My drummer is driving me crazy

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by shirojiro, Dec 19, 2001.

  1. shirojiro


    Jan 24, 2001
    San Francisco
    I've been playing wiht a new drummer for about 3 mos now, and he's driving me crazy. He has decent chops - his favorite player is Stewart Copeland, and his highhat work is good, but his time is awful. He speeds up and slows down depending on whether or not he's playing forte or piano, and he can't seem to tell when he's doing it.

    I'm not Steve Gadd or anything, but I have good time. I practice with a metronome or drum machine 99% of the time, and for some reason, my drummer can't hear when I push him. When he's dragging, I play on top of the beat and keep my notes a staccato as I can without ruining the bassline. When he's rushing, I try to play legato and behind the beat. None of these things seem to affect his time.

    He says he's listening, and concentrating, but he just can't seem to hear it.

    We bring my drum machine to rehearsal, and he just goes right on playing, even when he's seriously off.

    Recently, we recorded a demo, and I couldn't be there for the initial tracks. He used a click track to lay down his drumlines, but when I got to the studio, I found that he had ignored the click as well! My basslines were tough to put down with his time variation.

    What's a bassist to do?
  2. Woodchuck


    Apr 21, 2000
    Atlanta / Macon (sigh)
    Gallien Krueger for the last 12 years!
    You have to tell him without pulling any punches. I played with this guy named Evan in an R&B band. His dad is kind of a jazz legend, and has played with just about all of the greats. Evan wants that status also, but he isn't willing to work for it. He STILL does exactly what you said your drummer does, and to make matters worse, he thinks that he's King Sh*t of Turd Island! He refuses to practice, because of who he dad is. I tried to tell him that it ain't diabetes, he needs to work at it. I'm sure his dad did, and still does. Even his dad tells him that he needs to quit if he isn't going to take it serious. Finally, the rest of the band had to move on. Talk to your drummer before it gets to that point, and be brutally honest. Also, present a united front with the rest of the band, so he doesn't think that it's just a personal attack.
  3. True -

    In defense of your drummer(as an x-drummer) it is one hell of an instrument to play real well, and people often critize the drummer for something that sounds very easy but is truly VERY hard to do: Keep good time!

    Having said that, your 'boy' needs to practice! Buy him a 'nome for christmas! One good thing may be setting up some time for just you and him to practice. This way you can work on some stuff and let him know your concerns without having the rest of the band there. If you like the guy you probably don't want to make him feel as if EVERYONE is ganging up on him. Set up a 'click' and just play together. Then point stuff out.

    Hope that helps:
  4. frankencow150

    frankencow150 Guest

    Oct 17, 2001
    my friend that im gonna play drums with,well i hope he's good at timing,cuz he hates to be corrected.he used to play bass,and whenever i tried to tell him something he was doing wrong,he would just say "ok.......".i hate it when people have to be perfect and never let people help them,stubborn is the word i was looking for!well good luck.have u and ur drummer play together and play with a drum machine.tell him to count the beats in his head.example "1 and 2 and 3 and 4".
  5. Hello Shiro'.

    Our drummer is exactly the same. His time keeping is usually rather poor. This seems to be an unfortunate quality for a drummer to have:eek:

    The vocalist - who occasionally messes on the drums when the drummer goes off somewhere - is really good at keeping time with a simple beat. My 6 year-old son who's quite a decent drummer is easy to play against, too :eek:

    The band's drummer had an industrial accident which left him with a 50% hearing loss. He hit's too hard which means he can't hear the others so he looses his place = screw-up:(

    Funnily enough, when we did our first public performance last week - he was pretty good.


