Re: How much do lyrics matter to you?
To answer your question Pol, about 90% of lyrics having to do with matters of the groin, and that basically they don't hold any interest for you, I'm not sure how to respond. A little disappointed, like many of the responses here dissing lyrics. Yes you don't have to know the lyrics to craft a good drum part, you can go by the mood. I happen to think we can do better than that by matching the mood with the lyric. They aren't always in line w/ each other. You can definitely make a mood, but does it match the lyric? Like your "On Broadway" song, I felt it was too happy for the lyric. (JMO) You explained why you did it that way and I get that, but that doesn't change what I prefer to hear there.
I will concede that in a large percentage of songs, you really can't play to the lyrics much, for one reason or another. But there are enough songs out there where the lyrics are conveying a real message, or telling a great story, or verbalizing some kind of shared human emotion that you can really decorate as a drummer if you are understanding what's being said.
And if you don't listen to lyrics because a large percentage of songs you can't really play to them for one reason or another, when you do get a chance to really get inside a great lyric, you may blow it off out of habit. You can never convince me being less sensitive to a vital part of the song is a good thing.
The screamo death metal lyrics...I'm sorry but I can't decipher that stuff, the drumming can't be particularly sensitive to the lyrics in most songs in that genre IMO. That wouldn't work well anyway, metal drumming, to me, is supposed to be very aggressive and not sensitive (except perhaps in the slower power ballad type stuff).
So when Shadowlorde commented on how the singer "spews" words, initially I was a little let down that another drummer writes the lyrics off as not important...but then I remembered that his genre is metal. Metal has it's own rules it seems and my defense of lyrics doesn't really mean much to a metal drummer, because the drumming is so physically intense, and is largely disconnected from the singer. This is just my limited view of metal, I don't play or listen to it, so forgive me if I painted w/ too broad a stroke.
But for Blues, Motown, Rock, R&B, Country, Pop, Ballads and many other genres where the lyrics can be extremely important, that's where knowing the lyrics can make you a more "in tune" and thoughtful drummer/musician. This is the type of music I play so naturally I'm very lyric oriented.
The singer/drummer connection....Indian is right, it's not discussed nearly enough. It's part of our job description. Nothing pleases a singer like a drummer who is hanging on every syllable, and playing appropriately to them.
My advise to everyone is know your lyrics. Understand what emotions are being conveyed by the singer. Help the singer achieve their goals by being as one with the them. It can only help you play the song better, and it's not hard work, to read through a lyric sheet, or simply listen closely. You might even say...Huh...I never realized that the lyrics were so poignant! (or cool, or whatever)
OK I'll stop harping now.