I know there's dozens of threads..but...
I have a Christmas concert coming up at my church. We're opening up the night with a few songs and it has to sound exceptionally amazing, thus I am worried about me as a bassist not locking in with the kick drum of the drummer, my brother.
He tends to just play whatever beat with his kick drum without a set pattern which worries me. What should I do? How should I make sure I lock in with him at least for most of the time we're on stage? Obviously some parts will not require me to lock in like fast and loud parts, but for the most part...
First of all it's important to pay attention to the fact that in a band setting the rhythm section should play as a team and communicate. The whole band needs to play as a team but the rhythm section REALLY need to be on the same page because that's the whole foundation on which the music is built.
Is he just improvising his bass drum patterns so they are different every bar? If so then you're going to have a problem getting a very synchronised bass guitar/bass drum feel going and if that's what you're after you'll have to talk to him and come to some sort of understanding.
That said, not all bass lines have to be chained to the bass drum pattern. A lot of disco lines move around a lot while the bass drum hammers away at a 4 on the floor pattern. Your main goal should be to nail the groove and to do this you'll have to both be aiming for a solid, consistent time feel. That doesn't mean a solid, consistent 'repetition'. Just listen the Jaco playing The Chicken to hear a non-repetitive bass groove.
Without hearing your brother playing drums I can't really comment on how you would come to this compromise or where the problems might be. That's if there is a problem at all. He might be playing fine and you just find it tricky to follow the time. My gut feeling though (from what you've said) is that he'll be playing all over the place and if that's the case then you'll need to have a chat and try to get him to calm down and just nail that pulse. There are sooo many times in my life when I've had to re-evaluate my own playing and it's always involved simplifying. It's amazing how little you need to play (bass or drums) in order to really express a solid groove. As Jaco shows, it is possible to fly around and groove but it requires a LOT of skill and taste.
Perhaps try simplifying your bass lines down to bare bones and see if that works with your brothers drumming and whether you can follow a little better. If not then you'll have to tell him. The aim is to develop this thing together. If it's not working for your playing then he can't just carry on regardless. The groove will suffer and that's bigger than either of you.
Good luck with your drummer. One suggestion - I would concentrate on hitting the chord changes dead on the lyric syllable. Root on one and then groove with that. Under the situation you find yourself in, that is what I would do.
If you can not count on the drummer - in this case - count on singing along with the vocalist and let the lyrics being sung set the beat. Yes you will probably speed up.
From your profile I would think your brother is not a little tyke, and I doubt you have time to change his playing, and this being at church; smile and endure, this too shall pass.
Like Mark Smith said - locking in with the drummer is A great way to play and ensure a strong rhythm-section impact, especially if you're playing dance music. It is NOT an absolute rule, and treating it that way can be a straightjacket. BOTH of you should focus on playing the SONG - and if he doesn't, that's no reason for you not to. It may well be that he'll wind up getting held together by your beat rather than vice versa.
Just look to complement whatever else is going on. You may find that playing less when the drums are busy works better and if the drums are laying down a simple kick on 1 and 3, snare on 2 and 4 you can try playing a little more and following the vocals.
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