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Bassist vs Drummer trust

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by lildrgn, Dec 5, 2000.

  1. lildrgn


    Jul 11, 2000
    Seattle, WA
    I've been playing with the same drummer for close to 2 years now. We have a great relationship in and out of the band, but something has been troubling me.

    Even though we've played the same 12-15 songs for the past 2 years, and should own them by now, he keeps pushing the beat. I try playing w-a-a-y behind the beat. I try mentioning it after the tune (w/o pointing fingers, of course), "Dude, <i>we're</i> pushing it a bit here...". I try giving him the Evil Eye during the song. And it all works, to a certain degree. Then, at next rehearsal, it's back to the same old tricks.

    After 2 years, shouldn't there be the unspoken "trust" that a rhythm section develops where you seem to finish each other's phrases without really trying? I'd like to think so, but I'm not getting that result as much as I'd like to.

    He really is a smokin' drummer (i.e. Neil is god). But after playing most of his life, he seems to still be trying to define just what type of player he is. He's always tinkering not only his style, but also how he interprets songs. Which leads to some head butting between him and the guitarist (but that's another story altogether!).

    Anyway, after all that rambling, I've boiled it down to this: Does anyone have any advice on how to get my drummer to be more consistent, to play in the pocket, etc. I've talked to him about it (albeit indirectly), and he agrees and understands, but come game time, it's all out the window. What do you do?

    Thanks for reading. To see he and I in action, if you're in the Seattle area, check us out Dec 21st at the Central and Dec 31st at the Rainbow.

    [Edited by lildrgn on 12-05-2000 at 06:04 PM]
  2. maybe you need to work on your evil eye, i gave my drummer the evil eye twice and he said "whats with the evil eye" i said "whats with pushing the beat" that was the last time we had that problem, maybe the problem is the same problem i had, one that you already stated "neil is god" to many drummers hear neils sick fills and forget about the other parts were he is keeping time, is your drummer truly pushing the time or is he playing to many fills? sometimes when they play a long fill when they get back to the song they are playing at the wrong speed. lived with that many a time
    and yes a drummer and bass player should become almost as one over time, two year is longer than i would have put up with
  3. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    I wouldn't call a drummer who can't hold tempo a "smokin' drummer." Unless, of course, you mean he's smokin' a bit too much of some substance.
  4. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    There are two obvious things you can do to clear this up: I've tried both of these (although in a jazz context), and I can swear that they work. What you guys seem to have is a difference of opinion; what you need is an impartial moderator (You could ask John Turner, but he's usually busy). The best objective ryhthmic moderator I know of is a metronome. When I have this problem with a drummer in rehearsal, we simply plug a metronome into a bigass amp and play the song in question along with it. If someone is rushing or dragging, the machine calls them out - so you don't have to, and nobody's ego gets bruised. The other thing you can try is recording the session and then doing some "group listening"...a situation in which it is much easier to be objective about your playing than it is in the heat of battle.
    If these things don't work, I'd consider a new drummer...
  5. Sampoerna

    Sampoerna Guest

    Oct 9, 2000
    W. KY, USA
    <b><font size=+1>[ Warning: Facetious observations ahead. ]</b></font>

    When I was in high school band, it was not uncommon for my band director to bounce the cork end of his baton on the top of my head to make me "connect" with the beat as I played clarinet while learning new solo pieces. (Yes, not only am I nearly tone deaf, but I'm also quite rhythm-retarded. I feel it, but I can't always get it out "on time".)

    As distracting as it may sound, it actually helped a great deal. Perhaps an "intervention" needs to be held for the drummer. Since high school band directors are not always available for this activity, then perhaps a metronome would be in order, as Mr. Fitzgerald suggested. :D

    Of course, I'm just a smokin' bassist, according to Munjibunja's definition. ;)

    Also, many drummers are invulnerable to the "evil eye". They just think that you're looking at them in admiration.

    <center><img src="http://www2.apex.net/users/bonobo/tommyknock.gif"></center>
  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    This has been dicussed elsewhere recently, but there are a lot of drummers out there who appear to be good - have a good sound, but speed up and slow down. It does make it very difficult for the bassist especially and I don't think there is an easy answer.

    I have experienced this and the gutarist tried the "metronome" solution - so the drummer puts on the metronome to get started, but of course he still speeds up and the metronome can't be heard while playing, because the drummers' too loud and wears earplugs anyway!

    I think you just have to find a drummer with secure time and stay with them.
  7. Acacia


    Apr 26, 2000
    Austin, TX
    my opinion (as a former drummer of 16 years): LOSE THE DRUMMER.

