Great clinician drummer, no-so-good band drummer?

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
The music is certainly there.

Yes, it's not on top 40 charts and there's also the fact that there are more people out doing it.

Many big names are out touring again now too, even if they said they never would, because they can't live on record sales.

The cool stuff is out there, but it stays within a certain level and niche market.

I know around here hiring big names for amateur projects is a lot easier and cheaper.

There really is a lot more live music happening. Ticket prices are generally down. There are positive sides to what's going on, too. Aside from selling recorded music, the general playing field is more leveled. Gone are the really big stars and part of that is a good thing. If we want the quality to stay it must still just be possible to make a good living.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
. I suspect most of them either are not interested or maybe even find the clinic scene more lucrative.
Bozzio talked this some years ago.

Something like if he signed a record deal and sold 100,000 copies of a CD, by the time the record company and management took their share, etc, he would make the same as if he printed up 5,000 copies of a CD of drum solos sold them himself.
 

Jeff Almeyda

Senior Consultant
What Virgil wouldn't want to hear from the producer on a recording session with Adele.

" Hey Virgil, thanks for coming. Here's the chart. A nice 2 and 4 snare, 1 and 3 kick for this record. No crashes and some 1/8th note fills now and again"

What Virgil would want to hear from the producer on a recording session with Adele.

"Hey Virgil, thanks for coming. Adele has specifically requested you to play this chart she wrote for her latest record. She's written it in 19/32 meter with some superimposed metric modulation over a polyrhythmic ostinato. She'd very much like you to take three solos for 23 bars each, rotating between odd meters of 5/16, 3/8, 9/4 and 11/32 just before each chorus comes in. She's confident it will be a massive hit, perhaps more so than rolling in the deep."
No he wouldn't want to hear that. He either wouldn't take the session or he would do the job.
Virgil writes his own music and leads his own band, he chose his style and he is pushing it to the limit. It seems as if that isn't good enough now. Now he has to be a pop session guy too?

The guys that lead their own working bands should be lauded on this forum, a forum of drummers that usually never get songwriting credit. They shouldn't be lumped in as "clinicians" and they certainly should't be looked down upon because they are not in a big popular band.
 

aydee

Platinum Member
I don't understand what you said. Elaborate?
Yeah Matt, its getting a little out there isn't it! : ) Why discuss music - It should be just played or heard......... but then who needs a forum, lol.

Ok, Leme try to make my premise as clear as I possibly can :

-2 kinds of ensemble playing ( in both cases, great drummers playing to music with other musicians )

-Some of these great drummers serve the music better than others ( both playing great, kickass drums no doubt )

- yet some get inside the music and some cant.

- the ones that do tend to be known for the music they make/made & the great drummers that they are

- the ones that don't seem to be known just as great drummers


Of course this is a generalisation and has many exceptions to the rule. Its just something I've wondered about, not a theory Im putting forth.

Perhaps its the musician's version of "those that cant cut it in the real world, teach". ( Not true, in my opinion, but in this case I'm not saying one is better than the other, therefore no value judgement )

Hope this helped?

...
 

Woolwich

Silver Member
To echo Drumeatdrum's point, Thomas Lang has played on a lot of "Pop" recordings. I also read (or heard, I can't remember which) an interview in which he talked about how a drummer might be asked to play at a certain BPM for the track and the way it was put across I got the impression that he could either sit down and play at that tempo from cold, or possibly I misinterpreted and perhaps he meant that whatever BPM was put on a click he could then nail down. And that's something that we're perhaps missing in this discussion, the fact that these super drummers practice EVERYTHING, and while no one's going to want to sit in a clinic and watch a drummer play a straightforward beat with perfect tempo for an hour, this is a skill that these guys also own in spades. However in a clinic scenario it's the lightening fast hand and footwork, limb independence and general fireworks that they put on display.
For years I wondered why these incredibly capable drummers played what appeared to be relatively simple accompaniment until I realised the reason was that they are so immersed in drumming that they've got everything nailed down and can be relied upon to turn up and do what's required in one take with minimal fuss.
 
J

JohnoWorld

Guest
Of course it's subjective but I would like to pose that most music with "good" drumming is a bit shite.

The ones that do it just right are the ones that become my favourite bands - Tool, Porcupine Tree, Led Zeppelin, etc.

I think that being a session drummer means that you have to find groove in what is given to you, which may be impossible, but you're still going to give it a go because you need money.

