Humbly seeking some advice

DrumWhipper

Member
I’ve recently been working to become more proficient with a click track and have been running one in live shows for the past few months. I have songs where I’m solid and locked in, then I have some where I feel like the guitar or bass is pushing, and I find myself inevitably going with them when I try to pull them back in and I feel like they aren’t coming with me.

The artist I play for has noticed this and made mention of it. I told him that he is correct and that I have pulled away at times because I didn’t want to wreck the song live on stage if they begin to push and pull away from me.

The vast majority of the time I’m the only one on the click. Last night we added the click to the lead vocalist’s ears as well which is when he noticed the issue.

How should I work to combat this issue? I know I should always lock in, but I worry about wrecking the song when other musicians not hearing the click push the tempo and it’s obvious they are in front of me and not with me.

I’m not afraid to work more or to take pointers and suggestions.
 

Bozozoid

Well-known member
I'm interested to read the replies here but I'm one that feels live performance should be allowed to breathe in that strict tempo adherence (can be) even slightly negative. I do like players with a good sence of time/tempo but live I like the seat belts and straight jacket loosened up.
 

mrthirsty

Junior Member
If you are comfortable playing with a click live and the other players can't stay with you then it is up to them to address their own timing issues. Give them the BPM tempos you are playing the songs at and let them get comfortable playing the songs to a metronome on their own time. If they don't want to do this then let the artist (I'm assuming is the leader of the project) make the call if using a click live is what's best for the project or if he/she is okay with the time drifting to a certain degree and not use one.

If anything using the click has exposed a problem that the band is not playing together as well as it could be.
 
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ToneT

Well-known member
Assuming the click is audible only to you; I would ditch it.
Of course, the underlying issue here is quite obvious; you're the drummer, the timekeeper, but the listening and / or timekeeping abilities of the others is in question.
I would just wing it.
 

DrumWhipper

Member
Rest of the band is on monitors, not using in ears. I decided to go with a click because the artist wants no dead air between songs and wants me to count them all off. The best way for me to accomplish that is by using the click.
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
This topic is controversial by its very nature, as the inclusion (or exclusion) of click tracks is a sensitive proposition to some players. While I use clicks almost without fail in studio sessions and also incorporate them into my practice routine, I'm in the "let the music breathe" camp when it comes to live performances. That's just my philosophy. I'll call it neither right nor wrong. It's merely an opinion to which I'm entitled.

Here's the great Danny Carey's take on click tracks in live contexts. Below, he refers to playing with Tool:

“We were actually playing live. It’s a sad thing when almost every band you see isn’t doing that; it’s the clicks and backing tracks that are keeping time. I’ve never played to a click on stage in my life.”

He goes on to say:

“You have to put yourself in this environment that’s vulnerable and just [expletive] go off in the moment."

I happen to salute that perspective. Again, my point of view is but one among many. Each player's circumstances are different. Universal mandates don't pertain to click tracks.
 
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ToneT

Well-known member
That's great that a concerted effort is being made to eliminate dead air between songs. However, due to the inability of the others to lock-in the tempos with you, the click is really only useful for count-ins. Can they really hear the click in their monitors?
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Your choices are to hold it steady and damn the torpedos...or drift with the current.

The first choice works the best IMO because it's OK for the guitars to be a little off but not the drummer in relation to the flow.

We are way too noticeable when we are off.
 

sumdrumguy

Senior Member
I’ve recently been working to become more proficient with a click track and have been running one in live shows for the past few months. I have songs where I’m solid and locked in, then I have some where I feel like the guitar or bass is pushing, and I find myself inevitably going with them when I try to pull them back in and I feel like they aren’t coming with me.

The artist I play for has noticed this and made mention of it. I told him that he is correct and that I have pulled away at times because I didn’t want to wreck the song live on stage if they begin to push and pull away from me.

The vast majority of the time I’m the only one on the click. Last night we added the click to the lead vocalist’s ears as well which is when he noticed the issue.

How should I work to combat this issue? I know I should always lock in, but I worry about wrecking the song when other musicians not hearing the click push the tempo and it’s obvious they are in front of me and not with me.

I’m not afraid to work more or to take pointers and suggestions.

Does the artist want the song tempos to be consistent show to show?

If yes, the I suggest you dig in and stick to the click through the songs. It will be on the other players to listen and follow your tempo. Something the artist can remind them of now that he is aware of it.

If no, then you could use a shorter 8 bar click to start each song. Use your internal metronome to stay in each song's ballpark.
 
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brentcn

Platinum Member
Been playing onstage with clicks on and off for 15 years or so, in a variety of bands and gigs.

When playing with a click onstage, it’s best to not flex with other players, and plow through their crap time keeping. Over time, band members will learn to reign themselves in and become more competent time keepers. It they aren’t hearing the click, then they must play to you. The overall result is: you play tight to the click -> everyone plays tight to you -> the band sounds great.

If, when a player rushes or drags, and the band follows that player, then the band ends up chasing around a player whenever they make a timing error. The overall sound can get bad.

