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Tag Archives: U2

Record producer takes swipes at the Beatles, the machiavellian Michael Jackson, U2 and more

Quincy Jones: ‘The Beatles were the worst musicians in the world’

Record producer takes swipes at the Beatles, the machiavellian Michael Jackson, U2 and more

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Singer tells Rolling Stone hip-hop is the only place for young male anger at the moment and thats not good

Bono has said that music has gotten very girly. Interviewed for Rolling Stone magazine, the U2 singer added, there are some good things about that, but hip-hop is the only place for young male anger at the moment and thats not good.

He went on to explain: When I was 16, I had a lot of anger in me. You need to find a place for it and for guitars.

Bemoaning a dearth of rocknroll in the charts, he said: The moment something becomes preserved, it is fucking over. You might as well put it in formaldehyde. In the end, what is rocknroll? Rage is at the heart of it. Some great rocknroll tends to have that, which is why the Who were such a great band. Or Pearl Jam. Eddie has that rage.

U2s latest album, Songs of Experience, recently topped the US charts, meaning the band have had a No 1 album in the US in every decade since the 1980s.

U2 in concert in New Orleans, Louisiana, 14 September 2017. Photograph: Erika Goldring/Getty Images

Bono cited streaming as a factor in the supposed feminisation of music. Right now, streaming is on the ad-based model, he told Rolling Stone. And that is very, very young, and its very, very pop. Its dominated by frequency of plays, but that is not actually a measure of the weight of an artist … If you are a teenager and you are listening to whatever the pop act is, youre probably listening to them 100 times a day. Its a teenage crush, but in a years time you wont care about that.

The singer predicted that ultimately it was the artists that could get people to sign up to subscription services that would benefit. When you move from an ad-based model to a subscription model, a funny thing happens. Then, the artist who will make you sign up is actually more valuable … artists that have a connection with you and your life, you pay for the subscription service.

The singer also suggested that the more widespread adoption of streaming had changed the bands approach to music: Were back to the 50s now, where the focus is on songs rather than albums. U2 make albums, so how do we survive? By making the songs better.

At least one social media user, though, had a suggestion for how Bono could put the anger back into music, referencing U2s controversial promotional automatic album download campaign with Apple in 2014:

Vicarious Dave (@GoldenVision90)

If Bono thinks there isn’t enough anger in music, he should just get Apple to automatically add a new U2 album to all our iPhones without anyone asking for it again.

December 28, 2017

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U2 frontman was investor in firm based in island nation where foreign investors pay 5% tax on profits, Paradise Papers show

His band have never been there, and neither, it seems, has he. But as an investment opportunity, Bono found what he was looking for in Lithuania.

The U2 frontman used a company based in Malta to pay for a share in a shopping centre in a small town in the north-east of the country, the Paradise Papers reveal.

The singer, whose real name is Paul Hewson, was an investor in the Maltese company Nude Estates, which bought the Aura mall named after the Lithuanian word for dawn for 5.8m (5.1m) shortly after it opened in 2007.

Nude Estates incorporated a Lithuanian company of the same name to hold the property in Utena, 60 miles (97km) north of the capital, Vilnius.

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The money youre forking over to see your favourite band is paying for an entire touring ecosystem, including artists, promoters, sets and medical staff

In 2001, Billboard Boxscore reported that the top 100 music concerts of the year collectively generated $350m. In 2015, the top 25 concerts alone grossed just shy of $360m. There are two reasons behind this: more people are going to shows and ticket prices are spiking sharply.

Here is a topically illustrative example, given that their Joshua Tree 30th anniversary tour is the hottest ticket of the moment. In 2001, U2 had the ninth-biggest venue gross of the year in the US, collecting $6.4m from 78,275 tickets sold across four shows at the United Center in Chicago, with tickets priced at $45-$130. In 2015, they had the fourth-biggest gross of the year with $19.4m earned, playing eight shows to 149,942 people, with tickets at $30-$275. At the bottom end, some tickets were cheaper, but the band played more nights to twice as many people and made three times the money. Obviously, inflation has to be factored in, but the contrast between how they toured then and how they tour now is significant.

Of course, gross earnings are far from synonymous with profit. Acts touring today are not just swelling their own bank accounts; there are a lot of mouths to feed along the way. Fans paying $275 for a show might presume most of that is going straight to the band. But it really isnt. So what, exactly, is your ticket price paying for?

