Al Murray might be an award-winning comedian but he also has a lifelong passion for playing the drums. He explains why he is getting involved with Learn To Play Day in a bid to get the people of Bury and beyond to pick up a musical instrument

AL Murray is a busy man these days. The comedian has donned his famous red blazer to run for ‘guv’norment’ as his comic alter ego ‘the Pub Landlord’ in May’s General Election, taking on UKIP’s Nigel Farage for a South Thanet seat with his ‘commons sense’ campaign. But did you know he is also a drum enthusiast?

The musical comedian, alongside musician and TV presenter Jools Holland, is the leading ambassador of Learn To Play Day, the flagship event of the UK’s Music For All Charity, designed to encourage people of all ages to take up a musical instrument.

The premise, he says, is “quite a simple one.”

Budding musicians simply need to turn up at one of the participating venues — last year there were 117 up and down the country — to have a go at their instrument of choice, free of charge.

“Across the country and music shops all over the place there’s a chance for you to come in and get your hands on an instrument and find out if you have got it, basically,” he says.

The 46-year-old has been involved over the last few years, teaching people “a few simple beats” at a London music shop and has enjoyed his encounters with the public.

“Yeah, it’s really, really, really good fun. And the thing is, especially with the drums, drumming is waking up the street and having a heartbeat. We’ve all got those inside us. If I say it’s easy I’ll get loads of drummers moaning, but you can do it."

If you are thinking ‘hang on, what does the Pub Landlord know about drumming?’ then you would be mistaken — he has played the drums since childhood and currently plays in two amateur bands.

He says that “it’s something that has really enriched my life” but wants people to know it is never too late to learn.

He said: “Well the thing is I’m still learning. A lot of people play sport, but one of the problems with sport is that the older you get, you get slower, you get fatter, you get more prone to injury or whatever, but that’s not the case with music.

"It’s something that you can take with you all through your life. And have an appreciation of. If you play, you maybe have a different way of looking at it as well.”

Is drumming the career he secretly wishes he could have had?

“Ha! The thing is, I realised, the really brilliant drummers that I know spent their whole adolescence, from when they were 12 to 18 playing five, six, seven hours a day and being completely dedicated to it.

"I like the idea of being in a band and mucking about but never put the graft in, so I was never good enough.

"The thing is though, sometimes you need to know your limits. I knew I wasn’t good enough, so I didn’t become a musician, basically," he said.

But even if you are not going to be the next Keith Moon, he says get down to an event on the March 21 — just expect to be given the same advice as all the other music teachers out there.

“They all give the same advice,” he laughs, “which is practice. Which is always great to be told that you need to practice and you need to work harder. That’s the one thing you really want to hear.

"The thing is Learn To Play Day is about people learning for themselves, people having a go.

"Lots of people go through life regretting that they didn’t pick up an instrument or pursue an instrument and we want to get kids into it. And drumming is a really good way to work out. You get to whack stuff. It’s brilliant.”

The nearest Learn to Play venues to Bury are Professional Music Technology, Red Rose Centre, Regent Road, Salford, and Forsyth Bros, Deansgate, Manchester.