"Anthony Rae is one of Drum Machine’s longest-serving and most recognisable members of the band. He currently plays on repinique but has also played snare and bass in the band. We are super excited to interview him for the blog."
I love how Anthony cites the gig at the Ritz in Manchester as one of his favourite ever Drum Machine gigs because that was when I saw Drum Machine for the first time. They blew me away. I couldn't stop talking about them for weeks and never ever did I think that one day I'd be joining them to play! But that's a story for the next blog!
An Interview With Anthony Rae
Q How long have you played in Drum Machine?
Inevitably membership of a large band like dM is a bit of a revolving door, so I’m really proud that I’m one of the 3 remaining members of the 2012 band (plus Aid, our director) that first started playing gigs.
Q Before you were in Drum Machine, did you see them play and if so, what did you think the first time you saw them? And how did you get into playing in Drum Machine?
By chance I saw what I think was the first public performance in 2011 in Hebden Bridge, and then in spring 2012, I turned the corner into St George’s Square and there was a revised lineup. I was hooked, asked Aid if I could join, was auditioned and I got in.
Q Before you were in Drum Machine, did you play an instrument and if so, what did you play?
Drumming’s always been hugely important to me although as, I think, the oldest member in the band - I’m well into my 60's – I’ve maybe got different musical references: the great jazz drummers of the 50's and 60's and above all, the whole Afro-Cuban tradition flowing back and forth from both sides of the Atlantic.
After a 30 year gap since I’d last played drums (but, alas, not having taken lessons. You’ve got to learn your rudiments!), I started playing again with Handmade Samba in 2010.
Just in time to then join Drum Machine.
Q What is it about being in the band that makes you stay?
In my case, if you want to understand the attraction of dM, you need to go back to its roots in the drumming traditions of Africa, as then reforged in the samba culture of Brazil. Anyone who has experienced that multilayered, interlocking rhythmic intensity (here’s one example, from nearby Colombia) will know what it’s like to encounter a music of great force, capable of moving crowds.
What Aid has done is reinvent those traditions in a new form, and it’s exciting to be part of this.
So when you play in Drum Machine you’re a part of that reconnection and redirection.
Then it’s something to do with the present and future of pop music, assailed by digitalisation and mechanisation.
Who needs a band of 20-30 human beings, capable of improvisation and changing polyrhythms, when you can just hire a DJ team playing monotonous 4/4s?
So it’s great to go against the grain and stand up for a music which is acoustic and transmits its energy so directly.
Q Do you have a favourite dM tune?
Berlin, because it really motors, with the different drum sections playing a melody, and it’s got a complicated repinique part which we like to nail.
Q Favourite dM gig ever?
The sounds the most important thing, so it needs an inside acoustic, playing to a club audience. The Ritz on Whitworth St Manchester a few years back comes to mind.
It’s also great that we’ve opened the main stage at Beatherder for the last few years.
Q What would you say to promoters considering hiring Drum Machine for their event?
Don’t put us in a field, where the sound gets lost. It needs to be big, and resonant! And amplified, so the bass knocks you over!
So a huge thank you to Anthony for writing this piece. You are and will always be in our hearts.
The tune Berlin will be on our next album which is due out soon! So watch out for that.
If you'd like to contribute to the dM blog, please send your submission to firstname.lastname@example.org and if you'd like to enquire about booking us for a gig, please email email@example.com