Drummer Not Happening

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by Stingraymund, Oct 31, 2005.

  1. Here's my nighmare drummer story from a pair of gigs I did this weekend...

    My friends sing in a church choir that does a themed "cabaret" show every fall. This year they sang pop songs from the '50s to the '90s (everything from ABBA to a Motown Medley to Lionel Richie to Sarah Maclachlan to The Eagles) The backing ensemble was piano, bass and drums. I did this last year where I got the drummer of my band (though I'm the singer and keyboardist of that one) to play in the choir back up band.

    Well this time, the drummer was someone who played in another of the church's choirs. Some 19-year old kid who's going to Musician;s Institute in Hollywood (uh-oh...). The pianist was also someohe different, this time a woman who studied music and teaches piano...she's an AMAZING sight-reader and brilliant pianist, but she's never led a band or ensemble before, so she neglects counting-off the musicians...

    When Iw as setting up, I glanced over all the charts and said, "Wow, I know pretty much all of these songs already." The drummer said, "They're all new to me." Yikes.

    Anyway, ugh, I don't know where to start. This drummer dude doesn't seem to know the meaning of "groove." He plays 70% of the songs too fast, throwing off the singers. I had to count-off for him during some songs, and in other tunes where he comes in during the chorus or 2nd verse, he doesn't come in at the pick-up, but a couple bars before or after it!!!

    One such train wrech was when we accompanied four women who sang ABBA's "Dancing Queen." The song begins with a descending piano glissando...But the pianist forgot to count it off...so it took about 10 seconds for the three of us to find the tempo, and when we finally did, it was way too fast. For the second night's show, we even rehearsed the intro and nailed it, but when we performed it, another train wreck again...

    Another horrible moment came when my friend sang lead on Lionel Richie's "All Night Long." Now, everyone knows this song. Instead of a syncopated African beat to begin the song, this guy playes straight 16ths on a pair of bongos with his sticks!!!
    I joked to my friend later on to sing some Arabic-style vocal wails, since he was playing more of a Middle-Eastern kind of beat.

    Anyway, the show came and went. I was really frustrated because even though it's a paid gig for me (apparently the drummer wasn't paid...phew!), I expect the best performance from myself and from who I'm playing with. It's just so damn frustrating to play with someone with such limited skills like that.
    I mean, how hard is it to simply LISTEN to others? Just amazes me...To be honest, when I play with a bunch of musicians, I actually DON'T want to be the best musician in the room, because I enjoy listening to others as much as I enjoy playing with them. When I am, it's usually not a good thing.

    At the end of the gig, I guess he got the vibe that I wasn't too hip to his playing. He packed up his gear quickly and left quietly.

    Any nightmare drummer stories?
  2. Dkerwood


    Aug 5, 2005
    I've played with several drummers who didn't see the need to rehearse, either on his own or with the band.

    One huge trainwreck was at a big arena benefit show we were playing... We had just lost our regular drummer about two months prior. Add in about a month search for drummers, and we had only played one gig with the new guy... who quit trying shortly after we picked him. So here we were getting ready to get on this huge stage in front of a decent sized crowd... and he reveals that he didn't bring his cymbals. He thought I "was going to bring" mine.

    So I send him to go ask another band's drummer if he can BORROW GEAR so we can still play. He returns with a pair of hi hats and a SPLASH CYMBAL... grr...

    Needless to say, when we finally hit the stage, he proved to be utterly useless. He played as quietly as he's ever played before, he played none of the tempos right, he failed to come even as close to the songs as he had done at the last (his first) gig.

    It was a huge insult on our band, and that was the last gig we played with that guy. And it took us several months, but we finally found a drummer that was dedicated to the band... thank goodness. He wasn't as "polished" as the "oh, I was supposed to bring my own cymbals" guy, but I'd rather have a dedicated guy with less talent than a talented guy with no dedication.
  3. Steve Clark

    Steve Clark Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2004
    London ON
    Good drummers are indeed hard to find. I enjoy playing along with really technical drummers who can challenge me but on a jobbing gig the best drummers are the ones that a barely notice. Meaning I never have to worry about the time or the fills. Hard to find indeed.
  4. willgroove2


