Thursday, August 18, 2005

In Defense of Drums

Kev chimes in with a handful of musician jokes so I had to add some of the jokes I've heard about my musical instrument of choice. Here are a few:

What do you call a guy that hangs out with musicians?
A drummer.

What's the last thing a drummer says before he leaves a band?
"Hey guys, let's try a song that I wrote."

How do you get a drummer off your porch?
Give him the $12 for the pizza.

What do you call a drummer that just broke up with his girlfriend?

I know, "har har har." I've heard these jokes for years and think they're pretty funny too. However, the perception that a drummer is a loser/non-musician is a misnomer. There are/were plenty of smart people behind the skins that treat the beating of drums and cymbals as musical instruments. They think of drums as single-note bells; each drum and cymbal represent a different note. It's up to the one holding the sticks to make the notes work.

I think drums work best when they compliment and energize the song. Drummers like John Bonham, Stewart Copeland, Jimmy Chamberlin and Dave Grohl had their own personalities in their playing, but I don't think they were overplaying. As the line goes, they played for the song. Yes, there was overplaying in spots (worst offense, "Moby Dick"), but most of the time, there was enough space for the guitars, vocals and whatever else. That's the role that I use in my playing.

I've been asked to play simpler, ala Meg White from the White Stripes, and I just refuse. It's too simple and to be honest, I'd get too bored playing one simple, thudding beat over and over again. The beats and fills must augment everything else while keeping a steady beat.

I don't know, maybe there's some drummer joke in all of this.


jefito said...

Charlie Watts is simple. Meg White is just lame. I mean, she's better than whichever Wiggins sister drummed for The Shaggs, but not by a whole lot.

Anonymous said...

I agree, Charlie Watts doesn't overdo it, and he's consider one of the world's best drummers. Ringo Starr keeps it pretty simple as well. What they lack in drum rolls and overthetopness (I just made up that word) is made up for in their perfect timing. --jh

Eric Grubbs said...

Charlie Watts was awesome back in the day. His drumming on Between the Buttons is fantastic. All I'm saying is, it's annoying when the drummer doesn't hold up his/her end of the band. It varies with every band, so in the case of the Rolling Stones and the Beatles, I think Watts and Starr added a tremendous amount to the songs, even in their simplicity. Now in the case of Jet . . .

Kev said...

You can draw a comparison to many situations here: there are musicians who play the drums, and there are just "drummers" (some would say the ones who are also musicians might better be called "percussionists"). It's sort of the same way some people are bass players, while others are simply bass owners. It's the hacks among us that spawn many of the musician jokes that have been flying around this week (but hey, they're still funny).

Remind me sometime on a "slow news day" and I'll post the story of the drummer who overindulged a bit on a gig I was on in college.