“I think people always relate drumming to being fast,” bemoaned world renowned Australian drummer Virgil Donati. “Sure, that’s one of the technical elements but what is the quality of that speed? What are the ideas behind that speed? What is the creative aspect? It’s not all speed. There are so many subtleties and nuances in various grooves and playing and how you express things. You can play layered rhythms between the four different limbs and there’s just so much more to it than straight out speed but of course, it’s the speed that captures the general public’s attention because that’s what they’re aware of. They may not be into the subtler parts of drumming and rhythm but there is just so much detail, so much independence between the limbs and like I said, coming up with ideas that really groove or feel good but at the same time are mind boggling. There’s a lot and I think people will see that and more displayed between the two of us at these shows.”
The other component of the two that Donati speaks of is Thomas Long, who will join him on a five-date tour of Australia dubbed the DW TV Show Tour starting in Sydney this Saturday, May 27.
It is a unique and technically proficient pairing of two of the world’s leading exponents of their craft and will also be the first time these two titans have performed on stage together.
“The TV stands for Thomas and Virgil,” Donati explained, “and we’re basically just two drummers who are going to try and put together an interesting experience for a captive audience. We have just started putting together some interesting pieces where there are some exchanges of rhythmic ideas and concepts that perhaps can be displayed between two drummers, unlike anything you would hear in a setting with just the one drummer.”
“There’s a lot of duets,” he continued, “both with music backing and some without so it’s just the two drums and then we’ll also have a section where we both play individually as well.”
Getting one drum kit sounding good on stage is a feat in itself, but turning two into co-ordinate with each other seems a monumental task but Donati assures us that it will become together in a way which does both musicians justice.
“It’s… it takes a bit of planning,” he admitted. “You don’t want it to be total mayhem or just jamming. We want to do something special and something with a bit of strategy behind it so I’ve written some music and Thomas has written some music that can feature the two drums in unison and there’s some really interesting exchanges between the two drum parts; parts that I play in unison and also independent of each other.”
As with anything in life, when two like-minded forces come together in the one setting the natural human emotion of competition is sure to enter proceedings, but Donati is quick to dismiss this as merely a case of it spurring each other on.
“Well… I try not to think of it in those terms,” he stressed. “I’m always in competition with myself trying to put forward my best foot, my best performance every time I play and when you’ve got someone else playing with you that plays the same instrument that you play obviously that gives you some motivation to kind of push the boundaries and challenge each other in various ways but I don’t think it’s in a competitive way, it’s more of a musical way.”
Another thing that Donati concedes will be difficult in a dual performance is keeping people interested, but again he feels the quality of himself and Long will be enough to keep the audience entertained.
“It’s all about… I think it’s a combination of ideas; the level of musicianship that we can display; musical ideas we bring into play and dynamics are very important,” he offered. “I think giving it a sense of daring just putting a lot of dynamics in there with the rhythmic interplay and interaction between the two of us will keep people entertained. There’s a lot going on and I think that is going to put people on the edge of their seats. I think we both have our very strong identities and there are differences in our styles but at the same time I think that’s gonna add something to the musical nature of the show the fact that we both bring our individual voices to the table.”
While acknowledging that music is a lifelong pursuit of perfection, Donati is also strongly of the belief that it is something which should be nurtured and encouraged from a young age.
“My first kit was just before I turned three years of age,” he recalled. “I was still two and never looked back since. I come from a musical family. There were always band rehearsals in my house and I wanted to participate, I wanted to be there. I sat on the floor and I listened and started tapping along. They bought me a toy drum to tap on and then they realised wow, this kid is really interested in music so they bought my drum set and a piano so I was studying when I was young piano and drums. I just had this passion for it that never waned. Even as a young schoolboy I would run home from school and quickly do my homework then straight to the practice room and learn to play and practice. It was my childhood, adolescence and adulthood (laughs). I think as children we’re open to things and if we have a passion and desire to do something I would certainly encourage it in any child because that’s the time when we absorb a lot of information and make sense of it and if you’re doing what you want from a really young age and get that head start it’s going to serve you well if you decide to take that as your career.”
Saturday, May 27: Sydney Drum & Percussion Show* – Rosehill Gardens Grand Pavilion, Sydney
Tuesday, May 30: The Princess Theatre, Brisbane
Thursday, June 1: Union House Theater, Melbourne University, Melbourne
Saturday, June 3: Century Theatre, Immanuel College, Adelaide
Tuesday, June 6: Red Door Auditorium, Perth
Tickets for all shows except Sydney are:
$35 General Admission
$75 VIP TV Experience
The VIP TV Experience
Strictly limited to only 50 tickets – The VIP ticket comprises: *Premium Seating *EXCLUSIVE Sound Check Access *EXCLUSIVE ‘On Stage’ Drum Tech Rig Rundowns
*Pre-show Meet & Greet *Photo Opportunity *DW Swag Bag *EXCLUSIVE VIP TV Show Souvenir Laminate
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