What were your initial thoughts on playing together again in 2007 for the French TV performance?
I first thoughts where could I actually do it. I'd not long been out of hospital, after I was cut me open with a circular saw and given heart surgery. I could'nt walk up the stairs and I'd been suffering from 'Post Traumatic Stress'. I was mentally and phsycally a wreck for almost 2 years. So my main fear was 'was I going to fall over in the middle 8 of Enola Gay' ..... did a paramedic need to be standing by with a 20,000 volts to spark me up if it all went pear shaped. It gave me the confidence I needed when I finished the show. It was the first step towards playing for OMD again.
Did you have any reservations about getting back together with the rest of the band for the French TV performance?
I had no reservations at all. OMD had always been the best years of my life so to be able to revisit something so wonderfully positive was a gift from heaven. I knew how lucky I was just to be alive, so I was really going to enjoy this second time around. The first time we where all in the rehearsal room it was like we had never been away from each other. It was the same when we where into front of TV cameras, it was completely natural for us all, it's what we do.
Back in 2007 did you have any desire to go on tour?
The tour was my goal, it was my complete focus from once I knew we where going to do it. Nothing else mattered. I had'nt played professionally for sometime although I was teaching drums before my heart said 'Slow Down Mal'. To play with OMD, not only was I going to I have to build my stammina, but I also had to be completely solid against the click track I would be playing to. There is no margin for error playing drums with OMD. If I come in out of time with a click then everything is out, music, keyboards, bass, computer sequence, the projections and there's no way you can get back in sync unless we start the song again. To me that's not an option. If I was going to play again then I wanted to be better, stronger and more 'on the money' than I ever had been.
Was it difficult learning the old set list back in 2007?
It wasn't to difficult. All the songs just came back quickly, I think they are engraved into my memory bank. We've played them so many times before.
What about the new songs, any issues/problems getting those sorted?
For the first time I was playing some one else's drum parts which didn't bother me. I just interpreted them into the way I play. I was'nt going to learn to play them exactly as appear on the record or as some else would play them. I play them my way as confidently and as solidly as I can. If the original recording is a drum machine playing the drum part then I'm going to sound different. I'm not a machine where every bar of the song has the same dynamics. Drum machines, don't chat up your girl friend either !!
Any fond memories of the 2007 tour like gigs you remember that went well, etc..?
So many great memories. It was probably the best and most memorable tour I've done. The little gig in Birmingham was cool, just because I made it though it ! Liverpool Summer Pops because the people who nursed me and looked after me where there. Some of them where in tears because they knew how ill I was and how much I had acheived to get back on stage and play. Paris was great. I had friends there, I could almost touch them from the stage, they where so close to me. They went wild, again they where so happy to see me doing what I love after such a traumatic time. We played to 50,000 in Belgium at a festival, I swear I must have been laughing all though the set, I love it so much. Then the Monte Carlo sports casino, which was the weirdest experience. I was playing away and looked at the audience sitting at their dinner tables and thought, 'That does'nt half look like Shirley Bassey .... Shit it is Shirley Bassey', I nearly fell off my drum stool. Madrid and Barcelona where just so cool too. We we're on a festival bill with all the hip kids in town, Chemical Bros, Kaiser Chiefs, Air, The Gossip and there was little old OMD playing in a big tent. I must say, I was a bit worried how we would go down with a festival audience, but we just killed them. One of my all time favourites, hearing 5,000 people singing along to Enola Gay was just amazing.
Once the 2007 tour wrapped up, what was the next conversation with the band like about future plans?
The next conversation was something like 'F*** that was good lets do it again next year'
What influence did you have on the setlist on either tour?
I like to think we all play a part in the set list and we spend a lot of time on the running order. There are certain songs that will be in regardless, so that only leaves so much room left in the set. The set has to run smoothly having its highs and lows at the right place. They're are songs I would love to play, like some of the first album stuff, and there other tunes Andy, Paul and Martin would like in the set that just don't make it in for one reason or another. It could be a technical reason or we just don't have time to put it together and rehearse it. There are also songs where 1 of us will say 'Oh no, I don't want to play that '.
Moving forward to 2008, was it easier to prepare for the 08 tour than the 07 one?
It was, but I would have liked some more time in 'Production rehearsals' with the proper monitors and ears we use for the gig. When we rehearse in Liverpool we just have a basic PA and monitors. But at the end, of the day some things aren't possible, which I completely understand.
Any songs that you wanted to see in the 08 setlist that didn't make it?
Bunker Soldiers, Met Twins.
Any favourite stops on the 2008 tour?
