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2013 Gavin Harrison European Clinics

Follow the Gavin Harrison European Tour Blog!
Zildjian's Bob Wiczling and Tina Clarke have hit the road with Gavin Harrison - traveling in a caravan and journaling about their experiences. Follow along on the tour, and see all the photos here.

Day 1 - Manchester, UK
By: Bob Wiczling, Zildjian International Marketing Manager

2013 Gavin Harrison European Tour Kickoff

It's great to be back on a clinic tour with Gavin. It's proper “Rock n Roll” this tour, Gavin, Tina, Mike (Gavin's tech), myself and our tour truck. We are carrying it all with us - kit, cymbals, Gen 16s, banners, literature, and everything you need for a clinic tour!! First date of this leg is the PMT store in Manchester. We are greeted by Mel who takes care of the drum department there. He has done a great job in organizing it all; nice stage, and a great PA. Set up is really smooth as Gavin has all his own gear - no set up from scratch with out of the box drums.

Gavin has two of the new and redesigned A Zildjian cymbals in his set up - the 17” Thin Crash and the 19” Thin Crash. They sound amazing! It's a full house with a great audience who ask a lot of really good questions. It's a warm crowd, totally into Gavin's playing and soaking up all the knowledge Gavin has to share. Gavin, as always, plays just great!! He is always just brilliant to watch.

The next ten days will take us across the UK, Belgium, Holland and Germany. Definitely catch a show if you can!!  All the dates and info are on these pages below.

A special thanks to Andy, Paul, Simeon and all at Headstock, our Zildjian Distributor in the UK.  Thanks for all the really great help.

Next stop Cardiff in Wales.

Day 2 – Cardiff, UK
By Tina J Clarke, International Artist Relations Manager

2013 Gavin Harrison Clinic Tour 2

We wave goodbye to Manchester, England and head for the country of Wales. We arrive in Cardiff mid-afternoon to a wonderful welcome at Drum Depot ... Brett's mum has even baked us a cherry cake!!  Thank you Mrs. Sawmy!! Mark Brownhill and Brett Sawmy, with their team, have done a fantastic job in establishing their new drum store business, which opened just over a year ago. 

The main drum kit display room is cleared of kits, the paint is barely dry and the carpet is three days old in tonight’s 'event room', which is perfect for tonight's clinic - there's even a balcony for a great overhead view. Tonight's attendance hits 250, many of which are of course, Porcupine Tree fans. Interestingly, when asked how many of tonight's crowd have visited the store before about 50 raise their hands, indicating that everyone else are visiting to see Gavin's clinic. It's great to see that a drum clinic has brought so many new faces to the store.

Gavin is in top form tonight, not only is he a hugely talented drummer, he has a great sense of humor - which is evident tonight. The audience is treated to a selection of tracks, demonstrating various time signatures; we even get to hear what a poly rhythm of 21/19 would sound like! Whoooo!! The mood lightens as Gavin demonstrates an example of Helen Wiggins of The Shaggs drumming style.. .check them out and make your own mind up!!

This is the first clinic tour that I have heard the refactored A Zildjian Cymbals on and I have to say, that Gavin's 17" A Thin Crash and 19" A Thin Crash sound particularly amazing!! They are bright, clean, crisp and thin sounding.  Gavin explains that he is loving the 17" with the bigger size bell, which gives him the extra body in a crash that size.

Next stop "hello Wembley"!

Day 3 - London, UK
By: Bob Wiczling, Zildjian International Marketing Manager

We head South East back down to London. The venue for our next clinic is Wembley Drum Centre, a veritable Aladdin’s Cave of drum gear located within the shadows of the legendary Wembley stadium.

It's an in-house show and all tickets are sold out! It's an interesting one for Gavin as this is his local drum shop and he knows all the guys here.

It's an intimate setting, the audience very much up close and personal, and they are a great crowd! One of the recurrent themes of each of Gavin's shows is that there is definitely no shortage of questions. It can be a clinician’s dread, that when it comes to the Q & A session, nobody raises their hand. But not so on these dates – the audience has been asking all really good questions. I think it stems from the fact that Gavin is very approachable and the audience senses it. It's a great opportunity and environment to get an understanding of Gavin’s approach to the drumset and his techniques.

