Drummers who "overplay" the music.


Platinum Member
But one man's "overplaying" could be another woman's "This is perfect", no? And sometimes what I think is overplaying one year, becomes underplaying the next year. It's all art, it's all subjective. I like both the simple groove and the complicated groove, depends on my mood and the music they're playing. I don't think the DMB would be the DMB if they had anybody else that drum chair. I can't imagine anyone else in the Rolling Stones besides Charlie.
Very true, and this is why everyone is going to have a differing opinion on the matter.

In my Carter Beauford example, I think about what Benny Greb might have done if he were the drummer for DMB. Benny can be more groove centric while throwing in different "textures" to vary the groove. Certainly, syncopated patterns and rhythms would happen, and fills would be there, but likely in a more subtle way. To me, it would seem to blend more with the relaxed, jam-style music that DMB plays.

As I mentioned in my original post, Carter would be a beast of a progressive rock drummer. It seems like that was his calling. I wouldnt consider his playing style out of place in a prog rock band setting. Speaking of Prog Rock, people have mentioned Dream Theater and Portnoy overplaying. A part of me understands how that can be seen (in a general drumming sense), however a larger part of me sees how the entire band plays at such a crazy elevated level with intentionally crazy time signatures, key changes, and general "epicness" that I found Portnoys playing very suited to the music. Now that DT has Mike Mangini on the skins, I look back at Portnoy as someone who helped ground the band and keep the music more on the heavy rock side of Prog Rock. I feel DT has gone off the rails since Portnoy's departure and they have moved in to some strange sci-fi fantacy style of Prog Rock that has lost most of its musicality. Mangini is a beast of a drummer, but he is doing nothing to help ground that band and bring rhythm and groove to the music. Its to the point now that I can barely listen to their music because it doesnt resonate with me. Its so far in to the realm of musical wankery that it has lost its soul. Which is unfortunate because I am/was a big dream theater fan.

Would I say Mangini overplays the music? No, but at the same time I feel like he is not doing a good job of being a drummer in a band. He is not grounding the music and giving it a pulse for people to follow. This is certainly by design and likely by the direction of John Petrucci. I cant blame Mangini for this as he seems like someone who is taking his musical direction from others and is creating parts that fit within that musical vision. I just wish someone else was at the helm of the ship to steer it back on course and get it out of the direction it is currently in.
Last edited:


Silver Member
It's hard to generalize. In DMB, Carter is a big part of a identifiable sound.

Overplaying isn't just about how much. If it works and you can pull it off and with a suitable dynamic then it's usually ok.

If the playing is out of control, unintentionally messy and doesn't gel with the other micro rhythm things gong on then it might be a problem.

It's all about context, though.

Wondering how DMB would be without Carter. Well, maybe a it like Janice Joplin's band without Janice. Lol

Or Rush without Peart!
Never a dull moment with Carter or Peart but it works with the music.
The last two Steely Dan albums, Two Against Nature and Everything Must Go, are kind of bland compared to the previous stuff. Carlock in particular, very steady and a nice pocket but bland.


Platinum Member
Overplaying, to me, is sort of like using a chainsaw to cut the Thanksgiving turkey. Technically, the chainsaw does cut the turkey; however, it's really messy, loud, and darn-right offensive in some respects. I consider over-playing the same way. The drummer is there to keep time and support. For example, I always make a point to watch the lead singer to see what he/she is doing and I play which best supports his/her actions.

I love what Carter Beauford does, and he used to be a huge inspiration to me when I first started playing. I feel like his drumming fits what Dave is doing. Just my $.02.


Gold Member
One drummer that comes to mind and BTW one I love is Keith Moon. Most of the time it works for the Who's music, but sometime it seems "messy" to me.

As I age I am definitely falling into the "Less is Best" camp and lately have been working to that extent on "non-fills" by moving one or two beats of groove around - trying not to over do it.
KM is at the top of my list for overplaying. But it is a subjective discussion. He may be the reason I am not a fan of the Who. I have seen some very good local players overplay too. I can be a fan of their talent but not their style.