Strangely I think Dublin was my favourite, even though the PA broke down and Ryan-air lost my suitcase with my stage clothes, playing shoes and spare snare drum in it. I guess I didn't really think to much about the gig I was so wound up about playing in the same clothes I'd just got off the flight in and if my stage snare went down then it would take some time to fix it. I think I went a little crazy that night and beat the living s*** out the of my kit. For some strange reason that was my favourite gig. Liverpool is always cool and even better this time because we were in the new arena. The bigger the gig for me the better. It was a little strange the 2008 tour because it was over before it had begun. I was just starting to loosen up on stage and get into it when it stopped. I wasn't really happy with how I played on the tour. We'd had more time in production rehearsals for the 2007 tour, which meant I'd settled in to my on stage sound which is really important for me. If I'm struggling with a balance on stage then it effects my performance, same with all the guys. It was only in London at the last gig where I had a good sound on stage.
What is your "routine" before a gig?
I generally go back to the hotel, after the sound check if I can. I catch a bit of chill-in' out time and some space before the show. Sometimes the guys come back, but normally they will stay at the gig and have dinner at about 6 ish with the crew. I can't eat at that time with just a couple of hours before the show, so I'll grab something to munch on from the dressing room and nip back to the hotel with a lift from the runner or tour manager. Then back to the gig an hour before show time and have a quick look at the audience from side stage maybe check out a song or 2 from the support act. Then 30 mins before show time we're all in the dressing room getting changed and putting our 'ears' in. They are the 'in ear' monitors we have. About 15 mins before show time Stuart our long time out front sound guy always comes back stage to say 'have a good um' or 'let em av'it' or 'rock em'' or 'kick ass' to all of us and shakes our hand. My reply to him is generally 'see ya later mate' or 'are the drums loud enough mate'. 5 mins before show time the tour manger takes us to the side of the stage, the house lights go down and its the intro to the show. Andy will always shake our hands and wishes good luck. I think he does does it anti-clockwise, whoever is standing on his right at time he'll shake his hand first. We all shake hands and my reply generally is 'Nail um' ........ Then it's show time no turning back we all just go and give it 150% and I hope hear I Click,Click,Click,Click 1,2,3,4 in my ears!
What about after a gig, any special kind of routine that you go through?
First thing is a beer in the dressing room. I don't have a drink before the show so I really enjoy it. Then I get changed. Andy and Paul will probably meet some guests in the catering room for a little while. Maybe I'll wonder down there to meet some friends. Then back to the hotel. Andy and Paul will do some autographs and photos outside the stage door and Mart and I will probably try and sneak off to the bus. Its not that we don't want to sign autographs but I hate hanging around outside waiting for someone to ask me. If some one wants my autograph they will always find me somewhere. Then back to the hotel for a beer or 2 with the lads, Stewart and the tour manager.
As the hardest working guy in the band, how do you feel after a 2 hour gig, are you completely wiped out?
I think we all work hard on stage. Mart and Paul may not run around but they have plenty do, with different sounds coming up in different places on their keyboards everyone has to be 'on it'. Andy runs around giving it his all, as if it was our first gig. But for me, I'm really tried and just slump into a chair in the dressing room when I come off for 10 minutes or so. The last 20 - 25 mins of the set is physically the hardest because that's when we ramp it up. It comes fast and furious and I really start to give it full power on the kit. I suppose its like running in a marathon, you have to keep a little in reserve for the last 1 mile if you want to win. Electricity is the real killer. Not only is it 140-150 BPM but I also play a 'White Noise' 8 note part on a pad which kills the forearm of my right arm. Believe me I'm really glad when I get to the last couple of bars of the song, it like its the end of the race and the jobs done.
Do you do anything to get in physical condition to tour?
I play basically. On the 2007 tour I went to a gym and I started playing months before at home on a Roland TD 20 electric kit to the 'OMD best of' with a pair of head phones. I'd get a bin bag and cut a couple of holes in it for my arms and wear it like a t-shirt to build up a sweat. It works really well. Then I would play for hours and hours, over and over. On the 2008 tour I would be in the rehearsal room by myself some days. We have made a CD which is us playing live on the 2007 tour with no drums and a click track. This means I can practice when the other guys aren't there and I'm playing to the real thing, Andy, Paul and Martin doing there stuff. Sometimes Mart will come too and pair of us will go through a few things playing to the CD or the computer Pro Tools sequences. I started 10 days early than everyone else in the rehearsal room this time to get my kit sorted out and to start building up my stamina. The rehearsal room in Liverpool isn't one of the prettiest places to go on a Sunday afternoon by yourself .
