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Q&A: Lee Innes

Q&A: Lee Innes

Lee Innes, 35, lives in Lochgelly in the Kingdom of Fife. He is the leading drummer for the Kilts & More Dysart and Dundonald Pipe Band. Lee is also the drumming instructor at the Dollar Academy, Clackmannanshire.

As a professional drummer do you have a ‘day job’ and how is this affected?
As a full time drumming instructor at the Dollar Academy, I am very lucky to have a day job the same as my hobby. I have the opportunity daily to always have a set of sticks in my hands. The school is very supportive of my role in the band.

How and when did you get into pipe band drumming?
Bob Shepherd MBE came to our school recruiting chanter players when I was 10 years old. I was very keen to start, however my parents were not, due to the noise a local piper made when practicing nearby my house (he is now P.M. of a Grade 1 band). I then suggested drumming, which they agreed to. I was taught by William Bell, the then leading drummer of Dysart & Dundonald.

What was it about pipe band drumming that attracts you to it instead of say, rock or jazz drumming?
I actually enjoy and appreciate all styles of drumming. There’s nothing better than hearing eight or nine pipe band snare drummers playing together in perfect unison with a musical, dynamic approach accompanied by a finely orchestrated mid-section.

Who would you consider your favorite or most influential percussionists, pipe band or otherwise and why?
I think every pipe band drummer is influenced from the likes of Alex Duthart and Jim Kilpatrick. The most influential person to me was my tutor William Bell who accepted nothing more than to “do it right!” I try to instill the same method when I teach. I owe a lot to Paul Turner who was leading drummer at Dysart for a few years. I always enjoy listening to Phil Collins on the kit along with Al Jackson Jr of Booker T & the M.G.’s.

Which events would you consider ‘defining’ moments in your career and why?
I was leading drummer of Dysart and Dundonald previously in 1997. I was only 21 years old, The band were placed 5th for drumming in Grade 1 at the European Championships held at Bangor. Highlights include winning many solo drumming titles and the British Championship drumming title with Lochgelly High School F.P. Pipe Band in 2006, Grade 2. There isn’t a better feeling than being rewarded for the commitment and dedication put in by the full corps. It makes you very proud.

What’s your current equipment set up and why do you choose it?
The band currently plays Premier snare, bass and tenor drums. The HTS 800 provides the corps with clarity of sound, a pitch to complement the pipes, a snare response second to none on the market. The HTS 800 gives a powerful impact. No other drum gives the same volume. The Professional Series bass and tenor are easy to tune and add great harmonics and colour to the overall band sound.

What are your plans during the coming months?
The band will continue to practice through winter and into spring preparing for the 2012 season, beginning in May at the Scottish Championships. Two nights per week and Sundays will be spent trying to mold the corps into a section capable of competing with the bands at the top of the grade.

What are your feelings about the future of pipe band drumming in general? 
As long as we continue to strive to try to be better than what’s already the best out there, then pipe band drumming will remain in a healthy state. The juvenile grades in particular also have some very exciting prospects for the future. The standard is very high and continues to improve. 

Do you have any advice for aspiring drummers out there? 
From experience I believe having the correct mentality is crucial. Watch and listen to the best and strive to reach that standard. Above all practice, practice, practice!

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