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Drummer question

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by mike o, Dec 9, 2018.

  1. mike o

    mike o Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2009
    Monroe, GA
    Hey folks. I’m running into a little trouble with a drummer and would like your thoughts on this. The drummer is a classic rock player. Unfortunately he likes to hit hard and play songs too fast. His meter fluctuates quite a bit up and down. Speeds up through rolls. Also, he want to be a showman and pays more attention to impressing people than listening to the bass player. He comes to rehearsal and will know the song formats but I do not believe he actually listens to what makes the rhythm section happen in any particular song. I find my self having to be more of an anchor trying to keep the grooves right whether the drummer is with me or not. This has become increasingly visible as we are injecting some old funk/soul material.

    Here’s where I looking for help. I’ve just had bad experiences trying to discuss these things in the past with drummers. Do you believe it is at all possible to have a open discussion about this with a drummer and get a positive result or would I be just wasting time? Part of me feels (especially as we’ee older) either you know this or you don’t. Or...... Are you to old to learn?

    Mike O
    joebar, Kelloggsy, edro and 2 others like this.
  2. The Bass Clef

    The Bass Clef “the brian” Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 17, 2010
    Southern California
    Sounds like a classic “Russian dragon”... always either rushin’ or draggin’. Not a good quality for any musician, especially a drummer. IME people either have good rhythm naturally or they don’t, and only a special few who aren’t born with it ever really learn to play in the pocket consistently. I know drummers who’ve been playing for 20+ years and still have no pocket. I feel bad for them, but I just don’t waste my time with Russian dragons... on any instrument, not just drummers. It sucks the joy right out of playing for me.
  3. What you are describing is a drummer that likes to bash rather then play music. Being a drummer for over 40 years, it sounds like you are working with someone who has limited time with a drum instruction curriculum or even informal lessons. If they are unable to sustain steady time to a fill, I don’t envy you working through funk or soul music with this one.Having been in the drummer’s chair in those type of groups, he ( or she) has to be counseled about the lack of consistent time and rushing fills or it’s a train wreck coming out of the station. One of the best bass players I ever worked with (Dave Stump out of Salem, Oregon) describes it best as “ the drummer has to be solid in timing and make it swing” . You gotta talk to your drummer about it. You really do. A waste of time? How mature is your drummer and how serious do they take their playing? Man, good luck. I think this needs to br brought to their attention. Having been a BL and the drummer, I have had these discussions with guitarists, sax players, key board players but interestingly enough, not a bass player! I have been blessed to work with some really good ones over the years. The less than talented ones never made it past the auditions....
    Mr_Moo, joebar, basscapes and 5 others like this.
  4. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    Yes I think it's possible, but I also know it's incredibly rare. 99% of the time, especially with people who have been playing a while, they are what they are and nothing is going to change them. I've learned that its best to either accept and work with what I've got, find another drummer, or find another band. Communicating is worth a shot, but if they don't put in an effort to change immediately - its not going to happen.
  5. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    There's only one way to even try. And it still likely won't work.

    You gotta video a show. You need evidence that his showmanship is affecting his timing. when he spins a stick he rushes. Or when he does a fill it doesn't land on the one. That kind of thing.

    Then you gotta show the rest of the band the video when he isn't there.

    By yourself, this won't go well.

    If you show the rest of the band, you will get one of two reactions.

    1) They are fine with it. They may even rationalize his behavior and playing with "Chicks come out just to see him do his thing" or something like that. You won't win. It's time for you to learn to live with it or find another band.

    2) They'll say "Geeeeeez. I knew it was getn bad, but I didn't realize HOW bad." And you guys will talk about how to "fix" it (if it can be fixed) together.

    Those are it. There's no "coaxing" him into better timing or reasoning with him by yourself. Nope. Not happening. You'll just wind up looking like a jerk if you go it alone.
  6. Two fingers is correct. This isn’t going to go anywhere nice alone. And honestly, probably not collectively, either. And I apologize, I somehow thought you at least recorded your rehearsals. Most groups I have been involved in over the past 10 years do, so all of us could critique and tweak. Maybe I need to quit playing with horn bands....
    mike o likes this.
  7. mike o

    mike o Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2009
    Monroe, GA
    Good feedback. Thank you. It’s sad because he a great fellow as is the rest of the band. Tubthumper - thanks. I haven’t recorded a rehearsal in a bit being were pretty good at learning new material. Time to start again.

