Is it normal to just NOT be able to lock in with a certain drummer?
With my new drummer, I feel like we're just doing our own thing on opposite sides of the room. I always feel like I'm off with him. But with my old drummer, we were so tight, it felt like every snare hit was just right in sync. Why is this? I know I have bad timing, yet I felt fine with my old drummer.
Being on opposite sides of the room may not help. Why not cozy up and work on your relationship.
Also, 'I know I have bad timing'? Sounds like you may have half the answer there...
BTW I wasn't trying to be a meanie - I also had/have my own timing issues, but have been working on my technique and fingering and improved things somewhat with some songs.
I can't say whether it's normal or not. I can say it's not uncommon. Even the 'best' bassists and drummers can feel time differently.
A machine will tell you whether a beat or note is in or out of time/tune; whether it's right or wrong, but things ain't necessarily so - not in music as performed and perceived by humans. Sting and Stewart Copeland famously fought about who was in front/rushing and who was behind/dragging.
Of course, if either of you have poor (= irregular) timing there'll be problems... Hopefully you and the new drummer will gradually get to know each other better, you'll both improve, and things will tighten up.
Some drummers I love to play with. Some drummers I like ok. And there are a few that I hate having to play with.
Chemistry is important, but so is a certain level of skill.
Obviously, if you were okay with the previous drummer, then it's not just your timing.
I would say there's two possibilities:
1. His playing doesn't give the same timing clues as your previous drummer, so, even though his timing is good, you are looking for clues that aren't there.
2. He sucks.
"Its a 50/50 thing" you will be told but it is not, it is a 50/50 thing when you are together. If one sides dominant then it will not work, so if the lesser player cannot come up then the dominant player has to come down.
In this way the rhythm section is playing together, and they grow together as the lesser player in the partnership benefits from the experience.......that is usually the way the dominant player became good by playing with player better than them and the better players coming to them rather than let their weakness weaken the whole band.
Most drummers suck.
So do most bass players, for that matter.
I have found that every time I play with an unfamiliar drummer I have to listen carefully and adjust to his/her ways. Maybe you just need some more time together. On the other hand I have played with some drummers that I can never feel comfortable with. I have also made conscious effort to insure that my timing is good and fits with the drummer. But if the drummer is bad to start with, nothing will work as it should.
I play a lot of open mic gigs and there are times that I have sat in with a drummer that I just could do nothing with.
I regularly get called to play with a guy who uses the same drummer every time. I just don't get any sense of real groove with the cat. Has timing issues....speeds up, slows down, transitions don't fit......ugh!
It's just like any other way you interact with people. Some you get along with well, some you don't.
Does his playing sound odd when you just listen without playing along? It might help to just listen to him groove alone for a bit. Figure out where he's going. Try to hear an imaginary metronome behind his playing. It might sound silly, but I find sometimes even clapping my hands and swaying from side to side while listening to something I'm having difficulty feeling really helps.
Every musician has his/her own accent, or dialect or mannerism in their playing. Just like talking. Sometimes it take a few moments of focus to understand the mindset behind the accent, then it becomes easy to comprehend.
Some drummers think that TIME is just a Magazine... Maybe he needs to work with a steady time source or beatbug... My real gigs allow me to play with some great drummers .. Its my home gigs that get real crappy at times..
If a drummer cant feel time like Jeff Porcaro they need to use a time source or beatbug. Just like we bring a TUNER to tune up our basses.. The Beatbug is a tool.. Like a speedometer in a car.. Its doesn't do anything but show you what you are doing.. And they have to learn to use it..
I played with a drummer last week that should have quit while he was in high school. He has regular career and doesn't put the time in. Ehh it was a cover gig while i am home so whatever.. . . His Time was semi OK. but these little hiccups in his feel made it so it DID NOT SWING at all.. but instead it was like a stutter, dropping off or picking 32nd notes along the way through the song.. I was going to pull my hair out..
Then today i get to do the pro thing and just play.. sit back and ride train when you have a great drummer.
I play to a click on almost all session gigs in one way or another for decades. My time is pretty rock solid.. Learning how to play behind, On , or ahead, swing, shuffle, etc.. and i have become the Tempo NAZI.. HA
There are a lot of wasys this cane be off
as mentioned it may be speed up slow down no steady beat
a beattrack would reveal that
or I suspect more likely his sense of the space between beats is much different from yours. This is much harder to overcome.
if nothing else ask him to slam it on the 1, to see if that helps
The swaying thing is a trick a veteran drummer (a real one) imparted to me. He told me to keep time by taping both feet in succession rather than tapping a single foot. It's the weirdest thing, but it helped clean a lot of the "white boy" out of my playing. I took one step further and sway my whole body now. Looks funny, but it works.
Dunno if you saw the video of Carol Kaye I posted here yesterday but if you check it out about 10:20 she relates a story of being accused of rushing in the studio and then shows an exercise she used with a metronome to clean up her timing. She insists on making the metronome groove. Jeff Berlin would be having kittens but I think it's a great little exercise.
Think of the click on 2 and 4 instead of 1 and 3 and play a groove over and over for a while and keep that click grooving. At least then you can gauge how much your own timing wavers.
Here's the link again:
tell him/her that you want to improve your groove. you 2 jam WITH A METRONOME for ~15min before the rest of the band arrives.
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