SKF NOTE: Here’s the back story to my interviews with Joe English. In this excerpt, Joe talks about always playing a right-handed drumset without crossing his hands over.
Joe English: I’ve been playing like that all my life. When drummers see me play like that they say, “Oh, you play like Billy Cobham.”
I tell them that I’ve been playing like that since I was 14 when I didn’t even know who Billy Cobham was.
Basically I just play my hi-hat with my left hand, and my snare drum with my right [hand], on a right-handed kit.
When I took those few drum lessons early on people would say, “Match grip? No. You’ve got to use traditional grip and you’ve got to set your drums up like this.”
I said, “No way.”
A lot of people ended up playing like that. Billy Cobham. Lenny White. For me, it’s easier. I can lead with my left or my right — and I don’t have to cross hands.
When I sit down at the table to eat I don’t cross my hands to eat. When I drive I don’t take my right hand and cross it over to the left side of the steering wheel.
It just didn’t make sense to me.
A lot of people come up to me and say, “Man, I’d like to be able to do that.” It’s just as hard for me to switch back to the other way; to hold the sticks with a traditional grip and cross my hands.
I’m glad I ended up playing the way I do.