Greg Ellis


I blame my brother for getting me into rock n roll – he plays the guitar and was always blasting out riffs from the likes of Deep Purple and Judas Priest back in the late 70’s – I wanted to join in and I fancied the idea of hitting things……..

I didn’t get my first drum kit until I was 14 years old, I worked summer jobs to get the money together. The kit I managed to get was a cheap mash up of various makes – what did I care I had a kit – now I could make a noise!

It became apparent that I enjoyed drumming and my mum helped me to get my first proper kit – a real monster Sonor Phonic with a 24” bass drum, 12” & 14” rack toms and 16” & 18” floor toms.

This thing weighed a tonne (9ply maple shells) but it sounded amazing and was so loud – I do tend to thump the skins…..

By this time I was playing in various different bands gaining experience playing loads of different styles of music. I cut my teeth playing working men’s clubs around Yorkshire – I can remember one memorable gig where at the tender age of 16 and a bit I had to play in the backing band for the Sunday lunch time stripper as the house tape player had packed up and she had no music to perform her routine to. That was a real eye opener……..can’t remember dropping the beat though!

I guess I’ve been influenced by several different drummers over the years the classic names like Cozy Powell (love the Stargazer intro) & John Bonham but also guys like Alex Van Halen & Steve Smith.

After various failed bands I got an audition for a band called Stallion based out of the seaside town of Bridlington. That audition took place in their rehearsal room which was in a nunnery…..

Got that gig and we played all around Yorkshire with the likes of Deadringer and Black Rose – can’t remember exactly how but Stallion turned into Bladerunner and we got a deal with indie record label Ebony.

I made two albums with Bladerunner on the Ebony label, the first “Hunted” in 1984 when I was 17 and the second “Warriors of Rock” in 1985 (I designed the album artwork and band logo for this too!). Both received OK reviews never really setting the world on fire – I’m kinda proud of them it was a great experience and showed me just how fickle the music business can be.

After the demise of Bladerunner I moved to Nottingham and played with various local bands there never achieving much. I then saw an ad in the back of Sounds and ended up auditioning for an AOR group from Switzerland that were relocating to Amsterdam all click tracks and samples. Got the gig and ended up at the age of 20 spending 6 glorious summer months rehearsing and gigging with a 12 piece rock band (backing vocals and full brass section) in Amsterdam (wahey!). The band bought a coach, ripped out the seats and turned it into a mobile studio/rehearsal room. Can still remember sat behind my kit on the beach in the coast town of Zandfort in Holland watching the sun go down…….brilliant!

Played a few big shows in Europe with this band but unfortunately it didn’t last so I came back to Nottingham.

Once back in Nottingham I needed to find a band so started to look about and ended up joining some chaps from Leicester – struck up a good friendship with a guitarist, Marcus Simpson. One thing led to another (friend of friend etc) and I ended up auditioning for a project with Marcus that included Nic and Steve after the demise of Chrome Molly in 1991.

This was to become “Sex Death and the American Dream” and in various guises we’ve been playing together ever since…..

The guys in the band call me the “new boy” – 20 odd years and I’m still the “new boy” – WTF!

For Gunpowder Diplomacy I wanted a big & powerful kit sound – that means big drums and you can’t get much bigger than the ones I’m currently using…….

The shells are all Gretsch 7 ply mahogany with the 30 degree bearing edge

26” Bass Drum, 13” Rack Tom, 16” & 18” Floor Toms along with a 14” X 6.5” Snare

All drums have Evans heads.

As I mentioned earlier on – I’m a big hitter and don’t hold back so I use a Vic Firth 5A stick –   “butt round”

I tried out various cymbals in preparation for the recording of the album and ended up with a combination of Zildjian 14” “Z” Hi Hats and Sabian AAX 19” & 20” crashes with an AAX Metal 22” ride which cuts through like a knife!

The drums on the album sound amazing – just what I and the other guys were looking for.

We made a big thing of recording all the backing tracks “live” to catch the energy of the song and the band playing – that’s what we do best – belt it out live!

Now for the next page in my biography – to take Gunpowder Diplomacy on the road – that I am looking forward to – see you there!

Let’s Rock!

Greg \m/