Ever since I first heard Gavin Wallace-Ailsworth play, I’ve been consistently impressed with his impressive chops and artistry. Whether he’s drumming with Bent Knee, Justice Cow, or recording his solo music, Gavin brings a vibrancy and incredible energy to everything he does. I had the great joy to catch up with Gavin, and ask him questions about his most recent tour with Bent Knee, his artistic process, his drumming heroes, and also his exciting new Patreon page!
1.) You just were featured in Modern Drummer. HOW COOL IS THAT! How does that feel?
Indescribable! My parents bought me my first issue of Modern Drummer in 2001, it had Joey Waronker on the cover. That magazine blew my world open and really fueled me on my drum path through middle and high school. I used to sneak it in to my classes and read it and just dream about having a life in music. To be featured in that magazine is just surreal, it’s a fantasy come true.
2.) You also just completed a tour with Bent Knee, in which fans from all over gave you some pretty sweet shirts due to a Facebook post. Which ones were your favorites? What was the coolest thing you saw on the road?
The tour was a blast, I’m shocked that people are showing up knowing all the words to the songs, that’s a very humbling thing.
The shirts I got were all amazing, it’s hard to pick a 100% favorite. There was a great one of cats floating around in space that is magical to look at. Some lovely people in Seattle cut a design off of a child sized shirt and sewed it onto an adult sized shirt for me, so that one is very special. I’m gonna put up photos of all of them soon.
As for the coolest thing I saw on the road, it was probably when I saw a bear sitting on the side of the road. I forget what state I was in for that.
3.) Let’s talk Patreon. What made you decide to use this platform rather than another?
I’ve been looking at Patreon for a while, I really like how it allows the audience to look in on the process of the person creating, it’s got a beautiful transparency to it. It also allows me to have a place to put out all these various things that I’ve wanted to do but never felt had a home. It’s a place I can put not only my songs, but videos about making music, videos about life on the road, podcast projects I want to do, all sorts of things. Patreon is the only platform that would allow me to bundle all of these things together.
A large part of the reason I haven’t released much since that first Mr. Gavin’s Meat Farm EP is that when I write on my own I tend to not write collections of songs that would hang comfortably together as an album, they tend to all want to be individually wrapped in their own packaging. A subscription service like Patreon allows a central location for all these tunes but also allows them the breathing room that putting them on an album wouldn’t.
4.) What kind of perks are you planning to offer your patrons?
Well all levels of perks have access to the songs, and I intend for that to always be the centerpiece of what I’m doing. The next level beyond that gets you the behind the scenes demos as well as all the videos and podcasts I plan on doing. A perk that I’m particularly excited about is what I’m calling “Mr. Gavin’s Monthly Mystery Disk”, I’ll put together a strange assortment of audio clips from various intriguing things and some little tunes that I’ll do to create a monthly mix CD of sorts that I will mail to your home accompanied by a hand written letter. There’s also an option where you can commission me to write a one minute song per month about anything you want.
5.) What can fans expect, musically? Will you write music similar to Mr. Gavin’s Meat Farm, or are you going to read down some new, uncharted paths? Will there be any guest musicians or is this primarily a solo effort?
Musically I hope these songs reflect the wide range of music that I love. Part of the exciting thing is that I’m not 100% sure where I’m going to be going with this, I want it to be an adventure. I want to work with sounds and instruments I haven’t worked with before.
As for guests, I definitely want to have people on my songs. The first batch of Patreon material is all me, but there will be guests in the future.
6.) Apart from playing with bands, I’ve heard you also do Skype lessons. How does one reach you for that?
Yeah! I’ve found that I really love teaching. You can either sign up for the lessons tier on Patreon or just email me directly at GavinWA42@gmail.com and we can set that up.
7.) Do you have any words of wisdom for our readers who are trying to make their own art?
Learn how to deal with those moments of thinking that what you create won’t turn out well. It’s way easier said than done, and it’s a major roadblock for me. You have to find your own way of powering through that feeling. I once heard an interview with Dan Harmon where he was asked this question and his answer was to, “prove that you’re a bad writer”. Finish whatever song or script or painting that you’re working on no matter how bad you perceive it to be, just finish it. Then take a step back and look at it. Chances are it’s nowhere near as bad as you thought.
8.) Who is inspiring you these days, musically and artistically?
Well the new Twin Peaks just ended, and it’s really reignited my love of David Lynch. His dedication to following his ideas no matter where it leads him is remarkable.
Nick Cave is a pretty constant source of inspiration to me too, he’s an incredible writer.
9.) If you had to replace each of your limbs with the limb of 4 different drummers, how would you piece together your new frankenbody?
Okay, here goes:
I would want Bill Bruford’s left arm as his finesse on the snare during grooves is ridiculously amazing. I’ll also take Phil Collins’ left arm and attach it to where my right arm is, as Phil is a left hand player, and his control on the ride cymbal and hihats is other wordly. I mean just listen to that ride cymbal part on “Los Endos”.
I’ll take Jimmy Chamberlin’s right leg. Listen to Smashing Pumpkins’ masterpiece album Siamese Dream and you’ll know why.
I’ll take Tim Alexander’s left leg. He’s an incredible drummer and I bet it’s really muscular and would impress people.
10.) Is my clothes dryer prog? I think it dries in 7/8…
Only when filled with Rush’s 70’s kimonos