Steve White The Eminent Man Speaks

Written by Matteo Sedazzari
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It’s the early 80s, and it’s a hot idyllic sunny Sunday afternoon in southeast London.  A group of teenagers are togged up in Italian and French polo tops, sporting faded jeans and bright coloured cords, with an array of smart trainers and desert boots on their feet. They are in a relaxed frame of mind, as they swap anecdotes and jokes in a friend’s back garden.

The teenagers sway their heads back and forth in appreciation of the music, which is blaring out from their friend’s beat box. They sip cold bottled beer as they casually share a joint. Johnny Harris’ Odyssey sends their mind into a state of contentment.

Today is their vibe day; the boys are not interested in brawls, bastard bosses, or teachers. The boys are enjoying the moment, which is heightened as they notice two shapely pretty girls in white Benetton rugby tops strut past the alleyway that runs past their friend’s back garden.

The boys shout out harmless banter to the girls, the girls seem to be offended by the remarks. But out of sight of the admirers, the girls smile to each to other, as they are flattered by the boys’ attention.

As the sun shines down on the teenagers, they lose themselves in the music they are listening to; a tape collection of Hip Hop, Jazz, Funk and rare Disco, that complements the day. The music is turned up to full volume; the boys break away from their casual poise and start to dance in sheer enjoyment. Letting go of their inhibitions, they strut their stuff. When Herman Kelly & Life’s Dance To The Drummer’s Beat kicks in, one of the boys, Steve White gazes into the sun. Not knowing whether it’s the moment, or a spiritual awakening but he thinks deeply about the gift he has been given. Because from this day onwards all he wants to do, is for people to dance to his drum beat.

/steve white zani  3Steve White is a name that is respected by fans and musicians alike across the world. For the simple reason, he is a great drummer, with a CV that is second to none.

Born and raised in southeast London, in the 60s. Like a great deal of teenagers of his generation, Steve White took to wearing expensive European sportswear, such as Kappa, Lacoste, Ellesse, and Sergio Tacchini, with the odd American label like Nike in the 80s. Steve White was a young southeast London Casual.

The Casuals was a counter culture that was born, or so the legend goes, from the travelling Liverpool football fans of the late 70s and early 80s. With Liverpool having so much success in the European Cup (now known as The Champions League) in this era (remember this was a time, when European countries only had one representative per nation) the fans were left to roam the streets of cities like Paris and Rome. In between drinks, and games, they bought, or occasionally, stole designer clothes, mainly of the sporting kind from these cities. This in turn made the travelling Liverpool supporters the best-dressed football fans in the UK, whilst many of the other footballs fans were still donning the look of the boot boy.

The Liverpool fans sharp dress sense soon spread across the whole of the UK, the Casual movement was born. Their dapper style of dressing went hand in hand with the new music that was coming from the US: Hip Hop and Electro.

A new breed of working class kids, who were akin to their predecessors of the 60s, the Mods. They shared similar values, such as attention to detail to their attire, and possessing a passion for Black music from across the Atlantic. It was these principles that a young Steve White could identify with it. Standards that he would bring to his first chart topping band, The Style Council, and hereafter.

As a child, Steve White had shown a great deal of promise and talent as a drummer, and by the age of 17 he was a semi pro musician. His name was coming to the attention of a few A & R Managers across England. It was one such A & R Manager, Dennis Munday, who would give Steve White an audition that would change his life forever. And in turn this break would gain him recognition as an excellent drummer, a well-deserved reputation that has spanned over three decades.

Dennis Munday was the Senior A & R Manager for The Jam. With The Jam now defunct, Munday was working closely with ex-Jam front man Paul Weller, on his new project, The Style Council. A duo compromising Paul Weller and keyboardist Mick Talbot, who were embracing the Jazz, Funk, and Soul music of yesteryear and the present.

The nucleus of the band would be Weller and Talbot, with the aim to constantly change the backing musicians so The Style Council’s sound would be fresh and unique.

the style council paris match Paul Weller Steve White Mick Talbot Back in 1983, The Style Council were holding auditions for a drummer for their  new  ‘A Paris’ EP. A laid back record, aiming to catch the spirit of Paris, and the vibe of summer. A criteria that fitted Steve White perfectly. It was upon the recommendation of Dennis Munday that Steve White auditioned for The Style Council. Needless to say, Steve White got the gig. After a TV debut on Switch performing The Long Hot Summer, the fresh-faced Steve White, has been around ever since.

Steve White is a name that has long been associated with Paul Weller. In fact he is Paul Weller’s longest serving musical partner. However he has performed, toured, and recorded with the likes of Oasis, The Who, Ian Dury, Terry Ronald, Galliano, James Taylor Quartet, Diane Tell   and many more.

Apart from working with a number of credible artistes, Steve White has formed his own bands, he forged a musical partnership with fellow Style Council member Mick Talbot, ‘Talbot and White’, which Steve White and Mick Talbot carried over to form The Players, with Ocean Colour Scene’s bass player Damon Minchella.  

Along the way, Steve White has found time to do drum seminars and workshops. And now in 2008, Steve White has a new band Trio Valore Inc, with Damon on bass and Seamus Beaghan on Hammond Organ.

ZANI caught up with Steve White. He told us all about his life and career; and a little bit about the designer labels he still cherishes.

ZANI - I see exciting times lay ahead, please tell us about your new band Trio Valore Inc and how did it come about?

Steve White – Trio Valore really came about from the ashes of The Players. Last year Damon Minchella and I were working on a third album for The Players, but Mick Talbot was really busy. He’s working with  Candi Station, and he’s doing some stuff with The Bureau.

ZANI – I thought Mick Talbot was running for London Mayor?

Steve White – That’s another story.

ZANI – So The Bureau are reforming?

Steve White – I don’t know, I just know he’s doing some stuff with them. So Damon and I worked on a bunch of demos, without Mick. It became apparent, really early on, that it didn’t sound like The Players. So we carried on writing, and got about 25 tunes together

We are working with publishers now, and a lot of the material has been filed away for a later date. But in the midst of all that, I was asked to do a drum show. I’d been really working a lot in the studio, so I wasn’t really match fit. I got a little set together, with Damon and Seamus, and we bluffed our way through this drum show.

We got such a great reaction for a three piece. So I thought it would be nice to get it recorded, which we did in 2 days.

ZANI – Was that in Rome?
Steve White – Ha, no we did it in Stalybridge. It just looks better saying that we did it in Rome, than the glorious Stalybridge. We had a small budget to do in, and we just went to the studio and performed.

ZANI –Trio Valore Inc consists of highly talented and accomplished musicians. Is the music produced as a result of a jam rehearsal, like going back to your roots of Jazz and Funk or is it pre planned?

Steve White – It really was going back to my roots. I’ve always had a hankering for the jazz of the late 60s, like the Blue Note  label and I’ve always been fascinated with the Hammond Organ sound. So the concept I want with the record is fairly simple.

