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Yet another drummer timing problem, need advice thread

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by mikeboth, Sep 27, 2005.

  1. mikeboth

    mikeboth The last thing you'll ever see

    Jun 14, 2002
    Tallinn, Estonia
    Operator: prophecysound systems
    I've been playing in an originals band for 16 months now, and we've recently started gigging. As you might expect, when playing live in front of people each musicians' weaknesses (and strengths) are highlighted. The main problem is - yes, just like so many other bands - the drummer's time is all over the place, sometimes changing every few bars or so (along with all the common places - slowing down in fills, speeding up when starting a chorus etc etc). I feel my time is pretty good (I've played bass for 15 years, and both classical and jazz/funk/blues keys for more than 15 years), and have played with at least a couple of drummers in the past where everything just 'sits' naturally as regards timing. What I find is that I have to adjust my timing almost constantly playing with this drummer, and it really makes me feel quite tense. Sometimes the drummer plays quite well (in terms of timing), but more often than not he doesn't. When we jam together at rehearsals (before the singer/guitarist and guitarist/keys go turns up) his timing is generally pretty good .... so it's a bit of a mystery. We really can't afford to look for another drummer, as *any* drummer is hard to find around my parts. Are there any exercises I can work with him that will improve the situation? He's only been playing a couple of years, however I feel that's enough time to solidify a sense of timing and be able to apply it to one's instrument. Maybe I just need to learn to 'go with it', but it is pretty hard to constantly re-adjust my internal 'metronome' and the whole process is messing with *my* sense of timing.

    Ok, rant over. Any suggestions appreciated. We're looking at spending hard-earned cash to record in a studio, and it would be nice to go in there with the situation improved at least a little bit.

    There's a couple of home-recorded tracks here for y'all to listen to:

    Also - both the vocalist and guitarist use amp modellers (a V-Amp and Johnson J-station, respectively) and are dead-set against using real amps. The guitar sounds the vocalist uses, especially, IMHO sound like arse (too mid-rangey, too many effects) ... and I can't think of one good band I know that uses anything else than real amps live. BTW, I come from a blues/rock/funk background and am used to 'real amps' being used all the time.

  2. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    Since he hasn't been playing very long, I was wondering if he has ever played with other people before. It's been in my experience that musicians who have always played by themselves will often have trouble adjusting to a band situation.

    Have you tried playing covers with him to see how his timing is on other people's material? Maybe he's having trouble keeping the drum parts that he writes on the same tempo. Either way, you're going to have to remedy the problem because a drummer with bad tempo isn't worth crap.

    My suggestion would be to have him practice songs with a click track. He needs to be able to build internal rythmn. There's going to be minor flucuations in tempo with just about any drummer, but slowing down on fills, speeding up on choruses, ect. is not good.
  3. mikeboth

    mikeboth The last thing you'll ever see

    Jun 14, 2002
    Tallinn, Estonia
    Operator: prophecysound systems
    Good points - he has played with one other band before, but I haven't heard any recordings of them. We actually do perform a few covers (One by U2, Under the Milky Way by The Church etc), and his playing is pretty ok as regards timing on those songs, but I'm not sure that's significant though. The suggestion of practicing with a click is what I was thinking too - maybe if he just practices stuff by himself he hasn't yet developed a 'feel' of what being in time is? :) Thanks for the input.
  4. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    Eventually, you have to make 'the decision' over whether to keep him in the band or not. Can you live with it basically?!
  5. Justin V

    Justin V

    Dec 27, 2000
    Alameda, CA
    My band has had some of the same problems live. Though we've only been playing together for a month and have our third gig tomorrow night. Our idea for working on the problem was to practice with a metrenome or click track. Though in our case, it could just be that he can't hear us over his cymbals (haven't had the best monitoring so far).
  6. QU!CK


    Apr 26, 2005
    Charlotte, NC

    I'm primarily a drummer ( :bag: )so I may be able to help with your situation. IMO it sounds like he doesn't have enough experience playing with others.

    Typically (as I'm sure you all know) a less experienced drummer can get "excited" just before a fill or chorus since it requires them to actually think about what to do next.

    Other than having him practice with a click track and getting more "live" experience, I don't know of many other tricks that can be used to solidify his timing but as someone already mentioned, having a drummer with poor timing is like owning a watch with no hour hand. Sure it may look nice but it's functionally useless.

  7. mikeboth

    mikeboth The last thing you'll ever see

    Jun 14, 2002
    Tallinn, Estonia
    Operator: prophecysound systems
    Just as a follow-up - I ended up quitting the band yesterday. Despite a lot of discussion, the drummer wasn't really up for working in things and improving them, and the lead singer / band leader said he "wasn't the sort of person" that could kick someone else out for not being good enough. It's hard, but I think you NEED to be this sort of person if you really want to make it work.

    It's tough and painful, but now there's more options open for me.:bawl::)
  8. spc


    Apr 10, 2004
    South of Boston
    Tough choice bro, good for you, you'll be better for it...

  9. mikeboth

    mikeboth The last thing you'll ever see

    Jun 14, 2002
    Tallinn, Estonia
    Operator: prophecysound systems
    Thanks. Support from a fellow bass player is *always* appreciated.... :bassist:
  10. el_Kabong


    Jul 11, 2005
    +1 After quite a painful year with these kind of issues I wholeheartedly agree. Hanging in there with nothing more than hope is a mistake imo.
  11. buzzbass

    buzzbass Shoo Shoo Retarded Flu !

    Apr 23, 2003
    follow your heart dude, there will be other bands. I'm getting ready to do the same thing myself, rehearsal the other night convinced me I'm doing the right thing for myself. I went on an audition last night that went well, I'm hoping I get it.
  12. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    Click track or Nome while playing live, it's damage control..sucks a little groove from the tune but if he can't be consistant with tempo chances are he's not a groove machine anyway.