From when when he was four, Sheffield born Pete Ray Biggin learned all the chops from the three videos he still has of Dave Weckl, Vinnie Colaiuta and Dennis Chambers -his all-time heroes. But he learned an even better lesson from his father Alan, who told him to learn how to groove and learn to play beats, because chops won't pay the rent. In the videos below, recorded during his Musicfair-clinic in The Netherlands, you find him playing Level 42's Mr. Pink and two songs of his band The PB Underground, the band where his Funk drumming perfectly reflects Pete's style and comfort zone. But there is much more about Pete Ray Biggin...
Pete Ray Biggin plays: Dance, Dance, Dance - PB Underground
Pete Ray Biggin Everyone who has a dad-drummer will name him as his or her major influence. But Pete took that one lesson as the best, grasping the concept of making the groove, the one that actually pays your bills. That lesson let him to play with Mark Ronson, Incognito, Amy Winehouse and being the current recording and live drummer for Level 42. Besides learning the drums from his dad, Pete studied with Toni Cannelli at The Drummers Alliance in Sheffield
How he got there is all about that simple lesson that made him realize that in his Funk style playing and line of work, it is all about the groove. And that single premise is the most important thing in drumming. As he states, he is impressed by "someone who can hold it down, and do what a drummer should do." In his work as a producer this message is one of the most important ones. When he started producing, he realized it was all about listening to music instead of drumming. He noticed his drumming ego vanishing with this insight. But as you can see and hear in the videos below, his chops are not really off the table yet!
Pete Ray Biggin plays: Played it Right - PB Underground
The Drummer Unique During his clinic at the international Musicfair, Pete Ray mentioned many drummers sound like other drummers, which is normal because we all copy from each other. However, he gets really impressed when hearing drummers having 'that' unique sound that makes them a unique and individual artist, rather than when hearing them play grooves and sounds he has already heard before and that are copied.
As unique examples in the 2000's generation of drummers he mentions Chris Dave ("a drummer who has changed drumming"), and Mark Guiliana. With them leaving the drumming categories for what they are and stating that "These boys come from something different. They started off with the basics of drumming: the Jazz, the groove to eventually evolve in the drummer and artist they want to be. And that is something we all should aspire."
And he is right; Mark Guiliana worked with David Bowie on his last 'Blackstar' album, and Chris Dave has a resume that goes from José James to Pat Metheny and mentions Adele and Beyoncé as well.
Pete Ray Biggin plays: Mr. Pink - Level 42
The one Big Lesson Pete's main message in this all is to copy a little bit from your heroes, and then make it your own. With that he refers openly to his ADHD diagnosis, which worked out fine for him because he gets bored when copying others. And, like all great drummers do, Pete reminded everyone attending to "Never beat yourself up for making mistakes because that is what makes you a better player. Just don't make the same mistake twice."
The Play-along method 'Drums at the Front' Unstoppable as he is, Pete Ray Biggin is in the works of releasing a drum book and play-along as well. It will have play-along tracks for beginner, intermediate and advanced of the music of the latest album of The PB Underground - talking about learning the Funk on all levels!
His trigger for this, as a fan of Icognito and Level 42 for many years, he then wanted the records to be without the drums already. This is his method for drummers who want to play along with his music at three of the appropriate levels.
Included in 'Drums at the Front' are drum charts to each song from the PB Underground album. Pete Ray Biggin will give you a background into every song, highlighting some of the important sections, as well as challenging parts to look out for.