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Archive for June, 2006

Drummeritis

[This entry was originally posted on my MySpace blog. It was transferred to WordPress on 1/20/2013.]

Q: What do you call a guy who hangs out with musicians?
A:  The drummer.

I began playing drums in the tenth grade.  I was taking lessons after school with my band director, Mr. Torbert, who was a trombone player.  I hold absolutely nothing against Mr. Torbert, but I can say with certainty that he was better at teaching low brass students.  Not everybody can play drums.

I continued with the drums after the lessons ended.  I played in the high school jazz band.  I had no idea what I was doing.  If I could go back now, I think I’d give my younger self a few lessons of my own.  But somehow, I received an “Outstanding Musicianship” award at the NSU Jazz Festival in 1997.  I went to NSU and played on the drum line.  I took more lessons with Mr. Panerio (on snare and marimba rather than trap set).  Somehow, I passed the audition to play in jazz there too.  I can again say with certainty that I had no idea what I was doing.  I was surrounded by people who had been playing jazz for a long time and  I was sharing drum/percussion duties with a guy who could show me up in an instant.  At the risk of being too self-depracating, I will say it’s not hard to show me up on a drum set.  But the fact remains that not everybody can play drums.

Q:  What did the drummer get on his IQ test?
A:  Drool.

When I was in high school, Dustin, Anthony and I started playing music under the name Junebug.  We didn’t do much and really didn’t know how to play much.  I actually played guitar in the band initially.  But I started taking those dang drum lessons and that’s the seat I willingly sat in.  Anthony and I played in front of people for the first time on May 16, 1996.  Two years later, we found ourselves playing again late at night in the Blue Room at NSU, which we affectionately dubbed “Shetyomowf! Studio A”.  I was solidifying my place behind the drum kit.  Dustin and Anthony can keep rhythm behind a drumset, but they will be the first to admit that not everybody can play drums.

Q:  What’s the difference between a drummer and a drum machine?
A:  You only have to punch the information into the machine once.

It IS all fun and games when it comes to drummer jokes.  I love them.  You can’t let your skin be too thin in this world, especially if you’re a musician.  YES.  That’s right.  Drummers actually ARE musicians, believe it or not.  Most drummers worth their weight know at least the basics of music theory.  But it seems that in band settings, when the drummer weighs in, his opinion is shrugged off or not taken seriously.  No folks, this is not a glimpse inside the Junebug dynamic.  My bandmates in Junebug actually help me load and unload my kit and actually do take my suggestions seriously to the best of my knowledge.  This is simply a diatribe on the generic problem of “drummers vs. musicians”.  Yes, drummers ARE musicians.  When it comes to songwriting, the bassist writes his line, the lead guitarist writes his lead and the drummer writes his drum line.  There are deliberate choices made and discarded.  There are rudiments and figures that are purposefully inserted into the song to accent and augment what the rest of the band is doing.  There are dynamics.  There is listening and responding.  There is phrasing.  Anybody can sit down at a kit and bang crap out, but not everybody can play drums.

Q:  How do you confuse a drummer?
A:  Give him a piece of sheet music.

Drummers are musicians and it takes creativity and patience to be one.  I am not the best drummer in the world, but I know that I have a certain style and I know that what I play influences the band in which I’m playing.  Fed By Doris would have sounded different with a different drummer.  Junebug would sound different.  The Smashing Pumpkins sounded different with each of their drummers; Jimmy Chamberlin, Matt Walker and Kenny Aronoff.  Pearl Jam sounds good again with Matt Cameron on drums.  Keith Moon in inimitable.  The jokes keep rolling in, but the drummers keep making their marks on the bands that we love and the bands we hate.  Percussionists will always be the ones drooling and dragging their knuckles.  We will keep laughing it off.

But remember this:  Not everybody can play drums.

Q: Why are so many drummer jokes one-liners?
A: So the rest of the band can understand them.

Ouch.

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