The primal addiction of the drums, how it starts and how it… sticks.
So drumming in a band… What springs to mind? Thoughts of carrying the most equipment up and down your rehearsal room stairs, running your 5th lap between the car and the stage. Doing all this whilst watching the guitarists having their third pint (oh yeah, and the drummer is the driver) and chat to some fangirls that have arrived early. Not fun! Or is it?
Drums have always been a passion of mine but it has taken until joining Manchester based indie-psych band Suave Martyrs I hadn’t thought much about turning them into my profession. The last year has been a blur of rehearsals, gigs and relentlessly tapping rudiments, much to my girlfriend’s frustration (she brought me a practice pad thinking this would save her ears but failed to realise its portability. Meaning now the rudiments migrate out of the home studio and into the lounge.) But anyway, why learn the drums?
Here’s my top 5 reasons:
They’re fucking fun. There is nothing like the feeling of finishing a 4 bar 32 note drum fill, that has somehow made more noises than drums on the kit, and landing back on beat 1 as tight as a drum, pun intended. But also the moments or repetition where your sole or (soul) purpose is to guide the band and keep the rhythm flowing.
Drums are old. Like super old. In an age of screens, technology and gadgets, it is a great feeling to unleash your primal self and forget about the complications of modern life. For me this experience rarely happens without a pair of sticks in my hands.
Drums force you to listen. It’s very easy as a lead guitarist to get lost in your own sound and simply allow it to sit on top of the rest of the band making sure that your first beat is in the right place, but beyond seeming to be playing your own song (not a dig at our guitarist, just previous experiences). Drums don’t allow you to do that. It’s my role to make sure that everything that I play guides the rhythm of the song, rather than fights it. Obviously playing to the bass is crucial, but don’t forget to listen to all the instruments and think; are my drums enforcing or fighting the other sounds? I love this part of songwriting as a drummer.
You can practise anywhere. You don’t even need sticks! I am forever tapping on my lap combining rudiments and building up my coordination. You can’t do that with any other instrument! (To my knowledge; please get in touch if I’m wrong.)
You can be part of any genre in the world. All styles of music have percussion in some way or another, meaning that as a drummer you can be part of any of it. I am a big fan of all music and love that as a drummer I can be a part of all of it. Outside of Suave Martyrs I love leading Samba Workshops, African drumming, programming drums for electronic dance music… the varied list goes on!
So yeah, just one man’s opinion. But if you’re keen then buy a pair of sticks and get tapping! You don’t need a drum kit to get started so everyone can afford to learn drums. My first kit consisted of 2 saucepans, a wooden chopping board and a plastic plate. (Although I wouldn’t turn up to your first show with this as your setup, after all gigging in a rock band is no picnic.)