George “Spanky” McCurdy, drummer to the stars, has garnered international fame and reputation with his innovative style of playing. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Spanky began playing professionally, on gigs and tours, when he was no older than thirteen. He attended Boyer College of Music and Dance at Temple University and further developed his craft under the tutelage of the famous drummer Little John Roberts. He has played drums for the likes of Kanye West, Mariah Carey and P.Diddy, amongst others. Having just finished touring with Lady Gaga, he sits down with Schön! to discuss touring, his obsession with music and growing up in Philadelphia.
You finished touring with Lady Gaga last year for her album Artpop – any highlights from the tour?
The highlight of every tour is always seeing how many fans lives are touched and affected. You see a lot of tears, a lot of laughter. That’s the reason why we do what we do.
How did you get involved with Lady Gaga and what is it like working with her?
I got called for the audition, went down and claimed it. LOL! It’s an amazing feeling. It is such a blessing to be able to wake up and do what you love.
Why the drums specifically?
All I could remember as a baby were the drums. I banged on everything. I was fascinated by them. The drums were just in me from birth.
The word ‘innovative’ is often associated with your style of play. Can you elaborate on why your drum playing is considered to be so unique?
I love numbers. Every number is divisible into another number even if it has a decimal. I like to translate this into musical form. There are so many different variations of off time rhythms and I love to expire them all. My meter is pretty accurate. I constantly work on perfecting that.
Can you tell us a little bit about how growing up in Philadelphia has influenced your musical career?
Growing in philly is a major reason why I’m here today. From church to the studios, I was surrounded by Philly’s finest. I was taken in as a little brother and everybody poured wisdom. I’m a product of philly. It’s an amazing city that has some strong musical roots such as Gamble and Huff, Teddy P, The Roots, Jill Scott and Pieces of a Dream.
You’ve worked with a variety of artists ranging from Tye Tribbett to Mariah Carey and Kanye West – any favourites?
Every moment has to be taken in. I definitely enjoyed working with Diddy, he’s the greatest. I enjoy every moment. You make new friends and your family expands.
What genre of music do you like to listen to in your free time?
I listen to just about everything – from orchestral, rap, R&B, to rock!
You’ve recently set up your clothing line StarStruck. Tell us a little bit about the collection.
The name of my line has been changed. It’s my name: G. Hubert. It’s my name, it’s simple. StarStruck will be a spin off. It’s coming along well! Can’t wait to burst on the scene!
Are there plans to do any further fashion collaborations?
Absolutely, I plan on doing quite a few collaborations. It’s been a lot of talks but nothing definite yet so I won’t announce any of them.
How would you describe your everyday style?
I’m random and so chill. I think when you think too much, that’s when you end up looking like someone who sat and thought and then got dressed. Clothes have to be MADE! You can wear a dingy T-shirt and faded jeans and MAKE it look so dope from your own personal swag and confidence. I might wear slacks one day, joggers the next, who knows.
Is there any advice you’d like to pass onto up and coming drummers?
Young drummers – humble yourself. Always practice. Learn how to play to a click!
Lastly, given that you’ve just finished touring with Gaga, what are your plans for the next few months?
Plans are to Release G. Hubert and my 1st EP.
This Schön! Online Exclusive has been produced by
Photographer / Nancy Schoenmakers @ Eric Elenbaas
Stylist / Anne-marleen Cornelissen
Make Up & Hair / Monique Brinkhorst @ Eric Elenbaas
Talent / George “Spanky” McCurdy
Photo assistant / Jolene Smits