Gary Husband - Drums

David Gallant talks to the drummer and pianist about how he got started, the instruments he has played over the years and his all time favourite choice.

Gary Husband’s musical genes are strong. His father was a musician who played with the Northern Dance Orchestra and then as a composer/arranger with Yorkshire TV. “My musical awakening came when my dad bought me a Mahavishnu Orchestra album,” says Gary. “I remember travelling up to Manchester with him for his daily broadcasts, and learning how to be quiet when the red light came on.”
Gary Husband - Drums
His dad had a very varied and eclectic taste in music. “I was introduced to Brazilian music – which he loved – as well as big band and a lot of singers. I get a lot out of Sinatra, Lena Horne and even people like Judy Garland – in fact anyone who can completely captivate, and invariably great singers do it for me. I know it’s an odd thing for a drummer to be taken that way but that’s what really stirs me."

Gary’s first instrument however, was the piano. “Apparently it was pretty obvious that I was trying to get hold of the piano keyboard before I could even reach it,” he says. “So my parents put me up for an audition at Chetham’s [school of music in Manchester], which I passed. But because of the Yorkshire/Lancashire divide and the ridiculous scenario of the white and red, the Yorkshire education department wouldn’t lend a hand for me to go there.” So instead of going to a specialised music school, he took lessons with Fanny Waterman, an esteemed local piano teacher.
“She was a complete dragon," he remembers. “I was around nine or 10, and spent a couple of ‘heavy duty’ years doing classical piano studies.”

Eventually, however, Gary rebelled against the whole classical establishment. “I couldn’t stand the fact that everything is based on and judged on sheer technical accomplishment – that wasn’t my scene, so I started playing drums.” Gary’s first proper drum kit was a “oval” German Trixon. “When I got it,” he says, “I thought it must have been damaged in transit! It was fitted with calf skin heads, so whenever the sun came out it would pop like a biscuit tin, and when it was raining, it would be like a Yorkshire pudding.”

Through his father’s television work, Gary was fortunate to be introduced to a lot of the leading session drummers of the day. “I was hanging around them,” he says, “asking for a lot of information and generally being a pain in the arse! I studied Swiss Army drumming for a while with a guy called Geoff Myers, working on flexibility, reading and some pretty hardcore exercises.” These lessons clearly paid off, as a week or so before his sixteenth birthday, he landed a job with the Syd Lawrence Orchestra. ‘"I was really lucky," he remembers. “Not only had I got the gig with Syd, but I’d also got an endorsement deal with Pearl.Gary recalls the sound of the wood/fibreglass shells being “pretty horrendous.” But as he says, “Syd liked things really loud.”
 
Gary sees his time with Lawrence as being the musical equivalent of national service – finding your way from town to town, organising lifts and generally learning the ropes of being a professional musician. Eventually he left Lawrence and moved down to London to play with the likes of Barbara Thompson’s Paraphernalia and the Morrissey/Mullen band. While Gary was playing at Ronnie Scott’s club, he met up with the guitarist Alan Holdsworth, who invited him along for a jam. “We just clicked,” Gary says. “Everything just fell into place so easily. I followed Alan to the States, where we were regularly gigging along the west coast and that’s when I bought my first Gretsch kit. I remember Alan recommending that I should get a 70s, maple square badge with die-cast hoops.” Sadly, he ended up by having to sell the kit on the advice of the girl that he was living with at the time. Can I ask why? “Yeah, sure,” he replies. “We weren’t really eating at that point.”

In the mid-1980s Gary went over to Tama drums, using the Kordia wood Artstar 2 series. “That was a very nice kit,” he remembers. “I played that for a few years, and on four of Alan’s records.” He continued to play the Tama kit in the early days of his tenure with Level 42, before having a brief run with Yamaha, and then perversely, returning once again to Pearl.

So what’s the current kit, and what would be the all time favourite? “These days I play an American DW kit, with birch shells and triple flanged hoops,” he says enthusiastically. And the favourite? “Now this really cuts me up,” he says. “I know we weren’t eating, but I must have been out of my mind when I sold that Gretsch square badge. It was a beautiful walnut finish with a 22inch bass, four toms, two racks, two floors – oh man!”

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