JULY 22 2007, TETBURY: Shovel from club band M People gave up his day job as a plumber to become a ful- time musician banging the drum for house music.
"Dance music is a vocation,'' he said.
Joining M People was a dream come true for the drummer back in 1992 when he joined the hardcore of the band who are DJ Mike Pickering, Paul Heard and distinctive singer Heather Small.
"They saved the best to last when they took me on,'' laughed Shovel who played on the Elegant Slumming album in 1993 which had hits such as Moving On Up, One Night In Heaven and Don't Look Any Further.
"It was brilliant. Everyone in the band had a role and collectively we were a family, holding together and gaining strength as a unit,'' he said.
Shovel was never an academic even being asked to leave school, but he completed a nine-year apprenticeship as a plumber.
He had always been into music as a hobby, playing the clubs and pubs of south east London where he grew up.
But when the opportunity came to turn professional he jumped at the chance.
"It was a dream, I was blessed and I thought to myself here is the choice of unblocking toilets or playing in the clubs?'' There was no choice and Shovel and M People were a force to be reckoned with in the dance music explosion that followed.
Success followed upon success and their third album Bizarre Fruit stayed in the UK charts for two and a half years.
They also scooped a Brit Award for Best British Dance Act and a Mercury Music Prize for Elegant Slumming plus a string of top 10 hits including How Can I Love You More, Sight For Sore Eyes and Search For A Hero.
Now the band have got back together to perform on the Forest Tour, heading for Tetbury this month.
"It was the first chance to get back with everyone else and play. The fact that it is a forest is a bonus because I love trees,'' said the drummer/percussionist.
"We had a fantastic existence in the 1990s and we will be reliving our younger years playing songs from 10 years of back catalogue. In fact it will be a walk down Memory Lane,'' he said.
For a long time the band lived only 10 minutes apart and spent months together on the road but Shovel insists they stayed good pals throughout.
"Heather is like my sister and we always keep in touch,'' he said. In fact he is godfather to her son James.
"It is like a marriage, sharing, eating, performing together. Between all of us it is a strong bond.'' The drummer is also a DJ, the Dream Warrior, playing at Pasha in Ibiza and Defected in Leeds Festival this year.
He is also a singer and writes his own songs.
His main passions outside music are Arsenal Football Club and food.
"Arsenal is a massive passion and my hobbies include food and socialising,'' said the drummer who was always renowned for being the party animal in the band.
Shovel was a vegetarian for 16 years, a vegan for six and went back to eating meat last year and has now gone back to being a vegan.
"I make vegan Shepherd's Pie and it is a wonder to behold,'' he said
Shovel from M People
Forest Tour, Westonbirt Arboretum, Tetbury, Gloucestershire
Sunday, July 22