The live industry is rarely keen to draw back the curtain to show its inner workings, so the Guardian spoke to a number of live music insiders who wished to remain anonymous. In doing so, they were able to speak candidly about where, exactly, the money goes.

There are no precise splits that apply in every case as it will depend on the band, the venue, the promoter, the marketing budget and tax laws, among other things. The following is intended only as a general guide to how your ticket price could break down and what it is going to pay for. Most of the things that have to be paid for will apply in almost every case. What will be different is how much they will be paid. And that includes the band members.

Peeling it back layer by layer, of your ticket price, around 10% is going to be swallowed up by a booking fee and processing fee (either posting the tickets or charging you for the privilege of printing them at home), with some of that actually working its way back to the band and their promoter.

You also have to take out taxes from that. In the US, about a 5% rate is applied to tickets, but it can be as high as 35% in some European countries due to the addition of cultural taxes. A small percentage of the gross the monies left after transaction fees are deducted will be collected and paid through, eventually, to songwriters in public performance royalties. The rate will depend on the venue size, but Ascap, which collects royalties, says on its website the figure can start at 0.8% and drop to 0.1% for venues with over 25,000 capacities. Again, as with taxes, there are higher deductions in Europe, with PRS for Music in the UK, for example, collecting 3% of the gross.

What is left roughly 84% of the gross then is carved up between the band and their promoter (who puts on and underwrites the show). But there are still more things to be paid for.

Fixed expenses are many and various, says one source, who drew on a spreadsheet for a recent arena tour for a major act they worked with before reeling off all the things that they had to account for. These included (deep breath): venue hire, stage hands, venue staff, electricians, power, spotlight hire, scaffolding, barriers, catering, public liability insurance (in case anyone is injured at the show), backstage furniture (yes, really), forklifts, rigging, medical staff, transport and even towels. Many times the venue will pay for that out of its cut, but that will depend on the particulars of the deal struck.

That can leave anything between 50% and 70% of the gross, but there are no hard and fast rules for how that is divided between the act and the promoter. A commonly quoted figure is that the promoter will take 15% of what is left and the act will get 85%. But it will depend on if the promoter really has to work to get the show to sell out or if they are pushing on an open door and demand is so high it sells out in seconds. In those instances, the promoter may get as little as 5%; but for arena shows charging $150 or more for tickets, that 5% quickly adds up.

U2s claw. Photograph: Lluis Gene/AFP/Getty Images

Performers are often offered a guarantee, making the performance risk-free as they will be offered a set fee regardless of whether the show sells out, with the promoter shouldering any losses. In many cases, the performers will get a guaranteed minimum fee plus a percentage of anything made beyond that figure.

In the case of a fixed fee, the promoter would guarantee the artist money and then the promoter gets anything above that, says Steve Machin, CEO of Accent Media, the operator of the .tickets domain name space. Or they might split the money with different percentages. So if its normally 80-20 after allowable costs, if the act gets a guarantee, then the split would be adjusted in favour of the promoter.

The artists share then has to cover its own mini economy. The act will have their own crew (roadies, sound engineers, lighting crew, catering, tour manager, backing singers, extra musicians, dancers and so on) as well as transport trucks, with 30 articulated trucks on the road not being uncommon for the biggest shows. One huge acts manager reportedly said it cost them $750,000 a day to be on the road, whether they were playing a show or not. Talking of which, dont forget that the manager also needs their cut of the bands share normally 15%-20%.

Before any of that happens, rehearsal time has to be paid for as well as the design and build of stage sets. Not every band will have something as spectacular (and costly) as the Claw on U2s 360 tour, but they cant just show up and play to 80,000 people with a few lights and screens, hoping for the best.

I often ask myself if the audience would rather have that amount of money spent on that kind of show or have a much cheaper ticket price to get into a reasonable-sized venue and watch the act playing, says one source of the huge drain a spectacular show can have on profits. That comes down to the act.

The more money acts are going to make, it appears, the more ways they can find to spend it on expensive hotels, helicopters and ostentatious stage sets that in less hubristic moments they perhaps dont need. Never underestimate ego and its ability to blow budgets out of the water.

