SKF NOTE: Drummer Phil Gould offers lots of common sense advise in this interview. I’m going to file this piece away for future reference. The YouTube insertions are mine, not part of the original interview.
Phil Gould was the man who laid down the tight grooves in support of Mark King’s slap-bass led jazz-funk popsters Level 42 in their ’80s heyday. We asked Phil just what groove means to him, how to have good time in your playing, and to list his favourite groove drummers.
Q. How do you define groove?
Phil Gould: “For me, groove is that place in the music where all the musicians are in sync with one another, and the music has a constancy, often called the ‘pocket’ (ie, the beat placement remains constant either ahead, on top of or behind the beat).
“Sometimes, a tension between two different feels can create amazing feel, and a very deep groove, such as in early rock’n’roll, where the drummers were still swinging while the guitarists were trying to straighten things out (eg, Chuck Berry’s Roll Over Beethoven).
“But how musicians groove…and…arrive at a certain place in time is as a result (as Steve Gadd once put it) of a ‘negotiation’ between the musicians, which reflects many things other than just the music, including the culture, the climate, the instruments played, technical proficiency, etc.
“I learned a lot about note values from studying classical percussion. [B]y and large, you can hold a note for its full duration on a guitar, saxophone or a violin, but you can’t do that on a snare drum.., but you still have to give each note its full value.
“[Y]ou must be able to grasp the concept of musical time to make it work, and that comes down to basic musical talent. If you play a drum pattern and are constantly coming in early on the downbeat or varying where you place the backbeat you’re not going to make the musicians around you feel good, and you’re likely to get kicked out of the band at some point….”
Q. Who is your favourite groove drummer of all time?
Phil Gould: “Depends on the music but I’m a massive Harvey Mason fan. When I heard how Harvey played behind George Benson’s solo on Masquerade, from the album Breezin’, my head nearly exploded! I knew then that I wanted to play with that kind of minimalism!”