Artists John Hirst


The statement "there are only two types of music: good and bad' gets a lot of use, but it sums up John Hirst's musical philosophy quite neatly - he's as comfortable on brushes in a Piano trio as he is bringing the Bonham-esque thunder. He knows that the music must come first, and that most of the time a drummer's job is to forget about the hand/foot combinations they might just have nailed in the practice room and try to make the good stuff sound as good as possible.

Born in rural Northumberland, John's first encounter with the drums came courtesy of a friend of his brother's who left a 5-piece set at his parents' house. In his enthusiasm for the new toy, the young John (accidentally) put a stick through the floor tom head; the friend said he didn't want the kit anymore and the rest is history.

During his school years, John performed in drum clinics with Jojo Mayer, Zoro, Gary Husband and Russ Miller. He also studied tuned Percussion; this culminated in him being featured soloist in Joseph Schwantner's "Concerto for Percussion and Orchestra' (just in case you don't know it, it's the piece that won the BBC's "Young Musician of the Year' in 1998).

After high school, John was awarded a scholarship to Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, where he studied with Jazz greats Joe Lovano and Jerry Bergonzi, Grammy award-winning drummer/percussionist Mark Walker, Mike Mangini (Steve Vai; Dream Theater) and won the Steve Gadd Scholarship award. During his time in college, John often returned to the UK to perform in clinic with the likes of Thomas Lang and Terry Bozzio.

Shortly after returning to the UK, degree in hand, John was told that his performance in the Terry Bozzio clinic of the previous year had been filmed (he knew that) and sent to Mapex as an entry for their "Drummer of Tomorrow' competition (he didn't know that). Ever the realist, John expected nothing until he was invited to the NEC to perform in the UK final.

Since winning DoT, John's performed at the Frankfurt Musikmesse and Music Live, played festivals up and down the country, done countless gigs and sessions (including a return to the states to record in New York City), taught in colleges and privately, and found time to write and record an album with his own trio. As of 2011 he's combining it all with a Mmus at Birmingham Conservatoire.

As for the future, John hopes to continue playing, writing and teaching. And, of course, trying to make the good stuff sound even better!