If you give an act loads of money, theyll find a good way of spending it on the show, says a source who has seen this happen time and again. So its never going to be as profitable as people think and its never a case of all the money going straight into the bands pockets.

This is not a play to make us feel sympathy for poor stadium acts who are left destitute after an exhausting 300 shows around the world. Rather it is a timely reminder that as in everything money generated and profits made are never bedfellows. Indeed, they rarely even share the same zip code.

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Whats the best-designed album sleeve? The Beatles White Album or Kraftwerks Autobahn? Miles Daviss Tutu or Pixies Doolittle? Designers of modern album covers including Peter Saville, Vaughan Oliver and more pick their favourites

The Beatles The White Album (1968)

Photograph: Alicia Canter for the Guardian

Chosen by Jonathan Barnbrook, creator of the sleeves for David Bowies Heathen, Reality, The Next Day and Blackstar

Richard Hamiltons sleeve was really radical and ahead of its time and it still looks contemporary. By contrast to Peter Blakes vivid artwork for the Beatles previous album, Sgt Peppers, it was a plain white sleeve with the band name just embossed, almost invisible. There was a stamped number, which made each one unique. My parents had it first, but I thought it looked boring until I studied art. Once you understand the context, it gets really interesting. We think of design as for the present moment, but while music doesnt change, peoples feelings and relations to it do. So the sleeve becomes a reflection of that. It placed an avant-garde idea into the mainstream the cover is a blank space on which you can project your fantasies. A few years ago, this guy had a record shop selling nothing but old copies of the White Album. People had drawn on them, made coffee cup rings on them or whatever and each one was different, because it had lived a life. On the vinyl edition of Blackstar, you can see the record and, over time, watch it decay. Its trying to say: Thats reality.

Grateful Dead Aoxomoxoa (1969)

Photograph: Alicia Canter for the Guardian

Chosen by Roger Dean, designer of more than 100 fantastical album covers, most famously for Yes

By the end of the 60s, we had people walking on the moon and Concorde zooming across the Atlantic in three-and-a-half hours. The future seemed right around the corner. At the same time, there was this incredible psychedelic movement going on. It felt as if everything could be different. The musicians were making new worlds. I was obsessed with designing the future, but the graphic designers of the day were hardwiring it into our existing culture with their decades-old design and fonts. Thats why Rick Griffins cover had such a powerful effect on me, and is still my favourite sleeve. He had changed the use of lettering completely but it was still legible. The painting looks as if it comes from a completely other world. It seemed to be saying to me that the rules were bullshit, that we could do anything we wanted. As an art student, this was like being given the keys to a prison door. I didnt copy it, but it allowed me to do my own thing. The album is OK, but the cover is blisteringly amazing. When I look at it, I see freedom.

Kraftwerk Autobahn (1974)

Photograph: Alicia Canter for the Guardian

Chosen by Peter Saville, famed for his work with New Order, Joy Division and Factory Records

Autobahn was the first album I ever bought, after I heard the single on the radio. In 1974, as a teenager who had never been abroad, listening to the full 22-minute title track while staring at the autobahn symbol on the sleeve felt like being taken on a journey. I was on a European highway, in a soundscape crafted by classically trained musicians, seeing cathedrals and power stations, villages and skyscrapers, ancient and modern, in time as well as distance. It was a continental tour from gothic to postmodern, from the dark ages to Brigitte Bardot with the pulsebeat of a speeding vehicle. All defined in a simple symbol. As a fledgling visual artist, this was my first lesson in semiotics. I realised that visual codes acted as keys to unlock the huge range of potential awareness in an audience. Four years later, when I was asked to do the poster for the first night of the Factory club, I noticed an industrial warning sign on a workshop door at art college: Use hearing protection. Id been thinking Factory … new music … industrial city and realised: Thats it! My Autobahn moment.

