My interest in drumming started at an early age when I was introduced by my elder brother to the new progressive bands that started appearing in the late 1960’s. Bands like Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix initially and then King Crimson, Yes and Emerson, Lake & Palmer. These were populated with virtuoso musicians of a standard that was unprecedented and very exciting. As the 70’s advanced newcomers such as Rush, Starcastle and Camel produced album after album of memorable material before the scourge of punk music falsely and briefly claimed itself as the new champion.
As a musician, my first foray was as a bassist then guitarist before the fateful day of ‘we haven’t got a drummer for our session so would you have a go’, despite never having played drums properly before. The session went well so it was a change of plan and I picked up a second-hand 5-piece drum set. Over the next few years I selfishly tormented the poor neighbours. My first serious band was Dragonfly, made up of school friends, and coinciding with the so-called New Wave of British Heavy Metal, a genre that saw Iron Maiden rise to world fame above the many other bands playing the circuit. By now I was lucky enough to have a fairly large Tama Royal Star double-bass drum kit; I can’t remember what happened to the original 5-piece starter kit.
Dragonfly didn’t last long, which was a shame as we had a lot more potential than we realised at the time. Our four-track EP is now considered a collector’s item and sells for quite a sum of money. Next, it was into a progressive-rock three-piece band called Trilogy, shamelessly based on our heroes Rush. We had mixed success with that band, playing at the original Marquee club in Wardour Street, touring with Pallas and Solstice and appearing on Tommy Vance’s Friday Rock Show on Radio 1. As the nineties started I spent a few years gigging furiously with the Phil Hilborne Band (a standard rock covers band) upgrading the old Tama kit for a Pearl BLX birch-shelled drum set that I use to this day. The most recent gigging band I’ve been in was Sabotage, playing old school heavy rock, and occasionally supporting long-time friends Stray.
Currently, I’m playing in VT11 a classic rock covers band.
‘Egypt’ (Symphony X)
‘Fallen’ (Symphony X)
‘When All is Lost’ (Symphony X)
‘Sane No More’ (Circus Maximus)
‘The Test that Stumped them All’ (Dream Theater)
‘Under a Glass Moon’ (Dream Theater)
‘In the Wake of Poseidon’ (King Crimson)
‘The Court of the Crimson King’ (King Crimson)
‘Epitaph’ (King Crimson)
‘Turn of the Century’ (Yes)
‘Tarkus’ (Emerson, Lake & Palmer)
‘Close to the Edge’ (Yes)
‘Heart of the Sunrise’ (Yes)
‘River of Life’ (PFM)
In the Region of the Summer Stars (The Enid)
Once Around the World (It Bites)
‘Chagall Duet’ (Jon Anderson & Sandrine Piau)
As a youngster, before I started drumming, I was captivated by the new complex styles of Carl Palmer, Bill Bruford and Michael Giles. Undoubtedly, my biggest single influence is Neil Peart (Rush) who almost single-handedly invented the prog-metal power techno drumming genre and played a huge part in producing many of the famous prog-metal drummers of today. Neil Peart’s style changed in the 1990’s, becoming more traditional but by then the new breed of outstanding players had arrived so today I spend all my time listening to the likes of Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater), Jason Rullo (Symphony X), Gavin Harrison (Porcupine Tree), Truls Haugen (Circus Maximus).
Copyright © 2013 - Nik Szymanek