Gavin puts in a storming show as always with tonight's clinic being reviewed by both Rhythm Magazine and Drummer Magazine. There will be plenty of clinic highlights for them to talk about!

It's a quick pack down after the show and its straight back onto the tour bus for a night drive to our next location - Portsmouth UK.

A big thank you to all the guys at Wembley Drum Centre , Rhythm and Drummer Magazines and of course, all who came to the clinic.

Day 4– Portsmouth, UK
By Tina J Clarke, International Artist Relations Manager

2013 Gavin Harrison Clinic Tour 3

A leisurely morning before load-in at Nevada - today’s music shop venue in Portsmouth.

The store encompasses its own platform stage set-up, perfect for in-store clinics. Gavin's acoustic and Gen16 kits are beautifully highlighted throughout the clinic by the laser light display!!

Tonight's show, clearly attended by lots of Porcupine Tree fans, is therefore heavily Porcupine Tree focused, with many questions relating to the band's songs.

Gavin demonstrates the frantic double bass middle section of 'Anesthetize'. Followed by explanations of specific drumming sections in 'Bonnie The Cat' and 'Fear Of A Blank Planet'.

It's a very technical 'masterclass' clinic vibe, with plenty of exercises for everyone to try at home.

Before we head back to the hotel there's the team photo to be taken, many thanks to Roy, Joff, Robyn, Steve and all the staff at Nevada for their hospitality and efforts today.

Tomorrow we have a travel day via the Channel Tunnel, as the tour continues in main land Europe.

We then have a well-deserved day off before the next clinic, with plans afoot to spend it with a Belgium beverage, watching the Spanish F1 Grand Prix on TV.

Day 5 - St. Niklaas, Belgium
By: Bob Wiczling, Zildjian International Marketing Manager

Gavin Harrison European Clinic Tour - Belgium

It was a long drive to our next destination of St. Niklaas Belgium. A few hours down to the British Coast, and then, through the wonders of engineering we drive onto the Channel Tunnel train. After a thirty minute trip under the sea we emerge in France!!

Such a short hop and it's a complete change of culture, that's one of the great things about Europe; so many different lifestyles so close together.

We are shortly across the French border and into Belgium. By early evening we arrive at our hotel in St. Niklaas. We finally have a chance to eat a proper dinner, our first since the tour began, and tomorrow we have a day off, giving us all a chance to catch up on our rest.

The clinic is organized by Key Music who had to change to a larger venue as ticket demand was so high. It's a great venue too, called Casino. A great stage, great sound and lights is always a good recipe for a successful night. Over 250 people in attendance tonight and they give Gavin a tremendous welcome.
The night kicks off with a Porcupine Tree track and we are soon into Q & A. Popular questions that come up are about how Gavin plays polyrhythms and odd time signatures. Gavin explains how he breaks down the count into counts of 2's, 3's and 4's , making it much easier to follow, also locking into bass lines or practicing by setting up odd time bass patters on a drum box and practicing along to lock into the odd time riff or melody.

Gavin was asked what he felt were the hardest rhythms to play and to the audiences surprise Gavin respond with " playing slow, straight rhythm with a behind the beat laid back feel". He then goes on to beautifully demonstrate to a track.

Gavin also demystifies some rhythms that sound complicated but are actual fairly straight forward when slowed down and broken down. He describes many of these patterns as a “rhythmic illusion”. It's an eye opener for the crowd and a motivation that given enough focus and practice, everything is achievable.

It's a great night. Everyone takes home some new thoughts and ideas and have enjoyed seeing Gavin play and demonstrate to a variety of great tracks.

Thank you Fanio, Mike, Frankie and Bert from Key Music, as well as Jo from Zildjian distributors Hoshino Benelux.

Next stop Rotterdam!

Day 6 – Rotterdam, Holland
By: Tina J Clarke, International Artist Relations Manager

So we wave goodbye to Belgium and head for the Netherlands.

