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Am I wrong here? (Drummer situation)

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by tpmiller08, Mar 19, 2009.

  1. tpmiller08


    Mar 15, 2009
    Boston, MA
    I joined my first band back in October. Its been great, I love it.
    Me and my drummer can play for hours just making up new beats and grooves. Its out-worldly. Hes like a muse to me, pulling things out of my bass I didnt even know I could do. He does this just by playing odd tempos and off beats. I'm digging it.

    However, he just can't keep time. If its just the band alone in our practice spot, he does ok. But once people are around he thinks about them more then playing, and loses his timing (he adds WAY to many high volume fills, IE hitting every drum over and over again. When he comes back from his fill, the timing is off)
    I try my best to keep the same timing we were at as to "muscle" him back into place, but sometimes its just too far off.
    I went out and got a pair of metronomes that we sync up and play off of. It was fun, and he was into it, but it might be too little too late.

    My lead-guitarist (and founder of the band) wants him out. It's taking away his (lead-guitarists) ability to play. He's been dealing with this problem for a year now, me only since october. So theres definatly friction here. And with our first show around the corner, I'm worried it'll show on stage. Plus, he's allready asked me if we should kick our drummer about 5 times. I keep saying let me work with him (and I have) but maybe I'm just not cut out for this business in the way that I'm not one to boot people.

    So, in summary, I have a drummer I work well with, but can't keep the same tempo for a whole song. A guitarist who is just plain fed up, and me caught in the middle.

    My questions to this are - Should we just boot him? Am I a fool for going out of my way to work with him one on one to make him "more in the pocket"? Isn't music all about growing with the people you play with?

    I dunno, theres some more details here too, but for sake of keeping things reasonably short, and with alot of band friction, I bring this to you, my fellow TB'ers, for a little guidance maybe.

    Thanks all,

  2. That's a tough one no doubt. Still I have to say just be honest with the drummer about your concerns. He may get overly defensive if he feels insulted but you said yourself that you really like him as a drummer. I would say make sure he understands that you don't think he's all bad but needs work on cartain areas. i would tell your guitarist to calm down at least until you talk to the drummer about it, he needs to realize that the only reason he's had to "deal" with this so long is because he didn't have to stones to confront the drummer himself. That's my opinion anyway
  3. nitrofix

    nitrofix Supporting Member

    Jan 15, 2009
    Miami Fl
    hey troy, i agree booting people out of a band is hard but the bottom line is the band comes first. A good idea might be to record practice and then let him listen to it with a
    metronome to show him how off he is, and it might come down to you choosing between the drummer and your guitar player, which one is best for you...just my 2 cents worth
  4. Blueszilla

    Blueszilla Bassist ordinaire

    Apr 2, 2003
    The Duke City
    How about you be very up front with the drummer and just tell him what you've posted here? Remember, it's his drumming that is the issue, not him. Be straight up, but not emotional, and let him know there is a problem, he may not be aware.

    Tempo problems are the worst, IMO. Maybe suggest that you have the problem and need his help to address it, playing simpler, with less fills, more in the pocket. If he thinks he is helping you, he might embrace the 'less-is-more' method.

    Good luck.

    EDIT: Recording the rehearsals is a great idea. Nothing like the facts to make your point.
  5. tpmiller08


    Mar 15, 2009
    Boston, MA
    Didnt mean to leave it out, but we've talked to him multiple times about it. And he might nod, and say "Yeah, yeah I hear ya" but he hasn't taken any steps to fix it. I went out and bought him a metronome, and hes loving it. Think I should just wait and see how he does with it? I told him me and him should practice with one even when we're home practicing. He seemed to embrace it.

    He doesn't agree with the less is more theory. I told him some of the best notes drums and bass can play, are the ones that aren't played, and he just kinda laughed at me. Hes a real wierd dude to talk to.
  6. etoncrow

    etoncrow (aka Greg Harman, the curmudgeon with a conundrum)

    I agree that regardless of how you feel about someone there are going to be times in your musical career where people just have to go; and go for as many reasons as there are people. Having said that, when you play one on one with him and you guys are both feeling that pocket, tell him how great it would be to carry that feeling over to full practice and performances. Have him make and keep eye contact with you when you are pocket playing and have him continue to do that in other scenarios. Use your eyes and movement to 'pace' him. If that does not work then go to plan B, as in boot.

    edit: in my opinion, perfect example of 'less is more' playing is the combination of Russ Kunkle and Lee Sklar (wiki for recordings)
  7. Slax


    Nov 5, 2007
    Long Island, NY
    I'm a bit confused. So he plays solid at rehearsal, but once other people are there he flubs up? Possibly it's just a sever case of stage fright when other people are around he's not comfortable with. Perhaps there's a way to make him more easy with people around?

    Metronome was a great idea, glad to hear he likes it. What about bringing people down with him using the metronome. He'll know right away when he's off.
  8. Blueszilla

    Blueszilla Bassist ordinaire

    Apr 2, 2003
    The Duke City
    Well, you've at least let him know the situation. If he isn't taking it seriously, tell him it's a sticking point, and if it's not addressed, you'll be looking for another drummer. It's really that simple, and a bit of a shame.