  6. bizzaro


    Aug 21, 2000
    The drummer I used to play with changed tempo all the time. It was really hard to decide how to play against him,(hey, shouldn't that be with him)!!! He would come back from a bridge,chorus,instrumental break at a whole different tempo. I would do as you said, play behind or ahead to try and slow or speed him up. The only thing that really worked was to get his attention while in the song and try and communicate via body language. And of course that was only in the moment and went song to song. I think as bass players we hear the subtlties of tempo changes long before the rest of the band has a clue. It is tough to tell someone else how to play their instrument, but if you are in a serious band, critique should be a part of it. Maybe you could open a door by asking him for his opinion on a bass line/part.
  7. AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!! I love you Woodchuck! :D
  8. not quite Flea

    not quite Flea

    Oct 19, 2001
    hmmmm i can see this problem, my advice is...... i noticed when i stold my teachers metronome (a battery powered one) that it had a head phone input, while playing would it be helpful for him/her to have a steady beat playing in his/her ears. I dont know if it would be any help, but hed be able to concertraite on his druming and timing, it would be easyer for them to hear also.

    this is probaly the most common thing ever! but ive never seen it done before
  9. KeithPas


    May 16, 2000
    Your drummer can either meet the requirements of the gig or your band can fire him. I know that sounds kind of harsh but no one is doing him any favors by pulling punches about his musical shortcomings. If you let it drag on without fixing it emotional bonds will become stronger and the inevitable (assuming he does'nt fix his time problems) will be all the more difficult. Not everyone has great time and it is certainly not something that comes overnight but listening to the other players is an absolute requirement.
  10. 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'm with Keith on this one. Around here, we call a drummer who can't hold tempo a wannabe. Excellent timing is the first criterion for a drummer. Without that, you're not a drummer.
  11. at one of the church services I play at, we just got a new drummer. actually he's the drummer I grew up playing with, we were in a few bands together. but when he took over, man what a difference! our old drummer had a hard time with time, but we would cut him some slack cause he was only 12.

    but this new guy (my old guy) rocks, we lock in so tight its unbelivable. I forgot what its like playing with someone like that. one of our other drummers is super good, but we don't lock like me and this dude. I can tell what he's going to do before he does it. his kick is always right where it's supposed to be :D and he's got sweet time. what a difference that makes, I cant even explain.

    I hope you guys work this thing out.
  12. Drummer hat on:
    Speaking as a drummer, the most difficult thing with young up and comming drummers is staying in time. Most i found are more interested in fancy fills than playing a groove. There is a tendancy to speed up during fills and come back in a little to early, throwing everyone else off.
    You must get him to practice with a metronome on a slow setting, laying down a groove and adding in easy fills and staying in time while doing it. Practice slowly, and speed up the metronome slowly.
    And he must relax during fills, lots of drummers tense up at this point which causes timming problems. It is the same with bass, i found early on i would tense up my left hand, and i could hardly play anything. Learning to relax is very important if you want stuff to flow.
    IF he doesnt heed these warnings, you guys will eventually dump him, and he will have a bear of a time trying to get into another band, untill he learns this stuff.
    Try to get that through his brain. In a nice way of course.:eek:
    drummer hat off
  13. shirojiro


    Jan 24, 2001
    San Francisco
    Thanks for all of the replies!

    I've been gently prodding my drummer with external time keepers - drum machine, etc, and I've realized that when we play without vocals, he has pretty good time. When our singer starts in, he starts to waver.

    I started taping rehearsal and playing the tapes to show him what's been happening. This was a great move - "the tape doesn't lie." He's starting to agree that there is a problem, but now I have to convince him that a tight groove is more valuable than any fill.

    Trouble is, it's not necessarily the fills that are the problem. I've never dealt with someone who changes tempo depending on the dynamics of the song. My drummer tried to convince me that the pianissimo sections should drag. I'm not a believer yet.

  14. Life is way to short to be having to fight against a drummer all the time. GIVE HIM THE OLD HEAVE-HO! There's plenty of drummers around with OK time, and a few around with great time. I'm lucky to be gigging with one of the latter. Everything I do sounds good, 'cos this cat is RIGHT THERE!