The Drum Tech
Yard Gavrilovic-Drum Tech
So tell us Yard, just what IS a drum tech?
How did you start?
I kept in touch with the music scene through Andy and by the late ‘80’s he’d played with Corey Hart, Visage & joined FM in ’89. He’d played in bands with Zak Starkey and Dave Colwell (Bad Co) for years and I started to do pub gigs with them for a laugh but by then I’d got the bug again. It was whilst I was fitting out Trident Studios in Victoria that they were recording Adrian Smith’s solo album “ASAP” and it started from there. The more I did, the more I liked. So I started fitting in music when I could and it went from there. I joined FM as keyboard tech in ’90 and ended up as Stage Tour & Production Manager. Adrian got me into Sanctuary Music and it carried on from there.
What do you think makes a good tech?
Who have you worked for?
I’ve known and worked with Zak Starkey for a number of years now and there’s not many drummers who can touch The Who gig but he fits it perfectly for me and is a fine man from a fine family who has helped my career no end. (a very big thankyou)
Steve Gadd for 8 years….funny as hell just like Steve Barney & Math Priest, Jim Keltner, Steve Ferrone, Henry Spinetti, Jodie Linscott, Paulinho Da Costa, Kenney Jones, Dicki Fliszar (SKIN) Uli Kush (Helloween), Math Priest, Mike Sturgis,(Psycho Motel) Pete Jupp(FM), Ricky Lawson and others. All have been an honour to tech for…… I think!
I hear that it’s a family business (hello boys)!
I got my kids in as we all work the same way and communication is easier as we all work sloppy. Nick came in to do backline on Ringo & the Ravens and Johnny Marr. He’s got a good personality(some say) and he has handled guitars and drums from an early age and he’s confident although he’s only 21.
Martin(29) plays drums and started with Natalie Imbruglia teching for Chuck Sabo…….and yes I would have swapped!! Martin & Nick did all the backline on Johnny Marr’s Healers World Tour last year with Zak on drums whilst I was on Annie Lennox with Steve Barney.
My other sons Tom(25) & Patrick (18) both play drums in bands and work with me in construction as carpenters and Gary the eldest is I’m afraid, not aware of one end of a stick or hammer from another…so he works in finance…Sad but TRUE!!
What have been some of your highlights and do you have any funny stories that you’d like to share with us?
There’s been a lot of highlights and its hard to choose really as there’s been so many. But the one that springs to mind because of the emotion and sheer pleasure was “The Concert for George “in Nov 02 at The Royal Albert Hall. Fantastic line up and everyone wanted it to work. It showed just how much George was loved throughout the business. It was Eric’s baby and I think that he was very proud of how it turned out as we all were - a very emotional occasion as was. The Who Teenage Cancer Trust 200, Roger Daltrey raising money to provide children with cancer decent facilities and care in hospitals, I spent 9 yrs in and out of Gt Ormond St Hospital due to polio at 18months of age and since then life’s been superb…..give a bit back…however small!
Stories? - well it depends on what you call funny.
I called my old mucker Jim McGathey at Zildjian in Boston who managed to pick out some lovely cymbals similar to The Gaddsters own and ship them to the studio in NY ready for his arrival. Steve & I met up at rehearsals in Dallas TX and the door opened slightly and Steve bellowed “Yard……..does the word cymbals mean anything to you”?
How has teching changed over the years?
What’s involved in a typical day?
With The Who & EC the crew band do the sound checks so I’ll play the kit until we get it right for the Arena. Normally with The Who we will play “Who Are You” to check out the click & track. Once we get the thumbs up we head for catering to help prepare the evening meal and also the wardrobe lady with the ironing (some chance……..we’re not known as the Country Club for nothing….it’s years of skiving ‘til you get it just right!!
I wear In- Ears during the show with Zak’s spare belt pack so that I hear what he’s hearing and you can hear if the snare pops or anything is too quiet in his mix…..bass solo in 5.15 etc……..that’s why it takes years to learn all the hand signal communication between drummer & tech during a show, so its quickly relayed to the monitor engineer. With Steve Gadd I sit on the wing and its all hand signals and not always nice ones. As he uses wedges, we have a few minor adjustments but very rarely.
How could somebody who is interested in getting into your line of work?
Listen to other techs and pick up any tips on set ups, tuning etc. Try it and if it doesn’t work for you….that’s life…….I’m still on the look out for better ways on doing things. You never stop learning.
Getting started in the first place? Well I get asked this a lot by people hoping to get a job and really there’s no format. It’s based on sheer good fortune……unless you are one of my kids!! The best way is to get in with a band at any level and develop contacts by being seen around working, personality is most important as I’ve said. If they like you they’ll employ you. I’ve met some great techs on the club circuit and all that they lack are the lucky breaks that I have had, so keep plugging away. Once you get to Arena/Stadium level the job is ten times easier. Same job …but lots more crew and spondoolicks!!
Any advice would for someone trying to make it as a tech?
There’s the world wide travel including gigs in the River Plate Stadium in Argentina (QPR for Div.1)Baseball in the US…Niagara Falls…LA, New York ...it’s endless…….top hotels and 1st class treatment. My advice is to be good at your gig and it will be good to you. You should get to 60 years of age and look back thinking …...fantastic…….no regrets….done it! In a few years I’ll be selling tomatoes, plants and bird tables from my driveway……..but that’s life…..it’s just a shame that I can’t carry on forever…so taking 30% of my kids wages should cover me in retirement!
Enjoy it……if you don’t ……..clear off and don’t depress everyone else on the tour!!
Good luck…..See ya!!
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