Darrin started playing at the age of 12 at school. His first teacher was Dave Clifford who was a tough, very large ex army man who suffered no fools and no excuses. Throughout his school years Darrin studied with Dave and played in various school bands and orchestras playing both drums and percussion. These early years were very important in Darrins musical journey because Dave had a magical way of breaking down problems and explaining notation and phrasing etc.
At the age of 18 Darrin went along to a NYJO (National Youth Jazz Orchestra rehearsal in London. It was here that Darrin’s life was going to change as he found himself getting a real wake up call as he watched the other guys play.
“I had never seen playing and reading like it. There were three amazing drummers there (Mike Smith, Ian Thomas and Mike Bradley) all taking turns playing the hardest charts I had ever seen, they were in a different league to me. I then got my turn to play. Wow it was like a car crash or possibly worse. I was lost from beginning to end, missing every phrase and stop. I was devastated.” Darrin Mooney
After this rude awakening Darrin decided that he had to go every week (for about one and a half years) to watch these guys play, pick their brains and occasionally sit in and play himself. While he was doing this he was playing with “The Ken Macintosh Big Band” which is where his first professional gig came from. Darrin then aged 20 left for North Wales where he played in a show band which backed cabaret acts, singers, ballroom dancing etc. After 5 months Darrin returned to London and continued to work the London circuit which is where he kept hearing about a drum teacher called Bob Armstrong. After seeing a few of his guys play Darrin new it was time for another rude awakening.
“I remember my first lesson with Bob like it was yesterday. I was thinking, he’s gonna be really impressed with me. I’m a pro. I’m working. He’s gonna love it. Oh how I was wrong… Bob asked me to play a basic swing on the ride and 2+4 on the hat. After I had been playing, for about a minute, what I thought was an amazing swing feel. He taps me on the shoulder looks at me and said, with a straight face, “Ooooo. That’s awful. That doesn’t swing. That doesn’t swing at all. Think we’ll start again!!!”” Darrin Mooney
Darrin studied with Bob for around three years and says that it is during this period things started to make sense. All the rhythms and fills that Darrin was trying to work out were all being unraveled in front of him using the ideas and techniques being shown to him by Bob. Darrin has the upmost respect for Bob, so much so, he still to this day will book a lesson with Bob just to get some inspiration and some new ideas.
In 1990 Darrin met and became very close friends with the incredible Chris Dagley (23 June 1971 – 28 July 2010) who at the time was the drummer with NYJO. Chris insisted that Darrin came back to the rehearsals and have a play again. This time proved to be a lot better and Darrin ended up being the percussionist and drum dep for two years. Chris was a huge inspiration to Darrin as they practiced regularly together and had many a late night watching and listening to all their favourite players.
This year Darrin is touring again with Primal Scream on the Screamadelica Tour, including T in the Park and the V festivals and headlining at Glastonbury 2011.