Hawkwind In Search of Space (1971)


Chosen by Malcolm Garratt AKA Assorted Images, designer of classic artwork for Buzzcocks, Magazine, Duran Duran and Simple Minds

At my grammar school, you displayed your allegiances via the album you carried under your arm: Deep Purple in Rock, Genesiss Nursery Cryme and so on. The longhairs were outsiders, but to be ever more apart, you carried Hawkwind. The designer, Barney Bubbles, was a genius. This wasnt just a square of card. It unfolded out to a rough hawk shape. On the front, there was this post-psychedelic, pre-electro, sci-fi mandala. On the back, there were no track titles, just a completely blurred picture of them playing live (which seemed to replicate the Hawkwind live experience) and the words: Technicians of spaceship Earth, this is your captain speaking, your captain is dead. Coming with a booklet of countercultural images and texts, it really broke convention for album packaging. It inspired me graphically, with its geometric shapes and fluorescent colours, and I became immersed in an alternative lifestyle and took psychedelic drugs. On one trip in Scotland, I was convinced I could see aliens landing, I experienced synaesthesia and distinctly remember listening to this album through my teeth. When the Sex Pistols came along, I realised this outsider attitude applied equally to another counterculture, punk.

Iggy Pop Lust for Life (1977)

Photograph: Alicia Canter for the Guardian

Chosen by Vaughan Oliver, who defined the visual aesthetic of the 4AD label in the 80s

I wanted to design record sleeves from the moment I went to see a Roger Dean lecture in Durham when I was 15. His sleeves werent about how the band looked, but the use of imagination. In my work, Im keen on the ambiguous and the mysterious. This sleeve is the complete antithesis of my philosophy, but I like its innocence and directness. Im not a fan of the graphics, but this image given what Iggy was going through in 1977 with heroin addiction is just extraordinary. Andy Kents photograph isnt the depiction of a wasted rocknroller one might expect. Iggys a beautiful man, aged 30, but its like a high-school photograph and totally fits the words Lust for Life. I bought it when I was at Newcastle Polytechnic, probably because of David Bowies involvement. The sleeve seemed confrontational and unexpected. Iggy looks like a childrens TV presenter or someone about to present the weather forecast, but the record inside is raw and harrowing. Its the absolute opposite of everything conjured up by the sleeve. I love that.

Pixies Doolittle (1989)

Photograph: Alicia Canter for the Guardian

Chosen by Tash Willcocks, Manchester-based illustrator behind sleeves such as Elbows Asleep in the Back

I was brought up in a house in Cornwall where no one listened to music. When I was a teenager, my friends bought this album and showed me it. In 1989, I had never seen anything like it. The combination of Simon Larbalestiers photography and Vaughan Olivers design and typography was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I thought: Whatever that is, thats what I want to do. I had always been a messy person, but suddenly everything made sense. I realised that in art and design, you can get your hands dirty, make mistakes and embrace them. Before this, to me, a record cover meant a boyband on a sleeve, which made me want to puke, but here was something I could emotionally engage with. It gave me no answers, only a million questions. Why are the letters like this? Why is the print over the top of everything? I cant even remember playing it, just staring at it and it taking over my brain. It gave me permission to be me, which has influenced everything in my life.

Rammellzee Vs K-Rob Beat Bop (1983)


Chosen by Tony Hung, artist behind Blurs The Magic Whip

Jean-Michel Basquiats artwork brought this great hip-hop 12in from 1983 to my attention in a record shop in Manchester. The cover is typically Basquiat. In the context of a record sleeve, he brings something unconventional, bold, playful, thought-provoking, raw and engaging while maintaining an unlaboured feel. All the surfaces including the record labels are something to behold, and perfectly suit the music within. Despite being 33 years old, this work feels more potent than ever, when much of our daily eyeline is bombarded with overstylised, computer-perfected, market-led noise. Armed with just a paint stick, Basquiat effortlessly cuts through it all. Its life-affirming. It reminds me I am a human being and to be a human being, to be instinctive, and that with just primitive tools, we can still make joyful and fulfilling work.

Joy Division Unknown Pleasures (1979)


Chosen by Dan Hillier, winner of the 2014 Best Art Vinyl award for the cover of Royal Bloods debut album

I was five or six when this came out in 1979, and didnt know anything about Joy Division, but its one of those images that has always been about. When I was younger, I didnt know what it was or understand it, but something about the graphic always appealed. I later found out that Peter Savilles sleeve design depicts a frequency wave from the first known pulsar, but it could equally be a landscape or depict musical frequencies. My experience of the music on records has always been influenced to some degree by the cover art, and this is dark and bleak and jagged, which is perfect for that album. After Royal Blood used my Pachamama image for their album, their manager and I agreed we would have preferred not to have words on the cover. On the front of Unknown Pleasures, theres no band name or text, so no marketing or conventional enticement. It has something akin to the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey about it, like a communication from somewhere unknown. Its mysterious, dark and self-contained.

