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Working with Drummers

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Tactician, Sep 27, 2002.

  1. I really like our drummer and we manage to get down a heavy groove every time....BUT. He's monster loud. I underestimated this at the last gig. It was my own fault, when he asked for directions to the local drug store to do some shopping, I told him where it was and made assumtions about what he was getting. 2hours later when we walked onto stage I didn't notice that he had bought some ear-plugs (I thought he was working to another agenda when he headed off to the drug store) and commenced to play somewhat loudly! I think it was the earplugs and ceratinly he couldn't hear us or the fold-back. Now my ears didn't bleed - well that was as good as it got - my ears rang for two days afterwards. Immediately after the set the band sat in stunned silence around a table of beers - in a state of shock. "WHAT!? - - SPEAK UP" were the most common words spoken for the next hour. The venue apparently made a note to ban us (not a bad thing as this was the UK equivalent of playing in a Repubican polictical society club) and complaints were received from 300yds away (the venue is in a remote basement! Err?)

    Is this normal behaviour for a drummer. Am I overly sensitive to highly expensive, loud rock snares played at destruction impact? Shall I wear ear-plugs, turn up and melt the audience? Am I getting too old at 55 to be on the road (OK I know the answer to that!)
  2. quote...
    Is this normal behaviour for a drummer

    seems like most drummers have one syndrome or the other:

    * hit it like you're killing it
    * speed up slow down (one tempo for the whole song must be boring for them)
    * hit it like an eggshell, you might break it
    * overplay, that will impress em!
    * bring a 19 pc set when a 5 pc will do
    * insist on running every drum and every cymbal thru the pa, with overheads, hogging all the channels on the board (for a small club... hell, let's mike the kit for practice too)

    maybe the acoustics are very reflective and that magnifies the problem in your situation.

    good luck getting him to ease up.

  3. CS


    Dec 11, 1999
    I play in my local church. Now the whole church/God/does or does not exist deal is irrelevant. What this means is that we have a rota of 3 drummers with another stuck on percussion and another away at college. We occaisionally use a pro drummer we know and sometimes do town wide events with a real gospel band.

    Precis- I play with 7 drummers.

    So of these drummers, five play at levels which are bearable. The other two whilst awesome musicians, and one is in my band, are just way too loud. I use ER20's with these guys. So in answer to your question no it's not normal. I can think of 13 drummers that I have played with in the past, some of them pro and only 1 was too loud.

    Finally going back to the two loud drummers I currently play with I have noticed a theme. Drummer 1 started out playing pubs in Indie bands using one of those shell less fold up kits. Drummer 2 has practiced for 10 years on an electronic kit with ABS pads. My theory is that both of these drummers muscle memory has developed with a natural propensity to hammering seven sack fulls of excrement out of their drums.
  4. Think yourself lucky, mate.....our drummer is excessively loud too, but he's not exactly a great timekeeper...

    We played the Little civic and they didn't have to mic his kit up... my bass and mark's guitar were pretty much on full! he was still louder than us....

    DRUMMERS!!!! Let's stick to bloody drum machines..they're never drunk, they turn up on time and they can keep a simple rhythm going and not fall out. Simple!

  5. At least our guy is on time - that's true. He's been on tour a lot and I guess it's like another says, it's muscle memory from having to play load in big venues.
  6. bplayerofdoom


    Aug 6, 2002
    Did you ever think that maybee because he Just got ear plugs he didnt realize how loud he was?
  7. Hategear

    Hategear Workin' hard at hardly workin'.

    Apr 6, 2001
    Appleton, Swissconsin
    If anyone ever runs into a drummer who can easily change how hard he hits the skins, can keep the same tempo for days and days, worries more about keeping time than about impressing his girlfriend or wife with his "chops" and doesn't require two pickup trucks and a snowmobile trailer to haul his kit with, I call dibs!

