One’s first impression of Simon Allen might well be that he’s a touch wild, maybe even charmingly loopy, but altogether sweet. The man simply seems down for everything, ready to get his hands sticky in whatever the world is serving up. However, when The New Mastersounds drummer sits down behind his kit he’s lock-tight lethal, a lanky English answer to African-American forebears like Idris Muhammad, Zigaboo Modeliste and Clyde Stubblefield. What’s also refreshing about Allen is how he nearly always seems to be having THE best time of anyone onstage, whether he’s in his main groove with NMS or sitting in with any manner of funk or rock performers. What it all boils down to with Allen is his innate ability to swing and swing hard. Rather than dazzle folks with complex fills or crazy time signature shifts, he finds the proper pulse and pumps it beautifully. You can hear this on group’s new album, Breaks From The Border, or flying off stages as the quartet tours worldwide.
Here’s what Simon had to say in the Impound’s new drummer survey.
- Favorite part of a standard trap drum kit – bass drum, floor tom, snare drum, tom-toms or cymbals?
- Hi-Hats – ‘coz you can play an expressive groove with them and nothing else.
- Tastiest drummer ever? Tastiest drummer today?
- James Gadson
- A drum solo I never get tired of listening to is…
- Not into solos, but I like drum breaks. There’s a 2-bar break in “Look Ka Py-Py” by Ziggy Modeliste that never fails to make me smile.
- Preferred brand of drums? Why?
- Gretsch or Slingerland for the sound, but I could never gig with them ‘coz the hardware is too flimsy, so I use Yamaha or Pearl. Not too fussy as long as I get the right sizes: 20” kick, 12” rack tom, 14” floor tom.
- John Bonham, Art Blakey or Charlie Watts – which one gives you the biggest drum boner? What makes them SO sweet?
- Probably Art Blakey because these days I prefer his band to Zeppelin or the Stones.
- One lesser known drummer folks should check out is…
- Brandon Etzler from San Francisco. I saw him play in a bar recently and his groove is sweet.
- What aspect of being a drummer always makes you happy?
- Occasionally a member of the audience gets so into the drums that he or she will start miming what I’m playing and trying to predict my fills. When we lock in, the result is both delightful and hilarious.