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ZANI – Which is?

Steve White - Trio Valore Inc are aiming more at the feet then the head. We want a record that could be turned up loud and people could enjoy hearing us trying to play homage to the funk that we like. Like The Booker T’s and The Meters, and musicians that really don’t get mentioned these days.

ZANI – Why do you think some of these musicians get overlooked these days?

Steve White - White culture, white Rock and Roll has kind of over shadowed black music. It’s a cultural thing. And to be honest, some of the bigger black musicians of the last few years have not done the cause any good, especially the Rap and Hip Hop artists, and their obsession with bling.

ZANI – Yet from looking at some websites from the US, like HoneySoul and Europe, Soul music seems to still be alive and well.

Steve White – Absolutely there is a really good scene at the moment. We kind of delved into to that scene as we want to to put Trio Valore Inc out live, and found there is a fascinating Soul scene in Italy. Ultimately we are signed to an Italian record label, Recordkicks.

In the UK there are the Pigalle nights, which Corrina Greyson does. There are some great bands knocking around, like The New Cool Collective, The Master Sounds, Lack of Afro, and Stoned Soul Picnic, but it’s underground and that’s such a shame.

ZANI – We have recently seen a sort of commercial success of Soul music, like Amy Winehouse.

Steve White - Amy Winehouse is probably our most successful and talented artist of the last few years in the UK.

But who through a fascinating record, has become a monster in her own right. I think she’s an amazing musician, and I wish her all the best with her demons. But for somebody who’s come out for a record that is so overtly soulful, there hasn’t been much coming out in the wake of it. This surprises me.

ZANI – There has been Duffy, I suppose.

Steve White – Sorry but I am not having that.

ZANI –Mercy is an ‘OKish’ track. But to me it’s a cooperate interruption of Northern Soul. I find it rather bland compared to the real Northern soul classics you can spin.

Steve White – I agree.

ZANI – But about the Jazz scene?

Steve White - I think we are losing all the great Jazz artists at such a rate. Max Roach and Oscar Peterson passed away last year. They were pure jazz artists.

I got to spend some time with Earl Palmer the year before last, when I played in the US with Paul Weller. I’ve never been one for hero worship, and getting down on one knee. Apart from my dad, Earl Palmer was possibly was the most impressive man I have ever met. He was an amazing musician, who has played with the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Chuck Berry, and Fats Domino. He was the man who really invented the rock and roll style drumming.

I was listening to his stories, about him going onto Omaha Beach, as a very young man in an all black regiment. Listening to the shit that those Rock and Roll pioneers had to go through, is inspiring.

The music business is not big enough for those kind of people any more. The music business is the most conservative business in the world. The true giant artists of Black music are fading fast. Curtis Mayfield and people like that, Where are they now?   This goes back to your point of corporate soul music.

ZANI – That could be a good thing for new bands, as a lot of record companies have had their noses put out of joint, because of the growth of the DIY culture, and Web 2.0 platforms on the Internet.

Steve White – I know.

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ZANI - I’ve read that you state that every band has to use the Internet to promote themselves. Do you think that is a good thing, or think it a necessity that every band has to have a MySpace, or a Facebook page?

Steve White – I don’t really do the Facebook thing, because I don’t get it, I don’t understand what it’s about. But with the MySpace, I feel it is great, especially for younger musicians.

If you are talking about Modernist and being cutting edge, and at the moment MySpace is where it’s at. I think that’s what The Beatles would have probably done to get an audience. You have to use what is the best available means at the time to promote yourself.

The thing is the world is becoming a smaller place. The Trio Valore Inc’s album was recorded very quickly. When the album was finished, we created a MySpace page, for virtually next to nothing. That MySpace page had been up for 3 to 4 weeks. In that time we were offered 2 record deals and we’ve now signed a record deal that is worldwide, as I said, with the Italian label, Recordkicks.

ZANI –I think having an Italian record label complements Trio Valore Inc very much.  As the band have an Italian name and a very Italian feel to it. Is that due to your love for Italy, and Damon being half-Italian?

Steve White – Yea, Damon being half-Italian has a lot to do with it. You are right. It is a nice touch having an Italian label.

My brother, Alan, has got a house in Spain. Any chance I get, I’m there. I love Spain, Italy and the Mediterranean/ Latin Culture. I think that, unlike in this country, there is still a degree of the family bond. I am not saying it is perfect, but if you are talking about the things that are my favourites in life, like good wine, good food, beautiful climate, nice clothes, architecture and art, then really Italy is for me. I just love the country.

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ZANI – I try and get to Florence once a year, just to get away from it all, where I walk the streets in wonder.

Steve White – Exactly, I do the same with Rome and Milan. I always tell people who are going to Milan, to go to La Griglia, Via Premuda, great tomato pasta, sea bass baked in salt, a good chilled pinot grigio and excellent limoncello. Bellissimo

ZANI –Which Seria A football team do you support?

Steve White – I suppose I keep an eye on Roma and Lazio.

Being a Charlton fan, I got to see Paolo De Canio play, when we were in the Premiership. I saw him week in and week out at the Valley. I do know that De Canio’s has got some strange views on life.

De Canio wasn’t scoring goals, but he took up his role as a playmaker. To see his vision as a footballer was incredible, so I became a huge fan of De Canio.

I have never been to the Roma v Lazio derby. But I’ve been in Rome when the game is on, and the whole city feels like it’s on fire. In fact it’s overwhelming.

ZANI - Recordkicks is a great label, with the likes of Frank Pop and James Taylor Quartet on their books. I bet you are happy to be working alongside a label that shares your vision of music. I presume only a label of this calibre would have suited your needs?

Steve White – For Nick and the guys at Recordkicks, they love what we are doing, and vice versa.

Unfortunately in the great big scheme of things, the British Music scene, which is more or less non-existent at the moment, is so amazingly corporate, it’s untrue.

If we had approached one of the major labels in the UK, they would have overlooked the fact that, individually and collectively, Trio Valore Inc have played on records that have sold 18 to 20 million copies worldwide. Also we have made some fascinating tunes and done some great tours. No, they would see us as blokes that are the wrong side of 35, making old bloke’s music.

So you have to go with people who love what you do. You have to find your own community, and people that appreciate what you are doing. What’s interested me, is how big that community is and how many people are saying to me “you know what, the commercial music scene is bollocks. I’m into something a bit different.”

ZANI – Pleased to hear it. How I see the music business now is the famous send up of the business in The Beatles’ Hard Day’s Night, where two media types are analysing everything George Harrison is saying, believing everything to be a trend, and only the kids will dig it. The music business today, seems to think only teenagers buy Pop music, which probably was the case in the 50s ,60s and the 70s.

Steve White – Unfortunately, this country has followed a very strange example that our entire media is based around the opinions of a group of people aged between 16 to 22. That’s what they are chasing all the time. They are trying to chase an ever-decreasing kind of pop, but at the end of the day there are 65 million people in this country.

