Andy was inspired to play the drums in his final year at Ellon Academy (1983/1984) when he became a good friend of Evelyn Glennie. He used to watch her practice and perform on a regular basis and despite her efforts to teach him piano, he decided drums looked more cool!
Andy’s older brother also played drums with a top class local rock band called ‘Never Amber’ and Andy would frequently go to his brother’s gigs to learn what he could. For practice, Andy would ‘play’ along to records on his mother’s armchair (don’t tell her) or on his bed (he didn’t have practice pads back then!). He developed his co-ordination by tapping his foot on the ground at the same time, as though hitting the bass drum.
Once he had saved enough money from working as an apprentice draughtsman/civil engineer (bearing in mind, he was only on £50 a week back then), he bought his first drum kit (a black Premier Royale) from his brother for £200.
The next problem was finding somewhere to practice without disturbing the neighbours. This has been an obstacle ever since. Nowadays he practices at home on pads or an electronic kit.
1984-1986 Andy then went on to join a band from Ellon called ‘Subtle Contrast’ for a short time and managed to get his first few gigs under his belt. 1986 was the year that Andy got into his first working band, ‘Bigfoot’, a local cover band who played on a weekly basis. They had already been on the circuit for many years and are still on the scene today.
In 1988, Andy’s brother left his band, ‘Never Amber‘ and Andy was approached to take his place. This was a dream come true for Andy so he left ‘Bigfoot’ and went on to play with ‘Never Amber‘ on a full-time basis for about a year, playing 5-6 nights a week.
Sadly, in 1989, ‘Never Amber’ split up and Andy went on to play with a few local cover bands, just to keep playing. He felt that the quality of the music he was playing had dropped somewhat and he wasn’t being musically challenged enough, so when he was approached to audition for local original band ‘Tour de Force’, he jumped at the chance. They were a top quality outfit and it was Andy’s first introduction to original material, which was a new challenge from doing covers. Although this only lasted for a few months, as the band decided to split, the experience Andy gained was invaluable.
In 1990, some members of ‘Never Amber’ decided to re-form but under the new name of ‘Nightshift’. Andy played gigs with ‘Nightshift’ on a weekly basis until they lost their singer, who decided to move abroad with his partner in 1992. To this day, Andy believes this was the line-up he felt most at home with and, if it is possible, believes Nightshift built up a better reputation than even ‘Never Amber’, certainly in the town.
In 1993, the remaining members formed the rock band ‘Shogun’ but the line-up didn’t inspire Andy so he parted company with them.
“I always feel that once a band, who are used to playing well together (no matter how good each individual musician is) lose a member, they are always difficult to replace.” [Andy]
Shogun did continue to play on the circuit afterwards, but went through 3 singers in the process.
After ‘Shogun’, Andy decided to take a break from working full time in the circuit, although he kept his hand in by doing stand-in gigs for various bands.
Andy’s break from the circuit came to an end in 1995 when he auditioned for, and was accepted into, an outfit playing original material, who went on to become Amoeba Red (see photo on the right).
This band rehearsed solidly for a year and during the period of time when they finally began performing in public, they managed to secure a local sponsor, recorded a 4 track EP in a top quality recording studio and sold out a performance at the prestigious Aberdeen venue, ‘The Lemon Tree’. Amoeba Red’s EP was Andy’s first experience of recording work and playing to a click track – which has proved to be an invaluable skill!!!
In 1996/1997, Andy was approached by his first working band ‘Bigfoot’ to do some stand-in gigs and he ended up rejoining the outfit for a while.
In 2001, Andy parted company from ‘Bigfoot’ and formed local rock band ‘Pie Shop’, a band that is still on the go today and whose popularity has far exceeded anything else Andy has been part of. Andy believes that the secret of the band’s success is a mixture of both individual talent and the ability to play well together as a unit.
‘Pie Shop’ is also the band that, along with another local musician, became the cartoon band Lovefist from Grand Theft Auto – vice city, a computer game that has sold in excess of 28 million copies worldwide. Please click here for more information and photographs.
The same members who recorded the tracks for Lovefist also went on to form ‘The Darkest’, a tribute to rock outfit The Darkness.
In January of 2002, Andy began teaching drumming and now runs his own successful private teaching practice from home. Please click here for more information.
Finding a lack of top quality professional training in Aberdeen, Andy decided to expand his skills by attending drum clinics in and around London with top professional players so that he could pass on his experience to his own pupils.
Andy has attended clinics and rubbed shoulders with some of the best players in the world :
Thomas Lang, Simon Phillips, Gary Husband, Keith LeBlanc, Craig Blundell, Russell Gilbrook, Paul Elliot, Pete Riley, Colin Woolway, Russ Miller, Chuck Silverman, Zoro, Jason Bowld, Pete Lockett, John Riley, Steve Smith and Vinnie Colaiuta.
“I believe that my interaction with all these wonderfully gifted players along with my many years of experience within the live performing/recording industry has not only made me into the player I am today but has also given me an opening to a future of endless enjoyment of playing and never-ending learning. The only difference from before is knowing how to approach it and finally having an avenue to my learning, also to being able to pass this onto my students.” [Andy]