Meet the Band

Joe Pickering - Drums

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What inspired you to start learning your instrument?

John Bonham from Led Zeppelin was a big inspiration for starting up. My first proper drum teacher was a guy called Ross Curnow. Really taught me to enjoy the music you're playing and get lost in it. Music is just all about having fun and he was one of the first people to really make me realise that and how drums can really be used to express that. Another teacher, Phil Bailey, made me realise that you can make a life from that love as well as having the discipline to sit there for hours at a time plugging away at the technicalities. Also looking wistfully from the brass section to the cool kids in the percussion section in wind band and orchestra has had a lasting affect. 
 

Who are your current musical influences?

Jeff Porcaro from Toto - For me, he has the perfect groove. Sound is spot on for every note in the bar and there's a spectacular patience about his playing that is so musical.

John Bonham from Led Zeppelin - Still a big part of my playing style comes from him. Raw excitement and power is something no one should sacrifice as a drummer. It is a physical instrument and he brings the best of that. 

Gregg Bissonette - A big part of being an employable perussionist is versatility. This guy can play it all and has played with them all. Also a genuinely nice person (plus he's played with Toto....)!

If you weren't a musician, what would you be doing?

The thought terrifies me, but I would probably say working in a theatre in some capacity with shows and performances. Theatres themselves have always excited me and there's nothing better than knowing the workings of a finely tuned theatre performance and being a part of that is always grand. 

Top 3 Favourite songs of all time? 

Tough one, as they are always changing:

  1. Stellar by Incubus.
  2. Photograph by Def Leppard.
  3.  Jealous Again by The Black Crowes.


Most enjoyable Spitfire memory to date? 

Honourary passenger in the band van on the way to the British Embassy in Luxumbourg was pretty great but actually playing with the girls; it has to be playing Sing Sing Sing at this year's Hinton Ampner. The light had pretty much faded and all you could see was a mass of joyous people from the glow of the stage lighting, boogeying away and just generally being ecstatic. More of that please!

What is your favourite song to play with the Spitfire Sisters?

Beat me Daddy has got to be a favourite. Great energy to it and we've had that on the set list since the start, so it sounds tasty.

If you could pick a song for the Spitfire Sisters to cover, what would it be? 

Song to cover would be something like Black Dog by Led Zeppelin. Would be brilliant to hear that played with some big band flavours. Or it could be awful, but that's the fun.

If you could perform with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be? 

Would love to perform with someone like Tenacious D. Great songs that don't take themselves too seriously, however the standard is always top notch. I like playing for a name as well as that kind of backing feel has always appealed to me. Also I think gigs that have some sort of theatrics or farce to them are great to be a part of. 

Are you currently working on any other projects?

 Currently working on a couple of things. I mostly do theatre work and have the Pantomime coming up (at the Theatre Royal Winchester no less). Also playing in a country-style function band and working on a jazz trio. Also persuing other avenues in percussion, so attempting to get myself up to speed on xylophone, congas and the like. 

Any finally... How do you take your tea?
Strong and without sweetness.

Meet the Band

NEIL DOHERTY: TRUMPET

What inspired you to start learning your instrument?

My parents met in a brass band, so I started as soon as I was able to hold a cornet. I then later joined that brass band age 7 alongside my dad and uncle. 

Who are your current musical influences?

Too many to name really. I listen to big band, salsa, latin, funk, jazz, horn section, swing, jive, rock, metal, musicals, tv theme, film soundtracks, country, folk and classical music. I recently got to meet and hear one of my all time heroes, American trumpet player Bobby Shew. I’ve had his method book out a little bit more since. 

If you weren't a musician, what would you be doing?

Probably working in a retail or delivery driver. I’ve had several ‘normal’ jobs, none I really shone at. Used to annoy my bosses asking for time off for gigs.

What are your top 3 Favourite songs of all time?

I’ve thought about this for 2 days now, will probably change when I send this email:

1. Valiant & Valiant (from Who Framed Roger Rabbit)

2. Around the World (Matt Monro’s version)

3. Birdland (Weather Report - although I’m a huge fan of so many different versions)

What is your most enjoyable Spitfire memory to date?

Luxembourg!! Still can’t believe I was trusted with the keys to our digs, which happened to be the British Embassy in Luxembourg!!

What is your favourite song to play with the Spitfire Sisters?

"Bom Bom Bom” is probably my favourite. I also like “Sisters”, but it’s not been in the set for some time.

If you could pick a song for the Spitfire Sisters to cover, what would it be?

Feed the Birds (Mary Poppins). Would love to hear it in 3 part vocal harmony.

If you could perform with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?

I’ve always wanted to play in a full size latin/salsa band. That and the chance to play alongside any musician I idolise, again, a very long list.

Are you currently working on any other projects?

I’ve got several things in mind, nothing has got off the starting line yet. Hopefully have more to say about these in the near future!

Any finally... How do you take your tea?

Builders for me! 

Check out Neil's website here!