Mal Holmes OMD Drummer – Biography

 

This Website

My website is important to me. I suppose it’s a means of catharsis and my way of not being airbrushed out of history.

Have a mooch around and enjoy it. I hope to be adding a few more pages over time.

Birkenhead

I was born in Birkenhead, across the Mersey from Liverpool. A hard and tough town. As a kid it taught me a lot. It taught me to get out of there as soon as I could. My early memories are of  ship building at Lairds and my dad who grafted for all of us. He was a Joiner. Big hands the size of plates and a big sense of humour that went with them. A good man. For someone who is the son of a Joiner I’m the worst DIYer on the planet. Useless. Give me a saw and I’ll cut my foot off with it. That’s probably why I opted for being a drummer. I suppose it’s a bit like being a joiner in that you sound like you’re building a shed sometimes.

When I was 10 I got my hands on my 1st drum kit. My brother brought it back to our house with him one day. I still don’t know were he got it from and being only 10 things like that didn’t really matter. It was lying in bits in the front room and I figured out how to set it up. Then I figured out how to make a noise on it. All good. Then the drum kit disappeared. Not good.

The rhythm bug had got me and I needed to continue making a noise and hitting things.

 

Biscuit Tins

With the drum kit gone, I never found out where, it left me with my mums knittings needles for sticks, 2 biscuit tins for drums and their lids for cymbals. Not the best looking or sounding drum kit in the world I know, but it stopped the cravings. It sounded great to me anyway, not so good for the next door neighbour though.

I’d put on a record and play along to it. I loved it. Just me, a record and some biscuit tins.

After I had served my apprenticeship on the biscuit tins I got the OK to sell my Raleigh ’Chopper’ bike and spend the 30 quid I got for it on my very own real drum kit. My dad found it for sale in the Liverpool Echo. It was an Ajax kit drum kit with Ringo Stars autograph on the floor tom or so the guy that flogged it to me and my dad said. When I could get my dad off the drum kit then I would have a shot myself. He played along to Glenn Miller records and was a pretty good drummer himself.

 

Posh Side of the Wirral

It was going to be awhile before I got my next drum kit. I was 16. We had just moved house to the posh side of the Wirral and relocated to Meols. The move was timed really well as I could leave school at that time. Boy was I glad I got out of that place.

There was a great music scene going on on the Wirral. I know the Wirral … for music. Punk had just arrived and there was a real energy in the air.

I managed to get my hands on another drum kit, a Shaftsbury kit. Three drums and a couple of the cymbals. I didn’t like the colour of it so I recovered with anaglypta wall paper and painted it silver …… Cool.

There were so many successful bands and artists that came out of the Wirral at this time. Some really good young guitarists, drummers and keyboard players who I used to spend most of my time with. Thanks to what was happening I had a chance to play with many new and invotive bands.

I was happy with my wallpaper drum kit, it did the job. And then ……. I saw this amazing looking Tama Kit in a shop in Leasowe. It looked great. My brother came back from sea flush with money and said he would lend me the dosh for it if I paid him back. I couldn’t believe it, I was definitely heading up market in the drum department. Like everyone who had just left school I was on the dole. I think I got about £7 a week. So that’s where my dole went and I had arrived.

 

Greasby Library to OMD on Top Of The Pops
OMD - Top Of The Pops

We would book our own gigs and sell the tickets ourselves. All very DIY. Of course we all wanted the best gear so you either saved up for it or go down to Birkenhead and nick it or nick it from another band. Playing with all sorts of bands eventually opened up all sorts of opportunities. I knew Andy and Paul as we had been making making music together for sometime and I joined OMD shortly after they signed their recording contract.

I was never actually signed to the record label myself so I sat in a sort of no-mans land between ‘Featured Member’ and ‘Session Musician’. Depending on which way the wind was blowing I could be either/or.

Over time I saw managers, record companies, agents, accountants, promoters and crew come and go, each viewing me in their own way. It was often frustrating I must admit. Some I enjoyed working with some I didn’t. I have really great memories of working with the team at DinDisc, our early managers and road crew who all set the bar really high.

However, over the years I’ve put my drumming stamp on a massive catalog of OMD songs and have many memories of working with my great friends in the band. I’ve also had the pleasure of working with the worlds best record producers and engineers. Hopefully I learnt a little from them.

I’ve lost count of how many tracks, how many gigs and how many TV shows I’ve performed on travelling the globe. OMD has been a huge part of my life.

 

Other Adventures

For many years I’ve also managed to work with talented new artists. I put a record company together. Helped build the odd recording studio, written music for TV, Film & Animation, developed a digital music company and had the incredible rewarding experience of teaching drums and the in’s and out’s of the music industry in schools and colleges. Each of these are story in themselves.

 

Toronto 2013

Merv (Drum Tech), Gavin (Monitors) , Bill (Protools & Keyboard Nonsense), Mart (Mart), Brooke (Lights) and me. Munchin' out in Mexico City.

Munchin’ out with the crew in Mexico City.

There must be a couple of angels keeping a close eye on me. They’ve had to pop down on more than one occasion to get me out of trouble and pull me from the abyss.

In July 2013, whilst playing live in Toronto with OMD, I came face to face with my own mortality….. again. I’ll never forget that show, the hottest gig I’ve ever played and one of the best crowds I’ve seen.  It was 45-50 degrees on a stage with no air movement.

I put everything I had into the performance but unfortunately my heart couldn’t handle it and it stopped just before the end of the show. It stopped for about 3 minutes. I don’t remember much. However what the ambulance driver said to my great mate Martin Cooper I’ll never forget.

After the Toronto Fire Dept paramedics gave me CPR and hit me with their defibrillator and amazingly restarted my heart and brought me back to life, Martin was sat in the ambulance and the driver turned to him and said … “The stars where aligned for him tonight”. I’ll never forget that. I know how lucky I am to be writing this. It changed anything. Life is a lot more straightforward now, it’s easier. It’s Simple.

 

New Projects

USPM LogoI decided to put my OMD drumsticks to one side after conking out in Toronto. Maybe one day I’ll knock a few drums for OMD live again. Who knows. I know I miss a few things. Like the audience and looking at lots of happy people. I miss Mart on the back riser with me and Paul and the laughs we had on stage. I miss Andy and our vocal warm up’s before the show and lots more.

I’m currently working with a variety of bands, artists, a music production company and playing around with my internet sites. I can also be found wandering the wasteland with Piper in Fallout 4.

You can check out what I do on the Services page.

I dug a drum kit out of the wardrobe a few weeks ago. It was the 1st time I’d played in 4 years since the gig in 2013 in Toronto. I put on a record and played along to it. Just me, a record and some drums. I loved it. I had forgotten why I started in the 1st place.

Mal.