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Zildjian News | Gavin Harrison US Tour lg

Gavin Harrison Clinic Tour Blog

Couldn't make the clinic? Follow along on Gavin's first US Clinc tour to see what you missed!

Clinic #1- Drum Center of Portsmouth
Thursday, October 10, 2013
By Zildjian East Coast Artist Relations Manager - Sarah Hagen

Zildjian News | Gavin Clinic Tour 2

Gavin Harrison's first US Clinic Tour started off at Drum Center of Portsmouth, NH. The clinic was sold-out and the shop was full of fans of all ages who were excited for this special event, and Gavin gave them all an amazing show. He started out playing the Porcupine Tree song "Sound of Musak", and then went into a Q&A session.

The questions that were asked made it clear that this group was very well-educated on their Gavin Harrison history, and Gavin's answers were helpful and relatable to everyone in the room. When asked how Gavin makes sure he's noticed when playing music where he's not at liberty to "blow chops", Gavin answered that he finds subtle ways to put his sound into the music, like by playing a small fill using the series of cymbal bells that he's so well-known for. Gavin has always admired the subtleties in music, and he learned from his drumming heroes like Steve Gadd.

When asked about techniques to strengthen one's weaker hand, Gavin replied that he doesn't concentrate on that. He views his two hands as two partners, two brothers even, who work together but do different things. He doesn't want two equal hands.

Gavin played two more Porcupine Tree songs: a big band arrangement of "Cheating the Polygraph" and "Bonnie the Cat", and then he gave the audience some more fantastic advice. He explained the importance of learning to read and write music, and gave a great lesson for working on limb independence. Before Gavin played his last song, he explained an innovative method of counting out odd time signatures. If you can't make it to a clinic on this tour, look for an upcoming master class or maybe Gavin will release this technique in a book or video!

Clinic #2- Russo's Music, Hamilton, NJ
Friday, October 11, 2013
By Zildjian East Coast Artist Relations Manager - Sarah Hagen

Zildjian News | Gavin Clinic Tour 1

At tonight's clinic the packed audience stood for the entire two hour event!  Gavin started the clinic off playing a couple of songs and then delighted the audience with detailed answers and demonstrations in response to their question. The first question was about Gavin's "Cymbal Song" and how he created it. If you'd like to check it out, go to: Gavin explained that it wasn't too complicated until he decided to wear different colored shirts throughout the song and he had to keep track of what he was wearing in each shot!

When asked about developing a practice routine, Gavin explained that from 1989-1991, he practiced six hours a day. He knew that's what it was going to take for him to get to the level that he wanted to be at.

A self-described metal drummer in the crowd asked Gavin how he could become a jazz player, to which Gavin answered, "To really swing, you need to study the music. Listen to a lot of jazz!"

One of the best pieces of advice of the night came after demonstrating a few options for improvising. Gavin explained that when he improvises, he sings to himself. This makes the playing so much more musical. "I'm rhythmically curious. My favorite question is 'What if...?' I work things out in my head and experiment.  I don't like to be predictable. I like to improvise." And where does Gavin draw inspiration from? "Many different places- even design and architecture. I look for beauty. When you start thinking way out of the box, you start playing differently."

There were many Porcupine Trees fans in the crowd tonight and Gavin made them very happy with some demonstration of tough parts of the songs. He played the full version of "19 Days" and ended the clinic with a fantastic performance of "Futile."

What a great clinic with a very enthusiastic audience!

Clinic #3 - Dale's Drum Shop, Harrisburg, PA
Saturday, October 12, 2013
By Zildjian East Coast Artist Relations Manager - Sarah Hagen

Zildjian News | Gavin Clinic Tour 3

Today's clinic left every attendee inspired. You could see it in their faces and hear it in their voices afterward. Gavin opened the event with two songs and then answered some really great questions from the audience. He demonstrated his ride cymbal technique, how to play really consistent flams around the kit, and when asked about a good exercise for hands and feet, he referred to the 1st exercise from the book "New Breed" by Gary Chester.

When an audience member referred to Gavin's recording of "Killer Joe", he played it to the track, demonstrating some great improvisation.

Some of the questions and conversation today revolved around the intricacies of touring, and Gavin did a really nice job of explaining how click tracks work, the benefits of relaxing before a gig by having some quiet time and not getting too worked up, and even how set lists are usually worked out.

As in the previous two clinics, Gavin was asked about his five small bell cymbals that he has mounted near his HiHats. He happily explained how he made the original versions from old, broken cymbals and how Zildjian has since made him a few sets. There sure is a lot of interest in those cymbals!

At the end of Gavin's clinic today, he talked a bit about how the music that you experience from the ages of about 15-19 is so important. That's the time when you discover what music gets you excited, what music touches you, and that music will stay with you forever. At that age music is all about enjoyment, not about a lesson. I think most of us would agree!