ZANI – I know, the biggest numbers of voters are over the age of 60, and the biggest record buying public are over the age of 40.

Steve White –That sums it. What I’ve realised using the Internet and MySpace, is that we can connect with people that are very like-minded. This gives the internet an almost punk guerrilla edge to it.

ZANI – True, that is the basis which drives this webzine. Trio Valore Inc’s album Return Of The Iron Monkey is going to be launched in Oct ‘08 and, prior to that, the band is playing a handful of dates.

Will there be a major tour after the album?

Steve White –We are hoping for a major tour. We are in discussions with a chain of venues across the country, but it’s early days.

We are trying to take a package out to these venues, consisting   of 2 or 3 bands, that are hot, like Lack Of Afro. We’ve been talking to Corrina Greyson about doing some DJing, or singing with the Trio Valore Inc. My idea is strength in numbers. It’s an old-style revue.

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ZANI – You took the words right out of my mouth. Images of the famous Stax Revue spring to mind.

Steve White – Yes it’s a Soul revue. If the first tour is a success, we could add more acts and move the revue to bigger venues.
ZANI – I like it and look forward to it.

Going back to the album, Return Of The Iron Monkey. I love the title, how did that come about?

Steve White – It was just this unhealthy obsession that Damon and myself developed with Asian films whilst touring with Paul (Weller). Damon had these films from Korea and Hong Kong and I was watching films like Infernal Affairs (Mou Gaan Dou) 5 years ago, before it was remade as The Departed.

As you’re sitting on a bus, your taste in films becomes broader. We were watching early Jackie Chan stuff and films like that.  So we developed a bit of a Martial arts films obsession.

ZANI – So Trio Valore Inc have one foot in Martial Arts and the other in Italian culture. That’s a unique combination.

Steve White – Yea, we have one foot in Rome, and the other in Hong Kong.

ZANI - I take it that Soul and Funk are the music that you love the most. For instance I read that you have stated that you would have loved to have played on Al Green’s classic Let’s Stay Together.  Please tell us about some of the other Soul and Funk classics that you adore.

Steve White – Let’s Stay Together, has one of the greatest drum parts of all time. I grew up as a south London Casual. I used to go to The Lyceum, The Frog and Nightgown, and Caesars down the Old Kent Road, venues that had the likes of DJs Chris Hill and Robbie Vincent playing there.

This scene opened me up to the funkier end of Jazz, with artists like Donald Byrd, Lonnie Liston Smith, and Marlene Shaw. I love music like that. I also like the works of the drummer Harvey Mason and the percussionist Ralph MacDonald.

So I went to these clubs to listen to the music, and go on the pull, basically.

ZANI - I take it you were a Casual, and not a Mod?

Steve White – Definitely, but I never thought about it. That was what we all wore back in the day. We used to wear early Nike sneakers, with Lois jeans and Tacchini, Fila, or Kappa tops. We used to fray the bottom of our Lois jeans, get our mums to bleach them, and then Levis jeans would be in. We would go shopping to Covent Garden, or a few shops in Soho.

Then there was Mickey Moda, with his shop Moda in Tower Bridge Road. Mickey Moda was the fella that introduced Lois jeans into south London. Mickey was a style guru to the all Casuals. He was a face in that scene.  He had a shop in Blackheath a few years ago, and Paul (Weller) had 6 or 7 jackets made by him. Mickey was underground. Gucci used to rip him off a lot. He could have made a fortune, but he wasn’t interested.  He was just very pure.

ZANI – He sounds an interesting fella. Is he still alive?

Steve White – Yes, he must be in his late 40s, early 50s. He was a dude.

ZANI - In those days of Adidas and Lacoste, what was your most treasured item?

Steve White – I was so proud of my Pink Kappa jumper. Which I wore with, a pair of Nike Shell Toes, supported by a pair of faded Lois jeans, coupled with a Cecil Gee tennis shirt, because I couldn’t afford Lacoste’s.

Cecil Gee used to do a sort of a knock off version of a Lacoste.  I would  do the top bottom up of my  lime green Cecil Gee top, put my pink Kappa jumper over it, and I’d think I was the dog’s bollocks. That’s the look still around.

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ZANI – The Casual look and scene was a great part of British youth culture. They were the true Mods of the 80s.

Steve White – I know Dave Hewitson pretty well, who runs the 80s Casual website. He is an absolute mine of information. We are trying to persuade Dave into doing a club night, because basically with the Casual movement, it didn’t have one particular band or genre.

There was always the influence of Black music. Towards the end, the dope-smoking thing became a bit more in, and around ‘85/’86, the Casuals started listening to Pink Floyd and The Smiths. It was a diverse scene with fashion and music changing all the time

ZANI – That would be a good club night.  Let’s start at the beginning. You’re a Bermondsey boy, and I understand you still live round south London. Before your days as a south London Casual, do you have fond memories of growing up round that area?

Steve White – I was born in Bermondsey, all my family come from there. So when my mum and dad went to work, I would stay round my aunt’s. I would go down to Rotherhithe Park with my cousins. But we actually lived in Lewisham, which isn’t too far from Bermondsey.

But when the National Front took hold of Lewisham, I remember my dad saying to my mum that we are getting out of here. So we moved out to Eltham, which is a more suburban part of southeast London.

ZANI – Eltham always has been sadly associated with the Stephen Lawrence murder.

Steve White - I was at a party in Well Hall Road in Eltham, when Stephen Lawrence was tragically murdered. There was a funk band playing in the back garden, we couldn’t believe what was going on, all we could hear were these sirens going off. Then news trickled through  the party that someone had been murdered. It was tragic.

Stephen Lawrence’s murder changed the face of the way that south London was represented. The thing is you got all these ill-informed journalists coming round, making opinions of the White Working Class of south London.

ZANI -The press had a field day with the Stephen Lawrence murder.

Steve White – There’s a fantastic book called The Likes of Us, by Michael Collins. It touches upon the fact  that in Europe, the diligent English man, is probably the most tolerant person that is racially prepared to integrate. But it’s through the system of class, and the fact that we are so uncomplaining,   that we are made to feel that we are not allowed to have an opinion because you are in fear of upsetting someone all the time, and that’s wrong.  

Britain has never been perfect. But one thing that I love about the UK, is its multiculturalism and preparedness to accept people and allow people if they are going to make a difference to live and prosper. I think that’s a fascinating thing about this country.

ZANI- That’s a really strong point.

Steve White – It’s a great book, The Likes Of Us, check it out.

ZANI – Let’s talk about the origin of Steve White, the drummer.

Steve White – Ha the origin, you make me sound like Spiderman.

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ZANI -Your desire to play drum started at 8, when your Uncle Alan gave you a snare drum. And 2 years later you were playing side drums with your local Boys’ Brigade.

Did you know that all you wanted to do at an early age, was to be a drummer?

