Playing hard in the real world.

DrumDoug

Senior Member
I've seen a few videos lately of guys doing these Youtube drum covers. I know it's a big thing now. With less and less places to play, putting videos of yourself on Youtube is becoming a popular way of getting yourself out there as a drummer. One of the things that struck me as I watched these guys, was how hard they were playing. One guy was so out of breath after one song, that he could barely talk afterwards. I wondered to myself how he could play a whole 45 minute to two hour set like that. Then I realized that he probably doesn't. He does one cover at a time by himself in his practice space and then puts up the video somewhere. Since he is just playing by himself, he doesn't have to worry about overpowering the band or the room. I then started wondering about young drummers who watch these videos and think that is the way you are supposed to play the drums. It's a problem in churches, and the reason so many of them use shields and booths. Kids watch these videos of guys beating the crap out of their drums on Youtube. They see players in football stadium sized churches playing as loud as they want and then they come into smaller venues and continue to play that way. Churches then feed the problem by putting them in isolation booths to make up for the fact that they are playing so hard. Other music styles are the same way. They go to concerts or watch videos of guys playing as hard as they can. The young drummers then get up on stage and start bash riding the crap out of the cymbals, which is what they see drummers doing on Youtube, and think thats Ok. I then have to go into my cranky old man speech, and tell them to keep it down. Suggest alternate sound sources for the bash riding, all the while getting the, whatever old man, eye roll. There is never any real life playing situation where I could play that hard and get away with it. Maybe it's just the styles and venues I play, but the bands I play with are never told to play anything but softer. And I don't really hit that hard. My sticks last months and my heads last years. These kids say they are going through sticks every few songs. I don't think I could hit that hard if I tried. It's a skill I've never needed to develop. Where outside of stadiums can you play that hard? I've though about trying to learn to play harder, but then I think why? When would I ever need to play that way? I guess I'm just wondering how many drummers get to play that way in the real world?
 

radman

Senior Member
DrumDoug,
You have hit upon a pet peeve of mine. I find the hard hitting (even moderately hard, not like something you describe) offensive in all but a few venues, IMHO.

Some of the kids are self taught, so they are learning what they see on youtube, music videos, etc. But ....
I've seen some of the drummers in school music performances - these young players (10-15 years old) and their parents are paying a lot of money to learn how to play. And volume / finesse (even stick control) seems to be completely lost.

When these guys play like this, can they even hear what other band mates are playing?

From a selfish perspective, I get a lot of calls from the local "old" jazz guys in part because I'm a light hitter. lol

cheers,
radman
 

porter

Platinum Member
I agree, the particular attitude of "popular" drum covers is very misleading to young musicians who don't know any better. I try to foster an analytical attitude with my descriptions & such but the really popular, self-branded folks don't do that, they overplay primarily for show. Sooner or later, though, they will hopefully learn what nuance is, lest they cease to grow as musicians.

However, "Where outside of stadiums can you play that hard?": recording studios for amped-up modern drum sounds. The best way to get a ridiculous, hyped, superhuman drum sound is to have a ridiculous, hyped, superhuman performance. That applies more to drums than cymbals, but, regardless: I think it's a much more musical process than just using sample reinforcement on everything.

Also, this kind of volume is expected in rock clubs and the like. It's just what the other instrumentalists and the sound systems are setup for. If the audience members care about their hearing, they should know to bring earplugs. Certainly I agree that nobody should be slamming down rimshots in a jazz club.
 
M

Matt Bo Eder

Guest
This is an odd dilemma because one of the bands I get to play with, when I first started out with them, the modus operandi was that we were background music, and for the first 90 minutes, we're wrapping up the dinner crowd. My first day on the job, I get there thinking this is going to be pretty easy, and apparently, my perception of "dinner crowd" and theirs was almost the exact opposite. We were burning from the first song. Nobody complained that they couldn't hear what was going on, and I was having to compete with the guitars in a small restaurant! Very strange.

I rose to the occasion, but it certainly wasn't the sensitive playing I was ready to display.

So perhaps there's something that clicks in your head once you reach a certain age?

I agree that kids just watching YouTube stars are not getting the full spectrum of how to play. Like everything, the best thing and the worst thing that ever happened to everything is the digital lifestyle ;)
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I abhor drummers that overpower everything with volume. Then they say, well drums are a loud instrument. No, you have no clue how you are coming off. Whatever. Everybody has to learn it on their own. Or not. There is a climate among younger drummers where hitting drums hard is perceived to be good. I think it's a phase that most newer drummers go through, I certainly did.

It's like when you first get a car. You do dumb stuff, you speed, and everything else you can think of until you get a ticket, wreck the car, get arrested or hurt someone. Hopefully, after experiencing real life consequences, you learn what not to do.

I really think these hard hitters...if they could all see and hear themselves in a video, I bet you a lot would self correct. It takes a while before the hard hitting drummers get the wherewithal to be a team player as it relates to volume.