    If he can't lock up on a mere 15 songs after 2 years, he is no smokin' drummer.
  8. glover


    Jul 3, 2000
    Many technically good drummers seem to get wrapped up in their own tecnique and experimentation, so to speak. I mean, It´s virtually impossible for most drummers to come back on the right beat after a ten seconds long Neil Peart fill.
    The best drummers for me (I play heavy rock) are the ones that play simple but powerful, with the same force to every hit on the drums. And with a good groove of course.
  9. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    i'd toss my hat in on the side of "get a metronome". i'd also advise against getting a 3rd party involved - with personalities and the way people take their playing personally, it might seem like 2 on 1 even if the "majority" are right.

    you guys need to sit and talk seriously. you need to convey your dissatisfaction with your drummer's performance in a professional manner, just like you would tell a coworker that he's not carrying his weight or he's making your job harder. he may not take these songs as seriously as you do, but rather look at them as a forum for him to improve/experiment with his playing and style in order to advance his skills and abilities. he needs to be made to understand that you don't approach things the same way, perhaps.

    also, make sure _you_ don't start taking things personally, don't get emotional with him. the reason i say this is that i know for me, it's hard not to get pi$$ed off when someone is screwing things up, and to express it with varying degrees of hystrionics. it's just the nature of music, it motivates and incites sometimes stronger emotions when it's done improperly than when it's done correctly :D. getting emotional in these kinds of discussions tends to weaken the point one is trying to make.

    also, clearly quantify in your own mind what you want from him and what you expect him to do, as well as what you want from yourself and the whole band situation. i've found that it's better to offer a master plan and a method of improvement/advancement to that goal than just to criticize imperfections.

    so my suggestions to you are:

    1. sit and talk with him - discuss where you want to go, ask him where he wants to go, and make sure you guys both understand each other clearly. talk about where you guys want to be by next year at this time, for instance, and then discuss realistic ways to make it happen. ask him what about your playing aggravates him or what he thinks could be better. make it a mature, serious, professional discussion, and make sure that mutual respect runs high throughout, which can be difficult in these kind of discussions if there are problems like you've mentioned.

    2. get a metronome and get him on it, and yourself as well. you might be surprised at the difference in your own playing as well as his.

    trying to practice and perfect rhythmic playing without a metronome is like trying to tune accurately without a tuner. it's not going to happen, and if you think it is you're just fooling yourself. a metronome will never hurt your playing, you will never end up "relying" on it too much, or else sounding mechanical or robotic (some excuses often given by the anti-metronome camp). to play in time and make it have feel, you have to learn how "in-time" itself feels. you aren't going to be able to do that by guessing, the only yardstick for measuring time is a "gnome".

    3. set aside perhaps an extra practice every week where you guys get together, just the 2 of you, to work on the songs and to just jam together. set this up so that you can play with a click (metronome). these kinds of practices will be more difficult to stay focused, since the songs will only sound half complete, but the rewards will be immense for both of you.

    this has helped me and my drummer out a lot, especially ironing out some difficult parts to our music as well as really helping us to lock in to each other and give the music the proper feel, not just playing at the right speed. we play fairly rhythmically complex stuff, and these kinds of practices are essential. to be honest i wish i had time to do more.

    also, remember, he may just not take playing as seriously as you do. then you have to ask yourself if you are satisfied with the situation the way it is, and if not, then it's time to move on. don't ever sacrifice your standards to meet those of someone else, or you will never be happy.

    oh, and chris, thanks for the compliment :D.
  10. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    yeah, that's one of the things that really is fun about drum and bass only practices - really _hearing_ how the bass and drums interact - and how the necessary differences between how you and the drummer play a passage work together to build a groove or a feel.

    another thing to remember is to make sure that you two can really hear each other. this is an often overlooked problem that especially affects drummers - some are so used to not hearing things well that they consider "hearing" the bass if they can hear a low rumble.

    my band gets around this as well as the potentially hazardous fallout of loud practices by micing everyone and then making seperate mixes for each player and giving that player special headphones where they can control the volume of what they get.

    we make the headphones by getting regular headphone-like ear protectors like what you would use when using power tools or shooting, and then putting walkman headphone speakers inside of them.

  11. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    I've been pretty lucky, I work with drummers who listen to me and I listen to them...bizarre...but true. My gig Friday playing with a new drummer, live for the first time went extremely well. We got compliment on all the cool accents we played and the arrangements we had worked out. We hadn't worked out anything in advance. This guy is one of the best pocket drummers I've played with in the DC area which made my job very easy. I could play less, in the right place, with dramatic results. When taking requests, we play through stuff we've never played together before by listening...basically paying attention.

    I guess the metronome is a good arbitor in your case, the guys I'm working with don't have perfect time and I don't sweat it. I play "with" them. If your drummer is really listening to you, the results should be better.
  12. There is always a certain amount of give and take when time comes into play from one style to another that needs to be talked about from time to time. Where you play on the beat is feel- where you play the beat, up, back,, dead center and degrees in between and in extreme. If you are laying back and the drummer is playing up it can feel like the beat is rushing. Really the best solution is to get a servicable recording, not studio quality but one that you can hear all the parts, listen to it together and talk about it if you don't agree then put the metronome to it. I have been surprised many times about a song or a section of a song that I thought was a trainwreck that actually worked out pretty cool in the end.
  13. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Of course, a third party opinion can be useful when it is truly from an impartial observer. A couple of years ago my trio went for a lesson with Lynne Arriale & Steve Davis, and even though we were nervous, we played great! Or so we thought....when we got done with one arrangement, which contained a metric modulation, they both complimented us on the arrangement, and then Steve said he was very impressed at how we managed to drag the tempo change in perfect rhythmic harmony with each other (he was serious!). He started to go on about how only human beings who were listening to each other could manage a time warp like that as one unit, but we had to 'fess up that we didn't realize we were dragging at all. As it turns out, when we applied the 'nome to the situation,we discovered we were all dragging like hell and got a good laugh out of it. After that episode, Dr. Beat became a regular at our rehearsals....
  14. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Hmmm.... yes, but in some cases I can remember, there was so much "space" to explore that I would have needed an advanced qualification in orienteering or might have been left on the mountainside to die of exposure! ;)

