Award Winning World Percussionist
Award winning musician Pete Lockett is one of the most versatile and prolific percussionists in the World today. With over 20 CDs under his own name, he’s also worked with Björk, Peter Gabriel, Robert Plant, Dido, Jeff Beck, Texas, Nelly Furtado, Primal Scream, Damien Rice, Errol Brown, Rory Gallagher, Simon Phillips, Pet Shop Boys, and many more. He recorded all the ethnic percussion on five 007 films & many other Hollywood hits. He’s lectured Worldwide, including The Royal College of Music London, Shanghai Conservatoire, Berklee School Boston & The Royal Academy of Music in London. He’s published hundreds of technique articles in magazines worldwide, including MODERN DRUMMER, DRUMMER MAG & UK RHYTHM, as well as magazines in South Africa, Australia, Italy & Poland. His book, ‘Indian rhythms for the drum set’ (Hudson) is the first book of its kind covering Indian rhythms on drum set. Pete has also released a best selling percussion app called DrumJam. He continues to tour the world extensively as a soloist. Pete is currently focused on the project - Lockett-Vettese-Band with master keyboard /piano player Peter-John Vettese. Pete is also an Honorary Professor at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music.
At what age did you take up percussion and who was your first teacher?
A very late starter. I was nineteen and discovered it quite by accident. I was walking past a drum shop and saw an advert in the window, ‘Drum Lesson £5’. I went in and it was available there and then. It clicked with me immediately and I was hooked for life. This was partly down to the great approach of the teacher, John Hammond. He was open, didn’t patronise and wasn’t playing any mind games. A lesson there for anyone wanting to go on and be a teacher themselves.
What instruments/resources did you have?
At the time absolutely none. However, that did not stop me buying a drum kit joining a band two weeks later! It was more than worth starving for months to buy that kit. An old red Ajax kit. I remember when I first broke the snare head and thought the world had ended.
At what point did you decide this was the profession for you?
It was pretty much straight away. It cut through everything and got right to the core. I had never experienced that before. I feel blessed to have discovered that alone, even without any personal achievements and awards. Discovering something you love in life and are truly inspired by. That is a gift we cannot take for granted.
What happened next and how long till you got your first paid gig?
It was a very slow process. I moved to London a year or so later after gigging with a few local bands. Then, London was a very hard nut to crack. You have to be super committed, unimaginably patient and have unending belief. Also, super prepared. One chance might come your way and you want to be certain that you were as trained for that as you could be. Nights down the pub and hangovers from the club weren't something I indulged in. Dimmed lights and a practice pad. That was the weight lifting that was required.
How did you get into World percussion and why did you decide this pathway?
I didn’t decide it. It choose me. A strange sequence of events led to me accidentally stumbling into an amazing Indian classical gig. Then, a few weeks later a free newspaper came through the door and landed open on the mat, revealing a big add for Tabla lessons. Needless to say, I attended those very lessons. There were many challenges and attractions in the North Indian way of teaching that struck me immediately. Of particular note is how structured and organised the system is through every stage of learning. All the technical and intellectual difficulties that can arise have a multitude of exercises and tasks that would slowly help iron out the difficulties. It really is a musical system to look up to, on every level, not just the finished mastery of the performers but the whole organised path that led them there in the first place. No stone left unturned.
Where would be a good place to start for a young percussionist to get into World Percussion?
The place to start with anything is to begin with what inspires you. What music do you like to listen to? That has to be the first reference. If you like Arabic grooves and melodies then start there. If you are more into Latin clave and congas, then start there, or if you are mesmerised by the flow of Indian music, start there. If you do want to learn lots of different things then give each one at least two years before you add in another instrument and tradition. Get a good foothold and foundation before adding more into the mix.
You have performed with artists such as Björk, Robert Plant, Steve Gadd, Dave Weckl, Jeff Beck, Dido, Evelyn Glennie, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Concert Orchestra, film recordings and countless other collaborations. What do you enjoy about the ‘portfolio career’ of a percussionist?
It’s about playing music. I don’t really care who it’s with or what profile they have. If I like the music then I am in. If I don’t like it then I am not. I feel very lucky to have had a career where I can choose the stuff I participate in and say no to the other stuff. If you really focus on the stuff that really inspires you then it really helps develop your musical personality, rather than feeling you have to do all styles and genres.
You have also arranged and recorded the ethnic percussion for films such as Quantum of Solace, Casino Royale and The Incredible Hulk 2 as well as appearing as a soloist for countless other hit films, what is it like to work in the film industry? Is recording different to performing live?
I don’t really differentiate whether I am working on a purely audio recording or something that will be used for film. Effectively, you are adding groove, colour, tension and drama to a musical scene already set. It is very rare that you would go in and start from scratch on anything like that. The composer normally has a very clear idea of what they want and where they want it. This is entirely different from performing live in a scenario where you can shape the performance in real time. This is more responding and reacting to your fellow musicians in a symbiotic way, leading each other around the corners.
You have also performed as a soloist at events such as the Edinburgh Festival and WOMAD, what was this like and is it different to performing as part of an ensemble?
It’s not just about that. It’s also about how improvised the content is. If you are in a duo situation and improvising then you are both steering the ship. Your collaborator might not always go where you want to go at the time you want to go there. You need to bend, listen, respond, react and stay open minded. If the material is strictly composed though, those decisions would not always be down to you. They are dictated by the composers intent. Similarly with a solo scenario. If it is strictly pre-composed then there are less decisions and so, the process is, in some limited ways, similar to two or more players playing a score. Improvising as a soloist however is entirely different as the performer is travelling the land and writing the map at the same time. All of these scenarios are incredibly challenging and rewarding in equal measure.
Do you have any advice for young drummers and percussionists starting out at the moment?
This question gets trickier to answer almost by the month nowadays! What I would say is that it is super important to be adaptive to change. Everything in this industry changes so fast and so often. The best way to get ready for change is to keep and open mind and create. A creative mind that thinks out of the box is a major asset. Also, enjoy what you do and believe you can improve and achieve your goals. This is NOT done by comparing yourself to others on social media or Youtube. Hold your passions close to your heart and don’t let anyone trample them. Work diligently at what you do and keep a practice diary so you can see the improvements you make over time. This is a sure fire way to be able to assess your improvement.
What would your 'Top Three Tips' be for a young percussionist thinking about a career in music?
3. BELIEVE (Mix up the order of all three!)
If you would like to find out more about Pete, check out his website:
Percussion you'll never forget! www.petelockett.info
DRUMS FOR EVERYONE (iDevices) drumjamapp.com
Lockett Vettese Band:
Latin Percussion www.lpmusic.com
DW Drums www.dwdrums.com
Sabian Cymbals www.sabian.com
Vic Firth Sticks www.vicfirth.com
Remo Drumheads www.remo.com
ATV aFrame www.atvcorporation.com