Steve White – There was never a doubt, once I discovered it. It’s an interesting concept, nature over nurture. Can you hothouse kids to be brilliant, and push them. I don’t think you can. I mean my dad had never ever picked up a drumstick in his life, yet it just felt natural for me to drum.

I was inspired to practice 6 to 7 hours, at the age of 12. All I needed to know was that my mum and dad supported me in what I was doing.

I was always supported by the school as well, to a ridiculous level.  But that was really helpful to me, to get the years of practice that I did. I just basically practised for 5 years nonstop.

ZANI – Was it a teacher called George Scott who supported and mentored you?

Steve White – That’s right, George Scott at Eaglesfield School.

ZANI - Eaglesfield School, in Woolwich, where Ginger Baker of Cream had been a former pupil. Was Ginger Baker mentioned a lot in assemblies?

Steve White – No. It’s really funny because I have never been contacted by the school since my career took off.

You know when someone has done well in a profession, and your former school makes a shining example of you. But they’ve never asked me to give any gear to the music department. This has really surprised me, because south London schools have produced some great talent.  Like Al Clay, one of Hollywood’s top sound engineers, he’s out there, doing it. There’s also been George O'Dowd (Boy George) and Jools Holland.

ZANI – Maybe the schools want kids to be academic, and not to chase their dreams. Perhaps an appearance of a local boy made good in the world of ‘pop’ might distract them from their studies.

Steve White – I guess so, but now I do education. I go into schools and colleges, but not my old school. But I can’t in go there and say look kids all I did was play drums all day and never took any exams. You can’t say that, you have to temper it with working hard and studying. It’s difficult.

ZANI – It’s a shame that schools perceive being a musician in that way, because it’s the same discipline as being a successful doctor or an architect. You’ve got to put the hours in.

Steve White – The thing is though, for every 500 kids wanting to be a drummer, only one is going to make it. It’s the same with football, there just aren’t the opportunities. Unfortunately kids are sold the belief it’s on a plate for them. It’s a shock when they leave school, to find that it isn’t.     

ZANI - Before you passed your driving test, and you were gigging, is it true your dad was your roadie?

Steve White – On God yes. I remember the night of the Brixton riots. We had a gig at the Brixton Conservative Club in Effra Road. My dad saying to me, it’s probably not the best place to be tonight. There were all these ex Majors having their dinner dance on a Saturday night. I can tell you after that gig, we packed that car so quickly, because we could literally see the riot coming up the hill. The sky was ablaze.

When I was 21 and moved out, my brother, Alan, was 14 and he started to play the drums. So my dad had to do it all over again, so my mum and dad had years and years of drumming.

ZANI – But what about the neighbours, did you practice when they were at work?

Steve White – This was another lucky thing, we had a wonderful couple that lived next door. I would say at the time in the 70s, they were quite middle class, a sort of Tom and Barbara type. They had never had  children, so they took us under their wing. They had travelled a lot, very open-minded, and they loved the fact that we were drummers.

In fact Alan took the lady to see Oasis at Wembley, when she was 83.

ZANI – That’s a nice touch. When you were 13 you experienced a life changing moment, when you and your dad saw Louis Bellson perform live. I know by now, you wanted to be a drummer, but what was it about that night that made you say “now I really do want to be a drummer”?

Steve White – I had a little group of musicians who were friends. We played together in schools. We were finding our own way. We would go to the Tramshed in Woolwich, to watch Acker Bilk and the best of British jazz. They were great, and we would wait for the drum solo.

Then my dad said to me, “Louis Bellson is playing at Ronnie Scott’s”. These guys were big stars. My dad said “that’s the drummer you should see”. I didn’t even know where Ronnie Scott’s was, but I ventured out to get the tickets.

Louis Bellson’s first set wasn’t until 11. My dad had work the next day, and I had school. But we went for both sets, and we came out at 4 in the morning. I was speechless.

Then a month later I went to see Buddy Rich at Ronnie Scott’s with my dad. Seeing those guys play made me realised how good I wanted to be.

ZANI –A big hero of yours, Buddy Rich; would you say that he was one the greatest drummers that ever lived?

Steve White – I would say that he was one of the greatest musicians that ever lived. Buddy Rich was an incredible musician. He was somebody that could swing a band. He could make a good big band sound great. He was respected by Sinatra and Sammy Davies Jr. He dated Lana Turner, Betty Grable. This guy was a superstar. You could say Ali, Sinatra, Pele and you could say Buddy. From that, people know what stature I am talking about. I don’t think that there will be anybody else like Buddy. He was a force of nature.

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ZANI – I see.

Steve White – People like Buddy, Ali, Sinatra and Pele come along once in a lifetime. They are allowed to be what they are. There is no tempering them.

ZANI – After you left school, went to ILEA’s Centre For Young Musicians in Pimlico. I understand you didn’t enjoy your experience there, as you found it to be a tough regime, instead of being a bohemia hang out for musicians. Is that right?

Steve White - You’re right. It was classical and very strict. They were quite classless. They were all well-to-do kids, who went to ILEA, and I felt out of place.

I became comrades-in-arms, with another drummer, Gary Wallis, who went on to work with the likes of Pink Floyd. We both felt that ILEA wasn’t the place where we going to learn what we needed or wanted to learn.

ZANI – So where did find you the direction you needed as a drummer?

Steve White –Bill Bruford. He’s played with Yes, King Crimson, and Genesis. What I wanted to do was to find the most successful drummer in the field of rock. I remember cleaning these old VW’s in my Saturday job.

ZANI – Oh you’ve done a bit of valeting?

Steve White – Yea, I’ve done a bit of valeting. I was cleaning 20 VW’s one Saturday morning, I heard Bill Bruford talking on the Radio One rock show, and I thought I’ve got to find that guy. So I phoned EG Music, who Bill was signed to, and said I want to take some drum lessons with Bill Bruford. Some secretary said “yea OK”, and took my number.  Then out of the blue, he called me up, and I went to his house in Ripley. Bill asked me what I wanted to learn. I asked him “What this thing is, called ‘feel’, what does it mean, and can you teach me this feel?” He laughed, put the kettle on and said “I can’t teach you feel”.

Then he put There’s A Riot Going On by Sly And The Family Stone. Bill said to me “Listen to that, that’s feel”. That’s when I began to think. It’s one thing being a great technician on the drums, but it’s another thing being a great drummer. Ironically that was just before my professional career was about to take off.   I was 17, full of piss and bullets, and just wanted to play the drums really fast.

The first thing, that made me sit up and made me think I am a musician, was when I got to play on The Paris Match with The Style Council. It’s then that I realised that drumming wasn’t just about playing fast, and I learnt that from someone we would describe from the school of Progressive Rock. Bill Bruford got me into Sly Stone and Funk.

At the time, I was immersed in Funk due to my social life. I was always into Jazz, and then all of a sudden my horizons opened again tenfold. And that’s just before I started working with The Style Council.

ZANI – Before you auditioned for The Style Council, you played in a mod band, Flat 19.