Led Zeppelin Houses of the Holy (1973)

Photograph: Alicia Canter for the Guardian

Chosen by Carson Ellis, award-winning illustrator and sleeve designer for the Decemberists, Weezer and Laura Veirs

This has been my favourite album cover for as long as I can remember. Hipgnosis did lots of the great 70s sleeves and this is weird, timeless and iconic. I recently did a cover for an album of Zeppelin covers called From the Land of Ice and Snow and redrew the Houses of the Holy image in my own style. So Ive spent a lot of time with it. Its a photo collage image of nymph-like, mermaid-like, naked children actually a brother and sister climbing Giants Causeway, in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Zeppelin combine blues with fantasy and JRR Tolkien, and all that is on the cover. It seems to signify otherworldliness, something primal and social taboos. Theres something vaguely sexualised about the children, but whatever sexuality its alluding to is subtle enough that you can shrug it off. On the cover of the Decemberists What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World, I drew a stylised, flat depiction of a naked woman, with tiny pink dots for nipples. I was told that big stores wouldnt stock it. They were the most benign, non-sexual nipples that anyone ever had.

Miles Davis Tutu (1986)

Photograph: Irving Penn

Chosen by Cey Adams, designer of Def Jam Recordings sleeves from the Beastie Boys, Public Enemy and Jay Z

This is one of Miles Daviss last recordings, in his avant-garde period its named after Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Its just a stark photograph by Irving Penn of Miles looking straight on, and the edges are faded black [the cover was designed by Eiko Ishioka]. I was taken by the fact that an artist could have a cover without his name on it, and Miles Davis was obviously so popular that he could do that. Miles always had very powerful features, and the texture and detail in his face shows the journey of his career and how much he put into it. I was drawn to the album by that intense, beautiful stare. I modelled my career on Miles in terms of wanting to push boundaries. For example, Public Enemys Fear of a Black Planet was conceptual art, which no one had done in hip-hop before. However, I was so moved by the Tutu cover that when the time came to do LL Cool Js greatest hits album, All World, I applied the same idea to an Albert Watson photograph of LL. There was type on the front, but it was on a shinkwrap that peeled off. It was my homage to Tutu.

Parliament Motor Booty Affair (1978)


Chosen by Joe Buckingham, designer of various De La Soul sleeves including De La Soul Is Dead

Ive always liked album sleeves that double as construction kits. I had a Jefferson Airplane album that you could take apart and build into a fully three-dimensional cigar box. The inner sleeve was an image of marijuana, and that sat in the box, so it looked as if it was filled with grass. In this field, though, this Parliament cover is king and is still my all-time favourite sleeve. It was a gatefold with a pop-up element. If you laid the album flat, this fantasy castle popped up along with various characters you could cut out and stand up in the castle. There were tons of illustrations, and the cover featured a giant bird coming down on the albums Sir Nose character. There was just so much to look at in Overton Loyds artwork. It really piqued my imagination. I think subconsciously the starkness and simplicity of the cover image against a white background seeped into how I designed De La Soul Is Dead.

Marvin Gaye Here, My Dear (1978)


Chosen by Scott Sandler, Grammy-nominated designer of artwork for everyone from Def Jam to Lil Wayne to the Rolling Stones

I love this because of the story behind it and the way the cover works with the music. In the mid-70s, Marvin Gaye had had two enormous albums in Whats Going On and Lets Get It On, but was going through an acrimonious divorce from Anna Gordy. They agreed a deal whereby she wouldnt get any money, but would get all the proceeds of his next album, which looked guaranteed to be the biggest record ever. Instead, he sabotaged the deal by making a wilfully uncommercial album, full of songs about their relationship, although its now seen as another classic. Gaye gave Michael Bryan, the artist, very specific instructions, so the cover features the singer looking like a Greek god. The artwork includes the words love and marriage and judgment and it unfolds to a picture of him handing her this itsy-bitsy, teeny-tiny record. Thats dark, but mostly a record just features a photo of the band. This is a total concept, a snapshot of his state of mind and an amazing art piece.

