Category: Opinion

  • How to Get Along With Your Bass Player

    As part of the rhythm section, you’ll likely spend a lot of time being grouped in with the bass player. The guitarists and singers of this world get to solo on their flaming amps and stand around as a queue of hot chick or hot dude sluts forms to blow them, but you and your four-stringed partner have to “hold it down” or “keep it in the pocket” or some such bullshit. You’re like a less racially transcendent Defiant Ones, working together to make sure your Puddle of Mudd cover is a hit at Skeezer’s Bar and Grill next Tuesday. So here are some basic rules to keep the peace:

    1. Remember, there is a good chance your bass player is a failed guitarist. This means he either feels rejected or he’s a little dim. Neither scenario is ideal. If it’s the former, make sure you help him sow a deep-seated hatred for the guitarist. Then when you’re asked to just play a woodblock for a song, you can unleash your attack dog. If it’s the latter, just smile and nod when he tells you about his plans to chug a shit ton of Robitussin.

    2. It’s highly unlikely you’re going to get more respect than the prick guitarist and dickbag singer, but you’re probably going to be more popular than the bass player. Don’t be a slave to your pity, though. At some point he’s going to say you’re playing too fast or not keeping a steady tempo and you’ll have to remind him that you’re using all four of your limbs while he’s playing with one fucking asshole finger.

    3. If your bass player tries to make a “drummers get drool on their SATs Haha”-type joke, try to laugh along. Remember that bass player jokes don’t really exist for the same reason jokes about accountants and civil engineers don’t exist.

    4. If your bass player asks you to “get a little funkier” and he is not Flea or a certain crazy motherfucker named Bootsy Collins, you’re in trouble. If you can’t fire him, quit.

    5. Don’t ask your bass player to turn down. You should focus on building a solid rhythmic backbone and it can only happen with both of you knowing what each other is doing. But definitely ask him to stop playing the fucking root note on the 1 for every goddamn part.

    6. Help your bass player break down and move his equipment for the first few weeks. It’ll be a little inconvenient, but he’ll be so happy someone’s paying attention to him that when you ask for assistance in tearing down and moving your drums he’ll be more than willing to lend a hand. Just make sure he doesn’t start unscrewing your tom heads or anything. Remember, he’s probably a little dim.

  • Sins of Drumming: Drum Solos?

    Why, oh God why, do you think it’s a good idea to do a drum solo? First off, I don’t like guitar solos either, but at least ones that aren’t “Eruption” or Malmsteen douchebaggery are in an actual song. Even if the solo is a bunch of show-offy garbage, there’s still a band to listen to. But drum solos. Fuck, man.

    Now, I know this is a drum site, and I know blah blah Neil Peart blah, but save it. What Neil Peart does is extremely impressive with his 150 tubs and miscellanea twirling around him like a junkyard carousel, but can you actually just drive down the road and listen to one of those indulgences? If so, may I suggest listening to actual music?

    And no, drum solos sure as fuck aren’t music. Watch these fucking clowns pull off their wanking parlor tricks. Maybe if your band calls for a four-minute snare roll you can blow everyone away, but seriously, these dudes may as well be twirling around yo-yos.

    The question is this: if you’re so good at your instrument, why don’t you write a song that incorporates these amazing parts? Is it because you’re the guy who has to sit in the back obscured by a bunch of metal and wood so that while your bandmates go do a bunch of blow off groupies in the back, you get to be the center of attention? Is it because you suffer from the malady of so many other drummers where you have to play at every available moment, like when you’re at practice and your guitar player is telling a story and you start doing paradiddles like it’s not distracting? Seriously, you gotta cut that shit out.

    There is no denying the talent of dozens of drummers who illustrate their aptitude by soloing. But keep in mind that when you start really opening up on rack toms and blaze through an 11:17 polyrhythm, that’s usually when people go get another beer.