Steve White – Flat 19, yea, with Mickey and Steve Allen. We got to play the Marquee. That was good fun.

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ZANI  - Again before your Style Council days; did you perform in a musical, based on the music of fellow southeast Londoners Squeeze?

Steve White – Yea, that was down to my friend Gary Wallis. Gary got asked to work with Dennis Greaves in The Truth, who were hoping to mop up The Jam’s audience.

Gary didn’t know whether to do this gig with The Truth, or this musical at the Albany Empire. So he decided to join The Truth, and gave me the gig at the Empire.

So I went down the Empire, met Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook of Squeeze. The first thing they said to me was “How old are you?”  I replied “17”, I was a kid and they were in their late 20s. Obviously there were employment laws, like was I old enough to work?  I think you had to be 18, but they gave me the job anyway. I learnt a lot working with Difford and Tilbrook.

ZANI – Squeeze wrote some great songs. They have a very kitchen sink drama and Ray Davies style in their lyrics.

Steve White – Yea great band.  Slap and Tickle, Another Nail in My Heart, Black Coffee In Bed. Weller is always moaning all that Difford and Tilbrook write about is shagging, well there’s nothing wrong in that.

ZANI – As has been documented, you got The Style Council audition thanks to The Jam, and then The Style Council’s senior A & R manager Dennis Munday.

Steve White - The reason why my name stuck in Dennis Munday’s head is because  he is from south London and he knew my uncle, without knowing it.

I was having a chat with Dennis, and he asked me where I was from. I said Eltham, and he replied “My old stomping ground. I’m Plumstead”. Then he asked if I knew a DJ who used to play around southeast London, called Mojo White. Well that’s me Uncle Morris.

Morris was a top Mod DJ. His record collection was sold to Capital Radio, when they started. He had about 10,000 singles.  He met Steve Marriott. Marriott gave him his old referee’s whistle. As he got older, he did more general  DJing. It was well before DJ’s became celebrities, but he made a lot of money from DJing.

When I was 15, he gave me a big create of 45 singles, with The Beach Boys, The Beatles, The Small Faces, The Who. We just used to play them around the house all the time.

ZANI – Original singles?

Steve White – Yes, and picture covers.

ZANI – I would have never left the house at 15, with a single collection like that. Going back to The Style Council audition, I understand that you had seen Mick Talbot before in his previous band, The Bureau. Perhaps you were more of a fan of Mick Talbot than Paul Weller.

Steve White – I was aware of how big The Jam were, but as I was into Jazz, Soul and Funk, so I was not really a fan.  During my school days, there had always been that little bit of aggravation between the Mods and The Casuals. I kept away from them, as it all seemed a bit aggressive at the time.

But I remember becoming more aware of The Jam, as the singles went on. By the time of Absolute Beginners, Precious, Bitterest Pill and The Beat Surrender, you could hear the soul coming into The Jam.

ZANI – From my research, I was led to believe that you were never officially confirmed as a member of The Style Council. However Iain Munn of Mr Cool’s Dream, told me that Paul Weller confirmed you as the 3rd member in an interview on the OFS cassette with Gary Crowley.

Steve White – Yea it was confirmed by Paul to Gary Crowley, but it was never confirmed to me. But I never really chased it.

It’s ironic that 25 years later, I could see what was coming with The Style Council, I know I might be jumping way ahead.  What I could see was that Paul wanted to do something different. I was always aware of the fact, but I don’t want to fall out with any one over this, because there is no divine right to work with Paul Weller. Most musicians make the mistake that they are in, and that their feet are under the table.

ZANI – For sure, with regard to The Style Council, a random youth culture question, would you say that they were more of a Casual band then a Mod band?

Steve White – Yes they were, and I would like to kind of take a little credit for that.

I had saved up for a black and white Pringle with diamond sleeves, thought I was the dog’s bollocks, with my black Lacoste, underneath it. After joining in The Style Council, I could afford a real Lacoste. One day I walked into the studio with my Pringle on, and Paul asked where had I got from. I said “There’s a Pringle shop down Marble Arch.” Paul would go off and buy 10 Pringle’s.

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ZANI – So you introduced Weller to the Casual look?

Steve White – Yes definitely. I think that whole Casual side also came from me and Paul travelling to Italy a lot. We were going to Italy, and picking up clothes you couldn’t get in England, certain types of Fila, Tacchini. During this period we were getting into the culture of countries like Italy and France.

The Style Council wasn’t your typical band. We weren’t really into drinking. My drinking days started later. We were just a group of people doing our own thing. I am not saying everything about The Style Council was perfect, but we had a great run for about 2 years, from Café Bleu onwards, ‘84 and ‘85.

ZANI – I remember The Style Council well during those days, and for your own personal record you were the youngest person to perform at Live Aid in 1985.

In July 2005, two members from The Style Council’s set from Live Aid 85, appeared at Live 8. You with The Who, and percussionist, Steve Sidelnyk, who played drums for Madonna.How does that feel joining an elite group of musicians, who played at both Live Aid events?

Steve White – It’s an incredible feeling, but the scariest thing for Steve and me, who’s still a good friend of mine, is how quickly those years have run away from us.

Recently I’ve been in touch with Tracie Young, and we are not the kind of people who live in the past. There are a bunch of people that I worked and partied with, who have never got out of the 80s. That’s never been my thing, but it is interesting catching up with people who are now in their 40s, and talking how quickly the time went.

ZANI – I know you just don’t treasure the days in your youth.

Steve White – You just assume that things are going to go on forever. “Youth is wasted on the young”, as Oscar Wilde said.

ZANI - With regard to The Who, you & Damon took over the roles of Moon & Entwistle respectively in Live 8. That is a hard act to follow.

Steve White – That was an amazing honour. It was more of an honour for me and Damon, because, for Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey, Live 8 was just another gig. We weren’t given too much of a guidance of what we were supposed to do. We didn’t know it was going to happen until 2 days before Live 8. We were just given a bunch of tunes on CD, and told to learn them. I’m extremely proud of it, but it was hard work.

ZANI –  Am I right in assuming that Roger is the hirer and firer of The Who?

Steve White – Roger was really the one that connected with me and Damon, to do it. I am not sure if Pete was certain about doing it with us. Obviously Roger and Pete had built a good relationship up with Zak Starkey. Zak had been in The Who for a few years.

I just wanted to come in, and do my best for something that was a great cause. To say you got to play the drum break in Won’t Get Fooled Again, with Pete Townshend, is something else.

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ZANI – An elite group of drummers, Keith Moon, Kenny Jones, Zak, and you. With regard to The Style Council, we all know about Paul Weller’s involvement, but what about Mick Talbot’s?

Steve White – Musically Mick was as important in The Style Council, as were Rick and Bruce in The Jam. Mick’s influence and knowledge of soul music, was something that Paul really appreciated. Paul liked having someone in the band that was able to talk about the Philadelphia soul scene, Motown, and Stax.