U2 Boy (1980)


Chosen by Alison Fielding, Beggars Banquet Group creative director, who has designed for the Prodigy, the Specials and the Horrors

When I was about 13, I heard I Will Follow when I was listening to the John Peel show on headphones. I thought it was amazing, and immediately went to this little local shop that sold TVs as well as records, and ordered it. At that point, I had no idea what it would look like. When I got it, I just thought it was so beautiful, I stared at it for hours. I dont care much for the graphics, but its very evocative of a time in my life that shaped my love of music, and theres something almost Mona Lisa-like about the photograph on the sleeve. Does it capture innocence, or something darker? They used the same boy two albums later for War, by which point he has a split lip. So theres a narrative developing. When I was about 13 or 14, I had this big blue Adidas bag for school, and I wrote U2 on it in really big lettering in ballpoint pen, but messily and badly. That was my first attempt at graphics.

Bjrk Homogenic (1997)


Chosen by Rochelle Nembhard, who worked on the acclaimed cover for Petite Noirs La Vie Est Belle

I like covers that relate directly to the musician, more than abstract images. I like some abstract images, but those covers could be anyone. Homogenic is a piece of art, and the fact that she used Alexander McQueen to design it was amazing. Its a fusion between African and Asian the African necklaces and the Asian dress that stands the test of time. I love all Bjrks covers for that reason they all show an aspect of her. The visual aspect of music, the album cover, is important, because it is a picture of the music, depicting the sound. It should be so much more than just a one-dimensional image it has to be the face of the music. Thats what I was trying to do with Petite Noir, working with the artist Lina Viktor. I knew she had the type of imagery that would translate into his music and stand the test of time.

Scritti Politti Work in Progress EP (1979)


Chosen by Matthew Cooper, designer for Arctic Monkeys, Franz Ferdinand, Hot Chip and many more

I love the DIY aesthetic of the first edition of Elvis Presleys first album, later homaged by Ray Lowry for the Clashs London Calling sleeve. The wonky type looks like it has been cut out and stuck on by hand. Theres another musician awkwardly cropped in the photo of Elvis. Nowadays, the record company would ask you to Photoshop him out. The immediacy of the image and graphics make a statement of intent: Here I am. Many years and genres after that was released, the same aesthetic inspired me when I came across this EP of Scritti Polittis second John Peel session in Chick-A-Boom Records in Sutton Market, some years after it came out in 1979 on Rough Trade Records. The sleeve was just a plastic bag with two bits of photocopied paper in it. One of them listed the entire costs of making the record, including 65 for 5,000 plastic covers. The other photocopy was of a bag of crisps, a badge and some sugar. It demystified the entire process and I realised that I could do something similar at the local library. So I took loads of stuff down and started photocopying it.


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You get none of the credit and do a lot of the work: whod be a drummer? Deirdre OCallaghan asks some of the best in the world. Introduction by Stella Mozgawa of Warpaint

Im not sure what kind of person makes a drummer, because they are so wildly different. The star of Whiplash and a 14-year-old kid in a punk band have a different set of goals, even though they are expressing themselves through the same instrument. You have to be a certain kind of person to want to play music seriously. There is a type that sees the value in sticking to it.

When I was at primary school, boys never let me near a drum kit, because girls cant play drums. But while other kids learned instruments and became disillusioned, I always had this little fire in my belly. Even now, when I play drums, I still feel like an excited teen.

A lot of drummers are studious and read percussion notation, but I started off hitting pillows to video clips of Hanson songs in the living room. The bands drummer, Zac, was 11, tiny and on TV. Everyone needs that moment of realisation I can do that! and seeing a kid my age and stature in a successful band was mine.

My mum was a singer and my dad played bass; he bought me my first drum kit for my 12th birthday. I took lessons with a local jazz teacher, but after a couple of months he told my dad he wanted to let me follow my own path. I thought it was really cool of him to say, let her teach herself all these songs, she has a good ear. I found the best learning process was sitting at my drum kit, headphones on, listening to songs by Tool and Led Zeppelin, music that had intense drumming.

Performing well has a lot to do with feeling relaxed and confident, as opposed to warm-ups before a show. Its important to do the best work you can, to honour the composition and nail the parts youre playing, but its difficult to have an achievement that is separate from everyone else. As a band, you are a package: its a very emotional experience, with the same three people every night over an extended period of time.

