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New Edition of Bill's Autobiography

Date: 21.04.2013

"Bill Bruford -The Autobiography" continues to go from strength to strength. A second edition of the paperback has just been published by Foruli Publications with different photographs and layout, and an additional 1100 word Prologue from Bill. Signed copies are on pre-order from Burning Shed online shop. Unsigned copies available at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.


Bill filmed interview.

Date: 30.03.2013

A fresh filmed interview with Bill has just been posted at the excellent online magazine iDrum here.


The stories behind history's greatest rock bands.

Date: 27.11.2012

YES men Jon Anderson, Rick Wakeman,Steve Howe and Bill Bruford get Close to the Edge On It’s 40th Anniversary ‘InTheStudio’.

The full interview can be streamed now.

Dallas, TX - Nov 26, 2012. North American syndicated Rock radio show InTheStudio: The Stories Behind History’s Greatest Rock Bands gets a first hand account from YES current and former members Jon Anderson, Rick Wakeman, Steve Howe, and Bill

Bruford about perhaps the pinnacle moment for progressive rock with the release forty years ago of YES Close to the Edge. Coming off the breakthrough success of the band’s Fragile album just nine months earlier, YES had now gained a level of

commercial capital that they intended to spend. It wouldn’t come in the form of three and a half minute pop songs, instead appearing as an album of only three songs. Close to the Edge would debut at # 3 on the Billboard Top 200 Album Chart and crown YES as progressive rock royalty for decades to come. Jon Anderson tells In The Studio host Redbeard that the band did not intentionally aspire to create complex lengthy songs.


Second shop opens!

Date: 24.11.2012

Bill has opened a second multi-currency online shop stuffed to the hilt with all things Bruford, signed and unsigned. What with currency, exchange rate, shipping and tax hassles, the thinking is that this one may be more convenient for European and customers from the rest of the world outside North America. The North American shop continues to thrive, and wishes all its customers a happy holiday season. Not all items are necessarily in permanent stock in both shops all the time, but if you can't find what you want in one, it's probably in the other! Admin


All hardbacks now despatched

Date: 03.11.2012

Just to advise that all the When in Doubt, Roll! limited edition (blue) hardbacks, autographed and inscribed with your dedicated messages, have now been despatched from Los Angeles, CA. They're on the way! Many thanks to the folks at Foruli in the UK and to Amy who runs the shop in California, for making this happen.

If you missed the special edition, not to worry, the basic (red, pictured) paperback is available and in stock here.


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‘Obviously much more than just a drummer…’ by Bill

Date: 18.05.2010

With a lean and hungry Yes, 1969: L-R Anderson, Bruford, Banks, Squire, Kaye.

I was again reminded of the generally low esteem in which the drummer is held by that description of a drumming colleague, so described because he also writes and arranges music and leads bands. You’re unlikely to hear ‘much more than a guitar player’ or ‘much more than a pianist’. Much more than a saxophonist? Isn’t one instrument sufficient? Percussion and its practitioners are still low down the food chain, despite an increasing awareness and popularity.

A couple of truisms. First, a group is only as good as its drummer. And second, if you have a rock drummer in your group, it will ipso facto be a rock group, irrespective of instrumentation or musical style. Conversely if you have a jazz drummer in your group, it’s a jazz group, like it or not. So we accept that if your ensemble has one, the drummer is kind of important.

With this in mind, I’ve been mulling over what was so spectacularly irritating about the recent drummers episode of the currently-running BBC2 TV Show “I’m in a Rock and Roll Band!” I had the misfortune to be associated with this as a marginal contributor. When the producer called, he described it as a great opportunity to ‘forensically disect’ what it is that makes drummers tick. Unhappily, he managed no such thing. He produced the tabloid cliches so beloved of the army of rock wish-I-had-beens that now, in middle-age, commission and produce TV and radio show about their heroes. These shows dwell at length on the older drummers of whom they have pre-existing ‘wild-antics’ footage - Moon, Baker and Bonham - and let’s them recreate the driving-the-limo-into-the-swimming-pool story. What fun lads. And for pity’s sake, if I see that stock aerial shot of the three Emerson, Lake and Palmer trucks with the names of the boys painted on their roofs one more time, I think I’ll scream.

But then maybe that’s right, I’ve had this wrong all along. Maybe throwing TVs out of bedrooms is all there is to it. I didn’t take myself too seriously, I just took myself seriously, an unforgiveable sin in rock. And how narrow is rock drumming as defined by the BBC! The choice of drummers you can vote for in this hopelessly one-sided ‘interactive’ little programme are overwhelmingly white, British, male, decrepit or dead – Baker, Moon, Bonham, Palmer, Collins, Starr etc – all worthies to be sure – and all wholly reflective of the producers taste, but come on! Is that all there is to rock drumming? No wonder it’s fossilised! It’s so arthritic it can barely turn over in it’s revolving drum chair during its own solo! It’s so devoid of imagination that it looks back to the days when Stewart Copeland used a little white reggae as golden! Copeland may well have been the last imaginative guy left on planet rock drum before they turned out the lights. This efforts of this decrepit list, worthy in and of their own time, are what are fed to the army of young wannabe rock drummers going through schools and colleges as we speak.

