Bands with Two Drummers - Is There Really a Point?

mmulcahy1

Platinum Member
I was watching Radiohead on Austin City Limits last night and noticed that they had two drummers and it got me to thinking; why? As I watched, they were simply playing note for note, beat for beat the same.

If I were in a band and they wanted two drummers, I just tell them to do with one and pay me twice as much. ;-)

Am I just being naive, or is there a point to double you percussion, double your fun?

Discuss.

Here's a list I stole from Wikipedia:

ZARD (Izumi Sakai)
King Crimson, in the 1990s and 2008
Grateful Dead
The Allman Brothers Band
Bon Iver
Gorillaz 2010 Tour
The Doobie Brothers
Slipknot
...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead
Genesis, early years
Adam and the Ants
Gary Glitter
Modest Mouse
Angels of Light
The Melvins
Frank Zappa
Tortoise
Hidden Orchestra
Dananananaykroyd
Kylesa
Godsmack, occasionally
Do Make Say Think
Tornavalanche
Mushroomhead
Black Eyes
U.S. Christmas
The Fall 1981-1984; 1993-1997 (occasional)
NoMeansNo 1993-1997
Radiohead
The Roots
Pavement
Arcade Fire
Levon Helm during the '80s
Fugazi beginning in the early 2000s
White Rabbits
The Dirtbombs
The Feelies
The Butthole Surfers 1983-1985, 1986-1989, 2009
Bloc Party
Course of Empire
Combichrist
Poliça
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds since 1994
Tedeschi Trucks Band
Joe Bonamassa
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
I like the way modest mouse does it. On guy tends to handle percussion type stuff while the other handles the straight ahead drumming. Sometimes they cross, and even that sounds good to me.

Two guys playing the same thing, or doing fills over one-another doesn't usually work for me, though.
 

Slippy

Member
i think it was a fad in the 70's, they mostly played the same beat... th one band that comes to mid was 38 special...... i see no use for it unless one is a precussionist and the other plays the kit,
 

StickIt

Senior Member
Listen to any of the Dead's live stuff...yeah 2 drummers can be used to broaden the atmosphere to a (for me anyway) mind-blowing extent.
 

Nuka

Senior Member
With Adam you have the two drummers doing different beats, or at least the gig I teched for him that's what happened. And with the band Holywood Undead you have one on acoustic, one on electric so you get the electronica side to things. Slipknot have the three drummers so that you get the highlighted tom/timp additions in certain parts of songs, though often I admit, that it's hard to pick out which drummer plays where.

I've been in a dual drummer set up, and it's really fun. I think if you do it right, you get the atypical matched beat with awesome dual fill or alternate fills...

It gives good depth having the two drummers, though with sound boards and things you can create that depth with a single drummer.

I guess it's just personal preference. I enjoy both.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
90% of the time I've seen/heard bands with two drummers, it does come off as rather pointless. Most of the time it seems both drummers play identical parts, and sonically, you don't really hear two parts.

Adam and the Ants is the only one I've ever heard really make use of two drummers playing two different parts. Which was good when I found out it was two drummers, because I was wondering how one guy was playing some of those grooves.
 

Davo-London

Gold Member
Genesis did have 2 drummers live but only occasionally played together. Not convinced they should be in the list.

However, when compared to 2 guitarists, I would agree - pointless. You take away the drummers' freedom.

Davo
 

MikeM

Platinum Member
That's a pretty long list; have you spent much time listening to those bands? There's a point to it if any of them does anything for you. And even if none of them do, if anyone else gets excited about, I'd say there's a point in doing it.

Personally, I think if the drummers work together to compliment and/or enhance one another while adding more depth to the music, I'm in. I played in a two drummer band for a few years and it was a gas, but we didn't play the same parts either, which to me would have been pointless.
 
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Otto

Platinum Member
pointless

I think it sounds muddy.

What is usually done can usually be done by one drummer.

Makes it hard to select tasteful yet interesting paths through the song on the fly.

A drummer and a percussionist can work well...but thats not 2 drum set drummers....

Just not for me.
 

opentune

Platinum Member
You take away the drummers' freedom.
hmmm, How so?

The one drummer can hold the steady groove and another do something else, other phrases, or start on a poly rhythm or...
That sounds like more freedom.

I would agree its pointless to have them play the EXACT parts, but most don't.
 

Stroman

Platinum Member
absolutely there is a point to 2 drummers in some bands. just listen from 2:46 on.....
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KU2bOYiBX28
To me, those parts were not really enough different to make it worth two drummers. I don't mind it, though - it was cool to see Phil get behind the drums during the show, and that's part of performing, too.

I have always liked the way the Grateful Dead drummers worked together. Billy is more of a jazz-oriented drummer, and Mickey has a real tribal feel, heavy on the toms.

