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  #1  
Old 01-31-2018, 11:46 AM
davor davor is offline
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Default is a lack of fills a problem for a first gig?

Hello, just wondering what people think Ė

So Iíve been in my first band for a few months now, its going well and thereís talk of booking our first gig in the next couple of months.

I can play most of our songs pretty well, but Iím lacking in fills and crashes (some songs I donít play any fills at all!). I tend to play safe most of the time and simply keep a good groove for the band.

Does anyone think this would be a problem for a live performance? Iím quite short of practice time at the moment so I find learning fills and more complicated sections of songs really difficult.

Also, at the moment Iím still trying to get to grips with the transition from e-kit to acoustic, which is time consuming in itself! My thought is a tight beat and good sound takes priority over fills etc.

But at the same time Iím worried my playing will appear boring or sub-standard in some way.

Interested to know what you guys think!
Thanks
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  #2  
Old 01-31-2018, 12:18 PM
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Default Re: is a lack of fills a problem for a first gig?

Depends on the song.
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  #3  
Old 01-31-2018, 01:10 PM
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Default Re: is a lack of fills a problem for a first gig?

Playing the songs in steady time
Knowing the "form/structure" of the song - Verse/Chorus/Bridge etc.
Creating a good atmosphere for the other musicians
Song starts/count-offs and ends.
Watching the other musicians and acknowledging their cues
Smile, so the audience can see you are enjoying the music.


These are all much more important than drum fills.

Best of luck
Mick
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  #4  
Old 01-31-2018, 02:05 PM
beyondbetrayal beyondbetrayal is offline
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Default Re: is a lack of fills a problem for a first gig?

When your new, time and steadyness beats all

Get threw the gig. that is all that matters. Don't even do a fill if you don't need to.

As you improve and get comfortable add them in.. I'd rather hear a drummer keep good, time than play a sloppy fill that derails the song
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  #5  
Old 01-31-2018, 02:52 PM
brentcn brentcn is online now
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Default Re: is a lack of fills a problem for a first gig?

Yes, steady time is important, but the drums are supposed to accompany the music, so YEEEESSSSSSS, you're supposed to do more than just play a f***ing beat! You're a musician; not a wind-up monkey.

Steady time is of course important, but crashes are pretty damn important, too! In most songs, a crash announces when there's a new part of the song. The crash cymbal says "here's the chorus", or "here's the bridge" or "here's a really important note/chord/moment/whatever". Having them in their proper place will help the band to navigate the song, and sound more like the recordings that we all know and love. If adding in the crashes causes your timing to become unsteady, well, that's what practice is for! Get used to playing crashes with steady timing; you'll do it often in most songs, and playing them will help you to better understand and memorize the song form.

Is it a problem not to play fills? Not all fills are created equal, so it depends. Some songs have fills that are brief and (literally) "fill in" some musical space (that's where the term comes from). So, it's not a big deal if they're not played. But some songs have fills that do more for the song. They're statements, or parts, that go along with other parts of the song, or stand by themselves. For example, In The Air Tonight has a great big drum fill that almost everyone knows and expects to hear. An audience who likes music, knows music, and will recognize when this type of fill is played accurately.

Once the beat is going well, then add the crashes, and then add important, statement-type fills. Finally, add other fills and complexity as you go along. You have a couple months; you'll be fine!
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  #6  
Old 01-31-2018, 03:22 PM
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Default Re: is a lack of fills a problem for a first gig?

I'd add this. Good tempo and steady meter beats all, no matter if you're new or not. Fills...wait till you feel them, not before.
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  #7  
Old 01-31-2018, 03:54 PM
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Default Re: is a lack of fills a problem for a first gig?

Depends on the kind of music.

If you are playing "Jack and Dianne," then yes, you need to learn THE fill!

If you are playing AC/DC, then maybe you don't need to learn as many fills.

If you are playing Americana/bluegrassy-type music and all you are doing is train beats with brushes, then maybe not so much.

What kind of music are you doing?
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  #8  
Old 01-31-2018, 03:56 PM
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Default Re: is a lack of fills a problem for a first gig?

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Originally Posted by beyondbetrayal View Post
When your new, time and steadyness beats all

I'd rather hear a drummer keep good, time than play a sloppy fill that derails the song
Never mind when you're new. There's guys who've been playing years and haven't mastered taste or time.

