Interview with Charlie Heather of The Levellers
"I decided to go for it and work on techniques along the way"
On Stage 14-03-2006 16:11
The Levellers have recently released their DVD "State Of The Union", featuring footage from The Wickerman festival 2004, the Bluebell Railway 2004 show and a short film of walk-about and live footage from Beautiful Days 2004 among other content. To promote their new release, The Levellers visited Utrecht, The Netherlands on March 7, 2006 as part of their Electric Tour 2006. Prior to the steaming live show, Drummerszone managed to catch up with long-time Levellers sticksman Charlie Heather.Drummerzone.com: You have been playing with The Levellers since they started in 1988, actually co-founding the band. However, you were already a veteran at that time. Could you tell us a bit about your first steps on the path to a career as professional drummer?

Charlie Heather:
I must have been Ďround the age of fifteen, when I was in a local youth club watching some unknown punkband. Immediately captured by the power and pureness it came to me: Iíd become a drummer in a band! I've always loved what people like John Bonham (Led Zeppelin) and Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers) were doing, also the Sex Pistols and other punkrock bands were of great inspiration to me.

You have always been a drummer with a great sense of what is needed, a typical example of a functional drummer, not a technical show-off. Yet one does need some techniques to be able to choose what fits best. How do you respond to this?

When I had discovered I wanted to become a drummer, I first started out practising on old cushions. Just figuring out how to use different items as one. That was hard enough. Eventually I would get some of the basics. It was about two weeks after forming my first band we had to get on stage. Thatís when you realise itís all about the expression you put into it, and so I decided to just go for it, and work on the techniques along the way.

Same thing happened when we started The Levellers: After three weeks we had to perform live already and just do it. Being on stage is what its all about I think, the chemistry happening there between you and the rest of the band, and you and the crowd can be really intense, I don't think there is anything more satisfying than seeing the people in front of you having a great time.

So, you're saying that each drummer should go out and on stage as soon as possible?

Well, perfectioning every skill there is to learn locked up on your attic wonít get you the feeling of being out there! I'm not saying you don't have to practise of course!

Could you reveal some about your side projects?

Apart from the Levellers I love to do some other things, but unfortunately we just donít have lots of time to do so. Therefor it was a great thing to work with people such as Rev. Hammer, a good friend of ours. A couple of The Levellers - including myself - joined him to create an epic musical play. Rev started with the idea in 1995, and eventually it was released as the album "Freeborn John", the story of John Lilburne - the leader of the agitators for political reformation in the 17th Century.

On this record everything went very much back to basics. We used a lot of acoustic instruments, even some cardboard boxes for drums. That was very much fun to do!

And together with Levellers bassist Jeremy [Cunningham], I worked with McDermott's Two Hours on their latest CD. They are also a Brighton based folk band, who pretty much share the same ideas as we do. For anyone who's thinking about becoming a drummer...

Thank you for your time!

You're welcome!
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