Botany and Ormiston Times
Howick and Pakuranga Times : Howick and Pakuranga Times Monday March 17
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Times photo David McPherson By DaviD McPherson aFTER nearly three years of searching for experienced drum- mers for his latest music project, Frankie Mac tried a different tack. He hit on friends and contacts and eventually found four drumming novices who were keen to learn to play the instrument. They joined an experienced bag- piper and Clan Celtica was born. One of the novices is Mr Mac’s wife, Heather. “When I met Frankie, his pickup line was ‘I’ll teach you to play the drums’. “Now, 19 years later, I’ve finally had my first lesson,” she says, laugh- ing. “And I love it.” After just eight weeks of lessons and practises, Clan Celtica had their first public outing at the Howick Lions in the Park and Military Tattoo event on February 23. They call their music Tribal Thun- der. Mr Mac explains where the style and sound – featuring five drums and a solo piper – comes from. “This is Scottish and Irish folk music as it was played before the 1750s, when the English banned us from having bagpipes and wearing the tartan,” says the Scot. “We’re [Scots and Irish] all Celts and shared the same problems and issues at that time. “I believe our music is relevant to a lot of New Zealanders whose families came from the Celtic countries.” The Macs and their three children arrived in New Zealand just three years ago from Troon in Scotland’s South Ayrshire. “We settled on Beachlands as it’s so similar to Troon, a coastal town with beaches and a golf course, while being close enough to the city to commute... and the weather’s so much better.” A keen player, Mr Mac describes golf as “making a walk useful”, while music has been a big part of his life. “From the time I was about 10 I always wanted to be a professional musician.” After four years studying music and percussion at the famous Royal Scot- tish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow, Mr Mac spent 25 years as a professional session drummer and percussionist touring and recording in Europe, and also as a teacher. His hopes of making the big time ended the night before a big tour, when he was replaced as the band’s drummer. “That was a reality check and made me realise there comes a time when you have to say enough and explore other opportunities.” So, in his early 30s, he went back to school and gained a degree in envi- ronmental science, followed by the same qualification in IT. To complete the set, Mr Mac did a masters degree in environmental science, with a focus on renewable energy. For the next 10 years, he worked developing wind projects for an engi- neering company. “During that time I switched off music totally,” he says. “I don’t think I listened to an LP [album] for five years or more.” But the move to New Zealand, a country where, Mr Mac says, he always wanted to live, changed that. After a period of haranguing by a couple of neighbours who knew of his experience, Mr Mac was per- suaded to get back to his drum kit for an informal rock and blues band playing local gigs. “It all came back – the love I had for music and the desire to play.” That’s when he decided to get back to his dream project – Clan Celtica. “I advertised for experienced drummers and was contacted by a number of tyre-kickers, but nothing came of that. “They couldn’t grasp the concept,” he says. So Mr Mac joined the City of Auck- land Pipe Band as a side drummer. “I needed the discipline of a band to get me back into it.” While with the group, he spoke to Pipe Major Robert Halliday about his dream. “At a band presentation to its major sponsor, Robert gave me a 20-minute slot to show everyone what it was all about,” says Mr Mac. Soon after, a friend introduced him to traditional piper Mitch. “He’s from the Netherlands – where they have a lot of Celtic music festivals – and he ‘got it’. “He totally understood what I was talking about.” The band is working on an album – to be called Tribal Thunder – and hopes to finish it within the next six months. “The tracks will be largely our own compositions and anything else will be reworked to suit our style.” While they have a settled line-up, Mr Mac is keen to find a folk fiddle player and perhaps a tin whistler to join it. “Those are traditional Celtic instruments and would be ideal.” The one thing they won’t add is electric instruments. Ultimately, the band aims to make a living from their music, but in the meantime Mr Mac is keen to return to teaching drums and percussion, either in small groups or in one-on- one lessons. Clan Celtica planned to be back in ■■ action at Maraetai Beach last Satur- day, where they were to play a series of sets in the afternoon. To learn more about Mr Mac and the group, see their Facebook page www.facebook.com/clanceltica, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Howick and Pakuranga Times Thursday March 13
Howick and Pakuranga Times, Thursday, March 20, 2014