They're the two most overlooked things in drumming and arguably the two most important.

I'm pretty sure most of the working drummers on here have made more money from playing time than the drum equivalent of fret wanking. Brown Eyed Girl has made me more money than Van Morrison :)
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  #9  
Old 01-31-2018, 03:56 PM
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Default Re: is a lack of fills a problem for a first gig?

A great groove, with solid time, delivered with authority, is absolutely priority 1. Appropriately placed crashes are an integral part of that delivery, so you need to get those nailed down. With the exception of signature fills in covers, you can get through a song without snare / tom fills, but eventually, you should strive to get those in place too - but ----------------

Don't attempt anything you can't pull off reliably, without stressing yourself, & without upsetting the time. An omission is almost always better than a screw up.
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  #10  
Old 01-31-2018, 04:08 PM
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Default Re: is a lack of fills a problem for a first gig?

Just keep a steady beat and you'll be OK.
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  #11  
Old 01-31-2018, 04:14 PM
brentcn brentcn is online now
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Default Re: is a lack of fills a problem for a first gig?

Surprised to hear all the "just play time" opinions. There's a couple months to go until the gig. Are you men or are you mice?
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  #12  
Old 01-31-2018, 04:18 PM
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Default Re: is a lack of fills a problem for a first gig?

I direct you to 3 drummers:
Phil Rudd
Frank Beard
Joey Kramer

These guys have made careers of playing solid time with a low amount of fills. What you should notice is the short fills they do use are at the right moment, then it's back to the time.

You don't have to be Neil Peart to make your mark. Serve the song first, your embellishment comes later.
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  #13  
Old 01-31-2018, 04:21 PM
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Default Re: is a lack of fills a problem for a first gig?

Good time and groove is a necessity, but if a newbie a poorly executed or misplaced fill is a real distraction and song killer (oh yeah I know about that). Also you'll find you don't have the skills to pull off some fills (raise my hand again), but that doesn't mean you ignore it-just ad lib something that will work and you can pull off (likely other musicians in group are doing the same unless a pro group). A fill is suppose to fill in and fit in-so there is the rub. You can execute a great fill but if misplaced will be distracting noise. There is a reason they are referred to as "tasty fills"-because they have to be in good taste. LOL
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  #14  
Old 01-31-2018, 04:27 PM
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Default Re: is a lack of fills a problem for a first gig?

Thanks for the comments so far folks, really useful!

About crashes, Iím mostly good with this - when I remember! (Sometimes Iíll go into almost auto-pilot and forget - something Iím already working on!)

The type of songs weíre doing are mainly standard rock type stuff, some indie and folk rock. Examples of songs where I play hardly any fills Ė Dancing in the dark , maneater and fishermans blues (waterboys).

I do have a couple of months until a gig, but itís just a case of where to focus my attention when practice time is in short supply! Especially when the list of songs we are learning seems to be increasing too!
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  #15  
Old 01-31-2018, 04:33 PM
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Default Re: is a lack of fills a problem for a first gig?

There is some very good advice on this thread.

In most songs the drum part can be boring. But it serves as the very necessary foundation for the more interesting parts of the song. That's our job as drummers.

Spend some time listening to the original recordings of the songs you are going to play. How many drum fills do you hear?
How different would the songs sound without those (I'm assuming) very very few drum fills. There lies the answer to your question.

PS: Playing Fishermans Blues (waterboys) with no fills would sound just fine. Just provide a strong back beat.


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  #16  
Old 01-31-2018, 04:39 PM
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Default Re: is a lack of fills a problem for a first gig?

Quote:
Originally Posted by brentcn View Post
Surprised to hear all the "just play time" opinions. There's a couple months to go until the gig. Are you men or are you mice?
I get what you're saying and if I was playing something that's exactly how I'd approach it but like you I'm further along my drumming journey than the OP who sounds like a beginner :)

It's about being comfortable on stage and not putting any undue pressure on yourself. If you can't play the fills in practice, throw some gig nerves on top of that and you're gonna bring the wrong attention on yourself.

We're just trying to provide words of wisdom for someone who has never played a gig before.