    Maybe it’s way more noticeable to the bass player than the other band mates. Solid meter, tempo and feel are so important to me. Because it’s mostly for fun, I can over look a lot of things playing with others. For some reason, this bothers me a lot.
    joebar and Tubthumper like this.
  8. MattZilla


    Jun 26, 2013
    I've had good luck on cl in a few different cities with:

    Need Jazz Drummer for rock/funk band

    We need someone who can play at a volume that doesn't chase people out of the club. We need someone who can play the same tempo through a song. Thanks.
    bassdrummer, Kelloggsy, Oddly and 6 others like this.
  9. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    The instrument shouldn't matter - either he is a musician or not. If he isn't willing to put the music first, you need a new drummer. Perhaps suggest a rhythm section only rehearsal.
  10. theduke1

    theduke1 Supporting Member

    Dec 22, 2010
    Manitowoc WI
    I’ll be the first to say
    Fire the drummer
  11. Annnnnnnnd....here we go!
    Tulsa Teddy likes this.
  12. brocket


    Sep 12, 2017
    Coastal NC
    If there is a song that’s bad in rehearsal and something sounds off, have just the guitarists play since maybe it’s the strumming pattern. When it’s not that, join in with them since maybe you’re playing something differently? If it’s not that eather, add drums. If it is the drummer (spoiler alert: it is) you help them draw that conclusion on their own instead of making them feel like you are pointing fingers.
    Also, I’ve found that a metronome can be handy. Tap out the tempo at the song start, tap it out when things have sped up, and after the song, play the two tempos back to back to highlight how big of a difference it is. I’ve played with people who interpret a song getting faster as just getting more into the song, and showing the tempo without emotion/feel connected to it helps the hear what’s actually going on.
    bassdrummer, JMacBass65 and mike o like this.
  13. Tim Skaggs

    Tim Skaggs

    Sep 28, 2002
    If you intended to ask this question as you did, the answer is for sure "yes", but you have this question structured as though every drummer on the planet is the same person with the same
    attitude, personality, etc.

    Your question (Do you believe it is at all possible to have a open discussion about this with "a" drummer) implies the discussion would have the same outcome regardless of who the person was. If it was a beginner that hadn't played any live shows, vs. a veteran of 30+ years of regular gigs, I'd say the conversation & probably the outcome would be very different with each even though each of them is "a drummer".

    If the question was supposed to be about THE drummer you described, only you know the answer.
    Mr_Moo, DocTT and mike o like this.
  14. chazolson

    chazolson Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2013
    Reston, VA
    You can learn how to get better time, but if you don’t have good time to begin with - ain’t gonna happen.
    dalkowski likes this.
  15. red_rhino

    red_rhino Gold Supporting Member

    That's been my experience. I've tried everything from talking one-on-one which hasn't worked because "nobody else is complaining" to involving the whole band ("why is everyone ganging up on me?")

    My best advice is to keep your complaint simple. Don't "kitchen sink" him with everything that's bothering you. Pick one or two things you feel need to be addressed. "You're playing too loud; we can't keep up with you" and "Your rushing the beat; we can't keep up with you." If you can fix either one of those things, the other things may follow.

    Good luck, and be ready to find a new drummer.
    bassdrummer, Mr_Moo, StayLow and 2 others like this.
  16. DavC

    DavC Supporting Member

    May 17, 2005
    Tallmadge , Ohio
    i'd record things .! grab any kind of metronome and make your point - repeatedly

    then simply ask How can we fix the tempo issues .? And i'm willing to help . ( if you enjoy teaching )

    that answer will tell me if i stay in , or leave the band ...
    bassdrummer and mike o like this.
  17. mike o

    mike o Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2009
    Monroe, GA
    I guess that’s the point! I should have been a bit more clear. We’re all well seasoned musicians. Say 25 plus years.

    In the past and different bands, I have mentioned a click track or at least a gizmo that would get us started with the correct tempo. Once it helped. Just very fustrating.

    Maybe I live in a make believe world where it’s expected the drummer would play with a solid meter. One would think that this is fundamental #1. Play in time. Crazy.
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2018
    joebar, MattZilla and alanloomis1980 like this.
  18. bumperbass

    bumperbass Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2012
    It ain't gonna happen. You'll just have to go with the flow and when you can't take it anymore, bail. That's what I did.
    I was so frustrated with our drummer I decided I'd rather stay home.
    joebar and mike o like this.
  19. The waste of time would be continuing to play in that relationship, perpetually frustrated. You can talk to him and either A) he gets offended and you look for a better drummer or B) he takes it seriously and works on it (still no guarantee he'll get better, but a good start.)

    If you are BL, then you are well within your rights to tell him you prioritize tempo and dynamics.

    If it's a democratic band,you need other members on your side.
    bassdrummer, Mr_Moo and BassManKK like this.

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