Steve Sidelnyk

Steve Sidelnyk is one of the funniest musicians who worked with Madonna. Her long-time drummer told us about touring with Queen of Pop and if he ever did any mistake during the concert! 

Steve Sidelnyk is not only an incredible drummer but also a great guy who has been infecting madonna with his humour for almost a decade! he talks with us about touring with queen of pop, arranging her hits and... wearing john travolta suit.

If we're correct you worked with Madonna for the first time on her Ray of Light album. How did that happen?

I played in a band in the 80's called The Blow Monkeys and the keyboard player Marius DeVries became one of my best friends and we ended up producing and re-mixing together. He was drafted in with Nellee Hooper for the Bedtime Stories album and then was asked to produce a couple of tracks on Ray Of Light and I was drafted in as Drum-Programmer.

Speaking about Ray of Light – this album has very specific sound when it comes to drums. Do you remember programming them in a unusual way comparing to the other records you did?

It was just what we were doing at the time and pretty much everything people were doing in those days was innovative so after listening to some of the other tracks we decided on certain sounds and direction...It's a very English sounding record.

You worked together again on Music. It's even more electronic-oriented sound – was it a different experience for you as a drummer because of this?

Yes, for sure! I didn't really use any real drums and programmed a few tracks on the album and then when I was asked to play the Music Promo tour in 2000 I knew I had to use electronic drums with the specific sounds from the record.

Which Madonna track you enjoyed the most playing and why?

It has to be Music and just because it is such an amazing groove and non-drum like approach you have to have to execute it live! 

Is there any song from her you found more difficult/complicated to play than others?

Again, the more electronic songs were a challenge because you had to approach them in a specific way! 

You went for a tour with Madonna three times. From which one you have the best memories?

Aaah it has to be Re-Invention in 2004! I think that was the best combination of band, dancers, songs etc. Every show was special. 

During Re-Invention Tour there was a lot of cameras going around because of the documentary. You even filmed a sketch with Stuart Price which ended up on bonus features on I'm Going To Tell You A Secret DVD. It's hilarious! Was it your idea or something that was approached by a director?

(laughs) Yes, that was something we approached to do by the director Jonas and really that was our kind of Mr Bean type humour I loved!

During the same tour Vogue is performed with fantastic drum section in the very beginning of the song. It sounded fresh but still close to the classic original version. How did you work on this one?

I think this is because we used the actual sounds from the record and played them via triggers on the drums so you were hearing that exact sound and beat and I love the groove simple yet memorable!

We need to ask about Confessions era when all the musicians and dancers got to dressed up as a disco veterans! Was it fun for you to perform wearing those John Travolta inspired suits and all?

(laughs) Yes!!! I had to lose a bit of weight to fit in my suit but again another classic tour with a classic album.....to me a continuation of the 2004 band and dancers...Such joy!

You seem to have so much fun with other members of the band and Madonna herself backstage – judging from various behind-the-scene materials. Were you all like a family during the tour?

Well... we had been working together for a long time and really I enjoyed all the smaller promo tours and it was really like a gang and M was the leader... We really had no fear and would play anywhere anytime... Every show was special!

You performed with Madonna not only during her world tours but also at Video Music Awards show, Live8, Live Earth and many, many others. Which of these you were the most thrilled about?

Yes, all of them were unique and groundbreaking and you cannot forget a single moment!Live 8 was the biggest show anyone had done and the fact we sound-checked before the re-formed Pink Floyd the night before and had a private Floyd show :) Also we absolutely rocked the house on the day!!!

Brixton Academy on the Music promo tour was described by someone as the most perfect 30 minutes of pop ever...and I tend to agree! :)

Okay, so here's the deal – you know „Nobody's Perfect” track, right? So did you ever make any mistake while playing live with Madonna? ;-)We won't tell her!

(laughs) NO! I never made a mistake in that song... there was one instance on The Drowned World Tour... But that's a secret.

Any other funny moment with Madonna you would like to share with our readers?

Yeah she is such a great laugh and dedicated to putting on a great show and I remember I think we were doing the 2003 MTV Awards in NYC and I think I had a bit of dust on my face before we were about to go on and she wiped it off like a good mother would to her child and it reminded me of my schoolboy years when my mum used to spit in a tissue and wipe my face before I went in to church :)

You are also writing music. Is this something you think you will focus more in the future?

Yeah I write a bit of music but I'm a player and programmer first so anything that happens is really a happy accident!

You worked with many great artists like Annie Lennox, Dido, PJ Harvey or Massive Attack just to name a few. Which one was the most challenging?

Ahhh...that would be Massive Attack same approach as with M you have to be very careful of sound and groove for each specific song. 

What are you up to these days? Where and when we can see you in action on stage?

Well, I've just turned 49 and maybe I'll do one last tour if someone asks me but apart from playing small shows in Los Angeles, that's it! 

Before we took this interview you said you love Poland? Have you ever been here? Tell us more – we are curious! 

Yeah I played there a couple of times recently with SEAL and my father was from Lviv so I have a strong connection to Poland. I loved Warsaw sooo much and the renovated architecture and enthusiasm of the people at the shows was amazing!!!

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