Now where's that cheese!
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  #17  
Old 01-31-2018, 05:34 PM
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Default Re: is a lack of fills a problem for a first gig?

Lack of fills will get you a CALL BACK.

Play the song, not the drums.

I've been gigging for 20 years with all kinds of bands. If you want to get a call back, stay out of the way of the song.
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  #18  
Old 01-31-2018, 06:47 PM
Woolwich Woolwich is offline
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Default Re: is a lack of fills a problem for a first gig?

Given where you are in terms of the skills and experience, get the song right and ONLY worry about fills if they're of the signature "In The Air Tonight" variety. I once read an interview in which Phil Gould (ex Level 42, he can play) was talking about getting more involved in playing after a lengthy sabbatical and even he was saying that he would tense up ahead of a fill and get the timing wrong after so long out of the saddle.
As for crashes, possibly a contentious point of view but I'd avoid them too unless they're a signal for the band (sloshy hi hats, a double on the snare or a move to the ride are my favoured band signals). If there's one thing that winds me up it's seeing drummers after every 1, 2 or 4 bars hitting the crash. Even far better drummers than me seem to do the "bom bom, biddledy bom CRASH" thing when demoing drumkits. It's a habit I was never fully into and I now forcibly avoid doing it.
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  #19  
Old 01-31-2018, 07:09 PM
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Default Re: is a lack of fills a problem for a first gig?

Did my first ever, in-public, got-paid-to-hit-drums gig last summer, and my #1 goal was to not screw anything up for the rest of the band. So I did what a lot of folks here are suggesting: focus on the song, keep time, get the "signature" stuff right if a song has anything like that in it, and otherwise keep the mistakes down to stuff that most people wouldn't notice. It went great and everyone had a good time. The guitar player noticed that I was playing pretty conservatively, and in the last set encouraged me to go after the fills a bit more (the crowd had thinned out at that point), so I did. But I'm glad that everything else was solid first. This was mostly country/country-dance (two-step) music, with a few classic rock and funk tunes in the mix, so most of the beats were fairly straightforward.
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  #20  
Old 01-31-2018, 07:20 PM
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Default Re: is a lack of fills a problem for a first gig?

Quote:
Originally Posted by motojosh View Post
The guitar player noticed that I was playing pretty conservatively, and in the last set encouraged me to go after the fills a bit more (the crowd had thinned out at that point), so I did.
Great story and example.
However, I have a very hard time believing this part about the guitar player. In 65 years of playing the drums I've never met a guitar player like this.

I'm editing this post. Having thought about it, and until recently I have never simply kept time with no fills.
So I think I understand why no guitar player has ever said this to me. Sorry, I believe you now.


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Last edited by Hollywood Jim; 01-31-2018 at 07:32 PM.
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  #21  
Old 01-31-2018, 07:33 PM
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Default Re: is a lack of fills a problem for a first gig?

Honestly, I think you're either selling yourself short, or probably aren't really ready to gig yet.

If you've got good groove and time, then I don't see why you can't add a crash or small fill. You don't have to do anything complicated, but outside of a few genres people expect to hear some flair, and I think people will certainly notice you aren't contributing beyond time.

Literally, a fill can be one note, and they can be in the same note value without sub-dividing; which is to say if you're playing an 8th note beat, you can keep playing those same notes but just play them on different parts of the kit! Think of them as beats that don't repeat. Even just playing a few extra notes on the snare before going back to the beat counts as a fill!

That said, I don't know you, your playing or your band. It could be that you can actually get away with not playing anything other than time. Again, honestly, I don't really believe that you "can't" play fills if you really have good time and groove.
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  #22  
Old 01-31-2018, 09:50 PM
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Default Re: is a lack of fills a problem for a first gig?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mikyok View Post
We're just trying to provide words of wisdom for someone who has never played a gig before.
Me too. I'm routinely advising other drummers on how to play songs for their first gig; it's been my job for many years now. Crashes are not too much to ask -- this is a very, very basic skill that should be addressed early on. Most fills can be learned in a few weeks, too. Some beats and fills are tough, but they can be simplified. And, of course, some songs will require no fills or crashes, and that's okay. All songs require steady time.

