My music teacher at school clocked onto the fact that I was interested in synthesis, and we had the first Roland MT32 and an Atari system, I think in the country. I was hooked, I think I was 13 or 14 then, around ’87, but my music teacher said look you should try and start to meet some other like minded young people and so, she managed to get me to go to Walsall Youth Jazz Orchestra. I was in that until about 17 or 18, and actually I was playing synthesisers because they had a great piano player there already. I was always into Tangerine Dream, Jean-Michel Jarre and Kraftwerk so for me it was ideal. I was playing pads and synths and we were doing a lot of Pat Metheny numbers and I was playing all the little bits Lyle Mays plays.
So for me that was great, that’s were I started and from that I met a lot of musicians in the Midlands that were already much older than me and gigging, over time they asked me to cover a gig or come play second keys.
What would you say was your breakthrough?
I got a job with an artist called Lou Dalglish, a singer-songwriter. She was doing residencies at Ronnie Scotts which was a major up, you know it was a serious thing. I met a lot of people there, different touring artists which were coming through, I’d have piano lessons from their piano guys, met a real good friend of mine, Jason Rebello who’s a dear friend to this day, he gave me some lessons. And I then spent years playing in every function band I could - driving back from, say, Norwich at 4am every Saturday and Sunday night, just to get my chops together and just to work on stuff, earn a living!
I was always interested because of the synthesis in programming and studio stuff, so on the side of all of that I was getting asked to go to the studio and do programming, keys and Emagic, Notator in the late 80’s early 90’s. So I got involved quite heavily in the dance music scene, which played to my synthesis strengths. I absolutely loved record production so I then just hibernated in the studio and stopped gigging entirely. I just thought this is an easy life for me, I don’t have to lug a keyboard around, and I can be in my comfort zone.
From there then, how did you get into doing what you're doing now?
I did that for a long time, most of my 20’s. Had a family and preferred life at home, going to work in my studio rather than out on the road. But the itch never went away, and I’d be recording and producing other musicians that I was working with, but not involved with the band anymore, so I kinda had this itch that I wanted to get back into live performance.
I was working with a good friend of mine, Mark Stevens, who’s the brother of MD extraordinaire Mike Stevens. He just happened to be looking for a keyboard player on the 2009 Anastasia Heavy Rotation tour. I just got very lucky, they needed someone and I was available. I went and met Mike, played a little bit for him and we got on straight away, so I got that gig and for the last 10 years I’ve not stopped working and touring. I've worked with all my favourite artists with Mike: Anastasia, Taio Cruz, The Saturdays, Cheryl Cole, Annie Lennox, we did the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, Mika, Gary Barlow, Take That.
What are your responsibilities on this particular gig?
On this Take That gig, I’m the Keyboard player. I also do some programming for the tour interludes, also any show interludes I stop and start so they segway into what we’re doing, but mainly the piano player on this.