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Eric Lavansch

Interview by Rich "Doc Spoons" Spooner // November 02 2010
Eric Lavansch

I spent over a year doing a day job and travelling to London everyday, auditioning, rehearsing, gigging all at my own expense in the effort to get the break I wanted.

When you hear that my subject this month is a drummer who plays for an artist with over 16 million album sales, completes 200-plus gigs a year and travels all over the world to play, you’d be forgiven for thinking that I am writing about one of the usual suspects you see gracing the pages of drum magazines all over the western world. However you would be wrong because this month I have a chance to catch up with a British drummer who does all of the above with Thai artist Sek Loso. Without further ado, let’s see what’s going down with Eric Lavansch.



Eric, thanks for taking time out of your schedule to chat. You work with a massive artist in Thailand, but most of the people reading this may not be familiar with his or, indeed, your work. So tell us a bit about Sek Loso. 

Sek Loso is a solo rock artist, originally part of a three-piece rock group called Loso. After enjoying huge success with the band Loso they parted company in 2002, at the peak of their career, for reasons unknown to me. As the lead singer, guitarist and songwriter, Sek went solo under the title Sek Loso. He released his first solo album in April 2003 and from then on has escalated in popularity becoming a national music icon here in Thailand. 

So, you find yourself in a very lucky position. How did you go about getting that gig? 

Man, that was just pure luck and chance! After recording his first solo album, Sek moved to the UK with his family to study English, take a break and search for a new backing band. Sek really wanted western musicians, as he is a huge fan of western music and in particular the ability to improvise and just jam. Sek’s dream was also to record an album in English to show his abilities and gain some international recognition.

I spent over a year doing a day job and travelling to London everyday auditioning, rehearsing, gigging all at my own expense in the effort to get the break I wanted. One day whilst reading the NME (New Musical Express: English Music Magazine), I noticed a small ad reading something like “Established Asian Artist Requires Drummer and Bassist for Upcoming Tour.” I applied, auditioned in a really awful council-funded arts school opposite Holloway prison in London and was offered the gig the next day. 

That is an excellent story. It could have been anyone who had the chance of that gig! So, tell me, where did your personal drumming journey start? Are you schooled or self-taught? 

Probably the same way most drummers start, I guess; driving the parents mad tapping things until they finally caved and bought me my first kit at 14. I already played classical guitar and knew the value of lessons, so I got drum lessons at school from a jazz player named Brian Johnson. He really taught me a lot and I have a lot to be thankful for from his teachings. After school I went to university to study popular music, as I felt a degree course would introduce me to new aspects and styles of music, as well as provide me with a useful qualification should I not make a living as a session player. Straight after university I worked on a cruise ship playing drums. That was my first real regular paid gig. 

In regards to working in Thailand, do you find the demands of working in a very different culture stressful? 

When I first moved here I found it quite tricky to begin with. The west is very stressful and high paced, where as here people work at their own pace, have less stress as a result and enjoy a far better quality of life. Once you get out of the western mindset of having to be early for everything to make a good impression and just relax, then life’s a dream here. 

It’s pretty well-documented that there is a lot of music piracy in the Thai market. With that in mind, how does an artist make a good living if record sales are hit so hard by fake CDs, DVDs, file sharing, etc.? 

Nowadays it’s all down to touring and sponsorships really. We will do between 150 to 200 shows in about 8 or 9 months of the year. Some are for sponsors and others are just festivals, pub/club gigs. The music scene is very vibrant here. It’s fantastic. We can play in one club one night and two nights later play in a different club just 500 yards down the road. We could play every night of the year if we wanted. 

That’s a pretty demanding schedule. How often are you away from home? 

I guess I am away about 10 months of the year. Whenever we get a couple of weeks off I try and shoot back home, but the problem is that the schedules change so much. One week there is one show in the diary and in a few hours it can change to five shows, recording and a video. When we play in Europe I tend to fly back to the UK in between shows. I was recently just back in May and July, and I probably won’t get back now until the same time next year. 

What are the best and worst parts of working in Thailand? 

Definitely the food here is a big bonus! It’s just incredible. I love the way of life and the general public’s admiration of music. It’s a really big part of peoples lives here. The concerts are always fantastic and the Thai people are so friendly, warm and accepting. I would say the only downside is the traffic. It’s brutal. Oh yeah, the golf’s great too! (laughs

You have played some huge concerts with Sek. Any particular highlights you care to recount? 

One of the most memorable was being told we were doing a live TV show the very next day. Nothing else was said. Anyways, I got to the studio at 10am thinking typical small studio for a one song performance—wrong. It was an hour-long special dedicated to Sek to promote the new album. We were playing 8 live songs with a live audience of 3000 and a viewing figure of just over 6 million! Nerves did set in, for sure. Always have to expect the unexpected here!

Actually this happens quite a lot—expecting a small show of some kind and it turns out to be huge! Bangkok Music Festival was a good one too. Sek said we weren’t going to play it, but the very next day (the day of the show) called me to say we were! 100,000 in the stadium and live on TV—real buzz. Playing the clubs in the USA was a great time too. CBGB’s in particular as well as SXSW in Texas. Another very good memory was the Sunday we played at Glastonbury in 2005, walked off stage, went to the station and travelled to Paddington to play at the Songs of Experience Festival at the Royal Festival Hall, organised by Patti Smith with Jeff Beck, Flea and others playing. That was quite a day! 

You get to work with a number of other artists in Thailand and have recorded on several top chart hits. Care to tell us about them? 

I did an album for the Thai group Slot Machine signed to Sony. Their drummer was having trouble keeping to the click, and they were on a really short time frame for the recording. So, they asked the studio owner if he knew anyone who could do it. I had also recorded for the studio owner's band Knock the Knock, who are signed to Spicy Disc; he mentioned my name, and I got the call. I was in the studio a week later and cut all 11 tracks in 2 days. It was a good session and the band were really happening. Most of the stuff I have played on has topped the charts here, so I am really lucky to have been part of such great recordings and songs. 

It’s all go, Eric. What’s next for you? 

Well, I just finished recording the next album, due for release early next year, so that will keep us busy for a long time yet. I am just gonna keep doing what I am and count my lucky stars I am fortunate enough to be doing it. It’s a real dream come true, and I have a lot to be grateful for. It’s been seven years now with Sek, with no sign of slowing down. I just want to add a big thank you to Mike at Baskey and Roger at Paiste. Baskey really have some great ideas and products. The rugg luggs and kick stops have made my tech's life so much easier when setting up the kit. And my new Paiste cymbals are just incredible—never played such great sounding cymbals before. Also, a big thank you to Yai at Music Concept here in Bangkok. She has been great when it comes to getting cymbals to me when required.

Visit Eric online: http://www.myspace.com/drummeruk


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About the Author
Rich "Doc Spoons" Spooner

Richard “Doc Spoons” Spooner is a British professional drummer and educator, based out of Switzerland. Doc is touring & recording with multi-platinum selling artist Philipp Fankhauser. Doc proudly endorses C&C drums, Paiste cymbals, Agner drumsticks, Baskey Drumruggs & Luggs, Hardcase Cases,Protection Racket Bags & Tour Luggage,Porter & Davies Monitoring, Big Fat Snare Drum, Kelly SHU, Tuner-Fish. Visit Doc online at www.docspoons.com  or follow him on Twitter@DocSpoons

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