Paul Handley aka "Tufty"
(Paul - 'aka' means 'also known as' and isn't a weapon!)

Tufty talks about hitting small things with sticks

Drumming started when I was about 12 years old. My parents bought my first drum kit, a Premier four shell, gold sparkle in colour. My father played the piano in bands for most of his life, so I suppose it was inevitable that I took up a musical instrument.

I started to have drum lessons at the age of 16, played in a 16-piece orchestra. This was a fantastic achievement for me, reading music and playing with a big band with a brass section.

At this time I was heavily influenced by Buddy Rich, whom I met at the Night Out club in Birmingham. He signed an album that I had bought on the night and shook my hand. I was amazed at the size of the man, he was very tiny. How could this man have so much power. I was totally in shock that I had met the best drummer ever in the world, which is a memory I will relish forever.

I slowly progressed from Jazz to Rock, which included listening to Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and AC/CD etc. Then came Rush. Once I heard Neil Peart I was totally hooked like most drummers. At the age of 18, I joined a band with Paul our bass player, called Ossirus. This was original material, which was heavily influenced by Rush.

I joined quite a few different bands with many different styles and at this time became quite bored. I decided to pick up the phone and call Paul and said let's set up a Rush Tribute Band. At this time there was only one tribute on the circuit and that was to Led Zeppelin called Fred Zeppelin.

We decided to go into the rehearsal room to get the set together. I am a firm believer that you take your time to get the music spot on. It took us 12 months of hard work and determination to learn a one and a half hour set. I can remember YYZ's first gig, which was over 12 years ago and full to capacity, approx 300 people. I remember speaking to Paul at the beginning of the gig in the changing room and saying "do you think we have bitten off more than we can chew"?

At the end of the gig, which was awesome, he replied no lets do it again. So here I am 12 years on in the same band with different members, with the multi-talented Gary on vocals, keyboards, bass pedals and occasional guitar (and what a drummer!) We have a great guitarist in Simon who is the most enthusiastic musician I have had the pleasure of working with. Lastly there is Paul who is not only my best friend, but what a great bass player and without him in YYZ, there would be no YYZ. These are the finest musicians I have ever had the pleasure of working with.

Here are three questions I get asked quite a few times at our shows are as follows:-

Q: Lots of drummers are using electronic drums as their main set-up, why don't you?

A: I don't think the electronic kit sounds as good as the acoustic kit. My Pearl Masters sounds great out front and on stage as well. This also looks authentic for a Rush tribute. I did play my electronic kit in a Human League tribute for a while which I though suitable but not for a Rush Tribute. I do however use electronic percussion, but not as a kit.

Q: How long does it take to set your acoustic kit up?

A: About an hour, it's not easy, there is a lot of gear! An hour to set up, play for three hours, strip down and then go home, hmm hard work but well worth it! I suppose I could use my electronic kit which would take about 15 mins or less to set up but I'm in a Rush tribute band and believe it takes hard work to make it happen.

Q: You play with traditional grip, how do you get so much power from you left hand?

A: Well I noticed that Buddy Rich held his sticks in this was so if it was OK for him it was OK for me. I have played since I was 12 using this style so it comes naturally.

Q: What is your current set up?

A: I play Pearl Master 8", 10", 12",16" toms 22" kick drum, 8", 10" concert toms, double bass drum pedals, 8", 10" Zildjian Splash, 16", 18" Zildjian crash, 16", 18" Sabian Crash cymbals and 8" splash. Cowbells, chimes, blocks, Roland SPS Electronic pads. Zildjian 20" ride, remote hi hat, 13" hi hat and a Pearl rack. Promark 5A Nylon tip Hickory sticks, AKG headphones and my bowling shoes.