My name is Liam Bradford
Hi, my name is Liam Bradford. I am 13 and a drummer, and like most people, Coronavirus has really messed up my plans.
I started playing drums when I was seven years old, in grade 2. I always had music wherever I went, and from a young age, was bugging my parents saying that I wanted to play drums. Finally after I moved schools when we sold our house, my parents bought me a drum kit and enrolled me for drum lessons at my new primary school.
I went to my first ever gig at the age of 10. One of my favourite bands, Twelve Foot Ninja, was playing at The Village Green in Mulgrave. Mum took me along for dinner, so I could sit outside the stage area in the restaurant section, and hear the band playing. The Manager must have told them I was there to see them, because before the performance started, they came out and met me! The whole band was there, and I was so excited. After talking for a few minutes and having photos taken, they had to leave and get ready for the gig. Before they started they asked what my favourite song of theirs was, and I said Invincible, off the album they were touring. During the gig I was invited to stand side of stage, and the band actually dedicated the song to me! It was one of the best days of my life.
That night I also met a man named Dane Pulvirenti, who was drumming in one of the support bands, Osaka Punch. He could see I was waiting to see the Twelve Foot Ninja boys, and approached me and we began talking about drumming. He gave me a copy of their CD to listen to. Later on I began drum lessons with both Dane and Russ, the drummer from Twelve Foot Ninja. I began to play drums more and more until I was playing a couple of hours a day.
Last year started in Year 7 at Rowville Secondary College (Institute of the Arts). I was doing 3-4 drum lessons a week, with Russ, Dane, my school teacher Anthony Priest, and Lucius Borich from the band COG. In my school, if you are part of the music program, it is compulsory to be part of a school ensemble. In my first year at Rowville I was invited to play in the Senior Concert Band, and the Senior Big Band. I was part of multiple performances throughout the year, but was not successful at my audition for the production band.
This year everything started out normally. I was dreading the end of the holidays, but also looking forward to school starting up again.
I auditioned for the Production band again and was successful this time. Everything was great. I was seeing all my friends again, it was awesome. I had prepared for my Solo performance evening and my very first Production band rehearsal, but the social distancing restrictions came into effect, and they were cancelled that very day. I was so frustrated, I was really looking forward to my first production rehearsal. This was the first direct effect I had from the virus. We were told that school will still continue the next day, but that the end of term would be brought forward. We were told that we would most likely be moving to remote learning after the holidays.
At first I was looking forward to it. I would be able to stay home all day, sleep a bit more, eat whatever I wanted, and not be in uniform! But as soon as the first week of remote learning passed, I was really missing my old routine. I missed my friends, and would give anything to see them again. All my school musical commitments had been cancelled and all my drum lessons were moved online. Everything changed.
I was booked in to do the Rock Academy program during the holidays. It was meant to be held in person at Bakehouse Studios in Richmond, finishing with a gig night at The Central Club Hotel, but like many things, had to adapt to the social distancing rules and was moved to an online program instead. I was grouped with other musicians in a band, and we were required to write a song, record the song, and make a film clip to go with it - all remotely. This was still very fun, but not as good as it would have been if it were in person.
In Term 2, I started remote learning, and found that I enjoyed it a lot. Ensemble practices were still cancelled, but my music lessons stayed online. The school announced that the Production would still be going ahead, but the format would be changed. They decided to go with a mixture of many previous productions all put onto one.
Coronavirus also put a stop to all of my sport - I went from 2 games of basketball and 3 trainings a week, to absolutely nothing. It put a massive dent in my fitness! I found it really hard to find motivation to drum or do sports for a while there, because there were no games, and no team to play with, and no performances for music.
As I had more spare time, I started to do more drum covers of songs by bands I really liked. I would do the recording, Dad would help me mix it and get all the sound right, and Mum would help me publicise and release the video. Mum does a majority of the social media posts and comments and manages it all very well.
A few weeks into lockdown, my Mum sent one of my drum covers of an Alter Bridge song (The Uninvited) to an Alter Bridge fan group on Facebook. It got a lot of positive comments and feedback. A few weeks later my Mum got a message from a man in the United States named Josh Prieb. He had seen my video, and messaged my Mum asking me to be a part of his collaboration project, by doing covers of Alter Bridge songs with people all over the world.
Josh’s original plan was to do some of their less well known songs. I was requested to play Twilight off the “Last Hero” album. I had never heard the song before, but I learnt it in three days. After I had done the recording, my Dad and I began to mix the song and add the video to the audio recording. At first, I was very nervous to see the finished product after Josh had put everything together, but it all went well and it was a huge success. The other people in my band for the Alter Bridge song were from Canada, the UK, and three people from the USA. The video got great feedback from all around the world, even the band itself shared our video on their Facebook page, and so did the lead guitarist Mark Tremonti! The video was posted on The Alter Bridge Collaboration Project YouTube channel - you can watch the video here:
After the Twilight video was released, Josh got in contact with me again, and asked me to be part of more songs. I have already recorded another two songs, with one more still to come (and this one has a celebrity involved as well!). It’s pretty exciting to think that a kid from Melbourne is getting the chance to make music with people all around the world!
At the same time as I was working on the Alter Bridge project, I was contacted by Dario in Germany, who had seen one of my previous cover videos (Union by Ihlo), requesting me to do a cover of Lucas de La Rosa’s Sunlight Highlights EP. Dario is heavily involved with the progressive music scene, and was helping Lucas get the most publicity he could for the release of Sunlight Highlights. Lucas is a guitarist, and had electronically programmed the drums for the album, and said to Dario that the drums were “essentially unplayable” by any human drummer. So, Dario challenged me to play any of the songs off his EP! I only had a week or so to do it, but I managed to complete a cover of the song “Lightrays”, although it took a lot of hard work. It was such a challenging song to learn - I thought I wasn’t going to make it in time! I did finish the video though, and Lucas was really happy and loved it!
You can find the video for that one here:
I’ve really missed being able to rehearse face to face with people during the Pandemic, but at the same time I have enjoyed some aspects of isolation. For example, many musicians from my favourite bands are a lot more accessible now, and are doing live streams on Twitch, Discord and Facebook. It’s also been interesting watching other musicians change and adapt to the changing world of music. I love live music, and during lockdown one of my favourite bands, Leprous from Norway, did a live stream concert, which we bought a ticket to. It was the closest we could get to live music, and it was awesome! We were able to sit in our loungeroom, and watch them perform all the way from Norway! I also watched Twitch streams by Dan Tompkins singing songs from TesseracT, and also Clark McMenemy from Ihlo breaking down the drum parts in their songs.
Lockdown has been an extremely strange time, but it has had its benefits. Overall I have had a lot of fun drumming, and learning from home. But after everything, I am very happy to be back at school, playing music and catching up with my friends.