Every "drummers" album I've ever bought has been completely and total tripe. Drummers do not write good music. They come up with good ideas but they really do not know how to write a good hook.
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
Gets into the whole chop envy thing.

Would all these drummers play your favourite music how you like? Probably not, but how many outside of your favourite drummer would?

Drummer albums?

A lot of prog and fusion project stuff with little time to make tends to not maybe be of the highest order. The "get together and blow" stuff. Goes for players of any instrument.

Now, drummers not putting out good nusic I have to disagree with. I'll just say Tony Williams.

A lot of the Weckl stuff is a bit melodically boring to me, but to many that's what they like.

Simon Phillips has done quite well.

We have all the old jazz cats with their own albums.

New jazz cats like Eric Harland...

Jeff Watts?

C'mon.

If I start I could go all day.


I could say I wasn't into Virgil's music that much, but it has nothing to do with him, it's simply not a style of music I enjoy much.

Actully, my own favourite music has gotten a bit narrower as I've gotten older, but that doesn't mean it's bad music. It just isn't my kind of thing.
 

Vintage Old School

Gold Member
I'm going to come at this from a totally different perspective.

First, there are some drummers who really enjoy doing clinics. Whether it's the educational aspect or the intimacy of a small audience, some drummers are energized by the clinic setting.

My second point involves a story. I have a friend who broke into the Nashville recording scene as an engineer/producer back in the 80's. He had a really unique but small project and he wanted
a specific Nashville studio drummer to play on his project. My friend kept telling me how he wanted this drummer, but that he would never play on such a small project. I stopped my friend and said
"Wait a minute. Have you even asked him to do the session?". He responded, "No." I asked him, "What's the worse possible thing that could happen if you ask? He might say 'no'. But he might say
'yes.'" Long story short, the drummer was thrilled when he was asked to do the session and thanked my friend profusely for including him. They ended up becoming close colleagues and working
on a number of projects in the future.

Point being there are plenty of drummers out there who are just waiting for the phone to ring. The problem isn't their style or skill set. The problem may be on the other "side of the glass" with
reluctant producers and their misperceptions of who "won't" play on their projects.
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
Certainly a lot of that going around.

What people might be known for also isn't necessarily their main thing or certainly not the only thing they can do.

The big guys might even cut their fee way down if they like you and your music.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
Every "drummers" album I've ever bought has been completely and total tripe. Drummers do not write good music. They come up with good ideas but they really do not know how to write a good hook.
In other words, “I have very limited experience, and I don't know the difference between writing hooks and writing music, and no one should listen to anything I say.”
 

Wave Deckel

Gold Member
Definitely you're wrong. Good music is not equal to a good hook.

The fact that you are a Dave Weckl fan reinforces my opinion, his albums are utterly terrible.
*facepalm* Geez.... You know NOTHING about me but label me a Weckl-fan. Without words...

I'll tell you what. I do not(!) like Dave Weckls music at all. It doesn't speak to me, is not my music. The nickname was just a funny thing that came into my mind ehrn I had to log in. Seemed to be better than "drummer12334567890" to me. So, that aside, Have you read the link I provided? I guess not, otherwise you probably would not write such utter nonsense.

On topic: I do think that most of what we talk about has to do with people putting labels on musicians. Once a rock-musician, always a rock musician. Once a jazzer, always a jazzer. It's hard to get out of that ox for musicians and this certainly also applies to guys like Greb, Mayer et all. People think that they are good at one thing and book them for that one thing over and over again. Because they cannot think of anything else that might fit for those drummers.I am sure that Mayer could perform extremely well in a big band. Also for pop-productions. But maybe, he ain't interested in it. This is also possible.

The best way to escape from this "label"-drama is to do what Tony Williams did: Start your own band, jump from be-bop to fusion-rock, shatter the image that surrounded you. It's hard to achieve but it's a way to be more of a "one dimensional" drummer in the eyes of other musicians/producers/listeners.
 

tcspears

Gold Member
Jojo belongs to a certain jazz scene. He also does more than playing drums and probably puts as much energy as he can into running Nerve. Has his own band and he's the leader.

Thomas was a busy recording and touring drummer with several well known pop acts. I think he does a lot of sessions at home these days. Now, he belongs a bit in that Paul Gilbert world, which though not my thing, represents a steady audience.

Virgil also has a history. He didn't want to compromise, though. Apart from his own thing he's been playing a lot with Allan Holdsworth lately. Has his own band and he's the leader.


