MD interview: Andy Newmark

toddbishop

Platinum Member
I've excerpted another old favorite interview from the archives, this time with session drummer Andy Newmark, who played with Sly Stone, John Lennon, Carly Simon, David Bowie, and many more. He talks about Jim Keltner and other great studio drummers, about recording with Lennon and George Harrison, and about the craft of drumming for records.

Early on he got cut from a George Harrison session, but got to hang around and watch Keltner and Jim Gordon work:
I couldn't have played the part they played with the conviction they played it with. I was still playing too busy. I thought, "I wouldn't have the nerve to just lay back for three-and-a-half minutes, like what I've just seen." I knew there would have been eight places in the record where I would have been playing a fill, or been too busy. I knew I didn't somehow have the maturity or the instincts to do what I was seeing being done in front of me. I guess it was good that I could recognize that. It was like regrooming my mind from what most drummers grow up learning- chops and technique. Not that it isn't valid, but it has to be rechanneled when you start working in the studio. So, in fact, it wasn't as frustrating as you might have guessed. I knew my instincts were different than theirs, so I was regrooming my instincts.
Read the entire piece.
 

Jeremy Bender

Platinum Member
That was both insightful and informative. Thanks for the post.
Andy Newmark did some really tasteful work with Bryan Ferry in the 80's also.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
Was this from his only interview in MD from the '80s? I loved that entire article. The man certainly has alot to teach us.
 

dantheman

Member
I remember that interview from 1984! also as part of the interview, Modern Drummer did a feature on Andy's 4 pc. Yamaha drum set. Andy talked about the philosaphy of playing a 4 pc. kit, keeping time and so on. I still have it to this day. I have followed his advise and it has served me well all these years. He is a great drummer and a very good person.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
I remember that interview from 1984! also as part of the interview, Modern Drummer did a feature on Andy's 4 pc. Yamaha drum set. Andy talked about the philosaphy of playing a 4 pc. kit, keeping time and so on. I still have it to this day. I have followed his advise and it has served me well all these years. He is a great drummer and a very good person.
No kidding about the 4-piece. Between him and Steve Jordan (and of course, ALOT of other pros) it made me realize the glory of the humble 4-piece!
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
Bo: Yes, I'm pretty sure that's his only MD interview. Did you listen to his playing on Anticipation? I've only ever associated that song with the ketchup commercial, but it's a rocking track.

Dan: I think my main takeaway from it at the time was his philosophy about his toms- he would use a 12 and a 16, and said he liked a lot of separation between them. For a long time I would crank my 12 and keep the 14 extremely loose. The most valuable stuff, re: psychology, time, playing less, etc was maybe not where I was at at the time- hopefully it had some kind of influence that I don't remember.

Here's his story about his audition for Sly Stone's band- I had to leave it out for the sake of brevity, but it's fun:

In between shows [with Carly Simon] at the Troubadour, I ran up to Sly's house, and was taken into his bedroom where he was lying on a water bed, pretty much out of his head. There were three or four other people in the room, and it was all very heavy, and sinister, and weird, and dark. Eventually he got himself together enough to speak to me from the bed. He said, "You're a drummer?" I said, "Yeah." And he said, "Are you funky?" And I said, "Yes." [laughs] Not even "Yeah," but "Yes," deadpan, with no emotion, in my perfect WASP whiteness. Then he said, "Play." There was a set of Remo practice pads next to his bed with a real hi-hat and a little mashed up cymbal. I knew I'd have about 20 seconds to either make an impression or not, so I just played the funkiest beat I could. All of a sudden Sly came to life. He jumped off the bed and started dancing in the room. And in 30 seconds the whole family was brought in. Sly said, "This is the new drummer"— no name or anything. "Yeah, Freddie, this is the new drummer. Tell the other guy he's fired. Okay, what's your name?" "Andy." "Right. You'll do the next show or whatever. Welcome." And that was it. Five minutes later, I was in the car going back to the Troubadour to do Carly's show.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Thanks Todd, I loved it. He comes across as a mature, intelligent musician. The only record I remember having with him playing was Joe Walsh's You Can't Argue With A Sick Mind, and he was playing with Joe Vitale so it was hard for me to know who was playing what.

I vaguely remember from a Rick Marotta interview that he's once roomed with RM and taught him drums. I think both of them were hanging out with Steve Gadd, but my memory's dicey ...
 
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