    As for your problem, Tactician -- can you talk to the guy? Let him know that he was way too loud and see if he can't tone it down a bit. If you're just starting out as a band, it may be a good idea to critique each and every show anyway, until ya'll are on the same page ("Drums were too loud," "Guitar solo was too long," etc.). If talking to him doesn't work, try standing farther away from him than you do now (maybe put your amp between yourself and him) and crank everyone else's volumes to meet him. Better yet, just aim your cabs at his big, inflated head, crank your ***t up to 11, detune your E string to B and pluck that sucker with authority! When his ears (and colon) stop bleeding, ask him how he likes it!

    :D :D

    Also (and I may get an argument here), I am a firm believer in the fact that if more than one or two people in the audience complain that you're too loud, you're too loud!

    EDIT: It's not a bad idea for you to get some earplugs too.
  8. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    IME - the only "normal" behavior for drummers is "abnormal."
    .......like really good guitarists, they are a quirky bunch! I've found an important question to ask a new drummer is "How many DUI convictions have you had?"

    I think those cheapo drug store plugs are really meant to minimize sound (within reason) for people who work in industrial settings, not musicians who need to still hear a lot of nuances.

    I'd just get a decent recording of what's going on and let the drummer hear it at a rehearsal. If the drummer is a "good", experienced, musician, they will recognize they need to fit into the band, not dominate it. If the drummer still doesn't get it, you and the other band members may have to draw a picture for the drummer.
    Asking them who their "drummer gods" are can tell you a lot. The idol of the most sophisticated and musical drummer I've played with was Buddy Rich. The idol of the most ham-fisted, deranged, drummer I've played with was Keith Moon.

    HELL NO! Age is just chronological, just calendar pages. The mind can be any age you want it to be......at least, that's what I keep telling myself. I'm a pre-CBS model, too. :rolleyes:
  9. Intrepid


    Oct 15, 2001
    I know a drummer that doesn't do any of that stuff...he plays at church and in a jazz band though...
  10. British


    Sep 5, 2002
    I played drums for 10 years before I picked up a bass a couple of months ago.

    I always wear earplugs, whether at a show, practice, or even at concerts I wasn't playing in. Hearing protection is very important if you play in any sort of rock situation. So many musicians develop hearing loss later in life that could be prevented with some simple, albeit "uncool" precautions.

    Here's something a lot of poeple don't realize: Hearing loss is caused just as much, if not more so, by the PITCH of a particular sound as the volume. Low pitched things (i.e. bass guitars) won't hurt your hearing NEARLY as much as high pitched things (i.e. cymbals) 135db at 50hz would actually be considered relaxing to some, whereas 135db at 10khz would literally cause immediate physical pain for most. And who is sitting the CLOSEST to those high pitched cymbals? The drummer.

    Anyway, I'm straying off topic a bit but I just wanted to give you an idea of the thought process that goes through our ('our' meaning us drummers) heads when we do things like put in earplugs.

    So, then, the next obvious question: Why don't we rock drummers just play softer? Well, strangely enough, the answer to that question also touches on another point you brought up: When we try to play softer, it becomes increasingly difficult to keep the same tempo. We aren't like you bass/guitar players. We don't have a volume knob that we can just turn down. It's just not that easy for us. There are electronic drums, but that's an entirely different animal and beyond the scope of this thread.

    I'm having a hard time coming up with a good analogy that "you bass players" would understand. I can practice my bass in my condo just by turning the volume down as low as it will go. I can slap that thing has hard as I want and nobody will know. There would be no way in hell that I could ever practice my drums at home - no matter how softly I might try to play, I just literally would not be able to move the sticks fast enough from one instrument to the next and still keep an accurate tempo without making SOME noise. Stick control like that is easy to understand but virtually impossible to master.

    Anyway, I hope this sheds some light on this issue from "the other side".
  11. hey british...

    "we bass players" just like to do a lot of bitching.

    we find an oddly comfortable 'coziness' and 'comraderie' in doing so.


    now play your drums quietly, so you can hear our bitching, mmmmkay?

