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Old 02-07-2015, 06:00 PM
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Default Alan Dawson: How Do You Sound? vs How Do You Look?

SKF NOTE: This exchange is from my interview with Alan Dawson for Modern Drummer’s January 1986 10th Anniversary Issue. The interview took place sometime in 1985 in Alan Dawson’s Massachusetts’ home living room.

Alan Dawson: How Do You Sound? vs How Do You Look?



Alan Dawson: I've always admired the sound of what things were. When I've seen a drummer who can twirl his sticks and do this and that, I've said many times that that's fine. But what about a record? What happens on a record?

Well, that's as if I was saying that the record is the real thing. There's a turnaround in that, because what you hear on a record today is something totally different than you're bound to hear on a live performance -- unless someone has access to all of these technological advances.

When you really come down to it, each guy does his own thing. I never particularly went out for the flamboyant, visual thing. Certain things came about, however.

When I think about it, Jo Jones impressed me very much. I heard him before I saw him. I certainly was impressed with his sound. There was nothing else that influenced me then.

When I saw him do a solo cross-handed, I must say, I was very impressed: Here's something that's proven itself soundwise by my just hearing it -- and on top of all this he's got this wonderful visual thing too. In that sense, that's great.

Jimmy Crawford was a fine player. On top of that he was a master at twirling sticks. Sonny Payne too. It didn't hurt that they could entertain you as well as the fact that they could play.

If it's a case of entertain or play, if you can't play, I'm not interested.

Scott K Fish Blog: Life Beyond the Cymbals
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Old 02-07-2015, 10:18 PM
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Default Re: Alan Dawson: How Do You Sound? vs How Do You Look?

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If it's a case of entertain or play, if you can't play, I'm not interested.

That perception may be a little dated, it really depends upon the music.
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Old 02-08-2015, 01:08 AM
SpareRib SpareRib is offline
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Default Re: Alan Dawson: How Do You Sound? vs How Do You Look?

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That perception may be a little dated, it really depends upon the music.
That was pretty awsome!
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Old 02-08-2015, 05:23 AM
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Default Re: Alan Dawson: How Do You Sound? vs How Do You Look?

Originally Posted by Scott K Fish:
[Alan Dawson]: "If it's a case of entertain or play, if you can't play, I'm not interested."

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Originally Posted by Les Ismore View Post
That perception may be a little dated, it really depends upon the music https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VtrpBObV7l4.
Do you honestly think his perception doesn't take into account the video you posted? Yes, this guy knows how to play and yes, he's adding visuals and entertaining a crowd. But to imply that it's something new is quite off the mark.
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Old 02-08-2015, 02:16 PM
SmoothOperator SmoothOperator is offline
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Default Re: Alan Dawson: How Do You Sound? vs How Do You Look?

I think visual entertainment is key for drummers. It's one of the few instruments that is entertaining to watch, and even the back row can see it. Plus the canonical approach to drums being untuned noise making time keepers, visual entertainment it is one of the few ways one drummer can stand out, without ruffling the feathers of mainstream musical liturgy.

Personally, I don't care for stick tricks, that's too arena rock for, me but that isn't the only way to put on a show.
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Old 02-08-2015, 08:53 PM
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Default Re: Alan Dawson: How Do You Sound? vs How Do You Look?

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Originally Posted by Scott K Fish:
[Alan Dawson]: "If it's a case of entertain or play, if you can't play, I'm not interested."



Do you honestly think his perception doesn't take into account the video you posted? Yes, this guy knows how to play and yes, he's adding visuals and entertaining a crowd. But to imply that it's something new is quite off the mark.

Yes that guy (Zolton Chaney) knows how to play simple 2 and 4 rock.

I myself (and probably Dawson if) would not go see a band like Vince Neil, or Slaughter expecting to be impressed by the drummers playing ability. If Lars were playing with Vince Neil band in place of Chaney, I would no way in hell go see that show. The only hopes of me attending a Neil/Slaughter type show would be if Chaney were playing drums.

I believe Chaney 'is' that entertaining, and not really that great of a player, and Im sure Alan Dawson would not have been impressed with the music. In other words, the music is pretty simple, but I believe what Chaney does sell (more) tickets, and I believe the bands that hire him feel the same way.

