At the 2011 Seattle Highland Games, Dowco Triumph Street of Vancouver Canada debuted a full set of Premier HTS 800 side drums in Ebony Black Lacquer with Diamond Chrome, and now Premier is very proud to welcome the band to its family of Grade 1 endorsers as they take to the field with a full Premier Professional Series mid section to perfectly complement the side drums.
The Dowco Triumph Street Pipe Band is a competitive and concert pipe band based in Greater Vancouver, Canada. Originally established in 1971, the band has a long competitive history. Overall, the band finished 9th in the 2011 Grade 1 final and is proud to regularly be ranked as one of the top bands in North America.
The band has had a very eventful and productive off season so far and has some very exciting events on the horizon for 2012 including recording a CD to be officially released in August, performing alongside fellow Premier endorsers Field Marshall Montgomery at the Pipes of Peace concert whilst also competing in the 2012 World Championships in Glasgow.
Leading Drummer André Tessier started drumming at the age of 10 in his hometown of Montreal, Quebec, and has earned several World Champion titles over the years. He leads a talented drum corps, the members of which learned their art in some of the most well respected drum corps in the world. André recently gave Premier an interview about life in the band, his background and influences:
Please tell us a little about yourself and the band.
I was born and raised in Montreal, QC, and began drumming at the age of 10. Prior to my tenure as lead drummer of Dowco Triumph Street, I was fortunate enough to play with some other prominent Canadian Pipe Bands, including the 78th Fraser Highlanders, Simon Fraser University, and Robert Malcolm Memorial. As a member of the SFU Pipe Band, I won three World Pipe Band Championships. I also helped the Robert Malcolm Memorial Pipe Band win the World Championships in Grade 2 in 2006. In addition to leading Dowco Triumph Street, I enjoy teaching private lessons, conducting drumming and ensemble workshops, and adjudicating.
The Dowco Triumph Street Pipe Band, sponsored by The Dowco Group of Companies and wearing the MacLean of Duart Weathered Tartan, is a Grade 1 competitive and concert pipe band based in Greater Vancouver, Canada. Originally established in 1971, Dowco Triumph Street holds the honour of being the first band outside of Scotland to win a major world championship prize, winning "The Sash" in 1979 under Lead Drummer Willie McErlean.
DTSPB includes award-winning pipers and drummers from British Columbia, Ontario, Washington, California, Australia, New Zealand and Denmark with the band currently ranked 9th in the world.
As a professional drummer do you have a ‘day job’ and how is this affected?
By day, I work as a Technical Analyst for a Technology and Marketing firm in Vancouver. I am also a father of two, so managing my time can be very challenging.
How and when did you get into pipe band drumming?
My first real glimpse of pipe bands occurred during a family trip to Scotland in 1981. My father (who is a jazz drummer) fell in love with the music and we both got involved with a local band upon our return to Canada. The band was called the City of St. Laurent Pipe Band, and we mostly did parades around the Montreal area. We would also attend the North American Pipe Band Championships in Maxville, Ontario every year. It was there in 1983 that I heard the 78th Fraser Highlanders for the first time. I loved their sound, their flawless execution and most of all, their music. They were the catalyst for my pursuit of competitive pipe band drumming.
What was it about pipe band drumming that attracts you to it instead of say, rock or jazz drumming?
I am an avid music lover, and have great respect and appreciation for all forms of drumming. Before I became fully immersed in pipe bands, I also enjoyed playing team sports. I’ve always found that competitive pipe bands provide an excellent team dynamic while allowing me to play great music at a high level. I’ve been exposed to many forms of drumming and have always found that the pipe band genre is the most fun to play.
Who would you consider your favorite or most influential percussionists, pipe band or otherwise and why?