    Your opinion of drum solos:

    1. Drum solos should only be allowed for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
    2. Drum solos should only be allowed for one-armed drummers who aren’t Rick Allen.
    3. At least it’s not a bass solo.
    4. As long as it’s in a spinning cage, no problem.
    5. I’m John Bonham’s ghost and the acid just kicked in.

  • Sins of Drumming: Rock Band?

    Aside from (maybe) a rough sense of rhythm, there isn’t one goddamned thing you can learn about guitar from Rock Band. Hitting a plastic bar while mashing plastic keys obviously does exactly shit for your skills. The same can be said for Rock Band bass, and if you’re the “singer” in your Rock Band band, you’re a sad attention whore. But what about drums?

    Well, let’s look at this dude. Over a million people have watched him play “Enter Sandman,” and he’s used this fame to say the game teaches some limited fundamentals on drumming. He then goes on to say that everyone has a “musical mind” and that this game releases it. Maybe I’m missing something, but when I think about what separates a musician from a Microsoft employee, it’s more than a passable electronic rendition of “Man in the Box.”

    Here is a video of Mitch Mitchell, a revolutionary drummer by anyone’s estimation, demonstrating his impressive drum skills with the Jimi Hendrix Experience. A little over 120,000 people have watched this. Now here’s a video of some choad playing “Chop Suey” by System of a Down on Rock Band drums. Nearly 400,000 views. Of some random dude. Playing “Chop Suey.” On Rock Band drums.

    Now I know in the world of YouTube, even more so than in other places, people love to watch total garbage. And I know that a lot of kids these days are much more into seeing Travis Barker play a Soulja Boy song than looking up Terry Bozzio, but this doesn’t make me any more optimistic about the attitude cultivated by Rock Band when it comes to musicianship.

    Am I jealous that this didn’t exist when I was a teenager? Fuck no. If it did, I probably would’ve been happy enough to play fake drums over some Green Day song instead of actually learning an instrument and creating my own music. You know, the cool thing musicians do. And it’s not like you can play any song you want on Rock Band. I know they keep expanding the game to include even more Nickelback tunes, but an entire swath of amazing musicianship is being ignored so Gene Simmons can go cash another check.

    The main problem, though, is that the visceral enjoyment most drummers get out of their instrument is completely neutered. Some of these YouTube stars talk about how they also play real drums and gaming is just as fun. These people are either bad drummers or their parents won’t allow them to keep living for free in the basement unless they stop being loud.

    I’m not saying that the game is easy. I watched this, and it didn’t seem easy. But there’s a lot of shit that’s hard to do that doesn’t make you a better musician, and being a good musician is still harder than anything you do on this dumb game.

    Now of course I’m willing to accept that I’m blowing this out of proportion and that there are still plenty of kids out there (my two-year old nephew included) who are picking up real live drums instead of this nerdy, shameful alternative. But when people start feeling as though they’re almost as good as Lars Ulrich because they can play “Master of Puppets” on the “Grand Master With Extra Jerkoff Stars” level, it’s like the fat kid who thinks a high score on Dance Dance Revolution makes him Baryshnikov.

    Please rate your opinion on Rock Band drumming:

    1. I would rather shit blood bi-weekly than play Rock Band.
    2. I would rather shit blood bi-monthly than play Rock Band.
    3. At least I’m somewhat competent at it unlike the game with that little dopey plumber.
    4. I think Rock Band has great potential to turn people into real drummers…just like Duckhunt turned people into excellent hunters.
    5. You’re just jealous of my pointless talent in a game for children.

  • Felonies of Drumming: Singing

    “I could stand out front and sing Eagles songs that I sing in my set, but I think people enjoy watching me sing and play the drums. It seems to fascinate people.”
    Don Henley, liar

    Listen, I don’t care if you have the voice of the fucking Angel Gabriel himself. If you are a drummer, you should not sing. Ever. Seriously, not ever. Ok, maybe (maybe) if you really need to do backups because your bass player is too busy slapping/popping during the chorus I guess there are worse things in the world….Those things are: The Holocaust, 9/11, Darfur, and a drummer who is also the lead singer.

