Gavin Harrison November Interview Continued From SDM Issue 9

SDM: We’ve talked about how you’re not really familiar with heavy metal, but don’t you think Porcupine Tree got a bit heavier once you joined?

Gavin: Yes, listening back, sure.  But I think my approach to the drums is different from Chris Maitland’s.  Not better, not worse, just different.  It has an effect on the four of us.  If we changed any one of us in the band, it would make the other three play differently.  It’s a chemistry thing.  A personality thing, quite honestly.  People’s personalities, the biggest defining part of having played.  Normally, I can tell you what someone is going to play like by just sitting and having coffee with them.  Whether it’s their sense of humor, their OCD, or whatever.  Nine times out of ten, I’m pretty right about how they are going to play!  You know, it’s like hanging with four mates, one of you is the clown, one of you is the serious one, you know, the personalities kind of gel.  Sometimes you are in different groups, but I don’t think it’s just me that made the sound of the band heavier.  I’m probably not as much of a rock-oriented drummer as Chris Maitland was, either.

SDM: How did the 05Ric project even come about?

Gavin: Well, we really wanted it to happen.  Despite any advice or total lack of consideration toward being commercial.  Ric and I met through MySpace, and I really liked what he did.  We did two albums, Drop and Circles, and it really was the purest kind of thing I’ve ever done.  In Porcupine Tree, it’s four people pulling and pushing psychologically and musically, and we arrive at the Porcupine Tree sound.  Ric and I, it was just two of us and we didn’t really cross lines.  Even though I play guitar and bass sometimes, and Ric is a really good drummer, we never really got in each-other’s way.  We like unusual rhythms and we both like to do what we consider cutting edge music with cutting edge rhythms.  I wanted to do something like modern design, like Fredrik Thordendal’s album.  That just blew my mind.  I always said if I could do an album as good as that, I would be so pleased.  That’s one of the best albums I’ve ever heard — it blew my mind!  I want to get to the bottom of how he did it!  Ric and I worked hard on the music and we really came up with some cool rhythmic designs.  Stuff you’ve never heard or played before.

SDM: How big of a deal was it for you to be able to make your DVDs on your own?  Would the DVDs have even happened if it went through another big company?

Gavin: Probably not.  I did it all at home by myself.  I like the idea of recording with consideration.  I like to record something, consider it, and go, “eh, maybe change this a bit or do that”.  So I have all the time in the world with no pressure.  If a company came in and said, “okay, we have a budget, we will go into a studio for two days and we’re going to do this”.  I’m going to hate it that way, because I know after two days, I’m not going to be happy with everything I did.  Despite the fact that it doesn’t look as good as a Hudson DVD with moving cranes and fancy lights, I didn’t care about that.  The content was everything to me.  The first one, I spent two years on it.  I look older by the end of it!

SDM: How different is your approach with King Crimson, considering you’re playing with another drummer?

Gavin: Well, yeah, that’s another mindset all together.  Pat was the perfect guy to do it with.  There was no competitive element to it; it could have been a nightmare with another drummer.  We would carefully choreograph things, like we wouldn’t want two bass drums together because it would sound like a flam and we didn’t want two snares going together.  Pat and I would go, “okay, in this bar, let me do the downbeat, then you do all the other bass drums in the bar”.  He has a big fat sound, a big bass drum with nothing inside.  If you do the downbeat, I’ll do some fast shit because I have the small snare drum, and I’ll put in some small bass drums.  So he usually does the big heavy duty Bonham kind of things, and I do the fast drum’n’bass-type drumming with a smaller sound so I could get in between the notes he was playing.  Sometimes he would play a verse and I would play a chorus or whatever.  We didn’t want to play together, we didn’t wanna play unison drums.  We wanted to be a drummer with four arms and four legs!  It’s a hard thing to do, and Pat was really good at it.  He does electronics, too; I don’t have any electronics.

SDM: You’ve worked on a lot of different things.  What do you think is your most under-appreciated work, or what album do you feel doesn’t get the attention it deserves from your fans?

Gavin: I don’t know!  I’m usually most into the most recent thing; I think Drop and Circles, from a creative point of view, is the best work I’ve done.  It’s not the most popular I’ve done, but I think it’s the closest I’ve gotten to be being one hundred percent happy with everything on it.  I’m sure some people don’t like the music or don’t like the direction, but I don’t care.  I can’t worry about whether people like it or not, I just do what I do, and you can hope people like it.