I’ll put it simply. Everything of interest in rock drumming came from, and comes from, somewhere else. In the early days, military rudiments, New Orleans jug bands, a touch of vaudeville, swing, church, and rhythm and blues, made a heady stew. In my day the picture broadened and changed, with odd-meters from Turkey, electronics from Dave Simmons, and early brushes with gamelan, minimalism, Latino and African music. Now, drummers as a wider brotherhood are looking forward to playing Indian rhythms on the drumset, getting to grips with metric modulation, absorbing dozens of sub-genres of metal, rap, and hip-hop, and learning to improvise with timbre - the texture of sound – as their control over the vast colour-palettes of hybrid electo-acoustic kits improves alarmingly.

All this will eventually find it’s way into rock, and hence the mass market, but only if we smoothe the path, and encourage it to do so. The more we prattle on about rock drumming ‘being’ Moon and Bonham - even if half a century ago it was – the greater the disservice we do to rock drumming, and the legions of smart young guys out there who have something to contribute. Talk about a golden opportunity lost. So much for ‘forensic analysis of what makes drummers tick’. Drummers’ esteem, already low, will be pushed through the floorboards if BBC2 TV is allowed to go on mis-representing drumming with such enthusiasm.

Give me the budget next time and I’ll show people what drummers do. Phew - I should write a book about this stuff.

SOME ANSWERS:

I’ve been slovenly in reply – sorry it’s taken so long. It can’t be my birthday, again! Thanks as always for your warm notes on that subject. Apart from birthdays, the other main game in town has been rumours.

Jon Godfrey - 12/03/2010 16:10:02 kicked off with rumours of a Savoy Brown re-union, and then we moved rapidly on to a lot of people talking about Yes, which you may all know that I am not re-joining and have received no such invitation from anyone connected with the band. And also, even, King Crimson, which was new to me. Can’t we just let rumours be rumours? It just clogs up the place.

The answer to Roger Norway - 3/16/2010 12:02:37 PM is therefore – I have no interest. These rumour things often get started by a ‘slow news’ day over at the magazines and blogs.

mikepaschall - 3/16/2010 11:35:23 AM wants to know my favourite Bill Stewart recording. ‘Snide Remark’s – his first solo album, is a killer.

Peter Squire - 4/12/2010 11:32:34 AM writes :’I only recently heard what I assume was your first recorded output on Spotify, i.e. the first Yes album. I was struck at how assured your debut was, and wondered were you nervous in the studio? Did you get a sense of 'Oh gawd, I'm never going to be able to get through a take with out a big mistake' or were you fairly confident of being able to handle it? It's not as if they are simple three-chord four-minute songs either! I recall my only visit to a studio with my band about 25 years ago and as we only could afford one day I was worried as the drummer I would foul it up for everyone!’

I was a complete novice and had only been in the studio a couple of times before the debut Yes album sessions. I wasn’t aware, for example, that I could ask for the headphone balance to be changed vis-à-vis the other musicians, so I spent the whole album with a roaring Peter Banks out of one speaker and precious little of anything else. Not great. We just played exactly what we had rehearsed and played nightly. It was some way off before we decided that making records and playing live may be two separate things that require different approaches! I was never nervous on stage or studio when I was younger – but became increasingly and debilitatingly so in both areas over my last decade.

alan bartlett - 4/19/2010 2:18:21 PM asks ‘On the An Introduction to Winterfold cd, you mention that there was some material put down for a possible cd release to follow the gradually going tornado album, is there any chance that this will see the light of day?’

Slim chance, Alan. These are rehearsal-room sketches and roughs of ideas that were recorded into my boom box but actually sound nice and compressed and gritty. The ideas – very Dave Stewart - were never used. Someone else should make an album out of them. It would be nice to offer them for download some time, but be patient on that.

Richard Deem - 4/23/2010 3:19:19 AM wants to know if I’ve had second thoughts about retirement. No!

Nick O'Connell - 5/11/2010 5:26:43 AM says ‘Thanks for all the great music over the years. Loved the book. Any thoughts on double bass drums?’ Well, Nick, other than they’re not for me, not a lot. I can just about understand two BD pedals on one drum, but not two drums. It’s a question of space in the music. If you want to whip up ‘excitement’ I guess two BDs are good, but personally I find my excitement in the beautiful combinations of hi-hat (the highest sounding bit of your kit) and BD (the lowest), sometimes in unison, ever-changing. Controlling them is, I think, the full and proper job your feet should be doing.

JimFiore - 16/05/2010 15:47:54 asks my advice about building sound-proof drum practice rooms. I’ve done this three times, with and without professional advice. A couple of things. You need a box within a box. Google sound isolation booths and you’ll see the sort of generic boxes available – I expect you’re just trying to do something similar that precisely fits the existing room that you have in mind. Secondly, you can waste a lot of money really fast by being ineffective. Sound is like water, it will escape through the weakest point. You can have a great plastic bag containing your water, but if there is the tiniest pin-prick, you’ll lose water fast. So don’t put a keyhole in a heavy sound proof door! On balance I think it’s worth paying for professional advice, even if you then construct it yourself. It’s much more complex than putting stuff on walls and floors.

Thanks to everyone for continuing nice comments about the book, and see you next time.