    First of all, what is even remotely cool about sitting down while singing? Obviously absolutely fucking nothing. Second, let’s keep a drummer’s job in perspective. Regardless of your finesse, you are the caveman of the band. You hit things with pieces of wood. That is awesome; that means by default you are also the badass. But when you’re worried about correct enunciation during the bridge, you’re just the fucking nerd who takes forever to set up his complicated instrument.

    It’s not like Phil Collins is really ever cool unless he’s a puppet, but even he knew enough to let Bill Bruford take over live drums in Genesis (…though Phil later decided to use drumsticks as a mic in “Invisible Touch” and it was real sad).

    I know there are some exceptions such as Low, Lightning Bolt, and The Beatles, but these bands are or were known for high levels of experimentation…which your Thin Lizzy cover band is not, even if you do a sweet rototom solo during “Jailbreak.”

    I was going to go on this giant rant about drummers using headsets, but instead I’m just going to link to this kid getting caught jerking off to World of Warcraft to illustrate my point.

    And finally, if you’re one of those drummers who doesn’t need a mic but has a song in mind that you wouldn’t mind performing maybe during the mellow part of the set, get over there in line with the tiny kitty man who used to have a job.

    Give us your opinion on drummers that sing:

    1. I would rather see all of my loved ones sold into slavery than see a drummer sing.
    2. Drummers can be allowed to sing, but should be fined heavily. With groin kicks.
    3. I only hate drummers who sing because my stepdad was in Night Ranger.
    4. I think drummers singing is a bad idea unless it’s this super annoying video of me playing Rock Band.
    5. I have zero shame and expect the same from all drummers.

  • Drum Triggers: How Much Shit Do They Suck?

    Will drums and technology ever really get along? While amp heads and effect pedals are a necessity for almost all guitar players, the nature of drums produces a whole slew of purists that can’t stand the idea of a bunch of geeky gear controlling their sound. Though 808s and V-Drums have their niches (hip-hop and stay-at-home dads, respectively), kick drum triggers are very contentious, especially in metal where double bass is commonplace. It’s rare to find a metal dude who doesn’t have a fairly strong opinion on triggers; they’re either “totally brutal” or “cocksucking garbage.” So let’s check out the two contrasting opinions.

    Triggers Rule: If you want to keep up with the speed of modern metal guitarists, triggers are a necessity. There is no way, especially live, you can keep a consistent drum sound with the tempos of many grind and death metal bands. You’re already probably getting drowned out by your band members and their asshole amounts of gear. You’re up there to play, and the kick drum drives so many songs that if you can’t be heard then the song suffers. Think of the song. With the Red Shot Kick Drum Trigger from ddrum, you barely need to carry any gear and you don’t have to worry about pads muffling the tone. Even the fastest feet on Earth, Tim Waterson, uses triggers and he’s, well, the fastest fucking feet on Earth. Triggers rule, they aren’t going away, and you need to get on the right side of history.

    Triggers Drool: Why in the fucking world do you want your kick drum to sound like a giant typewriter? So you can play faster? I got an idea: practice. Talk to someone like Dave Witte who does single foot blasts with no triggers and ask him if he can play fast enough for your shitty “shredding” metal circus. And where is the feeling? You may as well just play a tape of you drumming while you sit there and toss sticks in the air. If you need to be heard, tell your band to turn down or get the sound guy to turn you up. Or use your trigger money to buy a bigger kick. Anything so I don’t have to hear that sound. And even if you like the soulless tapping of triggers, I can’t imagine anything less metal than having a little glowing sound module right next to you. That should be reserved for your beer, pussy.

    So who’s right? Feel free to use this rating system and let us know:

    1. Triggers suck all of the shit.
    2. Triggers suck shit, but I could envision a world where they could possibly only suck.
    3. Triggers kind of suck, but they’re getting better.
    4. There are some perfectly good reasons to use triggers, which I would like to tell you about.
    5. You can have my triggers when you pry them from my cold, devil horn-shaped fingers.