    :D :D
  12. PollyBass

    PollyBass ******

    Jun 25, 2001
    Shreveport, LA
    You know, alot of bassists complain about their drummers, either to loud, can't keep tempo, or they are stupid. I guess i'm lucky, i mean, the drummer i play with, has been drumming in his house, had never played with a bassist at the age of 21, and had tool , some metal, and dream theater as his idols. he's a freaking mad man, and he's on of the most open minded guys ive ever met. Man, but the LAST guy,,, whoa man, he sucked ASS.
  13. i consider my band lucky, our drummer:

    1) is rock solid
    2) doesn't overplay
    3) wants the band to sound good (not just the drums)
    4) has excellent tempo recall
    5) is a professional soundman (after he dials in the mains and monitors, they sound like God)
    6) likes the same music we do
    7) owns lots of nice sound equipment
    8) and lights

    he's a keeper, and it's a pleasure to work with him. once in a great while, he gets a little uptight if something doesn't sound just right. but that's also a good thing!!!

  14. bikeplate

    bikeplate Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2001
    Upstate NY

    I play in an instrumental band that is Yanni meets Van Halen! My buddy, our drummer, spent the last year on tour with Great White and plays so loud you can't hear yourself think. We had to buy a plexi divider so we can mike him up for our live shows. We also use it at our rehearsal shots! I've known him 10 years and there is no way to even have a conversation with him about playing at a lesser volume. The bright side is that he is rock solid and full of energy. Sometimes you have to take the good with the bad. Check out http://www.sebastiansidi.com for pics of our latest show

  15. Tsal


    Jan 28, 2000
    Finland, EU
    The drummer I play with is so loud it's scary! For some odd reason, he likes to wear DOUBLE ear protection, both plugs and cups at the same time. Then he just goes and bangs the seven kinds of hell outta his set.

    I think it's perhaps the time to give him few tips, or just buy him a pair of those more quiet sticks :rolleyes:
  16. This seems to be the problem with many drummers, and I can see how it is very difficult to play quietly and maintain a steady tempo as British pointed out.

    I always wear ear plugs or at the very least some tissue in my ears. All the same, if the punters are finding it too loud, then it's worth asking him if he could play more quietly. Also ask him whether he thinks the ear plugs maybe cut out too much volume and therefore he plays harder? If so, could he get different plugs?

    I've seen a few bands split because their drummers were too loud,even though some of them were excellent in all other regards.

    P.S reading that lost post - yeh, what about hot rods or cool rods? - that'll cut the volume
  17. every drummer i've ever played with has had "issues".... well, the good ones anyway. the bad ones are actully normal human beings.

    currently my drummer:
    1-can't understand tempo changes in a song
    2-only listens to suggestions from one member of the band (the one with boobs)
    3-can't play 7/4
    4-fantastic piano player
    5-smells funny
    6-doesn't have a vehicle to haul around his kit

    quick question: how can you tell when a bass player locked his keys in the car?

    the drummer is locked inside.
  18. Dave Castelo

    Dave Castelo

    Apr 19, 2000
    whoa, this thread smells like the new forum (band management...

    off you go!

    First post on new forum!!
  19. StrudelBass


    Jul 6, 2002
    My former drummer has all of the above.

    I've found the best drummer in town though. Mr. Drum Machine.
  20. FunkySpoo

    FunkySpoo Supporting Member

    Feb 6, 2002
    Sorry, he's in my band. He's got dynamics, keeps it simple and tasty and has more beats than any drummer I've ever played with. I guess since he has already been a touring drummer he's got nothing to prove in our little part time weekend band, no ego. He doesn't even like to solo but when he does he's totally groovy. At practice we all, including the drummer play quietly enough so that the guitar players 18 month old son stays fast asleep upstairs. Nope you can't have him. His name is John Shepperd. Gotta give a guy like that his props.

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