We check into our hotel, time for a quick lunch with Jeroen Bakx, from Hoshino – Zildjian’s Distributor in Benelux - and then we head off to the store for set-up. Today's clinic is being held at Feedback, a great live room within the shop.

There's a big crowd who are treated to some quality time with Gavin; there are many questions and Gavin happily demonstrates the answers.

One question that has been asked, I think every night, is the concept for drum fills. Gavin says his worst nightmare is seeing an audience air-drumming to his parts. So, Gavin encourages everyone to stop thinking like 'a drummer' with pre-arranged fills, think of it as a concept, a game. As an example, before you are due to play a fill, think about playing a flam, between a tom and snare, to include a triplet somewhere. Or play a 'sound game', for example, for the next fill include the high frequency bells and low rumbling toms ... you then play the game and improvise. Certainly, something for everyone to try, keeping it fresh and inspiring for the crowd and yourself.

Gavin takes the time to run through his cymbal bell set-up, consisting of five small splashes/bells sized at 6.5", 6", 5.5", 5" and 4.5". These are cymbals he made himself from old cymbals, more recently replicated by the Zildjian factory.

2013 Gavin Harrison Clinic Tour 1

Thanks to Stefan, Peter, Erich and all at Feedback together with Jereon and Kohki and all the guys from Hoshino for taking care of us today.

Next stop … Germany.

Day 7 - Hamburg- Germany
By: Bob Wiczling, Zildjian International Marketing Manager

Early morning calls all around for a long drive to Hamburg Germany.

Today's clinic is in-store at Just Music Hamburg, a wonderful store with a stage created in the centre of the drum department. The store itself is within a massive historic old building known as the "Bunker" with concrete walls up to 9 feet thick!!! It's quite a statement on the Hamburg skyline. We are welcomed by Dennis, Ferrin, Thomas and the team from Just Music and we fire into our, now very familiar, set up process.

The clinic starts with the "Sound of Muzak", always a great warm up and a track the crowd loves. The first of the questions for Gavin is to demonstrate a track called "Identitas" - a track from Gavin's band 05 RIC. It’s in the amazing time signature of 27 / 16!! Not too difficult says Gavin just count 3 lots of 7 and one lot of 6, sounds easy right!!

There is almost always a question on practicing and independence. Gavin describes the importance of practicing what he calls "Dependance". He comes out to the front of the audience and demonstrates by playing sticking on the floor repeating both left and right strokes in perfect unison. The idea is to perfect being able to eliminate any detectable flams to the point where the sound of the two sticks striking the surface create a phasing sound. It's not easy and even harder on the double bass drums!

Other topics tonight include Gavin’s desire to try and play something differently every night on his gigs. This stems from his jazz background which not many people would immediately associate him with. However, Gavin grew up listening to and playing Jazz. And from the age of eight, 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 demonstrates this by powering through an amazing Big Band treatment of the Porcupine Tree track “Cheating the Polygraph".

By complete contrast, part of Gavin's clinic turns to Zildjian’s new Gen 16 AE Acoustic Electric Cymbal System. The set up includes 14" HiHats, 16" and 18" Crashes, 20" Ride and a 16" China. Together with an electronic kit Gavin performs a variety of short rhythmic patterns that beautifully show the versatility of these instruments.

Gavin Harrison European Clinic Tour Gen16 Setup

It's another great night.

A big thank you to Dennis, Ferrin and Thomas from Just Music, and also to Jeroen, Jeorg and Axel from Zildjian’s Distributor in Germany, Pearl Europe.

Day 8 – Frankfurt, Germany
By: Tina J Clarke, International Artist Relations Manager

So... the day has arrived, the final clinic of this tour.

It’s been quite a journey and today is no different as we pile into the tour van ready for the six hour drive from Hamburg to Frankfurt.

Mike Ellis, our driver and Gavin’s Drumtech has done a fantastic job the past eleven days. In total we’ve driven over 1500 miles in the van, the past two days have seen the longest drives, both six hours total - so I think we can excuse Mike's lie-in this morning!! I know Mike will be reading this, and I am sure you can all guess what happened, so just my little end of tour rib!! Mike’s a good guy to have around, with a fun sense of humour!!

