Outside, it is a beautiful sunny afternoon. Inside Vinnie's hotel room, he is
asking who Anthony Blunt was as he rolls a pair of sticks around in his hands,
waiting for the car to take him to tonight's venue, where once again, he will
be back on stage with Sting.
called me up and asked me if I could do these promo shows with Sting. For
whatever reason, they needed someone to do it at the last minute and I happened
to be available. It's not, "Oh, Vinnie's back with Sting again and he is going
to be touring all over the world with him for many years!" The reality is that
I've been asked to perform with him just for these shows. I think that they did
not have the whole band together and they figured that if I could do it, it
would make things a little easier. This way they did not have to audition, or
rehearse players and go through that process. I did some work on Sting’s new
record, so I guess it made sense for them to call me to do this short run. It
feels really great, it's like pulling on your favourite pair of boots and you
know that you'll never get another pair that fits so well ever again!
been busy with other artists and that has to help maintain the balance for you.
Faith Hill was very big and the live show got a lot of attention.
That was great. We did the record at Sky Walker ranch with mostly an LA crew.
Then, a bunch of tv specials, some award shows, including the Grammy's came up
and we went and played for the troops. It turned out really nice as I was able
to stay home and balance it out with some gigging, plus, Faith is just so
fantastic to work with.
She had been
invited to play the Grammy's and right at the last minute she decided to change
the arrangement of the tune we played. Some people would have freaked out about
changing arrangements right at the last minute, especially at a show like the
Grammy's. That can be a little risky, but she had confidence that we as a band
could handle that. It was fun, turned out great and people liked it.
Surely though, it is good to step out of the comfort zone at times?
theory on comfort zones is mixed and I have different perspectives on that.
There is value in a comfort zone, as long as you don't abuse it to become
complacent. If within that zone there exists, in a band situation, several
people working together with a strong element of trust and a chemistry that
works well, then you will be comfortable with that. In that case, that comfort
zone is not a bad thing as it is a necessary environment to allow that trust to
happen. That way, if there are moments where we don't know what's going to
happen, it won't create a fear paralysis. You are already in a zone of
relaxation, yet alertness, in order to allow you to know that you will be
supported with trust. It's a great basis to work from. Life can deal you all
sorts of hands that may be unexpected and then you can be brave enough to stand
up to what some other people may call failure. If you become complacent, then
it prevents positive growth.
Are you enjoying being back in the studio?
studio has always been my mainstay. I had built up a career as a session guy
and I am lucky in that respect, as I can drive home at night and stay in the
same place, which is nice after so many years of touring.
that attracts me to the studio, is that people have to communicate with each
other musically and non musically. We have to communicate so that we embrace
and support each other, rather than having our arms crossed. I am there without
an immediate audience judging me, or providing me with a potential distraction.
It allows me to tune that potential distraction out. I'm just trying to play
the music - period. I can concentrate on just playing music and I'm not in an
environment where I’m expected to just entertain somebody. That's really not
something that I tend to embrace. It's not good if I sit there and dazzle
people if I can't make it work as a meaningful statement, especially when I'm
communicating with other musicians. It does not matter how fast or slow it is,
it has to be music. Music is a language. Having a tangible language with the
drums touches you viscerally, it's cosmic and it's very deep and you cannot
deny it. Two words: Think Music!
work with artists such as Sting, how much freedom do you get with the drum
I did the first 2 albums, Ten Summoner's Tales, and Mercury Falling, we usually
started more from scratch and Sting might have a sketchy idea in the
Synclavier, or sequencer. We would build on it by playing it and seeing what
happens. Or, he might have a groove idea, or we'd just play and he would tell
me if he didn't like something, or wanted to hear something different, and then
sing his idea to me. On the odd time tunes, however, the idea of playing the
cymbal/hi-hat pattern over the bar using quarter notes was Sting's idea, NOT
mine! His concept for that was to be able to give the audience something to
'grab onto', with the odd time signature. That's brilliant!
you did much lengthy touring with Sting, is there any artist now that could
tempt you to go back on the road, for musical reasons?
That's tough! After Sting, it's like, where do you go? It depends on what you
want and whether it's Jazz, or Pop. It really was the pinnacle of sorts working
with Sting, especially in the early years with the four of us. It was really
magical. He is so unique and such a brilliant artist.
Hill got me out for her shows and I had a great time working with her. She's a
great singer, wonderful person and respectful to all. And, I totally back her
up on her values. That makes a big difference. Faith and her husband Tim McGraw
are wonderful people and I have the utmost respect for them.
Do you ever get nervous before you play?
sometimes. I just want to be the best I can be for the music and the artist.
Recently, I had the tremendous honour of paying tribute to the great Steve Gadd
at a concert for him in Boston. I was nervous enough, being there for Steve,
but then, I made the mistake of looking out into the audience right before I
went on to play, and saw that Louie Bellson, Roy Haynes, and Elvin Jones were
there! I can't recall the last time I was ever that nervous. I mean, those guys
are among my heroes, and encompass a very significant part of the entire
history of jazz, and drums!
people feel you have amazing facility and can play anything you choose. Do you
feel that you can play pretty much anything you can conceive or do you feel
there are things you can't do?
don't really concentrate on having unlimited facility anymore. I stopped
concentrating on being the 'fastest gun' a long time ago. I realized that there
will always be someone faster, or whatever, but, did it really matter? I saw
through gaining experience playing and making music that, I had to be the best
that "I" could be, for different reasons. Not be necessarily 'better' than
someone else. I had to ask myself, 'better-by what criteria'? Someone might
easily and cynically answer, "all of them". But, I say in response to that,
"preposterous"...you need not only more experience, but an attitude adjustment
extremely difficult to articulate how I felt, and how one realizes this sort of
thing; you really have to discover it for yourself. You either 'get it' or you
don't. It's really a part of your journey growing into musicianship....'mature
musicalhood' as it were. It's really about understanding the laws of music.
Talent, and the way it is displayed and communicated comes in so many forms. I
saw and recognized that, and went, "AHA"! I had an 'aha' moment. And, I saw
that it was so beyond fireworks, and so beyond the ostensible, and so beyond
what people seem to want to feed insecure egos, and so beyond what gets shoved
down society's throat by the media, and I realized that I saw truly gifted
people who had the ability to recognize it, and when they saw someone else that
also recognized it, there was just a sort of 'quiet recognition' of each other.
Because they knew that if they tried to convince others of the profundity of
what they recognized, it would just be futile.
obviously then had to ask myself, "well, does that mean that I'm gifted too"?
And, I decided not to answer it.
feel like working on new things, but don't have the time. I have to be really
moved by something, and have a reason to do it. I won't sit there and work on
some sort of independence thing just because it's now the 'in' thing. But, if I
like it, then I will. Ultimately, I have to know that I can use it in a
valuable way. I respect all who have a passion for the instrument; drumming can
be a very transcendental phenomena.
that I am saying is, I think we are inundated with a 'sports' attitude a little
too much, with a deficit on the art. It is an art. It is not a sport,
regardless of the physical ability needed to play it. Fostering a competitive
nature surrounding the instrument is something that saddens me. I prefer
cooperation. God bless all who drum!