Drummer Gino Banks visits Kochi with a workshop as Yamaha launches DTX series drums
Live drumming is a glamorous profession. The fancy lights and passionate cheering can indeed be addictive. To step out of this limelight and take up tutoring—a task which requires immense patience and perseverance—is very challenging, especially when you are used to working with high profile artists like A R Rahman and celebrated trio Shankar–Ehsaan–Loy. Visiting Kerala for a drum class at Palarivattom-based Jam Music Conservatory, popular fusion and Bollywood drummer Gino Banks could offer a distinct perspective on balancing performance and teaching.
“I started drumming at a really early age (when he was merely eight-years-old), and in course of time gathered a lot of study material which a lot of people didn’t have access to. Once I started teaching when I turned 18, I found that it improved my knowledge base and even my own style of playing. Now, I’ve taken it up seriously to become a senior faculty at NMIMS School of Performing Arts which offers degree courses in music,” says Gino.
Look up his performance and recording career and it becomes evident there is no better person to guide upcoming drummers on modern styles of music than this 35-year-old. Raised in a jazz music environment, Gino has crafted multiple albums in this genre with his father Louis Banks (known as the Godfather of Indian Jazz).
Later on, he has delved into diverse music such as pop with MTV Unplugged and Coke Studio, worked with rock bands like Symphony Novel, actively recorded in Bollywood with numbers in recent movies like Sui Dhaaga and 102 Not Out, and even started developing his own sound through a personal project’s debut album titled Logically Speaking, released last year.
Ask this versatile musician about how students can train themselves best for the current scenario dominated by electronic and hip-hop music and he says, “Whatever is the ‘mainstream’ created by people who control the entertainment industry, it is up to artistes to make their music accessible, to write good songs and cultivate a culture of good music.”
“How much ever people make electronic music, live performance won’t ever go out of vogue. Nowadays, producers are even venturing into making EDM and electro music with live drummers. Basically, you have to work on developing skills depending on what you wanna do—whether you want to excel in all styles of music or be part of a band,” informs the much sought-after fusion music drummer.
Having collaborated with international musicians like Grammy-nominated guitarist Mike Stern and double bassist Dave Holland and performed across the world in locations such as West Asia and America, he wants to remind youngsters about our traditional music systems.
“It is very important for us to understand that we are sitting on a rich heritage and when it comes to rhythm, there are a lot of possibilities. Students of western instruments should take the effort to infuse Indian elements into their style of playing,” he suggests, hinting it won’t be difficult for youngsters in Kerala to find an accomplished Carnatic music guru.
In Kochi for the launch of Yamaha’s DTX series drums, his 90-minute session featured drum solos and a Q & A session, other than insights into various areas of drumming from ghost notes to advanced polyrhythms. Before winding up the session, he also invited young students to play alongside him on stage.