As a special preview to his masterclass at The Rhythm Studio on May 10th 2008, Nathan Curran popped in for a chat about his busy life as a drummer, DJ and producer.
You've played with some big name acts, Basement Jaxx, Kano, Lady Sovereign, Reef and lots more, which gigs have you enjoyed the most?
They've all been great in their own individual way. I suppose the best, and I think it's the best gig in the world, is Basment Jaxx because of the vibe, and all the team that I work with on that are absolutely phenomenal and just really nice people. But they've all been good - if I really want to get rocky, get sweaty and get my head down then the Reef thing was great and it's more organic, you're not using a click all the time. Lady Sovereign was a really good fusion, mixing up grime, playing it live with the pop thing and the same with Kano really.
What are the most important things to consider as a drummer with a dance act like Basement Jaxx?
I come from a DJ background as well as being a musician, I think when you are performing and working with dance acts you have to have a knowledge of dance music and that comes through DJing and mixing records together. It's all about beats and mixing beats together. Sometimes, because I'm playing on top of backing tracks with a click, there are beats going on underneath but if you play the wrong kind of beat over the top it clashes. So you need to have an understanding of dance music and you need to be able to play minimally and tight with the click track.
Is your work with Basement Jaxx purely a live thing or do you get the chance to record in the studio with them too?
Yeah I have recorded, I did two tracks off the Kish Kash album which was their 3rd album. The title track Cish Cash, with Siouxsie Sioux from Siouxsie and the Banshees, and the big hit which was Good Luck, which were the two rocky tracks on the album. As far as any future stuff, there're bits and pieces that I do for them but it depends on what direction they want to take it. Kish Kash was a rocky album so it needed some live drums on it.
Do you prefer a live gig or a studio session?
I love both. I do prefer to play live in front of an audience and perform. As studio work goes I do like it a lot as well. With me I get in character for the session - if I'm doing a Funk or RnB session I'll sit low on the seat and I'll just get in character for that vibe, or if I'm doing a little Indie gig kind of session and they're young kids then I'll sit up really high. I like to spend as little time in the studio as possible, I'm usually done after a couple of takes because I think once you get up to about ten takes you're losing the vibe of it. And that's why I get a lot of session work, because I'm in and out, and producers save money.
Which drummers or bands inspired you?
JJ Cale is a big influence of mine, also Prince on the funk thing I just think is phenomenal. And all the old classic bands like The Meters. I love Zepellin for the rock thing, and a lot of the old Motown stuff and the Atlantic Records thing. I love everything really, I wouldn't say I have a favourite artist cause there are so many great artists out there.
You're also a busy DJ and producer, how did you get into this side of your music?
That's all through being a DJ and buying a computer and Logic. If you're drummer and can mix beats then you can make beats. With the computer programmes you have to read up on them and learn about them but I just phoned a friend up and said, "How does that work?" and then just progressed it from there.
You are involved in a new band called Them Is Me, how did this come about?
Them Is Me is really the ex-members of Reef. I was in Reef for the last couple of years just before they broke up. Its Gary Stringer (vocals) and Jack Bessant (bass) and I brought in my guitarist friend who worked with me on Lady Sovereign. Jack and Gary have been writing the album, we've had lots of rehearsals and done an album at Rockfield Studios. All the gigs we've been doing have been sold out with about 50 people outside trying to get in, and that's without any national press, so on that side of things it's good, but it does have a lot to do with the fact that it's riding off the back of the Reef thing.
What's coming up for Tugg next?
I've got lots of studio sessions coming up. I'm working with Craig David over the next couple of weeks and there are a few gigs with Kano soon. I've also got some showcases with Double 0 Zero who are an English band but they live in America, a kind of Beck poppy sort of thing. I did their album a few months back. Jaxx probably won't happen until the beginning of next year and there's the Boardriders surf tour booked in with Them Is Me all over the UK.
15th May 2008 – Nathan “Tugg” Curran Masterclass
Watch Nathan "Tugg" Curran playing Basement Jaxx’s Good Luck at The Rhythm Studio in May 2008.