To the OP -- Playing fills only wrecks your time-keeping if you don't practice keeping steady time while playing fills! Many drummers will speed up or slow down when playing fills, it's a very common beginner mistake. But you CAN AND SHOULD learn to play crashes and fills while maintaining steady time. You can do it!
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  #23  
Old 01-31-2018, 11:19 PM
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Default Re: is a lack of fills a problem for a first gig?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr_Watso View Post
Honestly, I think you're either selling yourself short, or probably aren't really ready to gig yet.

If you've got good groove and time, then I don't see why you can't add a crash or small fill. You don't have to do anything complicated, but outside of a few genres people expect to hear some flair, and I think people will certainly notice you aren't contributing beyond time.

Literally, a fill can be one note, and they can be in the same note value without sub-dividing; which is to say if you're playing an 8th note beat, you can keep playing those same notes but just play them on different parts of the kit! Think of them as beats that don't repeat. Even just playing a few extra notes on the snare before going back to the beat counts as a fill!

That said, I don't know you, your playing or your band. It could be that you can actually get away with not playing anything other than time. Again, honestly, I don't really believe that you "can't" play fills if you really have good time and groove.
Agreed! Good advice here.... on your own, try to add some embellishment to see how it works for you. That'll give you an idea of what you can start to add, when you're comfortable...and remember, you'll never truly be fully comfortable, 100%. At some point (hopefully over the period of a few rehearsals) you'll have to try some "stuff".

I do agree with your attitude of serving the song first, and worrying about the beat primarily. That's a good sign. You're further ahead than those who want to cover every second with a fill...

Good luck!
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  #24  
Old 02-01-2018, 02:11 AM
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Default Re: is a lack of fills a problem for a first gig?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hollywood Jim View Post
Great story and example.
However, I have a very hard time believing this part about the guitar player. In 65 years of playing the drums I've never met a guitar player like this.

I'm editing this post. Having thought about it, and until recently I have never simply kept time with no fills.
So I think I understand why no guitar player has ever said this to me. Sorry, I believe you now.


.
I should add that it wasn't like I played ZERO fills. I just kept it well within my skill set. (For example, playing eight-note or quarter note fills on songs where, if I were pushing it, I might do sixteenth-notes.) But yeah, it was a fun gig, and a really small audience/venue, so the guitar player was just pointing out that I could be a bit more aggressive about it.
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Old 02-01-2018, 09:54 PM
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Default Re: is a lack of fills a problem for a first gig?

First gig: absolutely fine to leave fills out. My gut say memorize the tunes & the night of the gig, focus 100% on the music. No drumistic anything. No logical thought. Go blank & get into "flow state".

Unless it is prog rock: play along to SJ's "the groove is here" video for a month & then just destroy the gig w/ pocket. https://hudsonmusic.com/product/the-groove-is-here/

have as much fun as possible as i still remember my first paying gig. :-)
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  #26  
Old 02-01-2018, 09:59 PM
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Default Re: is a lack of fills a problem for a first gig?

Quote:
Originally Posted by davor View Post
Hello, just wondering what people think Ė

So Iíve been in my first band for a few months now, its going well and thereís talk of booking our first gig in the next couple of months.

I can play most of our songs pretty well, but Iím lacking in fills and crashes (some songs I donít play any fills at all!). I tend to play safe most of the time and simply keep a good groove for the band.

Does anyone think this would be a problem for a live performance? Iím quite short of practice time at the moment so I find learning fills and more complicated sections of songs really difficult.

Also, at the moment Iím still trying to get to grips with the transition from e-kit to acoustic, which is time consuming in itself! My thought is a tight beat and good sound takes priority over fills etc.

But at the same time Iím worried my playing will appear boring or sub-standard in some way.

Interested to know what you guys think!
Thanks
Youíre trying to do this music thing full time, huh?
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  #27  
Old 02-01-2018, 11:15 PM
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Default Re: is a lack of fills a problem for a first gig?

Actually no, I'm doing it purely for fun! Everyone in our band has a bunch of other commitments but we share a passion for music :)
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  #28  
Old 02-02-2018, 12:10 AM
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Default Re: is a lack of fills a problem for a first gig?

