Interview with UK Session Drummer Ash Soan

If you look at some of the UK's top-selling artists of the past 20 years, there's a chance Ash Soan has drummed for them. With a drumming career that's spanned studio, live, TV and film work, he's considered one of the UK's top session musicians. Ash took some time to answer a few questions on gear, experience and inspiration.

Sam Beattie

Sam Beattie

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You’ve been a Gretsch artist since 2015. What drew you to the brand?

I’ve owned a 1963 Gretsch Round-badge for 25 years or so and used it on many recordings. The drum brand I endorsed and supported before made a 3-ply maple, poplar, maple shell; when things went wrong for that company, I moved to Gretsch because of my history with their kits. The Broadkaster is a maple poplar maple shell which I love.

And – apart from the fact that they’re a 400-year-old company – what about Zildjian?

I’ve been with Zildjian 25 years next year. Love them!

Ash Soan Interview - Andertons Music Co.

Technology has progressed quite rapidly in the past few decades – is there any particular bit of gear you have that you wish you’d had 20 years ago?

In ear monitors.

How do you incorporate digital technology into your setup? Do you use an electronic kit, pads, triggers etc?

I have used triggers in the past but I feel the best part of my playing is on an acoustic kit.

Naturally, playing in a studio environment for such a variety of artists requires discipline and the ability to adapt. Can you recall any times where it took a little extra effort to adapt to a project?

The sessions where I have to hit harder are when I feel challenged. Not the parts but maintaining the energy and control.

What advice would you give musicians looking to get into the session world?

Be open to change in the studio and out. I’ve seen some older session guys not being able to change or rather not accepting that change and it slows down for them – ‘older’ as in my age and older. I’m 50 next year. In general be open to sounds, music, people, genres and different feels. This will hold you in good stead. Oh, and try not to be a dick.

The oldest question in the book; do you maintain a practice routine of some description?

No. I should but I work nearly every day and play and practice my craft while I work. I’d like to get into a pad routine. Maybe when work slows down!

Back in the ‘90s, you toured the world with Del Amitri, Faithless, Gabrielle and a number of other top acts. How did you adjust to the fast-paced international lifestyle?

I was in my 20s so it was a total blast. The hardest thing is when it stops…

Ash Soan Interview - Andertons Music Co.

You’ve been a drummer at a professional level for over 20 years; at what point did you realise you wanted to pursue this career path?

Nearly 30 years really. I was 10 years old and I thought I’m going to be a drummer. I guess I’ve been very lucky for it to work out how it has.

Have you ever found yourself in a rut in terms of playing or inspiration? If so, do you have any advice for people who may find themselves in that situation?

Yeah – hang in there! Work has a habit of turning up just as you feel it’s all over, ha! And regarding playing, I’ve found listening to the players and music I like most helps me through any rough patch, playing-wise. It inspires me again.

Fancy seeing more of Ash? Check out his website here – or you can watch his interview on Drum Addicts below:

Sam Beattie
Sam Beattie
Sam is one of our content writers, as well as being our resident southpaw and synth enthusiast. He spends his free time composing for music libraries and playing in a post-rock band. Sam's desert island gear would be his Mexican Tele, Strymon El Capistan and Teenage Engineering OP-1.

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