But Fry won’t be playing tenor, he’ll be the band’s bass drummer, joining Pipe-Major Kyle Warren, Lead-Drummer Steven Shedden and Lead-Tenor Brenton Earl as the Melbourne-based band vies to reach Grade 1 and be the only Australian band at the top level to compete internationally in the highest grade.
While recognized as a tenor drummer, Fry began his career as a bass drummer in his hometown of Kincardine, Ontario. He played bass competitively until he joined the Grade 1 78th Fraser Highlanders as a tenor drumming. He played the big drum on a few tracks on the band’s 1998 Flame of Wrath album, as well as a few spots when he was with the Grade 1 Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia in the 2000s.
“It’s an absolute thrill and honour to join Hawthorn Pipe Band as bass drummer for the Victorian Pipe Band Championships and the World Pipe Band Championships in August,” Fry said. “I go back a long time with Kyle, Steven and Brenton, and I’m looking forward to performing with them and the other band members this season.”
“Tyler Fry is arguably the most innovative mid-section player that pipe bands have ever seen, and I’m really excited to have him play bass with the band,” Shedden said. “It’s a great honour to welcome Tyler into the corps as the band builds towards the Worlds.”
The Victorian State Pipe Band Championships are on March 17, closing the Australian summer season. The next contest for the band will be the World Championships in August, the first time playing at the event in Hawthorn’s 105-year history.
According to Warren, Fry will be part of the band’s “out of town contingent,” made up of players based “in country” in the state of Victoria, interstate and internationally. He said that, “For these players the onus is on the quality of self-practice, utilizing technology such as recordings and Skype to assist in keeping up to speed with everything as they attend fewer band practices.”
Since 1998, when the Melbourne-based Grade 1 Victoria Police Pipe Band won the World Championship, and subsequently was ordered by the police force not to compete outside of the country, Australia has not been able to produce a band that consistently vies for the world title.
The only other Grade 1 band in Australia is the Western Australia Police of Perth. The band is not permitted to compete internationally. The Grade 1 City of Whitehorse produced a strong presence in the grade, until its rapid demise due to the lengthy suspensions of its leaders and several members by Pipe Bands Australia for what in the association ruled as inappropriate behaviour.
“Working in a relatively small scene in Australia makes you approach things a little out the box at times,” Warren added. “There are examples of successful Grade 1 bands in the Southern Hemisphere over the years even having P-Ms or L-Ds based in other countries. For the stage in Hawthorn’s journey, as we look to build our band membership locally over time, this opportunity was too good not to pursue and is a real coup welcoming Tyler into the band.”
Shedden and Fry most recently played together in the one-year Grade 1 Spirit of Scotland in 2016.
Tyler Fry is the subject of a pipes|drums Interview, currently running on the magazine, exclusively for subscribers.
Tyler Fry: the pipes|drums Interview – Part 1
February 4, 2019
Tyler Fry: the pipes|drums Interview – Part 2
February 26, 2019
Warren takes over as P-M of Hawthorn City
August 1, 2016
Hawthorn lands Shedden for L-D role
December 5, 2018