M I K E E L L I S ~ drummer / producer / drum tech / writer
Whether we’re lucky enough to earn our meagre crust(s) in the high flying and stupendously exotic world of music, or in some other perhaps more glamorous way, I think many have some hankering to be gainfully employed in our own personal ‘dream job’.
Whether that is as a gardener, a pilot, towel boy for the Mexican Ladies U-21 Netball Team or Commander in Chief for the Entire Universe, I’m sure most drummers have, at some point, contemplated the possibility of working in a drum shop. Like me, you may even have day dreamed of the utter bliss of lounging around all day amongst all manner of percussion goodies as opposed to ding something more useful to humankind, such as Traffic Warden Hitman.
Whilst I manage to keep myself off the streets via employment as a drummer and bumbling around day to day attending to the running of DM, I still found myself wondering what it would be like to work in big, proper, bona fide, drum shop, stuffed to the gunnels with toys!!!
As luck would have it, an opportunity presented itself recently to fulfil this aspiration thanks to the lovely people at Perc Serv in north London. As the inevitable Christmas rush approached a few weeks ago, I thought this would be an ideal opportunity to experience the potentially heady delights of mooching about in wall to wall drum heaven.
First, I had to consider what self respecting drum shop monkey would wear. Out came all the branded t shirts, I must make a statement about what I think is the best gear! But wait! What if I’m wearing a Blodgit Cymbals shirt whilst extolling the virtues of Flangian cymbals? Hmmm…could be a difficult situation. Perhaps the South Park ‘Kenny’ shirt with a pink boa would be safer.
I was also concerned that my stature as a revered and much loved Rock God Adonis might cause a few problems with the inevitable throngs of admirers once word quickly got round that I was to be found skulking around the environs of a London drum store. With this in mind, I deliberated as to what sort of disguise would be appropriate to send the paparazzi off the scent and so my legions of loyal fans wouldn’t cause an incident. After hiring the services of one of Elstree’s finest make up artistes, I was transformed from my stunningly gorgeous self into an unshaven, slightly overweight, aging, mad roadie type with unkempt 80’s hair and a lingering odour of formaldehyde. No one would recognise me!
So, off I trundled to deepest, equatorial Edmonton to commence my first day of percussive loitering. Upon my arrival, I was warmly greeted by boss man, Roy (….the very feller who was principal percussionist on all the 60’s James Bond movies amongst many others!!!), long time manager and all round good guy, Phil and John who many drummers know from his many years at nearby Supreme Drums. “So, where do I sit?” I asked. After the gales of laughter had died down, Roy escorted me out to a recently arrived 40 foot container and casually explained that my first job was to empty it into the stores. Oh….OK.
John and I broke open the seal, opened the door and as John expertly skipped backwards; I got clonked on the head by a number of boxes, thankfully containing nothing heavier than drum bags! The magnitude of the job soon became apparent, this was not going to be a ‘sitting about’ reading drum brochures day. Over the following 5 hours, the container, which seemed to have the deceptive capacity of a TARDIS, was emptied of drum bags, cymbal stands, hi hats, cymbals, drum kits, congas, multi clamps, heads and sticks. Once unloaded, every single item was checked, ticked off and stacked away. Blimey! This was real work! Hard work.
The following day was a little more relaxed. Not much more though! All the recently arrived stock was checked again and stock rotated and a selection of kits were singled out for display. Again, much more interesting than many more conventional jobs one might be employed to complete, but still hard work! In the afternoon, I unpacked, checked and built three full sized kits and a fab little junior miniature kit (not a toy, a real miniature kit! Awww! Soooo cute!).
At the end of it all, I was knackered! During all this time, the pace was kept high by the guys, no time for slacking plus the near constant stream of customers buying sticks, cymbals, parts and being the time of year it was, despatching multitudes of starter and student kits to all corners of country.
In all, it was actually a fun couple of days; much time was spent with customers, many of whom were taking their first tentative steps in the living Hell that is drum kit ownership!! But any thoughts of shuffling aimlessly round a busy drum store like this should be immediately discounted by any prospective employees!