I never would have know the Doobie Bros had two drummers if I hadn't seen it...
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I've done the dual drummer thing. There's more to think about. I don't prefer it. Time feel has to match up and in my case it didn't so well. (he would drag fills and tempos bad. He ended up deferring to my time feel because there is no way I'm gonna drag things for his benefit) But there's room for dual drummers, triple even. Not my cup o' tea. I do appreciate guys who can make it work as it is harder to get together. I don't see the attraction from the other musicians POV though. It's hard enough to get a decent drummer that will compliment the music. To get 2 of them on the same page multiplies the difficulty of making a good feeling drum part. I think it makes things harder. Talking 2 drum sets here, not a percussionist and a drummer.

Even percussion guys, if they are not tasteful irritate me. There is this one "percussionist" I know. Nice guy, really. He was and still is the worst percussion guy I ever heard. During a straight ahead blues shuffle, he would get a metal guiro and play it with the metal afro comb thingy. He would do the shuffle rhythm plus loads of extra stuff on it that totally sounded like lead guiro, stepping on everyone, overpowering everything, front to back. It was like he took a pound of pepper and poured it all over a dish that required just a sprinkle of pepper, or really, no pepper at all. Blues doesn't have guiro in it, his playing and instrument choices sucked. I literally had urges to take that stupid guiro and just stomp on it and flatten it that's how irritating and grating it was. I really don't like the sound of a metal guiro played with a metal afro comb. It aurally offended me in a major way. He was Mr. Happy ruining the song for everyone though. Clueless lol. Some people are just clueless about music.
 

Croc

Senior Member
Pat Mastelotto is a drummer who paired with Bill Bruford, Gavin Harrison, and Tobias Ralph in his tenures with King Crimson and The Crimson ProjeKct. Each one of these pairings worked very well in my opinion and added color, depth, and yes the occasional bombast beyond what a single drummer of any skill level could provide.

He tells a story of the time when he first joined King Crimson at Robert Fripp’s behest and Bruford, having been the only drummer in that group in its incarnations dating back to 1972, was NOT amused. BB gave PM a list outlining how two drummers could possibly work together successfully. It went something like this with 1 being the most preferable and getting worse from there:

1. Neither drummer plays
2. Bruford plays by himself
3. Mastelotto plays by himself
4. Bruford and Mastelotto play together but in totally different yet complimentary styles

I cannot remember the next several but at the bottom of the list was the two of them playing together like the drummers in the Allman Brothers Band: essentially playing pretty much the same style over each other. Pat and Bill managed to make #4 work very well. Bruford said that Pat’s was the big beat that connected them to the audience freeing Bill to play over / under / around the beat to add color and nuance.
 

Midnite Zephyr

Platinum Member
We have two drummers in our band. At first everybody likes the fullness of the sound, but now after a couple months into it, they seem to prefer just having me play. The other drummer can't make it to practice half the time. So, I never know what's happening. I like it when it happens. It's a bit challenging, but fun. But now that I've spent so much time playing without him there, it seems to have a totally different vibe with a second drummer playing and one of the guitar players is not digging it very much at all. And he's the one whose idea it was to get a second drummer. Sheesh! Another one of the challenges that we face is stage room. Some of these places have really small stages. Like our next 2 gigs! I'm wondering how this will go down with a friggin' 7 piece band. It's turning out to be a real pain in the you-know-where.
 

opentune

Platinum Member
There is this one "percussionist" I know. Nice guy, really. He was and still is the worst percussion guy I ever heard. During a straight ahead blues shuffle, he would get a metal guiro and play it with the metal afro comb thingy. ......It was like he took a pound of pepper and poured it all over a dish that required just a sprinkle of pepper, or really, no pepper at all. Blues doesn't have guiro in it, his playing and instrument choices sucked. I literally had urges to take that stupid guiro and just stomp on it and flatten it that's how irritating and grating it was. .
lol, hilarious story.
OK no guiro for you (or blues).
 

larryz

Platinum Member
I'm surprised that drummers complain about not enough work yet dismiss the two drummer theory. More drummers = more work! :)
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I'm surprised that drummers complain about not enough work yet dismiss the two drummer theory. More drummers = more work! :)
In theory you're right. Times are tough enough musically speaking. Live music is in sad sad shape compared to what it used to be. Plus speaking for myself, to be completely honest, in a live music situation, another drummer just gets in my way, just as he would feel I would get in his. I want to be the alpha drummer when onstage, and not have to share with anyone.
 

newoldie

Silver Member
The first incarnations of the Allman Brothers! Who doesn't admire those 2 drummers playing on stage at the same time, whether live or recorded?
 
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