Chris Boot studied a BA Hons in Professional Musicianship at BIMM Brighton and has since gone on to lead a successful career as a session drummer and producer. We caught up with the man himself to try and discover what it takes to have a career as varied and exciting as his.
What you’ve been up to since graduating BIMM?
Really just facing the various hurdles that working in the music industry has brought. There have been dark patches but there have been some thoroughly rewarding points too. I have had to continually add strings to the bow, so to speak, so as well as playing the drums, which allows me to tour and record often, I have had to develop myself as a producer, songwriter and studio engineer.
How did you end up getting into session work?
For recording, I think initially, I was offered one session and built up friendships with producers and musicians, which, over time, lead to call backs for sessions. For live sessions, I went for an audition, got a call back for a second audition which was successful, made friends with the team of people that employed me on that particular job and I just made sure I was always on point, helpful and doing the best job I could. Understanding what your specific role is on a job is a key skill on a session I’ve found.
How would you describe your musical upbringing & playing style?
I started as a rock and metal drummer in my early teens and before long I was finding myself wanting more from the music, so I branched out, listened to and learned as many styles of music as I could. In doing this there were styles and techniques that I came across that I absorbed, and I suppose from maybe a couple-dozen strong influences that aren’t directly connected, my own voice on the instrument started to appear.
What sorts of acts have you gigged with professionally?
How did the Lucy Rose gig come about, and what’s it been like recording/touring with her.
Working with Lucy came about when she headed down to Brighton to have a day working with producer Tim Bidwell to see if they could work together for the album. Tim got myself and fellow BIMM graduate Ben Daniel into the session and she loved every aspect of it – from Tim’s home studio to his bonkers but loveable demeanour, to the copious amounts of tea, to Ben and I being goofballs; this lead to us recording the entire album with her and eventually touring globally. We have a lot of fun!
Did you have much creative input with the latest album “Something’s Changing”?
Along the way there were contributions. Lucy amazed me with how accurate of a picture she had in her head for the album, right from the off. We agreed on most things, even down to how hard I was hitting the snare in a section of a tune, so there was an element of ‘I just did my thing’ and she was happy with it. Ben and I helped refine a few sections of tunes, adjusting arrangements but Lucy was on form with every aspect.
You’ve also done some work with “Lone”. Which is completely different in style. Can you explain how you adjust your approach for such varied styles?
It’s just about knowing the job role in hand. I act as MD for Lone live too; I setup his Ableton projects and make sure everything he wants to accomplish live can be technically achieved. We share a lot of similar influences musically and he comes from a very organic place and works heavily around energies so I just always need to bring that to the live thing. Sometimes it can be hard to adjust when you have gigs back to back with artists as different as Lucy Rose is to Lone. I just have to quickly shift my focus and get into that different headspace.
Lastly, what sort of advice would you give to someone looking to make a living as a session musician?
Making a living… Be the very best you can be – it is luck that will get you in the door but only by being good will you get repeat work and that’s how you’ll make a living. Being personable, friendly, technically minded, and positive are just some aspects of what it takes to be successful as a session musician. Being positive is a highlight here, I’d say. Things will get difficult at points, but with persistence and a positive attitude there will be pay-offs. It might take weeks, months, years, even decades but it will pay off if you keep positive.