Clinic #4 - Memphis Drum Shop, Memphis, TN
Monday, October 14, 2013
By Zildjian East Coast Artist Relations Manager - Sarah Hagen

Another sold-out clinic tonight in Memphis...and what a great clinic it was! The past two hours were packed full of amazing playing, demonstrations, great advice, and humor. Every audience member left with a smile on his or her face.

There were quite a few gear-specific questions from the crowd tonight. Gavin went over the details of his kit, including his favorite ride cymbal- the 20" K Ride, which he calls the most versatile ride in the Zildjian catalog. He also demonstrated the features of his signature Sonor Protean (pronounced Pro-T-Ann) snare drum. If you haven't seen this snare, you have to check it out. It's very innovative!

One really great tip Gavin shared was a fix for a floor tom that rings too much- cut a zero ring to fit, and put it inside the floor tom, letting it sit on the bottom head. This will give it a nice fat sound.

Another piece of advice imparted to the audience was to really plan ahead for practicing. There can be too many distractions when you're practicing, so have an idea of what you'd like to accomplish and turn off the TV, phone, computer, etc so you can concentrate on what you need to do. He's a professional drummer, so he treats drumming as a job. Every day he either plays a gig, records a track, practices, etc.

The part of the clinic that will certainly stay with the audience for years to come was when Gavin was asked, "How do you evaluate yourself?" His answer: "I'm not in competition with anyone but myself. If I go onstage and think I played the best I could, that's all that matters." Then, when talking about being original, Gavin said, "I'd rather fail at being original than succeed at being a copy." And one last bit of wisdom for the crowd, a quote by Winston Churchill: "Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm."

How could you not leave that room tonight feeling inspired? I know I am! This was my last date on this clinic tour with Gavin. Tomorrow, Kirsten Matt, West Coast Artist Relations Manager, will take over and pick up the tour blog. I just have to say that this past week with Gavin has been eye-opening and very educational. I'm heading home with some new exercises, lots of notes, and new music suggestions. Time to pick up my sticks and get to work!

Clinic #5 - Lone Star Percussion, Dallas, TX
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
By Zildjian West Coast Artist Relations Manager - Kirsten Matt


Almost 200 people braved some pretty serious rain to get a chance to see Gavin perform at Lonestar Percussion and when Gavin took the stage and opened with “The Sound of Muzak” you could tell everyone knew they were in for a special night.

After playing a couple of Porcupine Tree songs, Gavin opened the floor to questions and it was clear that people had done their homework! Questions touched on things like playing with Robert Fripp, where Gavin told an amazing story about how Robert really encouraged him to do anything he wanted as long as it wasn’t mundane, so taking that encouragement one night on the King Crimson tour, Gavin played a uh, beat, I guess you would call it but with a group called the Shaggs. The story and the playing had everyone in stitches but the lesson to be learned was clear.. don’t be afraid to take chances.

After more amazing playing, thoughtful questions and some autographs signed it was time to head out. Texas sized thanks to everyone at Lonestar for hosting such a fantastic event! Now do yourself a favor and check out the Shaggs on YouTube!

Clinic #6 - Explorer’s Percussion, Kansas City, MO
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
By Zildjian West Coast Artist Relations Manager - Kirsten Matt

Gavin Clinic Tustin2

Leaving the rain behind we flew out of Dallas the next morning and into the beautiful, verdant plains of Kansas City, MO where Explorer’s Music would play host to the tour.

The theme for the evening seemed to be “originality”. When asked to replicate a particular fill form a performance Gavin explained to the crowd how he doesn’t always play the same fill and how he likes to come up with new and original ideas for fills while on tour. He demonstrated how to change up fills by making a game out of it by telling yourself that the fill would have certain elements but it didn’t matter the sequence. He also mentioned that sometimes things just don’t work out but don’t be afraid to be original by saying “I’d rather fail at being original than succeed at being an imitation”. OK, so he was quoting Herman Melville, but the advice still resonated with everyone in the room and once again, there was a happy group of people who couldn’t wait to get to their kits to practice some of what they learned!

Once again, big thanks to Wes and everyone at Explorer’s Percussion for a great evening.

Clinic #7 - Vic’s Drum Shop, Chicago, IL
Thursday, October 17, 2013
By Zildjian West Coast Artist Relations Manager - Kirsten Matt


This was Gavin’s second clinic appearance for Vic’s Drums this year and clearly people were happy to see him perform again. It was a diverse audience ranging from the very young to the more experienced player that gathered at the club Martyr’s for tonight’s clinic.

Opening the set with “The Sound of Muzak” (that tune never gets old!), the crowd of close to 200 sat enthralled with what was happening in front of them. As Gavin worked his way through the first two songs you could see questions forming in people’s minds. Gavin addressed all those questions and more throughout the night, including giving insight into playing with a click and what he’s listening to in his in ears during a Porcupine Tree show, sharing stories of how he records cues for himself and bandmates as well as the occasional joke or impersonation to keep things interesting.