Outside Warpaint, Ive played with Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Kurt Vile and Regina Spektor. When I play more aggressive stuff, I can snap two pairs of sticks a gig. Its a different game now: Warpaint dont go that hard.

I dont get nervous before shows, but sometimes, on TV, I get a cramp in my hand muscles. Something just hits me and I grip the sticks differently like a monkey, rather than a human who has practised this for a decade.

Drumming suits my personality more than being a singer in the spotlight. I dont want to be famous. As a child playing Steely Dan in my bedroom, I would close my eyes and fantasise about playing a massive festival; I never wondered what it would be like to hook up with Leo DiCaprio.

(Top picture: Deap Vallys Julie Edwards, photographed by Deirdre OCallaghan at the bands rehearsal space, Los Angeles)

Stephen Morris, New Order and Joy Division

Stephen Morris, photographed in his home studio, UK. Photograph: Deirdre O’Callaghan

In Manchester, in the early 1970s, there was very little to do; it was all grey. If you wanted to hear music, you had to go to concerts at the Free Trade Hall and the Stoneground to see bands like Genesis. Phil Collins was an interesting drummer, and probably still is. When punk came along, you pushed all those records under your bed and pretended you never liked them at all.

Joy Division were called Warsaw then. I saw two ads in a magazine. One was Drummer wanted: Warsaw and the other was Drummer wanted: the Fall. I thought, hmm, I could probably do both. But I phoned up [Joy Division frontman] Ian Curtis and got the job.

It was really difficult getting a gig because there werent that many venues. Nobody liked punk bands. It was us versus the establishment; we quite liked being on the outside of it all. There was the bloody Manchester mafia, where the Drones would get gigs, and the Buzzcocks, and everybody else but we couldnt get a gig. So when you did, youd really go for it.

We knew Tony Wilson, who became our manager; he saw us, and everyone thought we were fantastic, even though it was probably more anger that set us apart. And then people started getting interested.

Working with our producer Martin Hannett on the album Unknown Pleasures was interesting and infuriating. Youd listen to it and wonder how it had got from what you imagined, which was very raw and live and raucous, to the way it sounded. It was like, whats he done? I had to record all the drums separately. Martin wanted the bass drum in the ballroom, and the snare drum in a tin can, and the hi-hat in a little cardboard box which is dead easy to do now, but not then.

The worst was Love Will Tear Us Apart. We had recorded it, and I had done the drums over and over again. We were staying in a flat in Baker Street in London, and I had just got my head down when the phone went. Its bloody Martin: he wants us to come back and do the snare drum. Every time I hear Love Will Tear Us Apart, all I can hear is the anger of being dragged out of bed.

Jim Sclavunos (Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds, Grinderman, Sonic Youth and the Cramps)

Jim Sclavunos, photographed at home, New York. Photograph: Deirdre O’Callaghan

Im mostly self-taught, but for a few weeks I took lessons from Jim Payne, an esteemed drummer and teacher. He taught me many things, one of which has stuck with me the admonition that in order to be properly balanced on ones throne so that all limbs can move freely and independently, one must have a relaxed asshole. Thats very important wisdom for any student of the instrument.

The key moment of my recording career happened very early on: I was listening to a playback of a song I had just recorded, and was dismayed by the loud clicking sound that was meant to be the sonic representation of my kick drum. I resolved to understand more about the sound of drums, and about producing. I had my own particular sound that I felt was unique, if raw, and much better.

Leroy Horsemouth Wallace (Burning Spear, Dennis Brown, Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Gregory Isaacs, Studio One session drummer)

Leroy Horsemouth Wallace, photographed at home in Jamaica. Photograph: Deirdre O’Callaghan

I still play music because, like my friend Bob Marley, I have a dream. I still hear him in my ears. He says: Horsemouth, go there and do it. You are there. Maybe you are the only one left.

The drumsticks I played with in Rockers [the 1978 reggae film] werent real. I couldnt find mine, so I took two posts out of some old chairs in the back of a hotel. Its not about the drumsticks, its you. A lot of drummers dont master the beat; you can see it in their faces, theyre dying for the song to be done.

You make your own space. Reggae represents a lot of things. Its several beats in one. Its hip-hop, Tchaikovsky in everything you play, there is a reggae beat.