    Aug 16, 2003
    chicago IL
    Endorsing Artist;Essential sound products,Dunlop, Ergo Instruments
    I did a wedding gig with a drummer/bandleader a few month s ago and he was one of the worst drummers i have ever seen playing professionaly.I knew i was in trouble when he put in his ear piece for his metranome because he can't count off a tune or stay at a tempo without it,guess thats why he's the bandleader
  5. I hate that so much. The first thing drummers should learn is how to count, and how to keep a beat. Hell, it's the first thing we learn! Why are they playing if they don't have rhythm?
    I recently played a block party with a drummer like this. I guess he taught himself (or tried) but focused more on chops and speed than the necessities of playing with other people. I don't play with him any more.
  6. bassbully43


    Jul 1, 2005
    I have two teenage nephews who are both drummers in pop/punk type bands. I only played with one when he was first starting out and told him as well as showed him how importent timing and grove was over chops and crazy fills. He is pretty sold and self taught. Nephew 2# (also self taught) i heard his bands demo the other day :spit: no timing all over the place...guess Uncle Bully needs to have a long talk with the boy.

  7. OMG! The nightmare drummer I played with this past weekend had an earpiece connected to a little metronome too!!!

    It's kind of like riding the Tour De France with someone who's using training wheels...
  8. msquared


    Sep 19, 2004
    Kansas City
    Actually, it's like riding the Tour de France with someone who took the time to make sure his bike was in shape, got a good night's sleep, and ate a proper breakfast the day of the race.

    You can say what you want about "internal clocks" or whatever, but there are plenty of great drummers who play live with click tracks. Whether or not a drummer plays along with a loop has little bearing on his/her instrumental skill. What if you have to sync to sequenced music or video? You can't do it without a click track or some kind of time system in place to synchronize your playing with it. And neither can your drummer.

    Some drummers I've known have opted for a click in their ear and little or no monitor otherwise. It isn't necessarily "right", but for some styles of music (and some bands) it's the best/quickest way to get it done so that the show itself is solid.

    But if the guy needs a click and doesn't use one, how professional is that compared to the guy who needs one and does use one?
  9. Either I'm a geek for reading your email, or you're a geek for writing it haha.

    - Andrew
  10. What does that code mean?
  11. Its his email encoded in Hexadecimal/Ascii. :cool: I've done a LOT of assembly programming in my youth.

  12. ok thanks *feels like less of a nerd*
  13. msquared


    Sep 19, 2004
    Kansas City
    Guilty as charged. :)
  14. Me too :bag:

    - Andrew

  15. Metronomes are for practicing...

    An experienced drummer can use a metronome, if they have to play at an exact tempo...The metronome is really more of a reference for count-off.

    As for playing to loops/click/sequences, that's a different matter and doesn't really have to do with drummer's ability (well, if the drummer drifts then there's something wrong with the drummer of course). But that's more of a function of integrating both sequenced and live music in a performance, which I have nothing against personally (I also play keyboards and have used sequencers extensively in the past for live performances) But I don't think that's the issue here.
  16. Fo' Shizzle

    Fo' Shizzle

    Aug 28, 2003
    Using a click or a metronome to establish time is fine. Drummers that play to it can be frustrating, though.

    If the drummer's time wavers and he looks at the metronome and speeds up or slows down to get back in shape is maddening. You can't settle into the groove because it keeps moving. This is a constant source of irritation with one guy I play with once a week. :rollno:
  17. As long as he plays WITH the metronome, there's no problem. Unless the band can't hold a steady tempo with the drummer. And if he can't follow the metronome, imagine how much he's going to drift without it.... :rollno:

    Moral of the story:
    A metronome can't fix a bad drummer.

    A metronome can't break a good drummer.

    One thing to think of is that maybe the band's time is off, maybe they're rushing, slowing down, or alternating between both, dragging the drummer off the click track?

    I used to play with a drummer that used a metronome, I think only to count out tempos. Slower funky high energy tunes are notoriously done too fast a lot of the time. Hard to get that energy without rushing. So I loved it, I hate people that start a song only to realize they are at the wrong tempo. Do you continue wrong, or try to adjust to the right tempo? Sounds like crap either way.

  18. I mjnow what you're talking about. There's the perception of a tempo and associated energy that turns out to be false when it's actually played (often too fast). I know this happens all the time so when I count off a tune, I pre-count it off, then do the actual count-off at a slightly slower tempo.
  19. Sometimes the greatest energy is built by holding back.

    - Andrew
  20. msquared


    Sep 19, 2004
    Kansas City