Today the Rejects magazine interviewed Ray Micallef who has been playing the drums since he was 18 years old and next year he’ll be celebrating 30 years in the drumming world. Whilst we wish him the best of luck with his musical career, today the Rejects fans will have a sneak peak into Ray’s career as a musician.
One of the first questions asked was, what inspired Ray to start playing the drums out of all other instruments? Ray told us, that at that time he thought that the drums was the only instrument for which there was no need of notes! Nevertheless, he later realized that not only it had notes to abide to but in addition, the drums is also an important instrument in a band, especially in respect of tempo. Then again, we were astonished when we asked Ray where he had learnt playing the drums so well and he disclosed to us that he learned it all by himself, by repeating the beats of the songs he listened to. The first song he learnt playing by himself was Another Brick In The Wall by Pink Floyd. He continued by saying that approximately 30 years ago he applied to take lessons at the school of music but to this day he is still waiting for their reply.
When asked if he still remembers his first performance Ray replied by saying;
“My first performance with Vandals was in a social club in Tarxien. Well it was more of a party atmosphere rather that a proper gig, funnily enough in the middle of this so called gig a guy from the social club came upstairs and told us to stop for a while cause there was another event downstairs (totally different) and he had to announce spot prices.”
Since 2004, Ray has been playing with a well-known band in Malta called X-Vandals, which plays old school thrash metal. X-Vandals have released 2 albums ‘Erosion Of Our Liberty’ and ‘Breach The Silence’. Currently the band is working on a new album and both music and lyrics are generally a mix of ideas from all band members. The four band members have known each other for quite a long time. However, the band roots go way back since, Ray Micallef together with Ray Schembri better known as ‘Il-Bahri’ and Mark Spiteri were the founders of the original Vandals band way back, around 30 years ago. Ray also sent his regards and mentioned two other band members; bassist James Spiteri and Stefan Curmi in vocals who is also known as ‘Rusty’, who were in X-Vandals for a period of time.
When Ray was asked if he has any rituals or good luck habits that he does before or after a performance, he replied;
”No rituals just a drink or maybe two or more!”
Furthermore, Ray has been in quite a number of bands namely Lord Adder, Abstrass, RAS, Subculture, The Bristles (A Beatles Tribute Band) and The Beerbellys. Although all these bands have been disbanded,together they have achieved quite a lot in the music world not only locally but even abroad. In fact, with Lord Adder he released 3 albums;‘Hemlock’, ‘Behind Closed Doors’ and ‘Site of Evidence’. With Lord Adder, Ray played rock music and they supported Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Saxon, Girlschool, Smokey, and Eagles Tribute Band locally. While they played twice at the “Marquee” in London, one as supporting act and the second time as headliners, they also played at the Garage in London and they also participated in an Italian rock competition whereby Lord Adder placed first. Moreover, with Abstrass, a punk band Ray also released one Album called ‘Hard To Understand’. Furthermore, with Subculture, another punk band, Ray released 3 albums by the name of ‘A Lifetime of Disappointment’, ‘Resist The Abuse’ and ‘Revolt’. Whereas with RAS, Ray was more involved in the forming of the band whereby he contributed to some tracks on the album ‘Jingle Bells’, again with a punk music genre.
In Ray’s opinion the prerequisites one needs to have in order to be a good drummer are;
“ A set of drums, a pair of sticks and to listen to good music. In my opinion that is all one needs because everyday no matter how many years one has been playing drums you always find something new.”
Interestingly, Ray is more commonly known as “Il-Hamiemu” and this nickname has been with him since he was 15 years old because he used to rear pigeons for racing. Ironically enough, some people don’t even know his real name till this day, both in the music scene and in normal life. We even asked Ray if he has any musicians whom he looks up to and the list was quite a long one. Nevertheless, Ray’s favorites are Jon Bonham of Led Zeppelin, Eric Carr of KISS, Bobby Rondinelli of Rainbow and a session drummer with various rock artists such as Doro, Phil Collins, Ian Paice of Deep Purple, Peter Criss of Kiss, Nick Mason of Pink Floyd, Neil Perth of Rush, Rob Bourdon of Linkin Park and Lars Ulrich of Metallica to mention just a few. Furthermore two other musicians whom Ray admires are Ray Cooper, a great percussionist and Eric Clapton. Needles to say, Ray’s favorites are some great musicians.
Ray’s message to those out there who would like to start playing the drums or any other instrument but are a bit discouraged to start was;
“ To never give up or be discouraged. Family support is very important for a musician and I encourage young talented musicians to look forward and follow their dreams.
In addition Ray told us:
“I would like to take the opportunity to thank all those musicians whom I had the pleasure to share the stage with.”
So visit the site https://www.facebook.com/xvandals and learn more about Ray’s band, X-Vandals and the new upcoming album.
Rock on and enjoy the music 🙂