Paul really knows his music, and I think he really thrived on the partnership he had with Mick.

Mick brought the Hammond Organ sound into The Style Council. As the keyboards became more predominant within the band, it changed Paul’s style of writing.  Paul was writing for the piano, and writing from the piano. Mick was great, and he would often say to Paul, “I don’t think that works, let’s try this”.

But there is no doubt, that Paul is the boss. You work with Paul and you work for Paul. Just he ultimately knows what he wants from a song. Everyone that works with Paul knows that, and if you don’t know that, then you don’t get on with him.

ZANI – Do you get involved in the musical direction and arrangements with Paul Weller, as a solo artist?

Steve White – Yea, Weller is incredibly open to suggestions. He would go into the studio with a song, and say I think this is what this needs, and give you a reference, like the rim shot from Tin Soldier. He is not one of these people that will never say no to an idea from the member of the band.

ZANI - Going back to Live Aid. Were there any back stage bust ups between The Style Council and any other of the bands, especially with the likes of Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet hanging around?  

Steve White – Nay, there were no punch-ups, we all got on. Even Paul would say that we did on that day. What that day was all about, was when the world woke up to the media, or the music world woke up to the media. It was obviously pre-internet, and it was shown across the world in most countries.

ZANI – A great day.

Steve White – You have to be amazingly cynical not to appreciate it.  The Style Council never regretted doing it. I don’t think bands like U2 and Queen, on the day, set out to re-establish their careers globally. They just delivered what a certain proportion of the world’s population wanted on that day.

The Style Council went to Japan, a day or so later, after Live Aid. We stopped over at Alaska because, in those days, you couldn’t fly across Russia due to the politics. So you had to fly to Alaska, which is 9 hours. The plane would refuel. You would grab a hot dog, and change some money over.  Then fly to Tokyo; all in all an 18-hour journey.

I remember going to change some dollars up in Alaska, whilst the plane was refuelling.  And the lady behind the counter said to me, and Steve Sidelnyk, “Hey, I saw you guys on Live Aid”. Steve and I looked at each other in amazement, thinking that this lady, who changes dollars in Alaska, knew who we were. It was incredible. Obviously hindsight is a beautiful thing, and the cynicism started pretty quickly afterwards. But there was nothing cynical about that day.   

ZANI - One of the great features of The Style Council is that you seem to be outsiders in the positive and romantic sense. You had your own agenda, and stuck to it.

How did it feel like at the time, especially when we were living in a very Conservative era and being outspoken was, and still is, frowned upon?

Steve White –I think the time was summed during the recording of Do They Know It’s Christmas? Every one turns up in limos, and Paul turns up on the bus.

I was still getting the train to work. The band had this real work ethic. And there was a lot of charitable stuff, that we used to do, that wasn’t overtly political. It was really when we decided to get involved in Red Wedge, that The Style Council was labelled political.  People forget that George Michael of Wham, and Gary Kemp of Spandau Ballet did things for Red Wedge.  But again it was Paul who got backlash.  

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ZANI - I read that you felt in 1985, after you had completed a successful tour of Australia, The Style Council were going to go massive worldwide and could have been. But The Style Council never fulfilled this potential because you said “the foot was taken off the gas”. Why did that happen?

Steve White - In 1987, Paul and Dee C Lee (The Style Council’s backing vocalist and occasional lead singer) became an item. This changed the whole dynamics of The Style Council. Even though Paul wouldn’t deliberately allow those sort of things to affect the band, it does affect the band, because suddenly Dee was Paul’s partner. As Paul and Dee fell more and more in love, they formed a kind of honeymoon period.

Going back on the road, going back to Australia and the US, wasn’t priority on anybody’s list any more.  From ‘83 to ‘86, we were releasing a single every 3 months. Some of those singles had 33 minutes of music on them. That was a really productive time for The Style Council. I think, after that period, that just maybe Paul had done all he wanted to do with the band, he had got it out of his system.

The next phase of The Style Council, he fell in love and wanted to be with Dee and the family. And I think that reflects in the records after that. I am not saying that Paul was any less of a music fan during this period, but there wasn’t a better record from The Style Council, as Our Favourite Shop.

In saying that, there was some nice stuff on The Orange Album.

ZANI – Like The Cost Of Loving, Heavens Above?

Steve White – Nice songs, but I don’t think it was a good idea to bring out an album with no title, but just an Orange cover.

ZANI -   Was there a strain on your and Weller’s relationship during this period of The Orange Album?

Steve White- No, Paul is actually a very caring and loyal person. I think he found it hard to say to me, do you think we have achieved all we wanted to achieve. He has never been nasty to me.

I knew that Paul was making a record and going on tour, and I am not on the record or the tour. But it’s not like it hasn’t happened before.

We were still young back in The Style Council. I was only 21, 22, Paul was 26, 27. We weren’t hugging or crying when I said I didn’t what to do this anymore. There was and is never a problem.

ZANI –One project that seems fun for The Style Council, after 1985, was the Paolo Hewitt penned film, Jerusalem, which was a great promo for the Orange Album. What was  Jerusalem, like to work on?

Steve White- I was really anti doing it I was thinking “I won’t be able to play the drums for 6 weeks, why can’t we go out on tour. What the fuck are we doing a film for?”, but I had a massive laugh doing the film. Even though Jerusalem was appalling, it was kind of odyssey.  Like The Monkees doing Head.

It was a consolidation of friendship; we enjoyed each other’s company during the filming.

ZANI – You left The Style Council just before their demise. Dennis Munday managed your next venture The Jazz Renegades, with Alan Barnes, which I understand was part of the record label Acid Jazz.  Was that a band that you were pleased with?

Steve White – Dennis is a good friend, and was my drinking buddy during this period, as I had discovered the joys of Stella.

It was refreshing to be in a new project after The Style Council. I loved the freedom, which is similar to what I am doing now. It goes in patterns. I recorded four albums with The Jazz Renegades, which I am extremely proud of.

ZANI -Acid Jazz, certainly gave you plenty of opportunities, as you went to play for Working Week, Galliano, James Taylor Quartet. It must have been great and challenging for you during this period, working on a different project on a regular basis, and also you knowing you will never starve.

Steve White- I loved working all those acts, and Ian Dury. Doing my own thing, having a great time.

During this period, I read in the paper, that The Style Council had been dropped by Polydor. I thought that’s it for the band. I was touring with James Taylor, and Paul called me to ask if I could do the last gigs for The Style Council with Omar, and the DJ thing. At first, I said “no”. Then I called Paul the next day, and said “yes”. He said “You should have called yesterday, I’ve got a drummer now”.

ZANI – The album (Modernism: A New Decade) that was declined by Polydor, which lead to The Style Council being dropped, which to me, was a total oversight on their part. The House music and club scene was the biggest musical movement in the UK since Punk.

Steve White – Polydor were scared. Like I said the music business is the most conservative business in the land. Polydor weren’t going to take a risk, and I don’t think the relationship between Paul with David Munns and Richard Ogden was good. At the end of the day, those guys were gods at Polydor, and if one had a bee in their bonnet about Paul, they could drop him.

