Re: How much do lyrics matter to you?
Right. In that particular instance, (The song, "The Weight") the sonic impact by lessening my own volume slightly on that one lyric is enough to achieve the goal. It's not a loud part of the song there, so it works even if I do it alone. It's only a few seconds, but it's an important few seconds. But agreed, most dynamics have to have the whole band doing it. And I concede again that most lyrics you can't play to. I am on the lookout for the ones I can play to though. Lyrics do however dictate what is being sung about, and IMO influence what kind of drum part will be most appropriate.
As far as the singer/drummer connection, don't write it off. Singers....you have to have their back. The quicker you understand that, the better you will be thought of. You have the power to really make or break that person. For instance, when the singer makes a bad joke during chit chat time, you have to be listening so you can punctuate the punch line with a stupid splash or something. Lousy example but it explains my point. The singer is counting on the drummer to be there for them: Other things singers count on the drummer to:
A. Ease up on the volume a bit when the singer initially gets on mic, generally speaking, that's a good rule of thumb (song dependent of course)
B. Not step on the singers lyrics. Allow them to soak up all the attention, don't distract from them.
C. Be as one with the brain of the singer. Read their mind to the best of your ability. You will be treasured by them if you do this
D. Not take your eyes off the singer. You never know when they will give direction, in the form of hand signals or otherwise. Plus you can usually read their body language and ramp up the intensity as needed to match the singers intensity, or lack thereof. When the singer is on mic, THEY ARE THE BOSS, YOU CATER TO THEM.
E. Punctuate stuff if the lyric calls for it
I'm sure there's more but you get the gist. Nobody is connected to the singer more than the drummer. IMO we both share the 2 most emotional aspects of a song, the lyric and the drum part, so we need to operate together, in sync as a unit, on the same page with the same goal so it comes off to the audience the way it should.
Since I have to analogize everything, think of it like the band is the car, the singer is the driver, and when the singer steps on the gas, you, as the engine, need to be responsive. You don't want a disconnect there.