Larry Mullen Jr (U2)

Larry Mullen Jr, photographed in Ireland. Photograph: Deirdre O’Callaghan

I formed the band in Dublin in 1975, around the time of the punk explosion: it seemed anything was possible. Being able to play your instrument proficiently was the least important part; attitude was essential, which was really great news for us we were not accomplished musically, but had a singer with attitude. At school, we rehearsed on Wednesday afternoons in Mr McKenzies music room the first song we wrote was called Wednesday Afternoon. We argued endlessly over musical indiscretions we still do.

I was a huge glam rock fan. In 1973, Cozy Powell released Dance With The Devil, which reached No 3 in the UK charts. Its a rare and beautiful thing for a drummer to have a chart hit. But if glam, pop and rock, along with Dance With The Devil, were my wake-up call, then Hunky Dory, Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane would become my most important benchmarks, with one of the all-time great rock drummers, Woody Woodmansey, playing on all three. I had no clue what Bowie was singing about.

Carla Azar (Autolux)

Carla Azar, photographed in her studio, California. Photograph: Deirdre O’Callaghan

When I was four, I went to a football game with my parents in Huntsville, Alabama. There was a drum line playing right behind us. In retrospect, they were probably not very good, but I remember turning around and being mesmerised.

The most addictive thing to me in music is spontaneity, chaos and honesty especially when playing live. I feel the most satisfaction when I finish and I dont understand how I played some of the things I played.

Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Them Crooked Vultures)

Dave Grohl, photographed at home in Los Angeles. Photograph: Deirdre O’Callaghan

In Nirvana, I never got recognised. I lived this perfect existence: I was in one of the biggest bands ever, but I could walk in the front door of a gig and no one would know. I could get up and play those great songs with my friends and watch people go bananas.

Some of my favourite drummers would be considered some of the worst of all time because their tempo fluctuates so much, or there is inconsistency but its the passion that interests me. I cant do a solo. I never practise by myself. Its like, Id never really dance alone.

As a drummer, its your responsibility to make sure this thing gets off the ground, but you dont expect any thanks. Youre there to serve the song; youre there to get people to move. They might not really know why theyre dancing, but its you.

Ive always been fascinated by the Ringo Starr debate. Was he a great drummer? Of course he was a great drummer: you hear three and a half seconds of his playing and you immediately know its him.

Bobbye Hall (Bob Dylan, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Stevie Nicks, Carole King, Bruce Springsteen)

Bobbye Hall, photographed in the desert, California. Photograph: Deirdre O’Callaghan

I would be lulled to sleep by listening to the blues. I knew that instead of using words I wanted to play and, being an only child, I had a chance to do that. My parents needed to work things out and, for me, beating on pots and pans was a way of not involving myself with what the adults were doing.

I came to Hollywood on 15 January 1970. I had a 30-day ticket: either I make it or Im gone. And Im still here. I stayed at a residence for women in the industry. I had a friend, and I would come home and she would ask: How was your session? And I would say: Well, I was working for this group, they call em the Doors, I think. And shed go: Oh my God, youre kidding me. I had not a clue.

When you play, there is a place you go. Its not something you do: it happens to you. Its almost like abduction: you came back and you looked at your watch and it was a different time.

Ringo Starr (The Beatles)

Ringo Starr, photographed in his home studio, California. Photograph: Deirdre O’Callaghan

In 1952, I was in hospital with TB for 10 months. To keep us busy, they brought us instruments. They gave me a drum, and from that moment on I wanted to be a drummer. I loved the blues and tried to emigrate to Houston, Texas, when I was 19, to live near Lightnin Hopkins, but there were too many forms to fill out. Then Elvis came in.

I think rhythm comes with the body, and my timing comes with my heartbeat. I try to teach this to kids; some get the idea, some dont. But you cant hurt the kids feelings, so I say: Maybe you should play piano or guitar. You can put a lot of time in and play good piano, but I dont think that happens with drums.

On Sgt Peppers, I had this new kit, the maple kit. It had actual skin heads, calf heads, which I had never had before: from the 60s onwards, it was all plastic. Theyre so deep, and I was always looking for depth. You see pictures of me where I have towels over the drums and cigarette packs anything to give it more body.

Pauli The PSM (Gorillaz, Damon Albarn)