderful gear. Thanks to all the distributors for doing a wonderful job.
If you have not had a chance to see Gavin play as yet, and he comes by your way, trust me, he's definitely not to be missed!!!
A very big thanks to Gavin!!
To see all the photos from the tour, check our FaceBook photo album.
For a complete list of clinic dates, click here.
Profiles in Drumming Featuring Gavin Harrison