Most musicians in Berlin now know about the BIMM. The British and Irish Modern Music Institute started life in 2001 in Brighton, UK as an all-encompassing modern music college, before opening new branches around the UK.
BIMM Berlin opened its doors just a couple of months ago and looks like generally a good thing. One thing that you can’t help noticing is the standard of the tutors that they’re managing to attract – people who really have been there and done that and got the teeshirt. Great musicians with years of proper, hands-on experience making music and working within the music business. One of these is Budgie.
Peter Budgie Clarke was the drummer in seminal 70s/80s post punk band Souxsie and the Banshees. In fact he and Souxsie were an item, and continued to work together creatively even after Banshees howled their last sometime in the 90s, with new band Creatures, that continued making music well into the zeroes.
With NME naming him as the best drummer of 1983, he was also rated in 2013 by Spin magazine as No. 28 on their list of “The 100 Greatest Drummers of Alternative Music”, and hailed as Stewart Copeland, drummer with The Police, as one of the 16 most interesting drummers around.
BIMM has just named Budgie their Head of Drums, saying “Always ready to challenge himself, as a musician Budgie has pushed the limits of traditional drumming and has an enviable track record in both artistry and career success.” indieberlin are very happy to have been able to hook up with Budgie to put some questions to him about life, music, the DIY ethos and the difference between then and now.
indieberlin: You came up in the late seventies, early eighties punk and post punk scene. With the advent of so much self-empowering technology about, do you find there is less or more of a DIY ethos these days?
Budgie: Yes there is more of a DIY ethos these days. As the recording and mastering processes that enable music to be taken from inception to completion without the need for any professional involvement become more affordable and simpler, every writer-performer can also become engineer and producer. This does not unfortunately guarantee great results.
Yes there is more of a DIY ethos these days
indieberlin: Beyond that, how would you describe the difference between the general music scene now and in the early eighties? Would you say that it’s less or more adventurous?
Budgie: The general music scene in the early eighties was with a few exceptions already reverting to the old music industry model of ‘sign what sells’. With more diversity through DIY, that thinking is again outmoded and untenable. Berlin in 2015 has the feel of London and New York in the early eighties, a lot of small venues in which to try things out, no expectations, no pressure, no restrictions.
If Berlin is any indication of what’s happening, then there’s definitely a renewed sense of adventure
indieberlin: You’re a tutor at the brand new BIMM in Berlin. What’s the ethos behind the institute? Why was it started, what is its unique selling point, and why Berlin?
Budgie: I’m new to BIMM and to music education. My knowledge was picked up in a club in Liverpool called Eric’s. We were fortunate to have Eric’s and its facilities at our disposal every day. But we had no tutors. Song arrangement and instrumentation, sound systems, lighting, filming, promotion, recording and of course performance, all self taught through trial and error and we made a lot of mistakes. BIMM tutors have amassed years of experience, on the road and in the studio. We can help students avoid the bad mistakes and make the most of the good ones!
Music feeds me spiritually and it’s fun
indieberlin: Do you have a philosophy or attitude as a musician? What drives you to do it, what drives you to keep doing it?
Budgie: If I have a philosophy or attitude as a musician, it is to relax and give every gig my best. What drives me to do it? Music gives me everything, it feeds me spiritually and it’s fun. What drives me to keep doing it? I never know where it’s going to take me next and I just might get a little closer to achieving even a small part of my full potential.
indieberlin: When you teach people at the BIMM, is there something you want to impart to them beyond just the technical aspect of playing drums?
Budgie: Technique can be taught and improved but to paraphrase Miles Davis, anyone can play, it’s their attitude that counts. To survive in the world of music, attitude is everything.
indieberlin: When it comes to music, to culture, to the role it plays in today’s society and the role it might play in tomorrow’s society, are you optimistic or pessimistic?
Budgie: I remain optimistic about the role of all the arts in tomorrow’s society. Music is everywhere, from birdsong to the squeal of the S-Bahn, we just have to listen for it. Most people can hear but listening requires concentration, even meditation. Music is a key to another dimension. I’m a drummer, the act of drumming negates pessimism.
Thanks a lot for the interview and see you at the BIMM!
Interview by Mia Morris