Do whatever you feel confident doing and have fun. It's only music.
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  #29  
Old 02-02-2018, 12:37 AM
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Default Re: is a lack of fills a problem for a first gig?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bo Eder View Post
..Youíre trying to do this music thing full time, huh?..

Just wondering, but in which way is that a relevant question for someone that asks some advice for his first gig ever..?


More on topic..:

I think the most important thing is that you can provide the right feel to a song and thats something that never should be underestimated (especially with songs that seem to be 'easy'..)
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Old 02-02-2018, 12:55 AM
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Default Re: is a lack of fills a problem for a first gig?

As said it depends on song and style, but just starting out it shouldn't matter.

In any case. Never sacrifice the groove and feel for a fill.

As Jim Riley says; "The ol' 4e& can take you far.

As your skills and confidence grow you'll naturally start playing fills that fit.

Certainly do fills exercises yourself in the practice room.

Some things should be done right like the guitar solo in "Wonderful Tonight" and the drums in "November Rain." They are as much part of the songs as anything and shouldn't be messed with unless that's the intention.

As for comfort with fills, you'll probably find that this is as much about confidence in the song structure and general appropriate subdivisions as anything technical. Do that 3 bar groove thing and a fill in the 4th bar. It's especially important when learning a new groove, a new time signature or whatever. Put it in a context right away. When you're tired of one fill start doing it with a new one. If you have 10 fills that you know in and out for any given type of style/song/groove you play you have quite a lot of vocabulary. Enough to make you start feeling pretty free.

Practice various stickings and make sure the fill is as solid as a groove as it really is and should be felt as part of the groove.
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  #31  
Old 02-02-2018, 01:32 PM
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Default Re: is a lack of fills a problem for a first gig?

As others have mentioned, it depends on the music. Some fills are considered indelible parts of the music, so you have to learn those. But ad-libbed or improvised fills are not always necessary. Listen to Jay Bellerose of Paula Cole's "This Fire" and "Amen" albums and he hardly plays that type of fills in the whole album. But this is because the rhythms he creates and the groove he plays them in are so interesting to start with that they don't need fills as embellishment.

Keep practicing them though, until you get the confidence to do them in public performance.
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  #32  
Old 02-02-2018, 05:24 PM
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Default Re: is a lack of fills a problem for a first gig?

Quote:
Originally Posted by oldskoolsoul View Post
Just wondering, but in which way is that a relevant question for someone that asks some advice for his first gig ever..?


More on topic..:

I think the most important thing is that you can provide the right feel to a song and thats something that never should be underestimated (especially with songs that seem to be 'easy'..)
The question wasnít meant to offend. Iím simply pointing out that if you leave the fills out, youíre more likely to be called back, or hired by others. Believe it or not, drummers who donít interject their fills all over the place tend to want to be kept more than those that do. Yes, itís true it depends on the music, but letís say your music is meant to be of the popular variety; then Iíd say 5% of the time youíd be able to play a full.

Even Keith Richards when asked, ďwhat do you look for in a drummer?Ē His answer was ďwhat I look for is to never have to look at himĒ - which meant he just wants the drummer to lay it down so the band can ride on top of that. If the drummer was busy filling too much, it would get in the way.

So my answer was relevant that I figured you want to create a career, by being more concerned about the groove than the fills. But being a senior member here, I know there are people here who donít understand that concept yet and place an equal importance on their fills and licks as they do on their groove. In time they learn its more groove than fills. Been there and done that.
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  #33  
Old 02-02-2018, 06:35 PM
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Default Re: is a lack of fills a problem for a first gig?

I think there is lots of merit to your comments Bo. I'm no pro but got to play with some, and I played it "cool" (in the old school vernacular) with my playing-keep the beat-and keep the feel, playing medium to low volume (don't stomp on any other musician) so they can ask for more if need be, and play few to no fills-except if absolutely integral part of song-maybe wail just a bit on one song and show what meager chops I have. It worked as I kept getting to play with them-they were a great bunch and I think they liked seeing me improve from all their helpful suggestions and critiques in practice too (the bass player was really helpful and I loved it during gigs when he would look at me and smile with "You nailed it! look!. Keep it Simple is a great motto for any drummer
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Last edited by GetAgrippa; 02-02-2018 at 07:58 PM.
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Old 02-02-2018, 08:00 PM
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Bo Eder Bo Eder is offline
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Default Re: is a lack of fills a problem for a first gig?

