Drum Machine Live???

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by TaySte_2000, Jun 28, 2004.

  1. TaySte_2000


    Jun 23, 2001
    Manchester, UK
    Endorsing Artist: Mojohand, Subdecay, Overwater, Matamp
    Right my band has recently sacked (fired) our drummer for being well a typical drummer (late, forgets parts of his kit and speeds up and slows down at random). So I had the smart idea of getting a drum machine that we could program all the songs into and so on.

    They were interested in this as practice and demo tool but weren't so keen on the idea of it live. Does any one gig with a drum machine or seen bands that use drum machines live.

    What we're worried about is losing that live element, where we can turn songs arounds and what not. But we can't find a drummer so its this or nothing.

    What do you guys think.

    P.S. Leaning towards a boss dr-3 or a zoom rt 323
  2. it CAN work, but it's very difficult. and it's not much fun. get a drum machine and practice with it, but find a drummer soon. trust me.
  3. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001

    It's sort of boring live, unless you have a REALLY good sampler/sequencer and are adept at programming it.
  4. DougP


    Sep 4, 2001
    it depends on what kind of music you play. for standard rock music you are going to want a real drummer. but a drum machine can be incorporated into your sound, but you will definitely have an electronic sound using it.

    be sure to get one that can be stopped and started with a foot pedal and one that has the best sound which doesnt always equal most features. one thing that prohibits me from using them extensively is the fact that most cant change time signatures 4 or 5 times through out a song. I used to have an R-8 mkII that thing rocked and you can get them on the Bay for a couple hundred bucks.
  5. Stinsok

    Stinsok Supporting Member

    Dec 16, 2002
    Central Alabama
    I have seen duos use them with good results. No matter how good the machine or how good you are at programming it will still be a little "stiff."
  6. Wood = Basses

    Wood = Basses

    Jun 19, 2003
  7. chascarrillo


    Jun 11, 2003
    Big Black went their entire career with a drum machine, so it certainly can be done, and done effectively... but then again they weren't exactly playing off the cuff. My Dad is Dead also used one live - with more of a "standard" rock sound - but later moved on to a live drummer. I saw them (well, Mark Edwards had a bassist along) back in '93, and although it was fine, they were a bit stiff.
  8. birdsg


    Dec 18, 2003
    Birmingham England
    My band is in same situation only its the keyboard player who wants to use electronics as an excuse to get new greater keyboard i think :) He said when we play live will be one less wage to pay...i said its ok for practice but theres no way I am getting on stage with a drum machine. I think if you have really got no other choice then its all you can do but from what I have seen and heard you cant get a great groove going with electronic drummer. I think part of a groove is being everso slightly 'off' perfect time although others may shoot me down for this.

  9. One of my bands (poppy rock music) started out as a duo with myself and my friend both playing guitar and his Yamaha PSR620 keyboard playing programmed drums and bass. That band played a handful of friends' party-type gigs, then changed names when I switched to bass and we picked up a horn section...however, the Yamaha continued as our drummer. We played a few more minor gigs (though one was a talent show or something like that, and thus a bit bigger than tiny basement parties) before finally getting a human drummer. I would certainly recommend finding a person, but a drum machine is definitely feasible to at least tide you over. Admittedly, it helps if you've got a keys player with a fairly decent keyboard that can play programmed drum tracks so you don't have to shell out specifically for a drum machine :meh:
  10. dirtgroove


    Jan 10, 2003
    Taipei, Taiwan
    What nobody else has mentioned here is the loss in dynamics that will hit your band. I can't think of a band that uses just drum machines that doesn't sound flat, live. I've been through this dilemma for the last year- trust me there arne't a lot of drummers here, recently we've started playing with one and only now are we gretting any recognition here.. It can work well during practices, ocasionally it kills in a small club with a kick ass PA-but it still doesn't have the same energy as a drummer brings to the music. Drum machines outside? Not unless your on the main stage at Reading, I'm afraid.
    As others have said, it's ok as a stopgap- but your music will sorely miss the input that even an average drummer would bring to the table. 'Just those small phrasings or things that someone who's not a drummer first and foremmost won 't necessarily have the foresight to do with a beat. It's like getting a guitarist to play bass. Anyone can play the notes- that's not hard, but to bring them to life requires a specialist- at least in my book.
  11. suicas


    Mar 12, 2004
    Again I'd say that it really depends on the sort of music you play. If it's any kind of electronica then I don't see how a drum machine could hurt.

    If it's some kind of heavy rock, then I don't think a drum machine would replace the energy and spirit of someone pounding away on a real drum kit.

    I know of one electronic(ish) band round here who used a drum machine very successfully indeed. They've now replaced it with a very technically proficient drummer who plays exactly like one :)
  12. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Dirtgroove hit the nail on the head in his second paragraph. I, personally, refuse to go on stage with a drum machine. Solo/duet it looks cheesey, band, it looks ridiculous. Beyond that, the drummer-bassist relationship is the most important in music, why would you want to destroy that kind of chemistry? The human element is what creates groove.
  13. jammadave

    jammadave Rudderless ship Supporting Member

    Oct 15, 2003
    Wash DC metro area
    My old band had a drum machine and the only downside we had was that its memory would only hold X amount of songs - so, twice per set we'd have 3 minutes of downtime to load. Not too shabby (shorter breaks than most bands) except our singer was really bad at filling the time talking to the audience.

    We always liked to say "and this is our drummer, Roland..."

    We had different sections of songs as patterns (verse/chorus/bridge/etc), it wasn't a layered type drum thing like on dance tunes (tho I did use that approach in my solo album that was more techno)...

    I didn't usually have a problem with flatness, though, because I'd done all the programming myself, and purposely would input everything, even straight 16th note hi-hats, with varying levels of heft and timing. Your kick and snare can be dead-on all you want, but any "machine quality" would really show thru in the hi-hat line.

    Quantizing to smaller notes, like 64ths or 32nds, can help add a live quality to the drum line. I added hat triplets at random as well if the hats were doing 16th-note bars. Use of longer bars (16/4 or more instead of 4/4) helps avoid the every-measure repeat feeling.

    Also of note, if you can live-tap the drums in, rather than adding them via grid like a TR-series drum machine, you can get some better variations in feel.

    So, just MHO, but it *can* be done - hey, approach it like a bass line - you can play the same bass line thru a whole song, it'll work better if you keep it interesting by varying expression, timing, and dynamics.

    Hope this helps.
  14. danshee

    danshee Banned

    May 28, 2004
    Chicago, Illinois

    Never play with a drum machine. I am my band. I do everything except lead vocals. On my albums, all drums are sampled and programed. Never live though. Always have a live drummer, it gets the LIVE feel there. Look at Manson, NIN, Etc. Fake drums on the CD, ALWAYS a live drummer on tour.
  15. I'm not against drum machines at all. I use them in my own music. There was a band in my area whose drummer used to take advantage of the best drum machine he could get his hands on and program the drum beats for songs where he could step out from behind the kit and just be lead singer. And in one short-lived band we had "Heart Of Glass" in the set list and I used my own drum machine to emulate a 90's version of the Compurythm of the original Blondie recording, which we didn't have trouble playing to.

    The only real difficulty you'll have in using a drum machine is that you'll have to program the beats for every song and make sure you've got them right. Also, depending on the drum machine you get, you'd have to either find one with a good enough memory to hold an entire set list worth of songs (especially if you're in a band that has to do three sets of songs a night) or one that will be able to transfer data back and forth from a laptop, Zip drive, or similar device. (You could aways throw caution to the wind somewhat and record your programmed beats onto CD-R's as well) It's a great exercise in trial-and-error but it can be done.