There has been a lot going on in England this summer! There are many up and coming bands emerging from the woodwork and several bands have already debuted stateside. In April of this year, I was fortunate to have stumbled upon Kev Hickman and his incredible talent he delivers from behind the kit when his previous band, RavenEye performed in Nashville, Tennessee. Amongst the fury of crash cymbals, floor toms, and snapped sticks; Kev keeps his cool and commands his set accordingly. Endorsed by Aquarian Drumheads, Kev has certainly had fun play testing equipment and now lends his talents to British band Aaron Buchanan and The Cult Classics! Kev spent some time talking about what The Cult Classics have in store in the upcoming months and shares his thoughts on Aquarian as well!
Q: Kev, do you care to tell us a little bit about Aaron Buchanan and The Cult Classics?
A: I’m really excited about this band! Aaron is the ex-frontman of the British rock band Heaven’s Basement, and I’ve been a fan of theirs for the last few years. He’s an incredible singer and he approached me with an album of fantastic new material that he’s been working on for the last year. It has elements of the grungy, energetic rock I’ve been playing for the last two years but there’s more depth and variety in the sound. The album is heavily influenced by bands such as Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots, Audioslave, Skunk Anansie, Foo Fighters and Queen. I’ve joined a team of very enthusiastic, talented young musicians, all hungry to get out on the road and tour this music. It was a very fortunate coincidence that this opportunity came in three days after my departure from RavenEye.
Q: What have you guys been up to this summer?
A: We’ve been rehearsing pretty solidly as we have an eleven date tour with InMe coming up in October, including appearances at Hard Rock Hell and Brain Freeze festivals in Wales. The five of us piling into a small rehearsal room in the height of British summer for four days a week has been a very sweaty adventure!
Q: During your transition of bands, was it difficult to walk on to a new project such as The Cult Classics?
A: I think the fact that I’ve transferred from one up-and-coming young rock act to another one, but this time armed with an established artist and self-titled ‘road dog’, has actually made things pretty easy. Everything that I’ve learned over the last eight years slogging around the world I have been able to apply to this band. I had a lot of fun locking myself away for two weeks before rehearsals learning the new material and in all of the conversations I’ve had with Aaron and the rest of the band my experience and contacts have been welcomed and I feel like a valued part of the team. The very fact that we’re looking at touring with a driver and a basic crew is a foreign experience to me but one I’m sure I will welcome with open arms! I still think back to the 38 hour drive to Romania and 20 hour drives all through America when I shared the drives with the other guys in RavenEye!
Q: You are endorsed by Aquarian drumheads. Tell us about the company as I’m not sure the US market is as familiar with this brand.
A: They’re a fantastic company and I love how more and more people are getting wise to them.The company was founded by Roy Burns. Born in 1935, he was a big band drummer in his early 20s and one of the first Artist-Clinician Performers in the industry. He founded the company in 1980 and since then they’ve been going strong.
Q: What do you like about Aquarian?
A: They have the best product. Their sound and build quality are second-to-none and if you’re a fan of more vintage drum sounds like I am, then they have the best modern heads you can buy to achieve that sound.
Q: Are there other Aquarian products you like to use?
A: I’ve been really enjoying their modern vintage line, but my go-to is coated super 2 on the toms, texture coated with power dot on the snare and Super-Kick III coated on the bass drum.
Q: How does Aquarian stay competitive in a market saturated with Remo and Evans?
A: The main selling point for me is how long they last, I’ve found that products from other companies sound great for about two or three shows then you have to replace them as they start to develop strange sounds from wear. I’ve had a set of Aquarians on in the past for 14 full-on rock shows, and they still sounded as good as the day I put them on.
Q: Tell us about your kit (your setup, snare, cymbals, stick preference, etc.)
A: My standard setup is Natal drums, 24” kick, and 13” and 16” toms in Ash. I have an amazing 14”x6.5” Dunnett aluminium snare that I can’t praise enough. Regal Tip drumsticks, 5B wood tip. And all Paiste cymbals, 14” sound-edge hi-hats, 18” signature crash, 20” 602 ride. For The Cult Classics I have added an 18” signature power crash and 22” Novo china to the setup. Hardcase cases keep it all safe!
Q: How and when did you start playing drums?
A: When I was sixteen, a friend talked me into hanging out with him and two guitarists. We met up in a garage that had an old kit in the corner under a dustsheet and Craig literally just said, “Play that Kev, you can be our drummer.” I ended up buying that kit and never looked back! That was nearly 12 years ago, blimey!
Q: You are fortunate because England has produced incredible drummers. Tell me about some of your influences.
A: The first songs I ever started playing with that garage band were Metallica covers, so Lars Ulrich was a very early influence. I was going through a pop-punk phase so The Offspring were the next big influences, but Thin Lizzy are my all-time favourite band. I really think their drummer, Brian Downey, is one of the most underrated rock drummers out there.
Q: Early on I wasn’t listening to many English drummers! As I explored the instrument more, I started to travel back to older bands. I discovered John Bonham, Ian Paice, Mitch Mitchell, Ginger Baker and Charlie Watts, so I got influenced from some drummers back here in the UK!
A: Recently the drummers who have really impressed me have been Stanton Moore, Michael Miley from Rival Sons (a fellow Aquarian endorser) and Brent Fitz who played with Slash feat. Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators. When the band I was in supported The Conspirators through Europe and the US, Brent really impressed me as someone with a fantastic feel and solid groove and as a musician who respected the song when he plays.
Q: Who’s an artist you are into right now who we need to listen to?
A: There are so many great bands out there now. To mention one couldn’t be enough. The Temperance Movement, Blackberry Smoke, Blues Pills, and Monster Truck are just a few!
Aaron Buchanan and The Cult Classics on Twitter
Kev Hickman on Twitter
Feature Photo: Amanda Knight
Writer: Amanda Knight