What are you and the band discussing as far as plans for 2009?
Top secret. If I told you I would have to kill you Pat!
Have you done any work or contributed to new tracks on the new album that is rumored to be in the works?
No, but I'm sure I'll get a call nearer the time to come and make some noise for the guys if they want me to.
If so, what thoughts can you share with us?
It all depends on if and what the guys want me to play on. They may be happy with the programmed loops or drums they have already put down on the songs. For me, I'd like to create fresh sounds and use & record the kit in an unusual way like we always did, instead of the same old drum loops and 4 on the floor, anyone can do that and it doesnít really flick my creative drum switches anymore. The likes of the Maid, that's a great drum part you never hear sounds or grooves like that, and itís still valid after 25 years. That's the sort of thing I would want to contribute to an OMD album. There's a million great drummers around who play exactly like the next great drummer, they've learnt all the same things at the same drum academy by the same tutor and all sound exactly the same. Boring!.. There's nothing new, creative or inspiring about them and it just doesnít do anything for me. I wouldnít want to emulate them. My days of wanting to be Phil Collins or technically the best drummer in the World are long gone. What I do is what I do, it sounds like me and I'm happy with that.
Changing gears a bit, tell me about what you are doing with Fin Music?
Finmusic is one of those things that's just not going to go away. I first started the music download idea 10 years ago with a few business people before online music downloads where big business. I think I caught a 'I want to release records' bug when Paul, Mart and I had the record label. I decided to revisit the idea after the 2007 tour. So that's what I've been working on the last year, I'm releasing music via the net at the moment, that might change later in the year. My HTML, PHP and mySQL skills are improving in a big way with working on my site all the time. I've learnt to relax a little more over the last couple of years, I find building my site and developing my label is good for me. I take it slowly and do it my way, no one to answer to, no shareholders or business angels just me. If I like the artist and think I can work for them then I will, if I think they will be a pain in the arse then I don't. All quite simple really. I know the gig. I really enjoy it .
Any future releases or signings we should be on the lookout for from Fin?
Plenty I'll tell you about them when they are ready.
What does it take to start up your own recording label?
You need to be a bit crazy.
What have you learned from your years in OMD about the music business that help you run Fin?
I suppose most the important thing is that anyone with great musical ideas can have success selling records. You don't need Simon Cowell, you just need to believe in your music. Oh .. and a little bit of luck really helps. OMD have thought me so much. When I first started with the band I didnít know about gigs and TV shows. I did'nt know what a distributer or publisher or radio plugger or agent or promoter and manager or a million things did. Both Martin and myself have never been managed by a manager, we have both had to learn how to manage and look after ourselves. I suppose it's not the easiest way, but once you have learnt you don't forget it. Its a hard ass business. You can go to a music school now to learn this stuff, but you really need to experience it first hand and get beaten up a bit to get the badge.
What is a typical day like for you now that you are wearing several hats?
First is get up, and think ..... 'Yep its good to be here, it could be worse'. Then there is always something to do on the site or with my little label, always. It depends if I want to learn about some new internet programming language, put up some new releases or check some new acts. Always plenty of emails. There are days when I will work on my own tunes for a project I'm doing or maybe I'll mix a track for someone else. Whatever it is, it will involve a computer.
Do you spend much time on the Internet?
I spend probably about 8-10 hours a day on my mac and on the net.
Have you ever read some of the stuff on the Official OMD forum?
I read the OMD forum all the time, because I'm on the net all the time. It shows that there is a real wide spectrum of OMD fans who like different eras of OMD. I must say that sometimes I wonder whether some of the people who post on it actually like OMD. I've seen things written that I have found insulting and I've not liked, which is a little strange because some of these people will come and ask me for a photo or an autograph. But yeah, it's a great site that PB and Co created and it helps keeps the whole OMD thing keep alive.
Would you ever consider signing up and posting on a public OMD forum?
I am signed up PB sorted it out a while ago, but I've forgotten my login (it's a drummer thing) and I prefer just to look from a far. I'm all for an easy life!
Anything you would like to say to the OMD fans reading this?
Its cool to see so many happy faces from my kit when we're playing live. I remember sitting outside the Glasgow gig in 2007 watching the people going into the gig. It was weird, these where just regular people, with mortgages and kids, they looked the same as a crowd of people on any High St on any Saturday afternoon. Then when I got on stage and I could see the same people, they looked so different. The same people where going crazy, we had taken them away from the real World for a while. Its a great site, so many people just enjoying life.
You should never write OMD off, if you do there is a good chance you will be proved wrong. Just when you think its all over for the band, OMD will come back and bite your ass.