The All New Exclusive Interview With Stuart Elliott!
Stuart Elliott has long been a mainstay in England as one of the Premier studio drummers in the area. Many endless studio sessions with such revered artists as Kate Bush, Al Stewart, Jack Bruce, and many many more has more than established Stuart as a great drummer but he is probably best known for his longtime stint in the legendary Alan Parsons Project, a band of great musicians that produced a series of wonderful studio albums throughout the 70's & 80's that include many hits such as "Eye In The Sky", "Sirius" (think Chicago Bulls on that tune!),  "Don't Answer Me", & "I Wouldn't Want To Be Like You", and "The Raven". Only in the early 90's did Parsons and company venture out on the road for the first time and delighted crowds while sharing the bill with other great Prog acts such as Yes and Kansas, as well as doing some of their own headlining shows. Alan Parsons recently called it quits with the Project but Stuart Elliott hasn't stopped moving. Stuart took some time out from his tiring schedule to answer some questions for Me, and what a kind, generous Man I found Stuart to be. He is a true class act and You will surely enjoy this interview.
Q: Hello Stuart and thank You so much for joining us here on my site! I wanted to start off here by asking You about all of the writing and recording You have been doing on Your own lately. Are You working on a solo album or is this another project altogether?
A: Hi Billy! Thanks for Your interest in My humble career! The stuff I am doing at this moment is quite varied. I am doing a library album (music made specifically to be used in TV and film) based on retro film styles ala John Berry (James Bond), Lalo Schiffrin (Dirty Harry & Bullet) with a bit of 50's Pulp Fiction and Spaghetti Western thrown in there too. It's a lot of fun to write and record especially as in my studio I can record my drumkit as opposed to the samples and programming that I have been doing for years. That makes an incredible difference and is way way quicker than programming the damn things!
      I am also writing the them tune and the walk-on and walk-off music for the Laureus World sports awards. It is almost identical in style and grandeur to the Academy Awards only in this case, the awards go to sports people. It is held in Monaco and is sponsored by Mercedes and Cartier. On the playing front, I am doing a new album with Kate Bush. This is a lot of fun as she has kind of gone back to wanting drums, by that I mean by not restricted by not using hi-hat and cymbals and not relying on all that massive gated reverb stuff. She has opted for a more sensitive, even jazzy approach which, as chance would have it, I have also gravitated back towards.

Q: You have been known for ages as a rock steady drummer impeccable timing, and I have always thought of you as being a dynamic but very tasteful drummer who plays for the music, never himself. What is your drumming background and education? Any drum teachers or special influences from other drummers?
A: My background in drumming is that my Father was a professional drummer up until the late 70's, playing with the big bands and artists like Lena Horne. I have never had any formal training or education in drumming which is a bit of a regret. I think My ears have been my greatest teacher. I believe that just listening to music and musicians constantly feeds the need for new material and fresh approaches. I grew up with the Beatles and still learn from Ringo even now. I played drums for him a couple of years ago at a festival in Munich called "Michael Jackson and Friends". That tom fill in the break in "A Little Help From My Friends" is a piece of music in itself and I was thrilled to finally play it with Him.
      I used to listen to My Dad's jazz records too. Things like Buddy Rich, Dave Brubeck, etc... Joe Morello was one of my favorite drummers as a kid. I remember doing a single B-side with Cockney Rebel (ed. note: one of Stuart's early bands) called "Throw Your Soul Down here" and I did a fill right at the end of the track which was a run down the toms finished by three consecutive flams, and the piano player said "Hey, You sounded like Joe Morello there!" I got rumbled! I also used to listen to a hell of a lot of Steve Gadd, as we all did, and I learned a lot from him.

Q: Not only have You been one of the cornerstones for the Alan Parsons Project, but a highly demanded session drummer as well, playing with the likes of Kate Bush, Jack Bruce, and Al Stewart. Many great drummers have made a good living by doing mostly session work. Do you prefer the studio over playing live or vice versa?
A: I need both for true development. Live playing is freer and builds Your stamina and endurance and just gets the circulation going like nothing else. Studio drumming reveals and captures the beauty in the simplest, subtlest aspects of drumming that You sometimes forget to appreciate. Little things like grace notes on the snare, the way your snare drum changes it's timbre and pitch with your dynamics. I bought a Sonor Jungle snare for about $100.00. It is about ten inches in diameter and two inches deep. What a sound though! It's Kate's favourite at the moment. I discovered that playing it softly in the middle without rimshotting produces a killer sound and has such expression.

Q: Did Alan's decision to disband the group come as a shock to You or had it been coming for some time? Is the door permanently shut or is there the possibility of a reunion in the future?
A: It had been coming for a while but was still sad to see it go, particularly for the live work. The door is still open and we are still good friends and speak occassionally on the phone. It is basically down to public interest and that old demon, Money.  The whole music business is suffering a bit right now and small touring acts that still have professional guys on the payroll just can't make it pay. It is just down to basic mathematics.

Q: What was the difference for You in playing with the APP with Eric Woolfson and without him?
A: The songs. I am sorry to all who concerned who wrote songs after Eric, and that includes Me, but they just weren't right. Eric had a concept, a vision, and a whole bunch of songs already written when he went into the studio with us. All we had to do for the most part was play them. The stuff that he wrote was also right for it's time.

Q: The Alan Parsons group decided only in the early 90's to finally take their music on the road, even though the group had been in existence since the mid 70's. Was their ever any discussion of going out and playing the music live before they finally decided to? What finally convinced Alan to take the band on the road?
A: It was Me and Ian (Bairnson) that talked Alan into getting onto the stage with us in 1994. We had done a Proms show in Belgium previously where Alan was on the mixing desk but was also talking between songs. It was a bit strange to say the least!

Q: Did You feel that the music translated as well on the road as it did in the studio? I saw the band live and the music seemed very well adapted to the road!
A: I think doing it live injected more energy into it. It is a pity that We did not have that same energy in the studio at the time. I think the main reason for this is that there used to be huge long breaks in between takes where Alan and Eric would be discussing where the song was going which would sometimes have the musicians falling asleep, waiting to go on.

Q: Stuart, what do you think has been the most important ingredient in Your successful career?
A: Without a doubt, a positive attitude, and the belief that I would succeed. Looking back now, that seems crazy, knowing what the pitfalls are.

Q: Are You quite active on the internet? Is there a possibility that we may one day see an Official Stuart Elliott website?
A: Yes, that's coming soon.

Q: Stuart, I want to wrap up here by thanking You so much for Your time, and I wanted to know what your fans can expect to see or hear from You in the near future?
A: I am starting up some live playing again this summer with Steve Harley. That will be a lot of fun. Those old songs are still great to play. I will be able to break loose and play anything I want, which Steve likes. I plan to continue with the composing , and of course, look out for Kate's new album!
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My sincerest thanks goes to Steve Martin of The Avenue , the official Alan Parsons site for arranging this great interview!