Midnite Zephyr

Platinum Member
Music is art. Art is subjective. One person's over-playing is another person's treasure....wait a minute.....how does that go again?


Senior Member
Look at Danny Seraphine on Chicago's up tempo songs like "Make Me Smile"---very "busy" but extremely musical and fitting for the style. But able to lay back on "Color my World" etc, when that was appropriate.

New Tricks

Platinum Member
I don't think you can over play original or adapted music.

I do think covers often get over played. In most rock pop stuff, there is a reason the drums aren't doing a lot in the verse/chorus. Over playing will step on the most important part of the song, the vocals.


Platinum Member
It seems like the general consensus around here is for the drummer to "play to the music" and not over play it with flashy fills or erratic ride/hat patterns where it is just not called for. Basically, you should be a musician and have your drumming compliment to enhance the music.

If this is the case around here, I figure we could have a pretty good discussion about what it means to overplay the music and provide examples for people. With that said, I'm wondering what drummers you think "overplay" the music. I'll start:

Carter Beauford - Dave Matthews Band

Dont get me wrong, Carter is a mind-bogglingly amazing drummer and percussionist, but holy hell is his drumming over-the-top for Dave Matthews Band. Carter could be one hell of a progressive rock drummer, but he plays in what I would deem a "Jam Band" and therefor completely overplays the music. I really enjoy his playing and would love to learn just what the hell he is doing behind the kit, but I often wonder how much more mellow and "jam-style" DMB's sound would be without Carter behind the kit.
Knew one of the guys who used to play in Billy Cobhams band and his take was BC in his early days was notorious for overplaying.

But ,hey ,it was his band...

He still has a tendency of too many notes at times,but that's what big egos are for.


Senior Member
For starters, it all depends on the drummer. There are drummers that can sneak in head spinning fills and complexity that never loses the groove, and even adds to the music. Then there are drummers that completely lose the groove when they try to do the same. If you can pull it off musically and pick your spots, I wouldn't call it overplaying. When your drumming becomes a detriment to the vocal and other instruments, then you are playing too much.

Though, I think the term is overused, and sometimes thrown around incorrectly. Playing like Billy Cobham or Neil Peart in a pop/rock band or a country band wouldn't work, so if someone played like that, it could rightly be called overplaying if it was to the detriment of the music. But in a prog metal or fusion band, just playing straight two and four behind everything wouldn't work either. When drummers play lots of notes in contexts that demand it, people calling that overplaying is silly, because it assumes that drums should always be minimalist and ignores the context.

Basically, drummers should play as many or as few notes as necessary to make the music come alive and sound good. If the answer is to play lots of notes when the music demands it, that isn't overplaying, and thrown around too much, it just shows the bias of some drummers who think drums should stay in the background, regardless of if it's appropriate to be that bare bones.

I don't know whether that is because of jealousy of other drummers, the belief that drums should be a simple, background instrument, or internalizing some other musicians' expectations that drummers shouldn't be an equal part of the band, but I see the term overplaying used inappropriately quite a bit. That's my 2 cents any way.


Gold Member
He played a lot, but it was right for the music. Extremely well arranged drum parts. And he played sparsely when needed too.
I had to look up his quote, he said it was "busy and over-the-top". I always found that interesting because I did think of him as an over-player, at times.

chris J

Senior Member
Here's a thought:

Anyone heard the first Rush album with the late John Rutsey on drums?
Then compared it to "Fly By Night", the first Peart album?
I would argue that Rutsey's simplicity suited the first album's straight ahead rock vibe, whereas Peart's playing suited the second album's progressive rock vibe.

Personnally, I thought both drummers did a fine job on their respective albums. Mind you, John was no where near the technician Neil is.
Carter has a deep pocket, though, and that can't be overlooked. He can weave all those crazy notes around a super-solid groove. I think that's why his "overplaying" works in that context. DMB does edge into progressive territory occasionally with odd times and polyrhythms, etc.