The drummer who has had the most influence on me over the years is my dad, Paul Tessier. Dad got me started in drumming by teaching me the 26 Standard Rudiments (from the old NARD books) and made sure I practised them every day before I did the ‘fun stuff’. He bought lots of different books on drumming to help me progress in the early years. He also encouraged me to explore different styles and genres of drumming so that I would be well rounded. His guidance was critical to my success.
The most influential teacher in my early years was J. Reid Maxwell. He is such a natural musical talent and he knows how to get the most out of his students. His ‘ensemble first’ approach really resonated with me and played a big part in shaping my style.
John Kerr was another teacher who had a big impact on me. He was a very progressive and exciting drummer who taught me a lot about theory and helped build my chops with some very challenging drum scores.
There are many, many drummers who I enjoy watching and listening to. Some of my favourites include Joe Morello, Buddy Rich, Vinnie Colaiuta, Steve Smith, Neil Peart, Stewart Copeland, Mike Portnoy, Poncho Sanchez, Jim Kilpatrick and of course, the great Alex Duthart.
Which events would you consider ‘defining’ moments in your career and why?
Winning the World Pipe Band Championships for the first time in 1996 was a breakthrough moment for me, as it had been my dream since I started drumming. Winning ‘The Sash’ for best drum corps in 1999 after watching the great Shotts and Dykehead drum corps win it for the previous 11 years was another. As a drum corps instructor, my defining moment was guiding the Robert Malcolm Memorial Grade 3 Drum Corps to the Juvenile title at the 2005 World Championships. In 2006, in my first season as a lead drummer, I helped the Robert Malcolm Memorial Pipe Band win the World Championships in Grade 2. As lead drummer of Dowco Triumph Street, I have helped the band make it into the final in each of our 3 Grade 1 World Championships. At this point in my career, the most meaningful drumming activity for me is teaching young people. I am very fortunate to have some terrific students.
What’s your current equipment set-up and why do you choose it?
We use the HTS 800 side drum, and the Professional Series tenor and bass drums. I’ve always liked the 26” x 14” bass drum for its sweet sound and ability to flawlessly complement the drones of our pipe section. It’s a smaller bass drum, but has a very elegant and pure sound. Our tenor drums measure as follows: 15” x 12”, 16” x 12”, 16” x 14”, 18” x 14” and 20” x 14”. This set-up allows us to tune from the high-A of the chanter, down to the low-A. We match each tenor drum to a specific chanter pitch so that we may follow the melody line in some areas, and harmonize in others. Playing all drums simultaneously provides a robust sound that lends power and impact when we need it.
What are your plans during the coming months?
On January 28th, the band will host its annual Burns Supper, which is our biggest fundraiser of the year, where we will also perform. This spring, the band is going into the recording studio to begin work on an album, which will be released later this year.
On August 9th, Dowco Triumph Street will perform alongside the Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band at the annual Pipes of Peace concert. Finally, on August 11th, the band will once again compete at the World Pipe Band Championships.
What are your feelings about the future of pipe band drumming in general?
Pipe band drumming has a very strong future indeed. There are more-and-more truly gifted and qualified instructors out there, and I am encouraged to see many talented young drummers rising through the competitive ranks. The art form is practiced in many countries throughout the world, and as the form continues to evolve, it will continue to attract new students. The challenge, as always, is to continue to innovate and move forward while staying true to the idiom’s historical roots.
Do you have any advice for aspiring drummers out there?
No matter how good you are, always maintain the mindset of a student. This will keep you humble, and hungry to learn more. In drumming, there is so much out there to learn that one lifetime is not enough. Always look for ways to improve your fundamentals: Rudiments, technique, dynamics, theory, execution and most of all, keeping time. Expose yourself to different styles and genres of drumming. Music is one of our greatest gifts. Enjoy it!
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Dowco Triumph Street is very excited to be a part of the Premier family. The HTS 800 provides us with the perfect combination of pitch and projection, while the brilliantly designed Professional Series bass and tenor drums provide clear, rich tones for our mid section. We look forward to a long and excellent relationship with Premier.