Jan 042013

A little after the 23-minute mark of our recent Most Polite Performance in Rock post drummer Bev Bevan comes out from behind his drumkit to the fore of the stage to announce something to the audience. Some may see this as a generous form of “giving the drummer some.” I can’t stand when bands let drummers leave their kit to have a word with the audience. A drummer’s got all the power, dignity, and status one musician can ask for on his or her throne. (And remember: no other musician gets to play on a THRONE.) They need to maintain their special place in the order of a band. I get similarly annoying seeing Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban sitting courtside in a long-sleeve t-shirt (or worse) at one of his team’s games. It goes beyond former Atlanta Braves owner Ted Turner‘s Man of the People move of sitting in a field-level box for his team’s games. Turner still looked like he could buy everyone in the stadium: fans as well as players. Cuban’s behavior is beneath the class and pomp and circumstance I expect from a multi-millionaire sports franchise owner, and likewise a showboating drummer who rushes to the front of the stage is doing a disservice to the hard-earned privileges of fellow drummers.

I saw a band last month that let the drummer come out from behind his kit practically every other song to lead cheers for the audience. Many in the audience seemed delighted by his clowning, but I bet most of you here would agree that multiple trips to the fore of the stage are too many for any drummer. How do you feel about the drummer making even one appearance from behind his kit? Most importantly, how do the drummers in the house feel about this practice?

I look forward to your thoughts.

Should drummers be allowed from behind their kits?

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Oct 152012

Is there a drummer in the house?

The first thing that caught my eye when I stumbled across the above video by Christie’s 1970 UK hit “Yellow River” was the double bass drum featured in the video’s still. As unappealing as I’ve ever found even the concept of hearing a song involving a double bass drum, those things look cool. I suppose that’s the point, but drummers: has any song ever been improved by the use of a double bass drum? Have you ever been playing a song with your band and thought to yourself, Damn, if only I had a double bass drum!

I am curious to learn of songs that were actually improved by the use of the dual kick drum, and I am curious to know whether you prefer Christie’s take on “Yellow River” using that set up or, as seen in the following clip, when the drummer is reduced to a single bass drum.

Sep 302012

I thought there had been a thread about this subject awhile ago, but I guess not. If not, then the time has come to honor the iconic drum intro to The Ronette‘s “Be My Baby.” You know the one: Bum-ba-bum-BOOM!

Phil Spector added echo to drummer Hal Blaine‘s bass drum, and everyone’s tried to imitate it and capture its Wall of Sound grandiosity ever since. How many imitations, renditions, samples and variations are there?

Apr 242012

A drummer worth watching.

A few years ago we promised to examine the stage stances of rock musicians by instrument, beginning with a mostly likely eventually groundbreaking piece on bassists. I don’t think we ever took this series any further…until now.

You hear the phrase that a great performer is “larger than life.” For rock musicians, that larger than life pose is literally grounded in the musician’s basic stance. Everything the musician does from that initial stance—be it swaying to the music, keeping time with his or her foot, placing a foot on the monitor, punching the air with a sweaty fist—flows from that initial stance, or gesture. You might find it curious that we’re rebooting this series with an examination of the stance of drummers, since few drummers actually stand up in the first place. However, I encourage you to think of a drummer’s stance in broader terms, that is, as the drummer’s presence from behind his or her kit. A distinctive drummer “stance” can add a lot to one’s enjoyment of a band’s live performance.

There’s no “right” stance, although as we examine the rock stances of various musicians, we may argue that there are “wrong” stances. I wouldn’t put it past us. It is highly likely, throughout the course of this series, that we’ll overlook an important stance. Please don’t hesitate to add to this base of knowledge. In fact, I am incapable of doing this survey justice alone.

Jan 252012

In a recent New Yorker music review of Dangermau5, Sasha Frere-Jones references a music production style that I wasn’t aware of:

The core and tempo of the music are provided by the kick drums and snare drums of disco, often without the high hat. Some producers call it the “Kate Bush” beat: kate (kick) bush (snare), kate (kick) bush (snare).

A drum style named after that English chanteuse? Are there other drum beats or production effects out there that are named after other musicians? Is there an Ig (floor tom) gy (floor tom) Pop (crash)? What would a “Paul Weller” sound like?

I’m just curious and hope that those of you in the know can help us out.


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