I also don’t mind when a band “breathes”, but let’s not pretend that there aren’t millions of musicians who excuse their crap time keeping by calling it “organic”.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
If it's an artist you're working for then it's up to them to decide if either:

  1. The guitarists and bassist need to learn to stick with you (cause really, this isn't your issue)
  2. You simply turn up the click a few notches to begin with on those few songs where it's an issue.
  3. You do as your doing and turn off the click when it gets messy.

Plenty of bands, big and small, perform with a click live. As long as you're doing your part in sticking with the click, it shouldn't be a problem.
 

Quai34

Junior Member
Assuming the click is audible only to you; I would ditch it.
Of course, the underlying issue here is quite obvious; you're the drummer, the timekeeper, but the listening and / or timekeeping abilities of the others is in question.
I would just wing it.
Unless you have samples and drumbox or sequencers or live loops that just have to stay put at the exact tempo!!! Not a single of my drummers wanted to invest in a sample pads so, I had to find a way of doing the claps on all of our funk/dance songs plus some effects on drumbox so, half of our 50 songs are on click, the drummer follows it and everyone follows the drummer....if you want the same click of the drummer, even the the drumbox sound, I can do that!!!
 

Quai34

Junior Member
Been playing onstage with clicks on and off for 15 years or so, in a variety of bands and gigs.

When playing with a click onstage, it’s best to not flex with other players, and plow through their crap time keeping. Over time, band members will learn to reign themselves in and become more competent time keepers. It they aren’t hearing the click, then they must play to you. The overall result is: you play tight to the click -> everyone plays tight to you -> the band sounds great.

If, when a player rushes or drags, and the band follows that player, then the band ends up chasing around a player whenever they make a timing error. The overall sound can get bad.

I also don’t mind when a band “breathes”, but let’s not pretend that there aren’t millions of musicians who excuse their crap time keeping by calling it “organic”.
Yeah, I heard the "live vibe/organic playing" a millions times, even from a lot of drummers...who were not even able to follow a basic best on a click.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
In my world, the hierarchy goes like this:

I follow the click. The band follows me.

That's it, no exceptions. The click is the drummers supervisor. Its says 75bpm, I play 75bpm. It's up to the rest of the band to lock with me. I'm their supervisor.
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
in a utopian world, you would tell the other players to practice on their own with a click track/met, and to learn how to play with the pulse and subdivision, and they would actually do it

I can't think of ANY non drummer I have ever played with in 40 years that would even consider this...and have also played bass with many drummers who also refuse to do this (because it exposes weaknesses and makes people "feel bad" 😑 )

so in a live situation, I NEVER use a click, and just let it ebb and flow...in all of the groups I have drummed with, I have figured out how to slowly get things back on track...and in my metal band, I do the same thing while on bass...

in practice, I do sometimes get into "heated arguments" with the players about time keeping...but never live. More recently - probably b/c we are all older and wiser now, we actually work on this kind of thing in practice with out much huffing and puffing. In fact, in my country/rockabilly band, I now always get " you are the drummer, what did you think?" when tempo questions come up

so my advice? Keep working on it on your own at home; try to be as diplomatic as the situation warrants in practice to make people aware of time issues, and don't use it live if it is going to cause more problems than it is going to prevent <- I would say this to the BL as well...
 
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brentcn

Platinum Member
in a utopian world, you would tell the other players to practice on their own with a click track/met, and to learn how to play with the pulse and subdivision, and they would actually do it

I can't think of ANY non drummer I have ever played with in 40 years that would even consider this...and have also played bass with many drummers who also refuse to do this (because it exposes weaknesses and makes people "feel bad" 😑 )...

When there is leadership in a band that is in favor of clicks (usually because of backing tracks and/or synced lights/video), and the players will lose the gig if they don’t stay on the click — that is when the metronome comes out in the practice room.

I’ve known and worked with quite a few players that have done so on their own, purely out of a desire to keep good time. It’s indeed a rare thing.
 
Like others are saying they must follow you if no one else is hearing the click. Its common to play with one at practice and ditch it for the show, but still use it to find the tempo for the next song and count the band in. If you do use in ears with and you've found everyone has sped up (or slowed down) a bit and the click is no longer landing on 1,2,3,4 you can try reining it by listening to see if the click might now be landing near the 'and' and make the adjustments needed to lock into it there.
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
When there is leadership in a band that is in favor of clicks (usually because of backing tracks and/or synced lights/video), and the players will lose the gig if they don’t stay on the click — that is when the metronome comes out in the practice room.

I’ve known and worked with quite a few players that have done so on their own, purely out of a desire to keep good time. It’s indeed a rare thing.

true...that notion that "you are replaceable if you don't do your job" helps a lot!! I think that most of us in the amateur world don't have the luxury of their being a line of guys who have done the right thing to replace the ones that don't

No Kidding. Besides, its not their job to keep time..right? Some of the looks I get whenever I suggest it, usually from guitar players lol

yeah, it is honestly almost always guitar players
 
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