Jonathon 'Ginger' Hamilton (Sam Smith, Olly Murs, Jessie J) - Interview

Jonathon, a massive thank you for taking the time out to do this. You’re one of the busiest players in the Drum world so to have you do this is a massive honour! Your CV is incredible but how did it all begin? What made you pick up the sticks?

The pleasure is all mine thank you. From a very young age I just gravitated towards the drums. From the age of three years old I would say is when I really picked up my first pair of sticks. My Nanna bought me a Mickey Mouse drum kit and I ruined it within six months, lol!My parents bought me a real red miniature kit which I had for quite a few years.

You’ve played with some serious artists in the Gospel scene from quite a young age, would you say that playing in church from such a young age taught you things that perhaps others wouldn’t pick up until further along their playing journey?

Gigging from a young age taught me a lot. I started with Noel Robinson at age 14. It taught me how to play with other musicians, to be sensitive to what other people are playing and what the lead singer is singing. It also helped with my discipline especially playing with gospel artists as opposed to just playing in church and it helped with discipline and playing and learning parts.

Having played from such a young age, you have an impressive CV! Can you tell us who you are currently working with and who you have worked with in the past?

I’m currently working with Sam Smith and Westlife. I’ve also worked with Olly Murs, Lianne La Havas, Jessie J, JLS, N-Dubz, Peter Andre & VV Brown

How do you approach a tour? Can you talk us through how you prep for it, what/how you programme and how you get familiar with the songs? How does a tour with Sam Smith differ to a tour with Jessie J for example?

It literally depends from tour to tour how I would approach it. I like to get the music as early as possible so I can immerse myself in it. Once I’ve listen to the music, it helps me with my prep in terms of care picking out what drums and cymbals I’m going to use to best replicate the sound authentically. Every tour has it's variables that will make it different. With Sam we had a lot of time to rehearse and create a really sophisticated show whereas with Jessie we didn’t rehearse as much because we were touring a lot and building a sound on the road which was electrifying!

You’re a DW artist, right? What Drums are you using at the moment and what other gear completes your set up? What Sizes are your Kit? Any companies that you love dealing with?

Yes I am a DW artist which is a dream come true! I currently have a DW collectors series Maple kit in Matt gun metal grey. 8x7 ,10x8 ,12x8 ,13x8 , 16x14 ,18x16 ,20Gong,22BD 14x7 Edge, 14x8, 10x5 Snares. 9000 Series hardware.

The majority of your work is in a live environment and you spend a lot of time on the road. How do you keep yourself in touch with the ‘normal world’ going on around you and keep yourself healthy both physically and mentally?

Make the most of days off. Making sure I’m in touch with family and friends while I’m away. Physically it’s demanding on my body so I workout, get sports massages to stay as fresh as possible. Mentally it’s tougher because even on days off you’re still somewhat in tour mode. But working out helps mentally also as well as my faith which definitely helps me stay mentally healthy.

You’ve performed on TV numerous times. The Grammy’s and SNL with Sam Smith must be particular highlights? TV gigs are often different to a more common gig, especially when broadcasting to the whole world. Do you find it a surreal experience to know that the whole world is watching whilst you play?

The Grammy’s was definitely the highlight of my career and to top it off it was the 60th Anniversary in New York the year we did it at Madison Square Garden. It was such a surreal experience playing my dream award show at my dream venue! It doesn’t get much better than that!

How are you keeping yourself busy during these strange times?

I’m taking remote sessions at home and I’ve also started an apparel company called DRM & DRMMR. That along with some other projects have kept me busy especially the last 3 months.

If you had any advice for your younger self what would it be?

Save ALL of your money for 2020! Lol. On a serious note one piece of advice for my younger self would be to learn to read music. Something I’m working on now.

What’s your favourite piece of gear you own? Are you a vintage Drum lover?

My favourite piece of gear would have to be my limited edition DW 5000 gold pedal. I bought it almost 10 years before I signed with them! I am a vintage drum lover and now I’m getting into recording more, I definitely want some vintage sounds in my Arsenal.

What’s next for you? Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?

Growing my company is next, we have a few things dropping soon! check out and follow @drmndrmmr for updates

Finally, can you share a quick tip or give us a small exercise you always use?

A little single stroke accent exercise me and Dexter use from the movie Drumline to warm up

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