    This is about the band and the sound as a group, it's not a platform for his personal showcase. That is selfish and egocentric.

    I highly recommend you don't put up with it. I have in the past, more than once, but I won't anymore.
  9. Febs

    Febs Supporting Member

    May 7, 2007
    Philadelphia, PA
    Personally, I have very little patience for drummers who put flash ahead of keeping time. It's selfish. A drummer should never sacrifice the beat to play unnecessarily complex fills. If he can't play complicated fills and also keep accurate time, then he needs to simplify his fills. If he is not willing to do that, replace him.
  10. ErebusBass


    Feb 20, 2008
    Madison, WI
    No input about this particular situtation, but:

    If you are going to play music you have to be able to give people the boot. Sometimes it just doesn't work out.
  11. Blueszilla

    Blueszilla Bassist ordinaire

    Apr 2, 2003
    The Duke City
    See? Febs knows!
  12. tpmiller08


    Mar 15, 2009
    Boston, MA
    Thats it exactly! I'm going to actually use "This is about the band and sound as a group, it's not a platform for his personal showcase. That is Selfish and egocentric." Wow man, hit the nail on the head.

    He brought me into the band, he was the one who discovered me and told me to audition, so it's weird telling him what to do.

    I agree that he might have to go, for sure. It's against my personal nature(giving people the old boot), but since I picked up the slack to be the bands acting manager, I should get used to the idea.

    I've told over 3 dozen people who came to audition for us that it wasnt going to work out. But ya get to know someone its a lil different ya know? I guess as my grandfather would say it's time to "Man-up"

    Thanks for all the help guys, its sweet having everything being put into perspective. I don't feel like its just me anymore :cool:
  13. Jefenator

    Jefenator Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2008
    I think it's good to work with someone, try and bring them around. But when it's a crucial matter like this, I need to see real progress, real fast.

    If they've been talking to him about this for a year and he's still screwing the pooch, I think it might be time he was exposed to reality. That reality is: if you're a drummer and you can't keep time, you're going to get fired... a lot. :meh:

    IME a lot of this tempo stuff has to do with listening and responding to your fellow players and striving to feel the music the way they do. If a song is comfy where it is, you wouldn't want to take it somewhere else unless you weren't paying attention. If you're playing your bass line real strong at a certain meter, he should be responding to that... unless he's not paying attention. (Chops matter too. Being fluent on your own axe... so you can pay attention.)

    So... sounds to me like this dude needs a real wake-up call. (I know some notorious tempo butchers that miraculously pull it together when the pressure is on.) I hope for his sake he can figure it out before too long. Unfortunately, some folks never do.

    Good luck - hope it all works out.
  14. +1
    I'm amazed by the number of experienced, otherwise skilled drummers who can't or won't keep a steady tempo. That's their #1 job (IMO).
  15. sevenyearsdown

    sevenyearsdown Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
  16. Jefenator

    Jefenator Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2008
    Guy's a friend - that makes it tough. I "feel" you on that one.

    If he's cool, he'll thank you later. If he's not cool, well...
  17. Funny you should post this. I just spent the last three days in the studio doing rhythm section tracks on an album being produced by a, shall we say, "experienced-and-has-produced-a-couple-of-moderately-successful-in-a-semi-underground-way-internationally-released-albums" type. This guy has real golden ears for an arrangement and I really respect any suggestions he makes.

    The Drummer the act is using is pretty competent live, and isn't what I consider an overplayer (although he does have his moments). At NO point in the proceedings did the producer ever ask the drummer to "play more". In fact he spent hours working with the Drummer cutting the arrangements down and getting the drummer to play simpler and simpler parts, and it really made the songs come alive and groove.
  18. kraigo


    Jun 21, 2007
    Minneapolis, MN
    It depends on the guy: If he's the type who can take constructive criticism and play for the team, keep him. Try to talk him into "plan the work, work the plan". Have a set part and stick to it. Convince him that if the time wavers too much, no one is going to be impressed. Mongo fills are only impressive if you totally nail them and includes tempo.

    A long time ago I learned that as a drummer I could amuse myself much more without inspiring the wrath of my bandmates if I pretty much let the fills be what they were and amuse myself with the beats I was playing - the tricky parts are played between the kick, snare and hi-hats or ride cymbal - unobtrusive and I can think of a lot of games to keep myself amused without anyone else being any the wiser.

    I've mentioned this DVD in two other posts: "Big Time" by Billy Ward. It is about time keeping and it's great for both bassists and drummers. The duets he does with Andy Hess (formerly of Gov't Mule) are worth the price of admission.

    There is no "I" in "team".

  19. plug him into a metronome. tell him he's having trouble keeping time around people. a metronome + earbuds will keep him in time.

    if he can't play to a click track, then this is the start of a long, terrible road for him. (think recording) boot him and spare yourselves the wasted money/time that will result from a drummer not being able to play to a click.

    p.s. a metronome will keep him involved in the music, will distract him from showing off. basically, its an electric dog collar for drummers! luvs it!
  20. T-Forty

    T-Forty Guest

    Mar 14, 2008
    During the next practice while he is keeping a steady beat during a non-drum fill portion try throwing in a sloppy, off time bass solo.

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