My Band has been looking for a competent drummer for about 4 or 5 years now. It seems almost impossible to find a dude or lady that can "play for the song" like my good pal Ringo. If you ever hear a drummer talking trash on Ringos skills, sit them on the ground with their legs spread (gym class stretching style) and smash the shit out of their nuts with their stupid double kick pedal. Anyway, I thought it would be interesting to recap some of the whackos(just another synonym for "drummers") that my bandmates and I have encountered over the years. Thank you Craigslist.
Barney, a 55 year old hippie with a long white pony tail and a voice exactly like Chong. He is what is commonly referred to as a "burn out". The secret to enjoying a band practice with Barney was to get super duper stoned. As you can imagine, Barney loved to "jam". No matter how a song started off, it would eventually evolve into some weird, disjointed Captain Beefhearty jazz-reggae skiffle. I'm okay with that to a certain extent, but Barney did not know when to quit. No matter how many signals you gave him(direct eye contact, yelling) he just did not understand that the song was over. We would all put our instruments down and walk in to the kitchen to grab a beer and Barney would still be playing the same song. When he would finally stop playing and join us in the kitchen, he would ask in his crazy Chong voice: "what key was that in, man?" One night while enjoying some salsa and chips with the band, we noticed that Barney was spitting the corn kernels back into the salsa bowl. "I don't like corn" Barney informed us. I guess in whatever strange land that Barney is from, people don't mind eating foods that have been in the mouths of other weirdo hippies. We soon decided that Barney was not a good fit for our little group, so we did what any other cowards in our situation would do. We ignored his calls and hoped he would get the hint. It took a long time for him to figure it out, but eventually the Barney bridge was burned.
Jenny was a 24 year old lady with a wonderful New Jersey accent and a penchant for saying "youz". She was slightly mysterious. She was never very specific with where she lived or where she worked, and she informed us that she had married a guy in England when she was 19 but was now divorced and living back in the states. She also had some problems with hair loss. I'm not making fun of that, I'm just painting a picture. She "auditioned" for us on our little "band" drum kit(just a kick snare and high hat), and was actually pretty good. Not too flashy and she could keep a beat. When we asked her to come to another practice, she agreed and informed us "Next time I'll bring my electronic drum kit." We politely tried to discourage this, but she insisted. So Jenny showed up at the next practice with not one, but two disappointments. Along with the electronic drum kit, Jenny decided to bring a friend. I can't remember his name, but he looked like a criminal. It turns out he was. After some polite chatter he told us that he had recently been released from jail. "Some theft bullshit..." he mumbled. He didn't do it of course. Anyway, the practice was very strange. We plugged away at our songs with the annoying blips of the electronic drum set backing us as the ex-con sat on the couch and watched. At this point I should mention that my other two band mates are married and we usually play at their house. They tried their best to act like their wasn't a criminal in their living room checking out their laptop and television. My favorite part of the practice was when Mr. Jailbird asked us for something to write on. He furiously jotted into a notebook as we played and then handed us the results. "As I was listening to youz play, these lyrics popped into my head...." I can't even explain how awful and embarrassing those lyrics were. The title was "Planet You". "Yeah, maybe we'll use these some day" I responded. Our singer/guitar player Luke framed the lyrics and gave it to me for Christmas. If I get the chance, I'll post "Planet You" on here for all to see. The practice ended with Jenny showing us her drumming "routine" that she'd been working on with her electronic kit. It was basically her playing along to some weird salsa sequence and us pretending like we were enjoying it. Then she picked up my guitar and began playing "Glycerine" by Bush. As you could have guessed, things didn't work out with drummer Jenny.
James was a nice fella that I used to work with. We used to talk about music and we liked some of the same stuff. James' downfall was that he really liked "math rock" and "math metal" which to me translates to "annoying shit". He was a guitar player, but he told me he "could keep a beat" on the drums. James is a really fun dude to hang around with, so I figured it wouldn't hurt to try him out on the drums. Another huge disappointment. It turns out James couldn't understand how to play in 4/4 time. If you don't know what that means, just imagine any song you've ever heard that you could clap along to. It's the simplest of rhythms. THE BASIS OF ALL ROCK AND ROLL MUSIC!!!!!! He kept trying to slip away into strange time signatures that had nothing to do with the songs. All that shit ass "math rock" has fucked up his sense of rhythm. Since James was working along side of me every day, I had to awkwardly tell him that he wasn't a good fit. He's a nice guy, so he understood.
Matt was our most recent drummer. Like most of the others, we found him on Craigslist. This time, to weed out all of the people that would waste our time, we were very specific with our ad. He liked most of the "influences" we put in our ad and he really liked the song samples we sent him. In his email he wrote that his favorite drummers were Moe Tucker, Levon Helm and Charlie Watts. All no-nonsense drummers, right up our alley. Absolutely perfect. Another guitar player that "can keep a beat", we gave him a try and he kind of stunk but he was keeping up with us, and he had a great sense of humor. The personality was a big part of why we kept him around. If you're gonna play music with people, you gotta get along with them and enjoy their company. We figured that Matt would improve after awhile, but after 6 months he didn't get any better. In fact, his drumming really started to annoy me. He was always smashing the cymbals at innappropriate times and he could never take any criticisms. "Can we try it like this?" I'd ask. "Sure..." Matt would reply, and then proceed to play the song the exact same crappy way he'd played it before. There was no "groove" in Matt's drumming. In fact, he had none of the qualities of the drummers he had name checked in his email. Matt became obsessed with getting us shows to play. He would always ask "when are we gonna play our first show?". No one had the heart to tell him that we couldn't play in front of people because he was a shitty drummer. Not a shitty drummer in a charming Half Japanese or Beat Happening kind of way, just a flat out annoying headache inducing crap ass drummer. He doesn't know he's out of the band yet, but we've avoided contact with him for several weeks now. It's the noble thing to do.
Why is it so hard to find a like-minded, non-douche to man the skins? Not sure, but we will continue our search, and some day, maybe we'll get to play our songs in front of an actual crowd.
I will close with a few drummer jokes that I like:
• How do you tell if the stage is level?
The drummer is drooling from both sides of his mouth.
• How can you tell a drummer's at the door?
The knocking speeds up.
• What's the last thing a drummer says in a band?
"Hey guys, why don't we try one of my songs?
• What do you call a drummer that breaks up with his girlfriend?
They both suck without Cream.
• How many drummers does it take to change a light bulb?
Five: One to screw the bulb in, and four to talk about how much better
Neil Peart coulda done it.