It's been great spending time with Gavin, so many stories have been told and lots of laughs along the way. Gavin is working on a variety of projects, so something for all of Gavin fans to look forward to in the future.

Today’s clinic takes place at Session Music Frankfurt; it’s a music store, recently renovated with a vast display of musical instruments. The stage is already set as the clinic is held in the sound and light area of the store. A big thank you to the Session Music team for making the set-up so easy today: Thomas Gaddum (Store Manager), Moritz Amrhein (Drum Dept Manager/Audio Engineer) and the rest of the team, Barbara Guder, Marcus Lachmann, Fredrik De Linde, Christoph Bunten and Maik Hann. It was lovely seeing Thomas Franke, Ron Deckers and Joerg Staemmer, all from Pearl Music Europe our Distributors in Germany, there tonight too.

For the first time on this leg of clinic tour video cameras are used enabling Gavin to demonstrate techniques close up and from various angles. It also gives the audience the chance to see exactly what Gavin’s feet are up to behind that bass drum! One of the best Q&A’s tonight, Gavin was asked “How do you warm your feet up before playing”, Gavin’s reply, “In front of the fire”. There’s lots of laughter and fun during the clinic tonight, everyone having a great time and importantly leaving with some excellent tips and advice. It’s apparent that Gavin enjoys the Q&A aspect of his clinics; he encourages the sharing of ideas and asking of technical questions. These clinics are of course a unique and wonderful opportunity for Gavin to spend quality, personal time with his audience, rather than concentrating on playing to backing tracks – so often the theme of clinic tours.

One question that has arisen tonight, a popular question on the tour, is ‘How do you tune your drums’? Tonight Gavin takes a tom to the audience and demonstrates his equal and opposite tuning technique, using the special Sonor Protean Drum keys which he designed  - it makes the job look very easy!

One final run-through the cymbal set-up, which is left to right:
13” K Custom HiHats
16” FX Oriental China
Bell-Chime Rack
19” A Thin Crash
17” A Thin Crash
20” K Ride
19” K Custom Crash (proto-type)
12” Oriental China
19” A Ultra Hammered China

Gavin describes his favourite cymbal, the 20” K Ride, (the one here has been used on all his Porcupine Tree albums), he says “It’s an all-round great Ride, not too bright or dark, it has enough stick definition to play jazz or metal, it’s the most versatile of cymbals -  definitely my desert island cymbal, the one that can be used for anything”.

And so that was the final Clinic on this European tour, it’s been hard work, but we’ve all had a great time and it’s always a pleasure working with Gavin.

A big thank you to everyone involved, including Gavin, Mike Ellis, our Distributors – Mogar, Headstock, Hoshino Benelux, Pearl Music Europe, all the Drum Stores and their event teams and most importantly to everyone who attended these clinics ... we couldn’t have done it without you all.

Zildjian Gavin Harrison European Clinic Tour

About Gavin Harrison:
Voted “Progressive Rock Drummer of the year” for four consecutive years in the Modern Drummer Magazine readers' poll, as well as winning “Best Progressive Drummer" in DRUM! Magazine, Gavin has played with a number of the world’s greatest artists, from bands such as Incognito and level 42 to the punk icon Iggy Pop.

Now best known for his work with the progressive band Porcupine Tree, Gavin also occupies the drum seat with the legendary band King Crimson

A talented author, Gavin has released two instructional drum books entitled ”Rhythmic Illusions” and ”Rhythmic Perspectives”. As well as producing his own instructional DVDs,”Rhythmic Visions” and ”Rhythmic Horizons”.

2010 saw the release of “Rhythmic Designs”, a book of transcriptions by Terry Branam, and a three hour DVD of Gavin's explanations and demonstrations. It won 'Best in Show' at the summer NAMM show in the USA.

Says Bob Wiczling, Zildjian‘s International Marketing Manager, “We are extremely proud to be able to bring Gavin out to perform clinics in Europe. Gavin continues to be one of the world’s most sought after clinicians. As well as his acoustic Zildjian cymbals, Gavin will also be incorporating  Zildjian’s exciting new Gen 16 AE Acoustic Electric cymbal system into his performance.“


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