Dave Storey Interview

Drummer Dave Storey released his debut album, Bosco, in April. He spoke to Charlie Anderson at the beginning of his UK tour.

How did you get into music?

I started out just playing percussion, in orchestras, brass bands and things like that. It wasn’t until I went to study at college level that I had a piano teacher who got me into listening to jazz through teaching me about harmony. So it was through the piano that I got into playing jazz, or discovering it. But not through drums, which I think was quite unusual. Before that it was mainly through orchestras and the classical thing, or playing in pub bands or whatever. It wasn’t until I got to college that I found out about jazz. My dad was very keen on blues music and jazz as well so he was quite a big influence on me, in the beginning.

It was through that piano teacher that I found the jazz course in Chichester where I met a lot of other musicians my age who were interested in jazz. Then we all went up to Middlesex University and did that. If I hadn’t gone to that college I don’t think I would have ended up in London, so that was a very important step for me.

Then I had a year out and went to the Royal Academy of Music where I met James Allsopp and started playing around town a bit more.

How did you meet Conor?

I can’t really remember, but I do remember it must have been at Ronnie Scott’s or somewhere like that, at jam sessions or I might have met up with him during the daytime for a play at someone’s house somewhere, or on a gig or something like that. But the first time I met James we just played duo for a couple of weeks, it was just us two initially. Then I thought ‘actually, I’d quite like to get a bass player involved now’. Conor was the first person I had round. I think they’d played together a bit, so I think James suggested I should play with Conor as well. Then we started playing tunes round at my house every couple of weeks and just really enjoyed it. We did a little recording, just a home thing, and then tried to hustle a few gigs. I remember our first gig, it was three and a half or four years ago at The Green Note in Camden and it was just a really fun gig so I was like ‘I’m definitely going to carry this on’.

After about a year of just playing standards and Coltrane and Sonny Rollins repertoire, we decided to start writing our own original material. That’s where we’re at now. We’ve got this first album which
has 8 originals on it and one standard, which is a ballad, a great Billy Strayhorn tune A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing.

Are the originals tunes that you’ve written together as a group or individually?

Of the tunes, five of them are James’ and three of them are mine, and one standard. But most of those tunes we wrote mostly away from each other. We still meet up most weeks to play now. So we often bring little ideas along or single line melodies or little chord sequences that we think might be cool to play over. More recently it’s been a bit more collaborative so there’s one tune that we’ve written recently. I wrote the A section and I couldn’t really come up with a B section so James basically rustled one up in five minutes and it’s awesome.

I think it’s becoming a bit more collaborative but it’s quite hard to write jazz tunes in a group setting. I think there needs a bit more thought and sometimes you just need to go away and think on your own for a bit about what you want to do. It’s very rare that it just comes out together if you’re working collaboratively in the moment.

What do you like most about playing with James and Conor?

I like the playfulness in the approach to playing. It’s not so serious. It’s quite witty, it’s conversational in the way that we play together. I think that we’ve worked on that quite a lot. It makes things interesting every time we play, listening out for what each other is playing, and playing off each other. But also knowing these little things that we might play, that we’ve heard before but are slightly twisted or bent or changed in another way. So it keeps it fresh, the conversational approach to playing.

I like the trio thing because there’s a lot space. The way that we play is quite traditional but it’s also not tied down to that. It’s quite straight ahead but also we’re not very dogmatic about it being too traditional.

Do you have a favourite track from the new album?

I really like the ballad, the Billy Strayhorn tune, we played that really well. There’s lots of space and it’s very slow. We did another take that we thought was the one but there ended up being some tape crackles on it so we were all devastated and then we ended up doing it again, and it was even slower and even more spacious. Conor said he wanted to do a bass line that was a bit less fussy and it actually came out better in the end. I really like that track and James sounds amazing on it.

Lumpy Bunny is good. I just had a very good feeling for it. I like the title track, Bosco, that’s kind of cool as it’s slightly different to the other tracks. Also it just goes a bit weird at the end as well. It’s quite a fruity track.

The first track has quite a tidy arrangement. We’re working on getting a lot of those shout chorusy things together with the drums, and we’ve some other quirky little things like that on some tracks that we
didn’t record on the album. But we’ve definitely thought about that quite
a lot, putting those little things in, because in the trio format it’s nice to have those, not just to blow and have solos, there’s a bit more direction with it if you have those little things.

What are you planning on doing after the tour?

I’m going to go straight back to the studio, in October, is my plan. I haven’t booked it yet but I think I will, just to make sure that I do it, because I don’t want to let time run away with me in general. A lot of people do a first album and they’re like ‘ooh, that was good, I’ll just take some time off’ and then before you know it, a year and a half has gone by and you haven’t recorded anything else. A lot of the tracks that we’ve written didn’t feature on the first album, so we still have lots of ammunition to do another record. I think the guy from Impossible Ark is up for it as well.

That’s the plan: Go back to the studio, do another album and then another tour. Also, I’d like to possibly do a European tour next year. That’s my goal. I just want to get our name out to Europe. That’s a good goal to have.

The last time I saw you play was at The Verdict with Tom Barford. Are there other projects that you’re involved with that you really like doing?

I love playing with Tom Barford, and Tom Smith, the young alto sax player, he’s a phenomenal sax player and he has a septet that I play in which I really enjoy. I also play in a quintet led by trombonist Olli Martin.

Harry Christelis has a group called Moostak Trio and we’re going into the studio in May to do his first album, although it might be two EPs, and I like playing in that. It’s very different to my own band, or any other band that I’m in. It’s more spacious, textural and more Bill Frisell influenced.

Why do you do what you do, in terms of music?

There are so many aspects that I like about it. Obviously you’re your own boss, which is great but I just really like the community in which I work in. A lot of the people that I play with are really good friends of mine and it’s nice to just turn up somewhere and play some music. It’s the connection thing with other people that I really enjoy. I remember there’s a feeling that I get from playing music that I don’t think I’d be able to get from many other things. It’s just really fun and it makes you feel good. I like how it’s very varied as well. No two days are the same and no gig is too similar to another one. I quite like the variety.

 

Dave Storey

New Generation Jazz

The Verdict, Brighton Friday 31st May, 2019

Interview by Charlie Anderson