OPINION: A Q&A with North Devon drummer Billy Hammett

North Devon Gazette

I think I first saw Billy play at one of our local festivals and was blown away by his playing, at the time my eldest Finn was getting into drumming, so I enjoyed watching other drummers.Â

Finn was excited to see and showed me Billy being featured in a National Drums magazine one day, and from that moment Billy became someone to be inspired by.Â

Seeing Billy play is great, his drumming pushes his fellow artists and he manages to create an amazing powerful sound.Â

It’s been cool following his rise in music and the level in the music world he’s got to currently drumming for Kris Barras, I hope the trajectory keeps going.Â

I was lucky enough to catch up with Billy and ask him some questions. Enjoy!Â

Hi Billy hope you are well, great to meet you so let’s start with, when and why did you get into music and start drumming?Â

“Hello Andy thanks for asking me, really appreciate it. So, I started music when I was about eight and that was the guitar, to be honest it wasn't for me and after realising that, I spoke to my parents and they suggested the drums. I fell in love with them straight away and moved to them when I was 10.”Â

Who are your influences in life, music and drumming?Â

“I would say my biggest musical influence is Stevie Ray Vaughan, growing up my mum and dad had lots of his live VHS videos and seeing him play blew my mind, and still does!”Â

“My biggest drumming influences are Nicko McBrain from Iron Maiden and John Bonham from Led Zeppelin. They helped shape a lot of my playing today, mainly how they just use single pedal and how it sounds like they have two!”Â

What’s the best musical or drumming performance you have ever witnessed?Â

“That's a tough one! The best live performance that I've seen was Gentleman's Dub Club at Beautiful Days a few years ago. The way they captured the crowd was so cool to see and they just smashed their set, really enjoyed it”Â

I’ve seen you play many times and see you balance technical skill and power house performance, tell me how that feels and how you manage that on stage?Â

“Ah thank you! I would say the key to getting to the point where you can perform on stage and incorporate technique would just be putting the hours in the practice room. Once you don't have to worry about what your hands are doing on stage you can just let go and have fun!”Â

Who are you currently playing for and highlight some of the best moments?Â

“My main gig at the moment is with the Kris Barras Band, I joined that band in 2019, which has been amazing. We have toured over Europe and the UK. We have just come back from a UK tour which ended at the Royal Albert Hall and that was a real highlight of my career so far!”Â

“I also play with some projects in North Devon, I’ve been in the ska band Skata Tones for years and recently joined One Man Boycott, so I'm looking forward to getting out there and playing more with them.”Â

What advice would you give local musicians in North Devon?Â

“I would say practice a lot and learn your craft but also get out there and meet and play with as many different musicians as you can.”Â

What’s on the horizon for Mr Billy Hammett?Â

“I'm really focusing on my teaching at the moment (billyhammett.com) so trying to build that up and then setting off on tour with Kris around the UK in March as that's when our new album is out.”Â

Thanks for that Billy, great catching up with you and good luck with all that you’re doing you legend. Â

Keep Rocking, Rockers,

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