Jane Mc Namara meets a Corkman who has followed his musical dream through highs and lows
TIZ McNAMARA was born to be a drummer — his earliest memory is of banging around with pots and pans at the age of three.
He took drumming up at the age of nine and set his heart on joining a band — then disaster struck.
A year ago, Tiz, 22, from Douglas, was in London on a drumming course. On the first day of his second term, he broke his hand while playing for Thames Valley Rugby Club. He was taken to the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, where they were unsure if Tiz would be able to play drums again.
Luckily, he managed to get his career back on track and is now enrolled in the famous Paul McCartney Music School in London.
“When I was about 10 or 11, I knew I wanted music to be my life,” says Tiz.
“I knew I would never want a ‘real job’. My youngest memory was when I was about three; I was always banging around with pots and pans. I started playing drums when I was nine; I got them as a Christmas present.
“By 15 I was in a band called The Anybodies and we were gigging three or four times a week.
“After I left secondary school I did the Music Management and Sound Engineering course in Coláiste Stiofáin Naofa in Cork. It gives you an all-round sense of theory and for someone like me who is not classically trained it was the best thing to do. It also gives you great contacts. After that year I applied for the Drum Tech course in London. I knew I would have to leave Ireland if I seriously wanted to do something with music. We just don’t have the opportunities other places have.
“The tutors on the course are top class. We had a composition class where the tutor was the pianist for Amy Winehouse. A guy I know who did the course plays bass for Jessie J, another plays the drums for Leona Lewis.”
It was then that the accident happened which made Tiz vow to never play sport again.
“I had an accident where a bone snapped in my right hand,” he recalls. “It came out through the skin and shattered.
“I was devastated, it was soul-destroying. The surgeon didn’t know whether or not to operate but eventually they decided not to and I had a cast for eight weeks. But my hand didn’t heal properly. It did more damage in the long term and affected my grip.
“After I had the cast off I had to do physiotherapy and see a specialist. I tried different techniques and I have had to adjust my grip and retrain. I won’t be able to do a tour with a major artist the way I had hoped.
“The course said I could postpone my year but instead I decided I would go ahead and apply for the BA in Music in Liverpool started by Paul McCartney.”
The course has the lowest acceptance rate of any course in the UK. Just fifty people get in out of the thousands that apply.
Tiz says: “People like KT Tunstull and The Wombats have done it. The course is brilliant — and I got to meet Paul McCartney.”
Like the famous former Beatle, Tiz has extended his repertoire. “I took up guitar last year and I write my own original material. The drums can be a quite restrictive instrument since you can’t play them too late at night because of noise; you can’t bring them to a session or a party easily.”
Tiz says the adversity he has been through has made him more determined than ever: “I want to make the most of my career.
It is important to be self-sufficient. A lot of things I have been in fell apart because people didn’t share the same motivation. I would love to tour with someone big as well as be a solo artist. I would compare my original material to Ben Howard, Bon Iver and James Morrison.
“I am finished college at the end of May and I am touring in America for the summer with Tim Hoover, named Texas guitarist of the year at only 19. He has played with Kelsey Grammer, the actor in Frasier.”