Is Chaney doing something new? Certainly 'entertaining' behind the drum kit isn't new, Buddy Rich was doing it in the 1920's, but Chaney has taken it to a new level, no ones done it like he's doing it.

There's a saying 'You'll never create something new', tho in that respect Chaney is definitely doing new stuff as far as drum set theatrics are concerned.
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Old 02-09-2015, 05:52 PM
JohnW JohnW is offline
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Default Re: Alan Dawson: How Do You Sound? vs How Do You Look?

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Is Chaney doing something new? Certainly 'entertaining' behind the drum kit isn't new, Buddy Rich was doing it in the 1920's, but Chaney has taken it to a new level, no ones done it like he's doing it.

There's a saying 'You'll never create something new', tho in that respect Chaney is definitely doing new stuff as far as drum set theatrics are concerned.
But he really isn't doing anything new under the sun:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZ8MVrlGa1E

This takes nothing away from Zoltan Chaney, since he certainly knows how to play and good on him for giving an audience their money's worth. It's in response to your earlier comment that Alan's statement "may be a little dated". I honestly believe he would have no issue with someone like Zoltan since he knew how hard it was to make a living at drumming and many of his students became (or were) famous players who also entertained.

The fact that he probably wouldn't be impressed isn't the issue- he had ridiculously high standards for playing. But he was connected in the industry and was well aware of what Bonham, Moon and Carmine Appice were doing, as well as obscure vaudeville entertainers of the past.

And could also have sly fun. Many times, I saw him do bare handed solos crossing his arms, playing melodies on a wave of poly-rhythms, (sometimes singing out loud) all the while looking you straight in the eye as if to say, "wrap your head around this!"
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Old 02-09-2015, 06:15 PM
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Default Re: Alan Dawson: How Do You Sound? vs How Do You Look?

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But he really isn't doing anything new under the sun:


Watch some more Chaney vids, he's doing stuff nobodies done bf.


The Crump vid is dance video with drums as a prop, certainly nothing like theatrics in a musical performance/concert.

If Crump were to do that stiff thru a whole live big band performance at the time, a long hook would've yanked him by the neck off stage.
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Old 02-09-2015, 06:23 PM
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Default Re: Alan Dawson: How Do You Sound? vs How Do You Look?

I am absolutely shocked to hear a professional drummer say that the playing on a record is a better measure of a drummer than their live performance. I could absolutely care less what a drummer can do in the studio. In these days of quantization and hit replacement I don't think much of what we hear on records is really played by the drummer anyway. When I go to a show I want to see a high energy drummer who can faithfully reproduce what was on the record, not a statue who is more worried about perfection than performance.
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Old 02-09-2015, 06:41 PM
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Default Re: Alan Dawson: How Do You Sound? vs How Do You Look?

In Alan Dawson's day they didn't have the benefit of all the technology first of all, and I read his statement in the original post re: "what about the recording?" and interpret it as meaning "is the player playing with feeling, does the drum track contribute to the song etc" rather than it implying that recorded drumming was superior to live performance. If stick twirls are all you've got then you may find yourself wanting when it's time to go into the recording studio - if you can twirl/do the showboat thing and have great technique and feel then, as we say back home, you''re laughing.
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Old 02-09-2015, 06:53 PM
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Default Re: Alan Dawson: How Do You Sound? vs How Do You Look?

I remember when Nevermind first came out and being impressed with Grohl's drumming on it since it was so much tighter and groovier than what came before it.

But when I saw him for the first time on that tour less than a month after the record came out, and not having any clue what to expect, I was absolutely floored by his visuals. Laughing my head off is a pretty accurate description. Amazing energy. He instantly became one of my favorite drummers - and he still is.
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Old 02-09-2015, 07:00 PM
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Default Re: Alan Dawson: How Do You Sound? vs How Do You Look?

As soon as you're play live, you are not just a musician, but also an entertainer. You have a responsibility to be either compelling to watch or not distracting from the performance - or something in between.

Side note - stick twirling in the recording studio will get a delightful response from the engineer. I highly recommend it.
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Old 02-09-2015, 09:16 PM
eddypierce eddypierce is offline
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Default Re: Alan Dawson: How Do You Sound? vs How Do You Look?