When asked what inspires him, the answer probably surprised many in the audience when Gavin cited some nontraditional sources, including architecture. The beauty and flow found in the design of a building can inspire creativity, just as music can.

It was another night where everyone there was touched by the music created, inspired by the stories shared and encouraged by Gavin’s lessons and advice. Many thanks to Victor Salazar and everyone from Vic’s Drums for a memorable evening!

Clinic #8 - Cascio Music Drum Fest, Milwaukee, WI
Saturday, October 19, 2013
By Zildjian West Coast Artist Relations Manager - Kirsten Matt

Gavin Clinic Milwaukee2

With a fairly easy day the 18th of a quick drive to Milwaukee, WI (no early morning plane flight!) straight into soundcheck and an early evening, we were well rested and ready for a day of great music! Lots of friends today, old and new, with fellow Zildjian Artists' Russ Miller and Ronald Bruner Jr. as well as Gene Hoglan on the bill for Cascio Interstate Music’s DrummerFest, a great event with hundreds of drummers coming out to check out some serious talent.

Taking the stage last after three great players has got to be intimidating for anyone, but if it was for Gavin, you would never have known it. Taking the stage with his signature brand of humor he went straight into the first two songs of his set and then started taking questions. As always, the questions were very well thought out and clearly there were many fans in attendance. Some of today’s lessons, wisdom and insight involved really basic ideas such as the importance of practice and perseverance. Having started playing the drums at age 6, Gavin claims that he wasn’t any sort of child prodigy, he merely practiced, practiced, practiced to achieve what he has today. A good lesson for everyone in the audience!

Before the day was done, we found all four drummers behind their kits trading fours with Gavin leading the brigade. It was thrilling to watch four artists with such different styles play off each other and give each other the respect they all deserve! We said our quick goodbyes to Russ, Ronald and Gene and headed back to Chicago for an early morning flight.

Cascio Interstate Music’s DrummerFest is an annual event and I highly recommend you check it out next year. No word yet on who will perform but the store does a great job at getting some amazing players there!

Clinic #9 - Jim's Music, Tustin, CA
Sunday, October 20, 2013
By Zildjian West Coast Artist Relations Manager - Kirsten Matt


Goodbye Chicago, hello sunny Southern California! How I’ve missed your swaying palms and crowded freeways. Today we’re headed to Jim’s Music in Tustin where another packed house is expected. We made quick work of set up and soundcheck and then, showtime!

One of my favorite parts of this tour is when Gavin tries to convince everyone that what’s he’s playing really isn’t THAT hard. It made me laugh every time he said it and he really meant it. Demonstrating his technique of playing 32nd notes with a double pedal, he almost had me convinced it was as easy as he says.. almost... The speed, clarity and accuracy had everyone shaking their heads in amazement.

A question that came up most nights is if he would be touring with King Crimson again (Yes! Back in the US in September of `14) and what other projects he was working on. He shared with everyone a little bit of what it was like growing up with a trumpet player for a father and getting to sit on stage with his father’s Big Band, experiences which have inspired him to work on an album of Porcupine Tree songs done in Big Band style, one of which he played at clinics. To hear “Cheating the Polygraph” in this style was truly powerful.

More questions, an autograph session and it was time to head out again. Jim’s Music hosted a really fun event with a great turnout. Thanks to everyone at the store for all the help and hospitality!

Clinic #10 -  Rupp's Drums, Denver, Co
Monday, October 21, 2013
By Zildjian West Coast Artist Relations Manager - Kirsten Matt


We bid sunny Southern California a painfully early morning goodbye as we headed to the last stop of the tour in Denver, CO. Although it’s been a lot of miles, a lot of early morning and a lot of flights this week, it’s also been a lot of laughs and a lot of great lessons. This week has gone too fast! With 300+ people expected to attend, Rupp’s held the tonight’s event at Herman’s Hideaway, a local Denver club. A good choice as the place was packed!

One last time Gavin made people laugh while also inspiring them to do, learn, create and improvise. The funny stories never stopped and when he wasn’t amazing people with his playing he was answering questions and generating laughs from everyone in the room. Again, the questions came and again the answers were thought provoking, sometimes funny and always encouraging and inspiring. Gavin demonstrated his tuning techniques using the ProTean tuning keys he developed for Sonor as well as the accompanying snare drum with easily interchangeable snares. Like everything Gavin does, the drum is well thought out from the functionality to the artistry of the packaging (interchangeable snare wires are housed in a very nice wooden box that fits nicely into the case).

Over the two weeks of this tour Gavin shared valuable advice on everything from tuning to touring and did so with humor and humility. It’s been a pleasure and an honor to be a part of this clinic tour and immeasurable thanks go out to everyone at all the stores who worked so hard to get Gavin into their stores, and of course massive thanks to everyone who came out to the clinics! We hope you were as inspired as we were!

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