It's part of the "I'm cool" phase that can't pass quick enough IMO.

Drummers aren't the only offenders, but they can be the most annoying.
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
Depends on the vehicle. If you're stepping all over the music, then a short, sharp lesson in musicality is in order. But the reality is that there's plenty of places where an ultra high intensity approach is fitting in the real world. Granted, it's unlikely to be your church or jazz examples. But that doesn't mean it has no place at all.

Why place limitations, turn up our noses or call for its outlawing altogether, simply because there are scenarios where it wouldn't be appropriate? I can think of numerous examples where it is used to great effect.

Sure the basement kid might need a reality check.....and 5 minutes playing out in the real world is likely to give it to him. But is anyone really gonna sit here and tell me that a guy like Dave Grohl needs to self correct because he's slamming his way through a "high octane" rendition of Aneurysm? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PvwqSMRtoSI......yeah that's a large venue, but they were doing that shit in pubs long before they ever played concert halls remember.

Just because it's doesn't fit your gig, style or genre doesn't mean that there isn't a time and place for it somewhere. Isn't knowing the difference what being a musician is all about in the first place?
 

BacteriumFendYoke

Platinum Member
The first band that I did any reasonable amount of gigs with was a metal band. I had a Musashi snare at the time that used to have tension rods falling out of it because I hit it so hard and was known as the 'snare of death' by the sound guys at local gigs. One funny instance was during a sound check, the guy came up to me with a mic - and asked me to start hitting the snare. A few seconds later, he came back and took the mic away and said 'we won't be needing that, then!'. I've been to the place many times and it crams about 200 on a good night. It was absolutely appropriate in that band and it relied upon a big backbeat groove to underline everything. I probably was hitting too hard but I never had any breakages.

Then I went to Uni and played in a swing band. I had to lighten up. And I did.

I learned a lot in those couple of years. It was about being appropriate. I like to think I basically was although I'm sure there are many that would disagree.
 

Bigdumbdrums

Senior Member
I gig just about every weekend with cover bands and we usually play 2 sets for a total of about 3 hours of playing. I've been playing for almost 4 decades and I'm in pretty decent shape. I've learned to pace myself and to use the small er muscles as opposed to the larger ones. Efficiency is key. It sucks to let it all hang out for the first set and then have little to nothing left for the end of the night when it matters most.

I'm also tired of seeing videos online of an isolated drummer in a room showing off his speed skills. Nothing turns me off more. Drummers need to play with other musicians to learn how to really play. Hell, I picked up a bass guitar and have tried to learn it just to become a better drummer (I still suck at bass but the effort was there and it did help me become a better pocket player).

:)
 

Frosticles

Silver Member
Horses for courses. If you thought playing quiet & responsible in a punk band was the thing to do then you would quite rightly get a kick in the mush.
Thrashing to death in a soul band would also get you that kick in the mush.
Play to what the music needs.

I think church music needs a loud drummer to drown out all the rubbish that pass for lyrics ;)
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
When I was playing in a rock band, I played one way.


When I play at church, I play a different way.


Ain't nothing wrong with bashing some drums if the music calls for it. Dent some heads, break some sticks, and have fun!


I think the main idea is that this is not the ONLY way to play. Play for the song and the environment.
 

Galadrm

Senior Member
I'll be honest I love playing hard, when it is called for of course. I started off my drumming playing in jazz bands where I always played rather softly. In my rock band, if we are in a larger room or outdoor venue and my guitarist has his ac30 turned up halfway, then I will be really getting into it and playing the drums pretty hard. I always have to pace myself for how long we will be playing, and generally play with efficient strokes with lots of wrist snapping using moller technique rather than arm swinging which looks ridiculous and is very tiring. I just love the way the drums respond when you hit them hard.
 

Otto

Platinum Member
Depends on the vehicle. If you're stepping all over the music, then a short, sharp lesson in musicality is in order. But the reality is that there's plenty of places where an ultra high intensity approach is fitting in the real world. Granted, it's unlikely to be your church or jazz examples. But that doesn't mean it has no place at all.

Why place limitations, turn up our noses or call for its outlawing altogether, simply because there are scenarios where it wouldn't be appropriate? I can think of numerous examples where it is used to great effect.

Sure the basement kid might need a reality check.....and 5 minutes playing out in the real world is likely to give it to him. But is anyone really gonna sit here and tell me that a guy like Dave Grohl needs to self correct because he's slamming his way through a "high octane" rendition of Aneurysm? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PvwqSMRtoSI......yeah that's a large venue, but they were doing that shit in pubs long before they ever played concert halls remember.

