Drummer’s Place In Band

fpmr96a

Member
I’m in 2 bands at the moment, but have played in many over the years.

I’m not a great drummer, but ok. One thing I’ve noticed over the years is that I’ve always felt like a less important band member. I don’t sing, so I’m not involved with discussions about the key or chord patterns.

I really don’t mean to come off as needy, but it seems like I’m respected as a drummer, but that the drummer is a less important band member. It seems especially evident when selecting songs or deciding on revised formats for songs.

I think my contribution is significant, as my funky grooves get people dancing.

Just an observation, but not a big deal...
 

New Tricks

Platinum Member
It's the natural order of things. In a typical band, the vocals are the most important part (and often the weak part of entry level bands)

Next comes the instruments guitar/keys, bass, then drums.

Don't forget that nobody would dance to your funky grooves without the bass guitar accompanying you :)

The more you learn about music (not just drums) , the more you can and will contribute.

Also, you might be able to sing if you work at it.
 

trickg

Silver Member
This isn't your imagination, it's a very real thing. I experienced a similar thing at a praise team rehearsal just this last week. When I spoke up regarding incorrect timing on a chord progression, and incorrect timing on song form, the guy leading worship this week was dismissive and condescending toward me, as if I couldn't possibly know what I'm talking about - I'm "only the drummer" after all.

What most of these people don't realize (mainly because I'm not the guy to bludgeon people with my musical resume) is that I:

  • have gigged on a professional level since I was about 17 - over 30 years
  • was an active duty military musician for 10 years (still currently serving in a National Guard band)
  • have over 35 years experience playing a wind/melodic instrument in all manner of ensembles across all manner of genres - concert bands, big bands, Latin bands, brass quintets, top 40 bands, solo liturgical trumpet, etc.
  • have a great deal of vocal experience, including years of multi-part acapella work singing bass, baritone and tenor parts, and I regularly sing both backup and leads gigging in the party band where I'm a trumpet player

I found his dismissive treatment of me irritating, but I tolerated it. In any case, you aren't alone - other musicians are often dismissive and condescending toward drummers. It's definitely a thing, and they have no clue how hard we work, or how much is involved in what we do in order to be good and effective with what we do.
 
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uhtrinity

Senior Member
Is between the bassist and the guitarist ......


On a serious note. Keeping or setting tempo as well as influencing feel and groove. I agree, we don't care or need to know chords, but in writing we can direct or guide the band from the drum stool.
 

cutaway79

Silver Member
Yep, that's a pretty standard thing. There are bands out there that will treat you better, but unfortunately, this type of thing is pretty common.
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
I firmly believe that your importance in a band as a drummer is completely within your control. Even without singing, you can learn enough about theory to be in on the conversation. If you are in an originals band, you can write lyrics or (if you know how) other parts. If you play covers, you can propose new songs to cover and help the band to learn the parts and the arrangements. You can use other talents you have (web design, art design, marketing, networking, even carpentry) to benefit the band in non-musical ways. And of course, be the drummer the band needs 100% of the time - playing for the song and the room.

I'm in several bands right now as well, and this marks my thirtieth year playing drums and my thirty-sixth year playing music. Not once in all that time have I ever felt like a less important band member.
 

mrfingers

Senior Member
I have to agree up to a point: depending on the music being played, the drummer is support only or the drummer is so important the band can’t replace the drummer without serious musical changes. None of the famous classic rock bands would have been the same without their drummers but cover bands/garage bands are different- drummers have to mimic their predecessors.
If you’re in an original music band, I don’t see how you can be insignificant. You’re laying down the first drum tracks, the originals: you set the rhythmic feel for the music, even the dynamics or can suggest those during compositional stages. As is often said”,the squeaky wheel...etc”, so don’t be afraid to add your 2 cents.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Each band member has a slightly different role. Some things are specific to the player, and there's some crossover between players, and some all-inclusive aspects to what the players contribute. Some players have additional things they bring to the table in a band, such as vocal ability, maybe they have a rehearsal space, own the p.a., have a recording facility, etc. Each contributes to the 'whole' to varying degrees, and that dynamic is a little (or a lot) different for each band.

That said, I haven't experienced being a second-class bandmember in any of the bands I've been in, but I know it happens. I will say that the more a drummer can contribute 1) melodically - such as vocals or songwriting, or 2) logistically - such as a place to rehearse, owning the p.a., etc., the better they tend to be respected within the group.

To the OP, I wouldn't worry too much about the situation, just play the drums. Do your part, and get paid. If you want more input, control, respect, whatever... form your own band where you're the leader.

Bermuda
 

No Way Jose

Silver Member
Every band is different. I can understand the front person / lead singer choosing songs and arrangements, they have to sing the song well. I do feel less important sometimes.
 

Magenta

Platinum Member
I'm a classically-trained (albeit dreadful) pianist; I read and write music; and I compose. I've just left a band because they had no idea what I did (and they should have).