    Seriously though - I'm always being told in Jazz courses that everybody has responsibility for time, but find in practice that the bass player has to set it - if you don't play a root on the one it can get "hairy", but then I suppose this shows up the value of the advice to always play with people who are better than you! I think this especially applies to drummers. I might have been unlucky, but they either seem to have very solid time or just don't - I haven't found any "inbetweens".
  15. My band just hired a drummer I have played with off and on for 20 years (he was "off" for last three). Drummer we just let go was competant, but not "fiery". He could keep 4/4, but anything in 7 or 5 (and we use those a good bit) kept him just off-balance: never quite "there". It is SO much fun again now to have Mr Familiar back again. We have developed that 6th sense of knowing where the other is going, and we do 80% improvised material. After two rehersals, he has it down. Steady and always there.
    The drums have to set and keep the pace, if he can not do that consistantly.... well, there are a lot of drummers out there. I would seek another.
  16. furtim


    Dec 12, 1999
    Boston, MA, USA
    I'm fortunate enough to play with four different drummers on a regular basis, so I'm quickly getting experience on reacting to different styles of drummer. =)

    One of the drummers is pretty decent, but he's one of the nervous types. It's annoying to play with him, but also quite an interesting challenge, if you know what I mean.

    The time does seem to come down to the bassist, in theory, but it's fairly obvious that the drummer can often be the one leading the band, since his part is often even more repetitive than the bassline. Nobody's perfect, of course, so it often becomes necessary for the drummer and bassist to play off one another for hints -- a good link-up is essential. I had the honour of playing in a rehearsal once with Noel Okimoto, who's something of a drumming legend in this state. The difference between playing with a pro drummer and a guy who bangs things with a stick is really amazing. With real power and solid time behind the drumset, you often don't have to think about playing in time yourself -- you just do it by instinct. But the same can (and should) also apply to strong bassists. Ideally, both the bassist and drummer would have that kind of solid ability, but that's pretty rare, I imagine. Bottom line, it all comes down to the bassist and drummer listening to make sure that THEY agree, because if they do, then everyone else will fall into line (if they're listening, that is).
  17. LowfreqB


    Nov 10, 2000
    United States
    I have a great drummer, he keeps great time(with click track)that is..... Not everyone is a natural metronome. Having him focus on that cow bell track in his headphones helps everyone settle in the pocket.(i also lack a natural metronome) Even with crazy drum-fills we can really lock in.
  18. My drummer and I are best friends.. most of our practices involve just me and him, mostly because i'm the "songwriter" of the group. and he has no problem locking in with me, but it seems that most of the songs start with a guitar part or bass part and he kicks in sometime. which is okay, but its a little too much of the same thing. I dont really know how to help your solution. tell him to really listen to you. turn your amp up louder so he is forced to listen to you. if this doesnt work, try the metronome idea. but first run through the song with him playing the snare drum on everybeat, just the snare drum. then have him try to do whatever he's going to do. Maybe this will help.
  19. well, i think you should try a simple trust-building exercise. have him stand behind you, spread your arms and fall backwards, having him catch you and trusting in him. next, reverse positions. after he's been impaled on the bed of nails you slip under him, dump the body in the harbor and start auditioning new drummers. repeat process as needed.

  20. Bryan_G


    Apr 28, 2000
    Austin, Texas
    I would say that the drummer wont change unless he concentrates on timming and timming alone(until he gets it) if he doesn't work on it I don't think that he is a good drummer. I know that if my band said "Hey look man we like you and everything but you rush every song we play" I would bust out the nome and practice every day with it, untill I didn't rush. So I would suggest maybe working on it together, such as they said add the nome into practice until things start to work out. Being hooked with a drummber has been a hard thing for me. Since I have been playing (3 years) I have always been in a band. I have been with the same singer, but with 4 different drummers. The first drummer could barely play drumms but did it as a "favor" because we needed a drummer. The second was awsome and I pretty much feel right in there, it was mostly because she listened to me and adjusted. That was nice I think the last 2 drummers haven't even known of my existance. The 3rd drummer was a "metal" drummer and didn't every listen to me but about the time I was figureing out his groove, he quit to fallow his heart, metal. The last one is a stand in drummer, and he is pretty good but we haven't quite got it worked out yet, I'm not sure if he listens much but we are slowly getting it together. So different drummers are diff. Thats my take on the situation.

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