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Again one of the greats: SIMON PHILLIPS. Drummer, producer, and a sound guru.



This time he came with HIROMI and ANTHONY JACKSON on the bass. Nothing.

     Alll the PICTURES at the end of the page.


  I was only going to write some words, but the keyboard possessed me and I couldn´t stop writing...

I must say, that from the right moment that my friend Ruben (BACKLINE RENT) confirmed me that Simon was the drummer for this Hiromi show, I felt good, as James Brown in his days.


When I arrived to the stage at 18:00 I was expecting two ferocious guys mounting Simon´s monster kit and Simon coming 2 hours later just for the band sound check.


But NO, there was only a young guy from the backline company that supplied his Tama set (from Valencia) and Simon itself. And Anthony Jackson and Hiromi at their seats preparing their instruments.


Simon mounted every little piece of his drums. From the box, new heads, every hardware stand, cymbals, mixer, mics, bass drums muffling… EVERYTHING. His assistant just brought near and mounted some cymbal stands and helped…Not that the guy wasn´t proficient (cool guy by the way), but Simon set is not a standard one and this was the first show of their spanish tour.


  When Simon saw the bass drum beaters available, suggested if it was possible another type of beaters. The assistant came to my friend Ruben (Back-
  line company for the Festival), asking if he had the original Iron Cobra beaters. But there were only the Pearl four sides beater (too heavy for Simon) and
  a felt one (too soft).


I googled in my Iphone for a picture of my beaters, of my brand new Iron Cobra double pedal, just to make sure that mine were the ones that Simon needed. I gave my Iphone to the assistant, who showed the picture to Simon and HE answered with a smile. Then Simon and I started to talk about it, telling him that I had no problem travelling home for them (45 km away). He asked me how long it would take me to bring them there...And I was wearing the most appropriate T-SHIRT for the moment: an Adidas one, where you can read " Impossible is nothing ".


I left the stage, with Simon standing up on the bass drum, adapting the brand new head... And 50 minutes later, my beaters were in SP´s hands.


When I came back, he had tuned and mounted the toms. So, I can´t say nothing about the tuning process, because I wasn´t there in that period of time. At the end of the page you can see a link where he talks deeply about the drums sound.


I offered him the little weights that the beaters had but he didn´t need them. He thanked me my travel, in an english gentlemen style… I told him that the price of beaters would be expensive: a picture with him… ”Absolutely no problem, no problem at all !! ”, he kindly said.


During the sound check, I did some translating between Simon and the stage soundman. Without the intention of disturbing,  I only asked him about two things: his studio headphones and his live monitoring.


He answered me very kindly, full of details and with no economy of words.

The Travelling Beaters


About the studio headphones:

The headphones he always uses are the same you can see in Hiromi video recording sessions (and in his studio) here. He didn´t named the model only, but explained to me all the specs too. He answered me basically the same that you can read in the Q & A section of his website:

“Well I have used Beyer DT100 phones for years - and I mean years. Probably since 1973. They were the standard headphone in UK in studios. Now they arenot the most "hi-fi" sounding phones in the world - but my concept is that your are playing a very loud instrument and I feel it is better to have a more confined audio spectrum. Also when you come in to the control room to listen to the playback you don't get that awful situation where the phones sound better than the control room monitors. Headphones tend to have a hyped sound -extended bass and treble, whereas the Beyers are very flat sounding. I have them in my studio and most musicians love them. My advice to you is to lower the volume of your phones and make sure the signal is clean - no overloading or distortion.”


They are not expensive, I think I will give them a try.

Beyer DT100


About live monitoring:

I asked him if he was going to use in-ear monitoring. He said NO, that he NEED to hear everything natural. He used a little 4 channels Mackie mixer to control the sound of his monitor speaker. He connects signals of the piano and bass in the mackie and mixes it to his taste. Logically he uses bigger mixers with other bands. More details about his monitoring here, in his website.


Simon was attentive to the sound of the others instruments too, placing the four piano mics and others general adjustments.

He likes a very open sound, so no muffling at all on the drums: only the bass drums, as he always does.

He took off the bass drum mics stands because the low frecuencies were lost. So he put the mics directly inside the BD, over some towels.

I loved specially his snare drums. What a beautiful, sweet and controlled sound...Pure Simon. Take a tour on Simon´s discography and you will see what THE sound is, and not only drumming wise. Also, you can listen some words of wisdom in clips like this.


The band played some sections of their tunes and sound check done. Everyone happy.


I saw Anthony Jackson a little lost in the backstage and I asked him if I could help. He was looking the dinner place. I pointed him the right direction and asked him for a photo. Done. Wow, ANTHONY JACKSON !! Nothing.


Hiromi was VERY quiet and discreet during all the time, but when it´s show time, she TRANSFORMS herself into a torrent of movements, fun, notes and music.


At last a drummer of my stature...physically speaking !!

Time for the band for a dinner and rest. Very short time, because it has been a LONG sound check. I didn´t see Lucky Peterson Band sound check, because they did it before Hiromi band.


I enjoyed Hiromi Trio concert much and Simon had a lot of responsibility on that. His sense of rhythm, his clarity and his GROOVE made me dance in some parts. I specially like "Now or Never"...


And I could take some decent pictures of the live show, but I forgot my little tripod and I missed it. When they finished the show and the stage staff was setting the next set (Lucky Peterson), I entered to the backstage. Some minutes later Simon came up from the dressing rooms and I had a little chat with him. I said to him that with the intro of the last Hiromi tune (three hits/chords) I thought they were going to play a cover of Toto´s “Waiting for your love”, Hiromi´s style. I couldn´t remember that Toto song name in that moment, but the relation I did made Simon think and smile...I will e-mail him with the name...


We took a picture together and he thanked me again for the bass drum beaters and asked me if it was possible to take them to the next concert in San Sebastian, returning them by mail later. No problem about it, I said.


Finally, the BD beaters didn't travel to San Sebastian. I suppose they could find them in that city by phone. I proposed to him to send some of my sound check and live pictures to his website, and he gratefully accepted.


I also MET Lucky Peterson´s drummer RAUL VALDÉS on the backstage: Super cool guy !! He was warming up for his show, but with with his camera ready because he wanted a picture with Simon. Raul was shy and didn´t dare to ask Simon about it. I went to Simon and introduced them. Pictures were taken.


Simon chatted with Lucky Peterson too in the backstage, remembering together some shared shows with Toto in the past. I couldn´t see Lucky Peterson because I had a long drive to Asturias (north of Spain) the next morning, but their frst song sounded like something premonitory to a GREAT show.

Simon with Raul Valdés


I took some pictures during the sound check, in a NOT DISTURB / UNSEEN MODE, my favourite mode and some more during the concert. Most of the live pics were taken from a far point, with zoom and the tripod is a must in these cases, but I forgot it. Next time.


Another good experience with some of the BIGGEST musicians on earth.


Thanks for reading. If you want more, practice your Spanish here.

All the PICTURES are below.






Hiromi Trio l Festival Jazz San Javier 2011

Hiromi Uehara l piano & synth

Anthony Jackson l bass

Simon Phillips l drums


Links l

SIMON PHILLIPS Official Website l Great site with an incredible Q & A section.

SIMON ABOUT drum sound l little clip of a downloadable tutorial, with Alan Parsons

PSP - TOUR video l with Pino Palladino and Philippe Saisse. "Vigilante" is contagious


Thanks to l

BACKLINE RENT and Festival Staff