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ZANI – Did you speak much to Paul when he was dropped?

Steve White - We sort of lost contact for a while, well apart from the odd phone call. Then I got a call from Paul, about a final Style Council TV appearance, and then he was going to put the band to bed. We did The Whole Point Of No Return, with me on bongos.

We went for a drink afterwards with Keith Allen, and Paul asked what I was up to. I told him I had finished touring with the James Taylor Quartet, and Paul told me he had some demos, and he wanted me to play drums on them.

ZANI – Paul Weller had been written off by the music press around this period. I bet it felt great by the time Wild Wood was released, and Weller was the darling of the music press again.

Steve White – Yes, it did. I really loved the first album, Paul Weller. There are some great songs on there. We were just working our arses off for 18 months, went through The Paul Weller Movement, x amount of bass players and some dodgy backing vocals. I think Paul was finding his way in what he wanted to do.

I think Paul Weller’s turning point during this period, was when we went to record at Solid Bond Studios. We got Peter Wilson in to produce it, who had produced The Jam and The Style Council.  We were actually there to record Here’s A New Thing as a single. Peter said to me, “what I am going to do, is programme the bass drum, and you are going to play top kit”. I said, “this is not what I have come back to do, either I play on it or not”.

Then Paul said, “I’ve got another track you have a listen to, with a little drum loop on it”. He played to me, I said, “that’s fantastic”, and it was Into Tomorrow. Paul said “no machines, we are going to record it live”. Paul got Marco, Dr Robert was around, but I don’t know what he played on it. It was done in a couple of takes. After we recorded it, we looked at each other, knowing it was good.

ZANI – A great comeback single, from Paul Weller, consisting of the raw energy from a gang of outcast musicians, doing what they do best, playing from the heart.

Steve White – Thank you.

ZANI – You’ve mentioned your Brother Alan, and as we know he played drums with Oasis for nearly 10 years. We had Brit Pop, in the mid 90s with acts like Oasis and Paul Weller at the top of this ‘tree’, which featured you and Alan in both bands respectively. Not only  are you and Alan part of Pop history, but I bet your parents must have been the proudest parents in southeast London.

Steve White- They were and still are. When Oasis was added to the mix of my family, we would get the Daily Mirror ringing my mum up, trying to catch her out. The good thing, about the Oasis mania, was the fact that I was there for Alan. To make sure he made the right business decisions. To make sure that the accountants and managers didn’t get their hands on his money. I was really glad I was there, because I was able to guide him. Alan did 10 years with Oasis, and maybe it was the right time to move on.

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ZANI –What actually happened between Alan and Oasis. Why was he asked to leave in 2004?

Steve White – There were some disputes about meetings. I wasn’t there so I couldn’t comment. What you would get would be a story from either side. I am sure they’ve all got their opinions, and I respect that. The bottom line is that Alan got a call four days before Christmas from ‘The Manager’, and he was told he was out of the band. And he hasn’t seen or heard from Noel or Liam since.

ZANI – That’s a bit sad, seeing he had been with them for many years.

Steve White – All Alan wanted, was to have a pint of Stella, and the guys to say what we want is to get Zak Starkey in, as we don’t think you’re right for us anymore.  Alan would have had no problem with that, as nothing lasts forever.

But it was just the circumstances of the events which were shocking. They shocked me, and they hurt Alan.

ZANI – What is Alan doing now?

Steve White – He’s a property developer. The bottom line is, he played on records that sold over 27 million copies worldwide, as a fully paid up member of the band. He’s done very well.

ZANI – So the elder brother’s business advice paid off?

Steve White – Alan is doing all right, thank you. He would love to play again, but I think he was really hurt the way it was done, with Oasis. But he wasn’t the first musician that it had happened to.

But for someone like Liam, and Noel, who presents this image,” I am tough, I am hard, and I can take on anyone.” They couldn’t stand there, face to face, with Alan, I don’t like that.

ZANI – Fair point. We talked earlier a little a bit about The Players and Mick Talbot. What is your musical relationship like with Mick Talbot?

Steve White – I think we have got an amazing background of Soul and Jazz. Mick is one of the finest Hammond players in the country, and he underrates himself. He’s an easy musician to work with. I’ve always enjoyed the side of the Council, with the instrumentals we did, like Mick’s Up, Mick’s Blessings, Dropping Bombs On The White House.  

We got the opportunity to do The Players, by accident. Damon had asked us to do this film soundtrack. We had done some Talbot and White albums when the Japanese record companies had money. They would phone us up, give us silly amounts of money to make a record, and we would happily oblige.

Then when The Players came around and we were asked to do this film, we put together a whole bedrock of music for the British film Spivs with Jack Dee.

We got to the point, we were writing all this music, and getting this brief from the filmmakers, “We want something like this, something like that.”  Then inevitably we got the ‘phone call’; our services are no longer required. So we were out and left with all these demos. I spoke to Jools Holland, who said we could use his studio for a few days. Paid the engineer Matt, and did the album in 3 to 4 days. The 1st album that cost nothing to make sold more then the 2nd Players album. It was fun to do.

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ZANI – Sounds a good vibe. One thing, you have actively got involved in over the years, are drum seminars and drum academies. Is that something you wish to do more of and please tell us about the work you have done with Chad Smith and Palmerlive?

Steve White – A friend of mine, Louise King, who is the editor of Rhythm Drummer, was putting on an event at Wembley Conference Centre in 1998. She said to me, “I want to do something different. I am friends with Chad Smith from The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, and I would like you two to work together, as I think you guys will really hit it off.” I thought, hmmm, Paul Weller, and the Chilli Peppers, sounds like a strange combination to me.

ZANI – I know what you mean, but there are elements of a good Funk and Soul amalgamation. The Chilli Peppers have produced some great funky tracks, and with your background in Soul and Jazz……

Steve White – True. The minute that Chad and I met, we chatted for about five hours about drummers that we liked: Ringo, John Bonham, Kenny Jones, Ginger Baker and Mitch Mitchell. Chad’s a big fan of English drummers. When we came to do the event, we just kicked it off.

Chad and I did the 1st tour in 2000. It was a scream, the funniest 2 weeks I have ever had. We played the Rivermead centre in Reading, with 2 drummers, and 1,100 turned up. Chad and I have remained friends; unfortunately some of my closet friends live in the furthest places of the world. Chad is one of the most down to earth blokes you are ever likely to meet. He’s a drummers’ drummer, and I wouldn’t give a shit if he were a crap drummer.

I like the work I do for Palmerlive, which are great seminars in the UK. One of the organisers, Ian, is an amazing drummer, and an airline pilot.

ZANI - Please tell us about Philly Morris, and the charity you are involved in with him, Checkemlads

Steve White – For a start anyone who is reading this article, and who is male, can check themselves for lumps and irregularity in their balls, as it could possibly save your life. Because at the end of the day, testicular cancer is actually increasing.