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I remember when Nevermind first came out and being impressed with Grohl's drumming on it since it was so much tighter and groovier than what came before it.

But when I saw him for the first time on that tour less than a month after the record came out, and not having any clue what to expect, I was absolutely floored by his visuals. Laughing my head off is a pretty accurate description. Amazing energy. He instantly became one of my favorite drummers - and he still is.
I got the chance to see Grohl play on my own drum set on one tune (he was sitting in with my band in a tiny club; it was literally the Foo Fighters' first club gig, and they had opened for my band--quite a fluke experience). I hadn't paid too much attention to his drumming prior to that, but I was pretty floored when I saw him play live--very solid and full of energy.
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Old 02-09-2015, 09:27 PM
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Default Re: Alan Dawson: How Do You Sound? vs How Do You Look?

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Originally Posted by eddypierce View Post
I got the chance to see Grohl play on my own drum set on one tune (he was sitting in with my band in a tiny club; it was literally the Foo Fighters' first club gig, and they had opened for my band--quite a fluke experience). I hadn't paid too much attention to his drumming prior to that, but I was pretty floored when I saw him play live--very solid and full of energy.
Where was that? Before William Goldsmith? Cool.
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Old 02-10-2015, 07:03 AM
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Default Re: Alan Dawson: How Do You Sound? vs How Do You Look?

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Originally Posted by Les Ismore View Post
Watch some more Chaney vids, he's doing stuff nobodies done bf.


The Crump vid is dance video with drums as a prop, certainly nothing like theatrics in a musical performance/concert.

If Crump were to do that stiff thru a whole live big band performance at the time, a long hook would've yanked him by the neck off stage.
I just saw 4 videos of Chaney and again, while he certainly has technique and stamina to get through his theatrics while playing, I don't see or hear anything that novel. Yes, the fact that he may be doing it for a whole show may make it less common. But stick twirling, tossing, balancing and clicking, hitting your head on the cymbals and kicking them have all been done before. And maybe as we speak.

Again, it doesn't make Alan's point "dated" or contradict it. He's just that playing comes first. Zoltan Chaney is in fact playing, with entertainment on top. He can play both matched and traditional and has a relaxed technique for hitting hard. I do hear some spots here he seems to slow the tempo down. But it really doesn't take away from the performance.

As far as Freddy Crump's big band playing and antics go, here's an interesting page on just that:
http://drumz4sale.blogspot.com/2012/...en-genius.html
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Old 02-10-2015, 01:07 PM
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Default Re: Alan Dawson: How Do You Sound? vs How Do You Look?

In the true sense of the word, my most memorable musical moments are when I was entertained by what the musician was playing, not how he or she was playing.

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Scott K Fish
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Old 02-10-2015, 01:14 PM
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Default Re: Alan Dawson: How Do You Sound? vs How Do You Look?

It also depends on the music but I love to see a drummer playing with energy and commitment. As soon as I see a drummer, no matter how good, throwing sticks about my first thought is "P***k".
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Old 02-10-2015, 03:52 PM
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Default Re: Alan Dawson: How Do You Sound? vs How Do You Look?

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Originally Posted by Scott K Fish View Post
In the true sense of the word, my most memorable musical moments are when I was entertained by what the musician was playing, not how he or she was playing.

Best,
Scott K Fish
For me it's really both. There's the parts being played and there's the performance of those parts. It could be Dave Grohl or Steve Gadd; seeing someone playing "in the zone" is where my money's at.

That said, stick twirling and most such theatrics feel contrived and kinda lame to me, though I'll admit to cracking up watching Zoltan Channey ... that's just comedy.
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Old 02-10-2015, 06:29 PM
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Default Re: Alan Dawson: How Do You Sound? vs How Do You Look?

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Originally Posted by Scott K Fish View Post
In the true sense of the word, my most memorable musical moments are when I was entertained by what the musician was playing, not how he or she was playing.

Best,
Scott K Fish


Again, it depends on the music. With the music Chaney is playing, IMO the visuals are going to be most memorable, not the simple 2 and 4 rock grooves and this relates to the 'dated' part.

In Dawson's time to be a working drummer you had to have a good bit of technique in all styles and usually at a live show more than one style was performed. Now day's a drummer can work (be hugely successful) being proficient in only one style.
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