How many drummers does it take to change a world record?

I’m very excited and honoured to be taking part in drumBEAT 2014, which is in Manchester, UK on November 21.

drumBEAT 2014 will see 1001 drummers (yes that’s right, 1001 drummers!) gather in a very large space in Manchester to play together, in time with each other, for five minutes to beat the Guinness world record for the ‘largest full drum kit ensemble’. The record stands at 798 drummers which was set in 2012. With your help we can smash that and, in the process, raise a lot of money for a very worthy cause.

By taking part in drumBEAT you are joining the fight to BEAT brain tumours, the biggest cancer killer of the under 40s.


We all believe that fighting brain tumours on all fronts through research, awareness and support is the only way to save lives, reduce long-term disabilities and help everyone with a brain tumour and their families cope with everything the diagnosis of a brain tumour brings.

All the VERY IMPORTANT info regarding this day can be found at via drumBEAT here.

Here’s a drummer playing the official pattern that 1001 of us will all be going through on the day!

I’d say maybe bring some earplugs!!

Banging on about Zildjian as a guest on their Instagram page

I played the legendary Hollywood Bowl in August with Glen Hansard and gang. Zildjian Cymbals very kindly asked me to take over their Instagram page for the day. Folk were able to get on board and see photos of what was goin’ on. This special show included two of my favourite acts, Iron & Wine and The Head and The Heart opening for Glen.

I posted lots of bits and pieces about cymbals, drums and more, as you do, such as this:

Zildjian instagram pix

Watch chapter one of The Frames’ special Whelan’s anniversary show

Film-making genius Myles O’Reilly (aka Arbutus Yarns) and his crew have produced the first of three video installments from The Frames’ one-off August 2014 appearance at Whelan’s, Dublin, in honour of the venue’s 25th anniversary.

Whelans 25th aniversary show

A full-length feature of the gig will be released in 2015 as part of the band’s 25th anniversary celebrations.

For now, watch it below or visit the Arbutus Yarns site here for the HD original of chapter one which features beautifully-shot performances of Frames songs Headlong and The Stars Are Underground.

Nice new magazine pictures plus a little bit of album and gear news

Dublin photographer Dave Kavanagh took some great pictures, including the below, for the German drum magazine, SticksFeaturing my C&C kit, Zildjian cymbals, Vic Firth Sticks, Aquarian Heads and DW hardware, you can find more info about my drum set-up in the gear section.

The Sticks interview will be published this autumn.

Graham Hopkins by Dave Kavanagh

Meanwhile, I’m working on the Square Pegs’ debut album which will be out in the coming months. I love this picture of the band, taken by Dara Munnis, at Whelan’s in Dublin.

Square Pegs

I’ve updated the picture gallery section with some shots by Zoran Orlic of behind-the-scenes recording with Glen Hansard in Chicago and there’s some new video clips here, including a great cover of Joe Cocker’s version of With A Little Help From My Friends.

Finally, in the gear section, there’s an update on my restored 1955 WFL Ludwig (also below) while I dug out  a great picture from a 2003 drum clinic I organised which featured Chad Smith and Taylor Hawkins, among others.

WFL 2014

As previously mentioned on these pages, I’m off on tour with Glen shortly, so I’ll keep you posted…

A celebration of Whelan’s anniversary with The Frames

The Frames recently played a one-off gig as part of Whelan’s 25th anniversary celebrations.

It was a packed house on Monday, June 30 with die-hard fans, friends and family present. The gig had sold out in two minutes — something that gave the band plenty of adrenaline for the night.

The show was full-on and thoroughly enjoyable as we rattled through about 33 songs, from the full Frames catalogue.

Whelan's Live

We were joined by pals such as Danny O’Reilly (The Coronas), Mundy, Lisa O’Neill, and The Lost Brothers to end the evening.

It was a great way to celebrate the link between The Frames and Whelan’s anniversary — and the venue’s reputation as the homestead for music in Dublin.

  • For more, see Dara Munnis’ pictures of the night here

Heading for Lollapalooza and the Hollywood Bowl with Glen Hansard this summer

Glen Hansard has announced a tour of North America for this summer — shows I’m very much looking forward to being behind the kit for.

It’s been a few months since any gigs with Glen and this is a great chance to get out and play (old songs and new) to audiences we love.

Graham Studio 2014

We’ll definitely be playing new tunes, some of which Glen has recorded (above, yours truly in the studio) for what will be his second album, the follow-up to 2012’s Rhythm And Repose.

Among the select gigs for North America will be an appearance with Glen at Lollapalooza (Grant Park, Chicago) and The Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, California.

Full tour dates and ticket info can be found on Glen’s tour page here.

Picture: Zoran Orlic

Square Pegs play Levon Helm tribute show this weekend

Square Pegs, with whom I play drums, perform at A Tribute To Levon Helm this Saturday, April 19 at the Sugar Club in Dublin. It promises to be a fairly rockin’ night.

Levon Helm

The late, great Levon (above) — a personal hero and inspiration — was of course drummer and a singer with The Band. As well as Square Pegs, this second anniversary show will feature performances from The Hot Sprockets, The Lost Brothers, Gavin Glass, The Group (Last Waltz Tribute Act), The Trouble Pilgrims (featuring members of The Radiators From Space), Pete Cummins, and more.

Graham and Levon
Me and Levon Helm at the Newport Folk Festival (2010)

Meanwhile, if you’re around Dublin on Thursday, April 24, you can catch a special Square Pegs show when they play the front bar of Whelan’s (7pm-9pm) with two keyboard players — Justin Carroll and Cormac Curran (Villagers).

Square Pegs also perform at the Bray Jazz Festival (in Co Wicklow) on the May Bank Holiday (Monday, May 5) as we wrap things up in the Harbour Bar (from 9pm).