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Originally Posted by GetAgrippa View Post
I think there is lots of merit to your comments Bo. I'm no pro but got to play with some, and I played it "cool" (in the old school vernacular) with my playing-keep the beat-and keep the feel, playing medium to low volume (don't stop on any other musician) so they can ask for more if need be, and play few to no fills-except if absolutely integral part of song-maybe wail just a bit on one song and show what meager chops I have. It worked as I kept getting to play with them-they were a great bunch and I think they liked seeing me improve from all their helpful suggestions and critiques in practice too (the bass player was really helpful and I loved it during gigs when he would look at me and smile with "You nailed it! look!. Keep it Simple is a great motto for any drummer
This is probably why Charlie has remained with the Stone forever. His sparse use of fills and great groove are what you think about with him, and as personalities they all get along so they stay together. It's funny when you think about how much personality is a factor in a successful group. You figure you only play together for so long on any given day. The other 22 hours of the day you're stuck together either traveling or getting into some kind of trouble ;)

So being sociable, easy to get along with goes much farther than being concerned about your fills. I honestly hated being with certain people when I played in college - all they did was work on their musical chops, but they were social jerks when we were riding in a bus somewhere or hanging out at a festival after we have played and been judged. And some of them were very talented, but to deal with them? That's a whole other deal.
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Old 02-03-2018, 03:31 AM
beyondbetrayal beyondbetrayal is offline
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Default Re: is a lack of fills a problem for a first gig?

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Never mind when you're new. There's guys who've been playing years and haven't mastered taste or time.

They're the two most overlooked things in drumming and arguably the two most important.

I'm pretty sure most of the working drummers on here have made more money from playing time than the drum equivalent of fret wanking. Brown Eyed Girl has made me more money than Van Morrison :)


I agree, but if OP is asking this question, I was just saying playing a beat with no fills will get you by for an entire gig with no weird looks or people covering their ears. .

I also thing for more experienced drummer a small error, or screw up can usually be recovered or covered up. Heck even playing a wrong part can usually be masked and the crowd doesn't notice, but for someone new it would most likely cause a stop in the song.

You are 100% correct though, all the chops and flash in the world is wasted if it sounds like garbage and out of time.
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Old 02-03-2018, 03:58 PM
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Default Re: is a lack of fills a problem for a first gig?

Even if you don't play fills in a song, you can still give the drum part some interest and musicality by orchestrating the surfaces you're 'riding' on.

Maybe try changing up between verse, chorus and bridge.

Play with the hi-hat tight shut, slightly open, or totally sloshy depending on the music. Throw in some hi-hat chokes, where appropriate, if you can.

Use the ride cymbal which also has a bow and bell - and you can crash it.

And you can also 'ride' on the crash cymbals, toms and snare - again if the song calls for it.

You certainly don't need to play the whole gig just chipping away on closed hi-hat and snare.

Having said all that - keep working on those fills!
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Old 02-04-2018, 09:06 PM
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Default Re: is a lack of fills a problem for a first gig?

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Hello, just wondering what people think –

So I’ve been in my first band for a few months now, its going well and there’s talk of booking our first gig in the next couple of months.

I can play most of our songs pretty well, but I’m lacking in fills and crashes (some songs I don’t play any fills at all!). I tend to play safe most of the time and simply keep a good groove for the band.

Does anyone think this would be a problem for a live performance? I’m quite short of practice time at the moment so I find learning fills and more complicated sections of songs really difficult.

Also, at the moment I’m still trying to get to grips with the transition from e-kit to acoustic, which is time consuming in itself! My thought is a tight beat and good sound takes priority over fills etc.

But at the same time I’m worried my playing will appear boring or sub-standard in some way.

Interested to know what you guys think!
Thanks


It's always better to play solid and consistent without fills than screwing up every single fill. Just relax about it, it will come alone. The first times I gigged I also tried to eliminate fills as much as possible because of that reason. One time you just get into the vibe enjoying your gig and it will just come alone and you are going to be like "wow I love this, let's do it again" and you will start doing fills forever. ;P

The good drummer is the one that can play a solid tempo, consistent and serve the music. No extra skills :)
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