More cases of testicular cancer are becoming apparent. We are not sure why, because, other cancers are diminishing. But there seem to more reported casesof testicular cancer, especially with boys who are aged between 15 to 16.

If you are 15 or 16, and you are going through tough times with your hormones, and everything, the last thing you want is Checkemlads comprovides a down to earth link, and the organiser Philly Morris, will answer the emails. We’ve had kids, who have emailed the site, and are very nervous when talking about their condition. Philly has talked to them, via email and given them confidence from the benefit of his experience to go and see a doctor. It’s an amazing site. It’s saved lives.

When I first met Phil, he had just finished his chemotherapy and he was moaning. I said you’ve got to stop feeling sorry for yourself. So he decided to set up the website, so it could bring awareness and I helped him to raise the necessary funds.

ZANI - Nice work. You’ve acted as a drum consultant to Zildjian and Premier. Would it be your dream to see the Steve White drum kit?

Steve White- I’ve got my drum kit. I did it the right way, because the thing is when you produce a drum kit that has got your name on it, it’s only going to appeal to your fans.

What I did with Premier, I was able to get in and design their entire  drums. When you see Robbie Williams’ drummer playing Premier Drums, he’s playing my drums. When you see Take That, Iron Maiden and Marilyn Manson drummers playing Pearl End Premier drums, they are my drums.

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ZANI – That’s a big achievement, and some worthy names to prove the product is good. I understand that Liv Tyler is a big fan of yours?

Steve White – A really lovely young lady, and equally lovely is her husband Roy. I was in New York, a few years ago on the Oasis tour and Liv and Roy, along with Kate Hudson and Chris Robertson were following our US tour, a big collection of big Hollywood film stars. Liv really loved my drumming.

A year after that I was in my favourite sushi bar in London with my friend Sherry. She leaned across the table and said Liv Tyler is waving at you. That was a nice feeling.

ZANI – That goes without saying. You’re a big Charlton Athletic fan. Season ticket holder?

Steve White – But of course.

ZANI - Would it be your dream to play an open-air gig at Charlton’s ground, The Valley?

Steve White – I tried to get Paul to do a show there a few years ago. I was approached by some of the guys from the corporate side of Charlton. I said Paul will only do it  if there is no restriction on the volume. We got the agreement that there wouldn’t be, but it never worked out, I don’t know why. But it may still happen.

ZANI - What young drummers do you rate today?

Steve White – There’s Seb Roachford who plays for a band, called Polar Bear.  Stanton Moore, who plays with The Stanton Moore Trio and Galactic. An American session player called Keith Carlock, who is an amazing drummer.

There are some of my younger players, who I am teaching, who are scary, Matt Raiser, who just got the gig with Kylie Minogue. Then there is Josh Law, who is 14, and an absolute monster.  I love Brian Blade the Jazz drummer, Dominic Howard from Muse, Matt from the Arctic  Monkeys.  I try and keep abreast with what is going on.   

ZANI – I thought you would do.  Final question, what is the best song you have played live, looked at the heavens, and said thank you to your uncle for giving you that snare drum?

Steve White – That’s a bit of a spiritual question.

ZANI – ZANI is a spiritual Webzine.

Steve White - A couple more of iconic moments for me, playing Won’t Get Fooled Again with The Who at Live 8 was amazing. Getting to play Champagne Supernova with Oasis, at Radio City Musical Hall in New York, which was kind of emotional for me, because that is where Buddy Rich & Gene Krupa made their names there.

I think one of the most amazing moments was 3 years ago at The Olympia, Dublin with Paul, Damon, and Steve Cradock. The band was just on fire. There wasn’t one particular song. But on the second night at the Olympia, right at the end of a busy year, everyone was tired and had colds. At the end of that gig, I just thought “how good can a band be?”. I just went up to Paul at the end of the show, and said “It doesn’t get any better than this mate, does it”, Paul put his arm round me, and said “No”.

Working with Paul, there have been so many gigs, where you have lost yourself in the music. I’ve been blessed.

ZANI – Well, you’ve worked hard for it.

Steve White - The harder you work, the luckier you get.

What inspirational words of wisdom from Steve White to bring the interview to a close. Furthermore Steve White’s dedication, determination, and drive towards drumming, has certainly, and rightfully so, paid off. Only a fool would question that.

Steve White’s aptitude for drumming seemed to come from nowhere. His parents might have loved music, but had never so much as picked up a triangle. So that part of Steve’s accomplishment remains a mystery. And long may it stay that way, because not everything needs an explanation especially if their faculty is so entertaining. You could spend hours trying to analysis the football skills of Maradona, but you just might lose sight of his magic.

Without wishing to sound hackneyed, Steve White is a modernist in the true sense. From an early age he has studied and understood all trends in fashion, music and technology. Taken out what he needs, adapted it and used it to move to the next level of his career and life.

Steve White views the internet with fervour. As he explores the social network phenomenon on the web, as he utilises these new marketing methods to promote his drum workshops and Trio Valore Inc, a true modern artist.

As an individual, Steve White is intelligent, receptive, conscientious, worldly, thoughtful and highly articulate.  Despite his many achievements in regards to music, Steve White remains humble, but justifiably he is also extremely proud of his accomplishments.

Another endearing character trait of Steve White is his passion for learning and the mentors that have helped him to become one of the best drummers of his generation.  Characteristics that have made him learn to have the ability to be able to pass on his knowledge and skills of drumming to his public and attendees at his drum workshops. Steve White has easily moved from the student to the teacher, as he wants to see the next generation of talented drummers take centre stage. Will we see the Steve White drum academy? Only time will tell.

Steve White’s contributions to music are so important, and like so many great drummers, be it Bennie Benjamin, Motown session drummer, or Howard Grimes, Al Green’s drummer, Steve White’s style has added so much to the dynamics and rhythm of the bands he has played with. A pulsating and enchanting style that gives the song an amazing rhythmical existence.

Still with an eye for Italian and French Sportswear, Steve White remains the impeccably dressed Casual from southeast London. Furthermore people from all different generations now really do dance to Steve White’s drumbeat.

Matteo Sedazzari/ZANI ©

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Matteo Sedazzari

Matteo Sedazzari

About Us

ZANI was conceived in late 2008 and the fan base gradually grew by word of mouth. Key contributors came from those of the music, film and fashion industry and the voice of ZANI grew louder. So, when in 2013 investor, contributor and fan of ZANI Alan McGee* offered his support to help restyle and relaunch the site it was inevitable that traffic would increase dramatically and continues to grow. *Alan McGee co-founder of Creation Records and new label 359 Music..


What We Do

ZANI is an independent online magazine for readers interested in contemporary culture, covering Music, Film & TV, Sport, Art amongst other cultural topics. Relevant to modern times ZANI is a dynamic website and a flagship for creative movement and thinking wherever our readers live in the world.