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Music and cricket - the life of Riley for Rob

PUBLISHED: 07:47 29 September 2010 | UPDATED: 09:06 29 September 2010

Rob Allum

Rob Allum

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GLOBETROTTING rock musician Rob Allum is as happy holding a cricket bat as he is drumsticks.

Rob Allum at the drums

GLOBETROTTING musician Rob Allum is as happy holding a cricket bat as he is drumsticks.

After lining up for Turin Brakes tonight (Wednesday) at Canary Wharf, he jets off from his Wanstead home to Indonesia for a one-off gig with The Lightning Seeds.

Rob, 46, the captain of Chigwell Cricket Club, has spent the past 20 years travelling the UK and the world in various bands, including Billy Bragg’s Redstars in the early 1990s.

He told Review: “My ideal situation is working and touring September to May, and then playing cricket all summer – that’s when I’m at my happiest. And the few years that has happened have felt very decadent.

"‘My ideal situation is working and touring September to May and then playing cricket all summer – that’s when I’m at my happiest.’"

Drummer Rob Allum

“However, as a jobbing musician the reality is you have to take the work when you can get it and more recently, with there being so many summer festivals, my schedule has got in the way of my cricket.”

But Rob has been having success on both fronts, with Chigwell winning the Middlesex and Essex League two years running.

Last summer also saw him drum for The Lightning Seeds in front of thousands at V in Chelmsford, plus various other smaller events.

Now that gig with Ian Brodie and co awaits in Jakarta.

Rob Allum batting for Chigwell Cricket Club

He joked: “Even Ian Brodie said to me that if he had realised how far it was he may not have agreed to it. It will be a 20-hour trip each way, including transfers to Jakarta, for one gig. But the band are really big out there, and the Indonesians love all the old stuff, like Three Lions, The Life Of Riley and Lucky You, so it should be a good fun.”

And Rob is no stranger to long-haul tours. His big break came when Bragg was auditioning for a drummer for his world tour in 1990.

Born in Newbury Park, Rob went to Redbridge Primary School and, after the family moved to Chigwell, attended The Brook School in Loughton and, after that had closed, West Hatch High School in Chigwell. After studying at Loughton College, various driving jobs paid the bills until music provided him with a full-time career.

One of his early experiences in a band, was as the lead singer of The Elmer Fudd Experience.

Then in 1989, Rob joined Slab and toured Sweden – his first taste of playing abroad. This led to a meeting with celebrated Irish guitarist and songwriter Sean O’Hagan and he was invited to join Sean’s group, the High Llamas, who were signed to major V2 throughout the ’90s. He still plays with them.

Rob continues: “The bigger the bands I played with, the more high profile people I met. That’s how I got the Bragg gig really. I was invited along to an audition. I think my east London roots helped and then it was straight off on a world tour with Billy. That took up most of the next 12 months, and there were loads of gigs with him in the second and third year too.”

Rob has also been part of avant garde pop outfit Add N Top X and a track he co-wrote with them, Metal Fingers In My Body, is regularly used on Sky TV.

When Turin Brakes duo Ollie Knights and Gale Paridjanian released their critically-acclaimed and Mercury Music Prize-nominated debut album The Optimist in 2001, Rob was well-known and an obvious choice for their touring band. And he’s been a fixture ever since.

“To think I’ve been playing with the guys for a decade now is amazing. It’s mad how time flies. It’s almost half my adult life, but the band is still going strong and the studio that they’ve built up is about to be launched as a commercial venture so hopefully that will ensure another 10 years of Turin Brakes.

“That band is very close to my heart, we have a definite chemistry which, and I’ve played in a lot of bands, you don’t always get and is hard to find.”

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