We’ve been invited too to play Africa Day at Farmleigh, Phoenix Park, Dublin, on Sunday, May 25 (11am-6pm), amongst other shows which you can find on our Facebook page.

Our debut album, being recorded as we speak, will be released very soon indeed.

Regular good-time blues in Dublin from Square Pegs

Square Pegs were formed five years ago, by Colm Quearney, Keith Duffy, Justin Carroll, Michael Buckley and myself in response to our collective love of playing the blues. We pay homage to the sound of Chicago blues, 1950s’ R&B and New Orleans blues.

Square Pegs

We play gigs when we’re all at home and not away touring. It’s a good-time vibe and we play in the front bar in Whelan’s, Dublin regularly (pictured above). Square Pegs have been recording an album over the last while and will be releasing it soon.

Square Pegs by Dara Munnis

Keep an eye on our Facebook page (and here, of course) for all news regarding the album and upcoming gigs.

Pictures: Dara Munnis

UPDATE: Watch a full setlist of Glen Hansard Live on Letterman

So, I got a call to play a Christmas gig in NYC with Glen Hansard. Usually, bands get one song on The Late Show with Letterman — so it was a great honour and a brilliant way to wrap the year to be asked to play a set.

Late Show with Letterman

Live on Letterman is a free, streaming concert series by CBS Interactive, live from the Ed Sullivan Theatre. Other bands to have played it recently include Foo Fighters, The Shins, Phoenix,  and Wilco. 

UPDATE: Watch the full gig below video…

Setlist includes: Love Don’t Leave Me Waiting, Respect (Aretha Franklin), Lowly Deserter, When Your Mind’s Made Up, Bird of Sorrow, Fairytale of New York (Shane MacGowan), Low Rising, Heyday (Mic Christopher), Her Mercy, Song of Good Hope, This Gift, Drive All Night (Bruce Springsteen), Feels Like Rain (John Hiatt), Parting Glass (Traditional), Falling Slowly

Tour of Russia and Europe to finish a busy 2013 with Glen and band

There’s one more tour with Glen Hansard and the band starting this week, to finish a busy 2013.

melbourne picture

Our tour starts in Russia, then goes around Europe, and ends at home in Ireland. This includes two gigs at Vicar Street, Dublin on November 25 and 26. The gig on the 25th is to aid the Peter McVerry Trust and Dublin Simon Community.

Check all the tour dates below. Maybe see you along the way!

(Picture: Tony Proudfoot)

Updated: Full interview with me in Rhythm magazine

I recently did an interview for Rhythm magazine, with my good friend Louise King, where we chatted about all things drums — my influences, the acts I’ve played with, what I’m up to now, the gear I use, the drummers that have influenced me, and more.

Here’s a snippet…

“Being exposed to such a rich and eclectic range of music, and the individual complexities of each, educates your ear in a different way, and makes you a much more versatile drummer. I’ve always loved to rock out, but I feel very fortunate that the diverse musical education I had has helped make my playing so much more dynamic, and that in turn has enabled me to cross musical boundaries.”

UPDATE: Click on the page below or here to download a PDF of the full interview…

Rhythm Mag page

Related links

A visit to the C&C Custom Drums workshop in Gladstone, Missouri

C&C Drums factory visit - Graham with staff
HARD TO BEAT: That’s me with the staff at C&C in their studio just outside Kansas City

While in the States last week I went to visit C&C Custom Drums in Gladstone, Missouri, just outside Kansas City for a full day. It was a great hang out with the thriving father-son business of Bill and Jacob Cardwell.

The front door of C&C Custom Drum Company
MEN AT WORK: Through the front door – I got a rare insight into the drum business

The guys began making drums in the late 90s when they recognised a niche in the market for drummers who loved vintage drums but needed durability and reliability for touring and recording sessions.

C&C leave vintage inspiration on the wall. WFL, Ludwig, Slingerland, Rogers & more
PILED  HIGH: Vintage inspiration on the wall. WFL, Ludwig, Slingerland, Rogers & more

The C&C logo has been showing up all over the place. Among their quickly-growing band/artist roster are the drummers of Arcade Fire, The Shins, Flaming Lips, The National, Modest Mouse, Grizzly Bear, Paul Simon, Midlake, My Morning Jacket… and that’s only keeping it brief.

C&C Drums factory visit

While at their shop they took me through every element of building the kit. Eight people work at C&C and all are drummers except for one – Brian Anderson, who is the shell builder. It was great watching him building three ply shells, while he talked me through every detail.

Plies of wood waiting to be made into drum shells.
READY TO ROCK: Plies of wood waiting to be made into drum shells

I then watched and talked to everyone as they worked away passionately on the drums. Bill was doing 10 jobs at once; spraying a kit in a green sparkle finish and picking finishes for new snare wraps, which he asked my opinion on, and I chose a different, off-kilter mix. Jake was forming the bearing edges on a new custom kit being finished for the Sigur Ros drummer Orri Páll Dýrason.

Jacob Cardwell forming the bearing edges on a new Sigur Ros drum
Jacob Cardwell forming the bearing edges on a new Sigur Ros drum

It was a pleasure and a privilege to experience a ‘day in the life’ of the C&C workshop. I play my drums in a different light now after seeing how they were handcrafted.

More new C&C Drums to record with this week

The guys at C&C Drums kindly put these two gorgeous snares together for a recording session I’m starting in Chicago this weekend.

New C&C snare

They are a Gold sparkle 9×14″ walnut/poplar/walnut snare, and a white 5.5×14″ maple snare with wood hoops. Both with C&C’s new lugs. I’m very much looking forward to playing them.