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What do Jessie J, Robin Thicke, Katie Melua and ACM all have in common?
Performance tutor and drum extraordinaire Joe Yoshida, obviously! So, here’s 10 questions with Joe Yoshida. Enjoy…
You originally graduated from ACM, what year was that!?
I graduated in 2006 with a Bachelors Degree in drums. The course was great and I got a heck of a lot out of it.
Who was your favourite tutor at the time?
Honestly, many of the tutors were amazing, with some that were inspirational. Those that stood out for me were Mike Sturgis, Jon Duff, Pete Riley, Roger Davis, Giorgio Serci… I can’t and won’t narrow it down to one tutor as they all gave me so many different things to help me become whom and what I am as a musician now. They’re all still at large at ACM, and it’s a little weird and humbling to mention them as I now call them my colleagues!
How did ACM prepare you for your career once graduating?
ACM equipped me with the most essential tools to help me become a ‘YES’ man towards any calibre of work within the Freelance Musician path. Most musicians have their niche and things that they particularly excel towards, however, there’s no harm in strengthening your skills in the widest possible manner so you could tackle literally anything that may come to you in your career. Frankly, I definitely needed to be in the position to take anything on board in the early stages of my career as I was typically skint and desperate to enrich my musical experience.
Thanks to my schooling, I’ve been fortunate enough to land serious work with artists of a multitude of styles – ranging from Pop and Rock to Big Band Crooner, Urban, Rap and Easy Listening. ACM inspired me with a multitude of pathways that were available for the modern musician – whether it be live or studio work, image-based TV spots, education, corporate work and many more… To be honest, the ‘how’ they went about preparing me isn’t anything groundbreaking; just down to good old hard work and investing time and attention towards strengthening the most obvious areas – getting my chops up, theory, and schooling me in performance.
The parts within my time that were groundbreaking, were the facilities and the expertise – I don’t think you could take on ACM with that. I honestly didn’t know what a “Freelance Musician” was prior to joining ACM, but they were able to inspire and prepare me for a life of making a living through only doing Music and nothing else.
What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
Performing live on BBC 1 at primetime with Katie Melua for The Queen’s Jubilee with Her Royal Highness present was definitely up there. Eurovision Song Contest 2014 with 128 million folks watching around the world was also a big buzz. There have been many personal highlights that would never occur to the average Joe; such as scoring UK Top 40 hits for albums and singles… Although the consumer wouldn’t really take much notice, these things really mean a lot to me.
What are you up to (drumming wise) outside of teaching ACM at the moment?
Right now, my baby is a Rock band called Toseland (James Toseland – ex. World Superbike Champion). This project is keeping me very busy, with touring and releasing records. It’s pretty much the good old Rock Band thing for me – where I began and undoubtedly what I do best. I joined just over a year ago since the band had been going for nearly five years. It’s a very pivotal time for us right now, since our new record debuted in the UK Top 40 and things are really starting to happen. Having done the Pop-thing for a little while, it’s super cool for me to go back to no backing tracks and just hitting the hell out of big drums on festival stages and touring with bands that I grew up listening to.
What kit are you playing at the moment?
I’ve been very fortunate to sign a deal with TAMA Drums in the wake of 2016. My first pick was the Starclassic Performer Birch/Bubinga in Vintage Marine Pearl. They are stunning drums with an immense live and studio sound and I’m absolutely in love with it. I also have support from Zildjian Cymbals, Promark Drumsticks, Evans Drumheads, Protection Racket Cases, Roland, Ultimate Ears and other wonderful folks gracious enough to help me out.
Does your set-up massively differ from the studio to the stage?
With respect to the set up, I essentially just use what I need for the occasion. For Toseland, I like to use big drums and more of it! I love it when the drums and cymbals are empowering on stage and it totally works with a Rock band. In the studio, I tend to strip things down to the basics. The more elements I have the more work there is later on to tidy things up, so I just have everything that I really need. The sound I go for can be substantially different – again, depending on the line of work and style that whomever I work with wants – but I’m much more critical with my studio sound than live, as the level of forgiveness is totally different between the two. For the most recent Toseland album, I was booked in for an entire day in order to get the drum sound right prior to tracking. This might sound crazy, but it’s actually fairly common – all depending on how much you care.
How does your preparation to session work change – studio vs. live?
They’re both the same in that the process varies from work to work. My main concern is how much time they’re willing to give me to prepare. The more time I have the deeper I could dig in, but sometimes you just have to turn things around with little or no time at all. By and large, my line of work usually evolves around learning material, and the process I personally undergo is pretty much the same whether live or studio. I’m super picky about the parts I will play, down to every groove, nuance and drum fills, and where time allows, the first thing I do is transcribe my parts. Sometimes I have time to play through them, whereas in others I pretty much jump into it.
I suppose with live work, quite often the eventual rehearsals play a big part in the preparation process and it serves as additional time to develop what you do; however, my experiences in the studio have often involved preparing the song and being ready to lay it down to almost completion when you get to the studio, so I definitely feel more pressure to prepare well for the studio. The bottom line for me is, I hate getting things wrong and feeling out of control. This is why I could never over-prepare.
Who’s the most ‘diva’ like artist you’ve worked with thus far?
Luckily for me, I’ve never work with any full-blown divas – well, at least never had the diva attitude thrown in my personal direction! I’ve worked for big artists with whom you don’t really have much of an opportunity to hang out with besides sharing the rehearsal space and stage. This isn’t necessarily a display of diva-like attitude on their behalf, but you’re just reminded of who you are and what you do – you’re working for them to make them sound the best you possibly could. Whenever there have been heated moments where an artist has kicked off for some reason, it’s always directed at an assistant or a manager, so I’ve never been in the receiving end!
You see the usual kind of things all the time – swag chauffeured Mercedes, freebies, specific dressing room rider requests… These aren’t really anything out of the ordinary to be honest – it’s simply there because they can, and for them to do what they do the best they possibly could. Ask me again once I get the Madonna gig and I’m sure I’ll have more dirt to spread…! And to be honest, now that I’m “The Artist” in my band Toseland, I’ve become the one to demand this and that to keep me sane on the road!
Which artist should we be listening to right now?
“Cradle The Rage” by Toseland!