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Catch up interview wth Lloyd Ryan

So Lloyd, what have you been up to?

Well I’m working seven nights a week in a hotel in Brighton doing the drums for a cabaret, which I absolutely hate. I’ve spent the last fifteen years doing my own thing, clinics, master classes, teaching and bits and pieces, then all of a sudden I’ve become “rank and file” where you become a band musician, and I don’t like it. I put a dep in whenever I can, sometimes I’m there only two or three nights a week. On the other hand there’s a new CD coming out.

What’s it called?

It’s called “Another Step In The  Journey”, it’s a jazz CD really. I fronted a band of musicians to do this album. The way I like to work in the studio is not to rehearse too much. We did ten numbers with different keyboard players and different bass players. The idea was to let them play and we’d keep the tracks that we liked. We ended up getting ten very good tracks including Caravan, which is a drum feature for me. I’ve been doing it live for about fifteen years, but now I’ve got it on CD which is always nice.

When does it come out?

Well it comes out in February in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. I’ve got a management deal in Germany where I’m doing some master classes and clinics. The first gig I did in Europe was in Hanover in Germany. There were about two or three hundred people there. My clinics are a little different from all the others in that mine tend to be quite humorous. I get bored with drum clinics when people get too technical with drumming. I find it a bit like trainspotting. I like to do different things, drumming’s part of your life you see, but not at the expense of everything else. I wondered how all this would come across in Germany with the language barrier and all, but they were wonderful. Much better than England. On the Monday I was in Hanover and the Wednesday I was in Manchester, and I did notice a difference in the audience despite the fact I’d played better in Manchester because I was on my own kit.

What was the difference?

I think the English are very reserved. People don’t seem to have the enthusiasm here. Yet people will come up to you afterwards and say, “You’re the best I’ve seen, wonderful” and all that, but they don’t show it during the show in the way the continentals do. For instance on the Monday, they were stamping and shouting and screaming, standing on the tables and that. In Manchester there were sixty or seventy people and it was a better show, but they weren’t as enthusiastic. Enthusiasm does performers the world of good.
Interesting this, as I’ve recently just had a bad throat. I had to call out a private doctor, (I’m not registered, I’ve never been ill!) but I did a clinic in a school in Wandsworth anyway. It was an all girls’ school, four hundred of them aged between 11 and about 14. They were wonderful! I had a trio with me, and sound system etc. I played along to an Abba track and I got a five minute standing ovation afterwards. That did more for me than any doctor ever could. Even though I gave them a good show and played brilliantly, they did more for me than I did for them.

Music is a type of therapy for you then?

Yes it is. I came out and got into my shiny Mercedes car and though, “my God, you are a lucky man”. To still be in this business furthermore, be a name in the business, with a nice car and a good house having done something I’ve enjoyed for the last forty years is special.

You dabbled in Wrestling as well, didn’t you?

Yes I did, funnily enough, my boy was supposed to be here today but is wrestling up in Stoke on Trent. I was in English wrestling managing Kendo Nagasaki. Many years ago I had a record out called “Kendo’s Theme” and I got friendly with Kendo himself. His manager died and because I was used to working with an audience he asked me if I wanted to come into the ring and wind up the crowd before he fought. I got into the ring and things like “You bunch of morons, what are you looking at?”. Of course, they’d all shout and holler at me. In the end they hated me as much as the wrestler! It was totally different from my personality and the drumming. Interestingly, Kendo retired about two years ago and my autobiography was out (the best kept secret since Pearl Harbour – nothing happened with it, it came out, a few sold, the company tried to get it moving but we didn’t have the resources) and there was a convention to honour him. It was his last ever match and there were about two hundred fans there. They asked me to go and speak for a few minutes. I ended up doing an hour and fifteen minutes. There was a whole queue of people lined up to get me to sign books, and this one woman said to me, “I can’t believe it, I’ve hated you for the last ten years, but you are actually a very nice bloke aren’t you?”

I’m so flattered that so many people still want to see me. Most of the people from my generation have gone, they’re dead. There’s only really Jack Parnell and Bobby Orr, but there aren’t many left from that time still with us. All the greats, Kenny Claire, Phil Seaman, Ronnie Verral, Jack Stevens have all left us. You ask a youngster, if they have heard of any of those guys, they haven’t. I’m trying to get people to understand about these drummers from yesterday that brought drumming to the front. Nobody has ever captured the public’s imagination like Eric Delaney. The English don’t seem to appreciate what they’ve got.

There is a lot of focus on US drummers…

Yes, always. Ralph Salmins is doing the best work he can do in this country; in fact Ralph had a few lessons off me. He was a young boy of 14 or 15. He worked with the Ken Macintosh Band and Ken sent him to me to pick some stuff up. I like to think some of the ideas I had helped him. You can’t take credit for the success of the people you teach. When you think of the people I’ve taught, Phil Collins, Status Quo’s drummer, Jamiroquai, Derek McKenzie, you know there are lots.

You taught Phil Collins!

Yes, my old drum teacher opened up a shop over Acton and Ealing way. He asked me if I wanted to take a few lessons. I had no idea what I was doing, I was hopeless! A few people came in, one being Phil Collins. Phil always had a problem with reading. That was always a big problem for him. That’s a shame because reading drum music isn’t that difficult. Possibly £150,000,000 in the bank means he doesn’t have to worry about reading music!!!

So is there a release date for the CD?

What with the English being the way they are we’re putting it out on the website. You’ll probably hear it on the radio because if I do say so myself it is pretty good. Then in Germany, Austria and Switzerland it comes out in February. The hotel that I work in (The Ocean Hotel, Saltdean, in Brighton) is being pulled down on the first of January so I’ll do that until then.

So your plan is to keep playing forever.

Yes I suppose so! I smashed my leg up earlier this year and was on crutches for a while. I got a bike and try to stay healthy. I want to be playing when I’m 85 and I want to look as good as I do now without looking too old. I don’t think that being old means you have to stop.

You can check out Lloyd’s website for more info…

interview by Mark Pusey

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