It's true that they have bands, but to me those bands are just there to support them... I'd never heard of Nerve until I heard of JoJo on this forum. Granted, I don't listen to a lot of fusion, so maybe they are bigger in certain circles.

Someone brought up Steve Vai, and I think that's a good analogy for these drummers. The bands are playing pretty boring stuff harmony-wise, they are really just playing backing tracks for the lead player, which is the drummer in this case.

That's not to say the other musicians aren't killer players, but they are just playing background to let the soloist show off.

I'm not saying that these guys couldn't be touring musicians, but they make their living through endorsement deals, trade shows, and clinics. Recording music and leading a band is almost just an off-shoot of that, and those bands aren't really putting out hit songs... or even songs that are well known.

Just listening to Anika Niles, Thomas Lang, or JoJo's original tunes, they are extremely simple. Usually just Cycle 5 with a sparse harmonic rhythm. If you aren't a drummer, or a drum enthusiast, it's complete musak.

Again, I'm not saying that they can't play grooves, or interesting music, just that they don't. They are making a living by being technicians.
 

Merlin5

Gold Member
No he wouldn't want to hear that. He either wouldn't take the session or he would do the job.
Virgil writes his own music and leads his own band, he chose his style and he is pushing it to the limit. It seems as if that isn't good enough now. Now he has to be a pop session guy too?

The guys that lead their own working bands should be lauded on this forum, a forum of drummers that usually never get songwriting credit. They shouldn't be lumped in as "clinicians" and they certainly should't be looked down upon because they are not in a big popular band.
I think Virgil is awesome. My comments about him were about as serious as Ricky Gervais insulting his audience at the academy awards. :)
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Again, I'm not saying that they can't play grooves, or interesting music, just that they don't. They are making a living by being technicians.
Some yes, some no. I guess 'making a living' is a subjective concept. Technically, just getting by would be considered making a living. I know a well-known, monster player who shares an apartment with a roommate. Drumming is all he does, but he doesn't work a lot, despite his skill. But kudos to him for being a full-time drummer, doing it his way, and hanging in there. I guess.

But back to the legacy question of this thread, he and others will be remembered for their drumming, not their lifestyle.

First, there are some drummers who really enjoy doing clinics.
True. Some are best known for doing clinics, and that will be their main legacy. Nothing wrong with that.

Point being there are plenty of drummers out there who are just waiting for the phone to ring. The problem isn't their style or skill set. The problem may be on the other "side of the glass" with reluctant producers and their misperceptions of who "won't" play on their projects.
Let's say you're a producer, and you need some solid 2&4 on a recording. You have 3 phone numbers: Jim Keltner, Vinnie, and Thomas Pridgen(!)

You know that Keltner is super solid, loves playing 2&4, and is also tasteful enough to add a little flavor and it would be exactly the right thing you wish you'd thought of.

You know that Vinnie is a monster player, and that he also has a track-record for solid 2&4.

You know that Thomas is also a monster player, but have never heard him play straight stuff.

Who do you call?

First, you don't call Thomas. Why? Because everyone's had experience with drummers who overplay, and you just don't know where he's at with his approach to straight time. It's too risky. I'm not saying Thomas can't do it, I'm saying that if you don't know, you don't take a chance when you have known good options.

Second, either of the other two would be good choices, because they have a reputation for doing what you want done.

There are no misperceptions, it's just a matter of experience and sensible decisions when money is involved.

For example, let's say you want to be extremely unbiased and hire Thomas. The track isn't gelling, and after a couple of hours, you know you have to start over. Is Thomas going to work for free? Is the studio going to rebate those 2 hours? How about the engineer? What about the other players??

Taking chances can be costly.

But let's say Thomas worked out after all. Then you've got a straight track that anyone could have done.

What I'm saying is, there are reasons some guys get called, and some guys don't. It's not the misperceptions that keep some of these technicians from working in the mainstream, it's their lack of reputation for doing straight playing. And for most technicians, that's going to be their legacy.

Bermuda
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
Let's say you're a producer,

You know that Keltner is super solid, loves playing 2&4, and is also tasteful enough to add a little flavor.

You know that Vinnie is a monster player, and that he also has a track-record for solid 2&4.

Who do you call?

Bermuda
Bermuda: Perfect example. Great post on this subject!

And I think that this producer knows these things about Keltner and Vinnie because these two guys accepted the offer to play that way,
(when the music called for that kind of playing.

.
 
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