Drummer and Metronome

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Photobassist, Jan 26, 2011.

  1. Photobassist


    Dec 18, 2010
    I did a rather thorough search through the forum and while the topic has been discussed before, similar circumstances were not found.

    Having said that, I've been in my current band for about 4 months and things are moving rather smoothly. We practice twice a week, have a steady weekly gig on Wednesdays, perform other gigs about 3-4 times a month, and have recorded a full CD as well.

    The problems enters the equation when it comes to me locking "in" with the drummer. I practice using a metronome and have a relative handle on my "feel" and "timing" but I can't seem to find the pocket with this guy. He uses an IEM metronome when we play live and he has become so use to hearing the clicks in his hear that he has lost the "feeling" of music. Everything we do must be rehearsed to the point that there is almost no spontaneity when we play it live. Don't get me wrong, most guys complain about their drummers inability to keep time during live performances but my complaint is that he has become mechanical and sterile.

    His complaint to me is that I'm playing on the beat and not sitting behind it which has become hard to do due to this mechanical style of playing.

    I really like this band and the guys in it but I really need to find a way to lock in with this guy to avoid future problems. Anyone else have these kind of experiences and what did you do to get through them? Thanks in advance.
    LowNloud1 likes this.
  2. practicing with a metronome and performing with one are two different things. I also perform as a drummer and play along with several click tracks with some sequenced string and horn parts when we play. For other stuff we don't use a click.

    It's kind of like the "red light" syndrome in the studio. You want everything to be perfect and you're conscious that you are being recorded, or in the case of playing with a metronome, getting off the beat. Your drummer may practice with it, but he's not comfortable with it enough yet to justify him playing it live. To have a metronome there as a guide for song tempos is fine, but explain to him (or her) that no one will no if he abandons the set tempo. No one can hear the click but him. Ask him to rehearse without it and see how it goes. Explain to him that you are having trouble locking in with him. Also explain to him that, and most drummers don't get this, timekeeping is a group thing, not just his job. Your job is to follow each other to get an optimal performance. If the group wants to ebb and flow with the music, then he's holding the rest of the band back by sticking to the metronome.

    good luck.
  3. Photobassist


    Dec 18, 2010
    Thanks Nick, I appreciate that perspective. There have been a few times that we've played and he didn't use the metronome.... and he struggles throughout the piece. You can see it on his face and you can tell he is really "working" to keep the beat.
  4. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt

    Sep 20, 2000
    Endorsing Artist: Kiesel, Carvin, Accuracy, Hotwire, Conklin Basses, DNA, Eden
    You might try just rehearsing with Bass and Drums with him using the click, with both of you using the click, and with no one using the click. A lot of times timing can be helped by just working with that part of the band/rhythm section first.
    Keep it friendly and non-threatening: a lot of drummers (and bassists, for that matter) have worse time the more defensive they get......
  5. joshwilkesbooth


    Jul 17, 2009
    Recording to a click is all well and good, but playing out to one seems a little sterile.
  6. Photobassist


    Dec 18, 2010
    Thanks for the advice. I actually just got off the phone with him and we've got a 2 week break between gigs coming up that we plan on getting together and working through these issues. We'll see how it goes, hopefully we can find that "spot" and lock-in a lot tighter.
  7. PopaWoody

    PopaWoody The major rager

    May 28, 2009
    Tampa, FL
    ummm, fire his ass! get a solid drummer that will groove and play without a click.

    Sterile sucks.
  8. Photobassist


    Dec 18, 2010
    He's actually the founding member of the band so firing him is not really an option. Besides, I'm not looking for a new drummer I just want to lock-in better with this one.
  9. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt

    Sep 20, 2000
    Endorsing Artist: Kiesel, Carvin, Accuracy, Hotwire, Conklin Basses, DNA, Eden
    One other idea-record your rehearsals and gigs. That will answer a ton of questions without anyone saying a word.
    As we said Back in the Day, "the tape don't lie."
  10. plangentmusic

    plangentmusic Inactive

    Jun 30, 2010
    I disagree that a drummer playing to a click, or a track or a drum machine is sterile. If he grooves, and the band grooves along with him, in the end, it's going to be a lot more solid. Sometimes guys think they're smoking on stage and then they listen to a recording and the time is all over the place.
  11. DanAleks

    DanAleks Cleverly disguised as a responsible adult Supporting Member

    Mar 5, 2009
    You said he has trouble playing without the click.
    This sounds to me like he's relying on it quite heavily.

    Try practice with bass & drums with the click on only 2 and 4.
    After a month or 2 of that, just have the click on 1.

    This can wean him away from the click & get him to rely on his internal time.
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