Just because it's doesn't fit your gig, style or genre doesn't mean that there isn't a time and place for it somewhere. Isn't knowing the difference what being a musician is all about in the first place?
Thanks POG...this vrs that....the bane of mankind.
 

opentune

Platinum Member
People making youtube covers are in a 'real world' - it's not like they are playing 'virtual drums'. I personally prefer playing with others but these dudes obviously enjoy what they are doing.

I don't know why there would be drum booths in churches but apparently they are common. Seems some church drummers are not 'playing the room' but how can we blame that on youtube cover drummers?

Hitting hard has its place, so do brushes.
 

MikeM

Platinum Member
When I was a kid (long before YouTube), my first genre was on the extended jam and prog side of things, so my volume as a beginner was medium and comfortable.

Also at that time, I was in high school bands - marching band, (required a very heavy hand), jazz ensemble (medium volume), and a vocal jazz group (very light touch), so I got my start playing with restraint and learning what volumes go where.

But then I saw Frankie Banali on TV playing with Quiet Riot ('82?), and I was like, "Damn, that guy is just killing it!" His playing really resonated with me and I admired the power and control, despite not liking the music. I'd never seen anyone play like that before. I read in Modern Drummer that he was also a fusion fan and loved doing all the experimental odd-meter stuff, so it seemed like fair game to play that way. Went to see them when they came through town and the opener was Whitesnake with Cozy Powell playing drums. Again, I was really taken by his power and accuracy. Also, Neil Peart was burying his sticks way into the heads and got a nice throaty sound out of his toms (despite using hydraulics!). Jeff Porcaro was often asked to play really hard in the studio, too, in order to get that overdriven pitch-bending sound out of his toms, which he played so well.

I'm sure there were others, but it seems there has always been a place for hard hitting by top guys who were playing that way long before there was a Mike Bordin or a Dave Grohl. Obviously, I was a fan of that kind of playing and wanted to follow suit since that's what I liked to see when I saw a drummer playing.

Of course it doesn't work for all gigs, but I'm long past wanting to play vocal jazz, and the places I play (small local clubs) book rock bands that are aggressive enough to warrant that type of playing, and nobody says a word about it. For me, dynamics have always been the key but I love laying into it hard and going for broke. It just hits the spot so often in the kind of music I play.

I'm no youngster (48) and have been drumming long enough (34 years) to know that trying to pin hard-hitting on youthful inexperience doesn't quite capture it. May not be appropriate for what some are doing, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have its place.

So yeah, play at whatever volume makes you happy and fits the music you're doing. It's pretty much that simple.
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
The expectation for a lot of backbeat music today is to hit the drums hard. I had the privilege of a private lesson with Jim Riley and he told me that at this point, there really aren't any drummers who are playing in Nashville who don't hit the drums really hard. He told me I had good chops and a really nice feel, but that the chink in my armor was not playing rock with quite enough authority. It left a big impression on me.

The idea of playing with that much volume always rubbed me the wrong way, but I took that cue and spent time trying to get better at hitting hard with precision and feel. I have to say, my reputation with other musicians really soared after that.

You obviously have to let the musical situation and the room dictate your volume. There's no license to just bash away at all costs. But a strong money beat with the nice crack of a strong rimshot on 2 and 4 and a solid 1 and 3 on the bass drum will get you more gigs than any of the more technical stuff they're trying to teach you on YouTube videos.

Again, I'm talking about playing music where backbeats are involved. You have to take a completely different approach in other styles.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
You don't have to play "hard" to get a great sound. Velocity will get you there too.

I have a problem when guys play hard inappropriately in a room that can't handle it.

Sometimes no matter how hard you play, you can get away with it because the room is so big, or there's so many people that it all gets sucked up. It's when you have a small room, with not many people, that I can't take the hard hitting. Like OK we get it, you can hit hard. You can relax now lol. A hard surfaced room is the worst. A drummer has to physically adjust their volume to the changing circumstances in smaller rooms.
 

GrimmReefer

Senior Member
I mainly play in larger clubs/venues where how loud the acoustic drums are doesn't matter. They are going to all be mic'd and boosted through the PA either way. I still get told that I have a lot of power but don't play as loud as most drummers.

I think some people confuse playing with enthusiasm with playing hard/loud.

I also completely agree that you play what the environment needs. I have a handful of venues where I simply have to keep it down. For my personal style this normally just means the cymbals don't get hit as hard since I'm a quiet player to begin with.
 

Midnite Zephyr

Platinum Member
I play pretty hard and I hardly lift the sticks that high at all. Hard hitting is a technique that a few of you just haven't seemed to master well enough, so you chastise it.
 

DPTrainor

Senior Member
I think most probably this comes down to the same same old answer to most/many of these threads: Play for the music. Listen and play musically - as most appropriate for the song, band and audience in the room. Everything else is in support of this. Everything.

I could cut/paste this answer into literally 1000s of these threads here as the "answer/conclusion" to any of the various types of questions. Its always the same answer in my mind....Musicality.

Sorry for stating the obvious :)
 
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