Too many times I've felt sidelined, when they were discussing musical arrangements and didn't include me. Ok, I don't care about keys, but I DO care about beats, rhythms, interpretation and feel - but I wasn't included in the discussion.

The last straw came a week ago, when the set list came in. First up was "Instrumental". Not a problem. I can do Instrumental.

Bass player replied: "So [guitarist] and [keys], what do you want to play?"
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
You have to be secure in the fact that you KNOW how important the drums are.

There could be 30 or more other musicians who are being lead by one drummer. That fact alone should be validation enough.

Right now you are talking about how important the drummer is. I'd be willing to bet that the other instrument players are thinking the exact same thing about themselves. I don't see us sitting around talking about guitarists with stars in our eyes.

Just be secure, shut up, play well, arrive in plenty of time and be pleasant. Anything else is baggage.

Let everyone else have the problem, there's enough to overcome. You don't want self doubt to be another problem.
 

oldskoolsoul

Silver Member
All the other bandmembers in the world should realise that the playing of their drummer for the biggest part determines if their band sounds ok or not..

A quality band with a crap drummer stays a crap sounding band..

On the other hand, a crap band with a quality drummer can still sound pretty ok..
 

opentune

Platinum Member
I echo what everybody else has said. As an instrument it does take a backseat, and one tends to get sidelined in conversations. BUT in my (biased) opinion, there is a huge influence there not realized by everybody else in a band.
I'd actually say the drummer DRIVES the band.....the whole dynamic - whether to swing, go fast, slow, quiet, loud....etc...feel and time.. can all be in your hands....and without any words said. If you kick it up, the band does too. As a good example, if a band has a drummer that cannot do all those things, plays the same all the time, it is immediately noticeable.
I always remember the words of Sting in an interview about great drummers: "kickin' drummer, kickin' band"
 

jimb

Member
Played bass for 30 yrs and now just started on drums so I know all about perceived value etc.

I often felt as a bassist that I was the least valued member of the band. If I turned up a bit cause I couldn't hear myself than the others would turn up a bit too so I was always frustrated.

Also, an audience will always hear drums before anything else plus we take up a lot of real estate and we're shiny too!

Value your place cause you occupy the spot which makes everything else happen. I certainly do, I love the move to drums.
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
Personally I think drums are the glue for any song and band. The bass and drums have to jive-there's a shared soul it seems. Maybe we don't get the visual attention but what gets peoples feet taping and up dancing is just a simple beat-I know I've done it at church. I was just warming up and played a country shuffle-people were walking in at time and suddenly people were twirling and dancing all over the place-just me playing a tune. It was hilarious-the music minister changed the first song and told me to "countrify it". One of those "spirit" led moments I guess LOL.
 

Drumolator

Platinum Member
All the other bandmembers in the world should realise that the playing of their drummer for the biggest part determines if their band sounds ok or not..

A quality band with a crap drummer stays a crap sounding band..

On the other hand, a crap band with a quality drummer can still sound pretty ok..

Too true! Peace and goodwill.
 

williamsbclontz

Silver Member
I think it depends on who else is in the band. Take the police for example. Sting was probably the best musician in the group so I would say he was the most important. Not because he sang or lead, but because he was the best and the others probably fed off of him the most. Copeland was probably the 2nd best, so the second most important. In Led Zeppelin I would argue bonzo was most important, just because everyone in that group probably fed off of his energy the most because of his amazing talent. People will disagree with me, but that's just my opinion, so if you want to be more important in the group then you should work on your craft more and get better. If I played drums for a huge act like Jimi Hendrix or Elton John, I wouldn't mind being among the least important in the group

Just work hard, be the best you can be, stay humble and appreciate your bandmates
 

New Tricks

Platinum Member
If you ever doubt the value of drums, just listen to a drumless track :)

All the pieces are important but there is a food chain.
 
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Bo Eder

Platinum Member
I’m in 2 bands at the moment, but have played in many over the years.

I’m not a great drummer, but ok. One thing I’ve noticed over the years is that I’ve always felt like a less important band member. I don’t sing, so I’m not involved with discussions about the key or chord patterns.

I really don’t mean to come off as needy, but it seems like I’m respected as a drummer, but that the drummer is a less important band member. It seems especially evident when selecting songs or deciding on revised formats for songs.

I think my contribution is significant, as my funky grooves get people dancing.

Just an observation, but not a big deal...
I say if you're paid the same, then just ride the train. No responsibility is good. I love just showing up, meeting a group of people and playing. Let them pick the songs, and I just go. At the end, they give me money, I pack up, and go home. What could be better than that?

I have always felt that if you want to treat me less important, then you get to handle all the headache of running the band. I've done my fair share of forming groups, and then hustling for gigs, and it's a lot of work sometimes. If I don't have to do any of that, I'm happier ;)
 
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