Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Perception of the Copycat

In late summer of 2010 I took over drumming duties in TD from a friend of mine. He'd had enough of band drama and I think he wanted to take his life in another direction. I offered to take over on a whim. It was one of those odd moments in life when I didn't even question if I could do it or if I SHOULD do it...I just did it. I think just to keep the band from imploding, they gave me an "audition" and I got the job. This is strange because it happens every so often...I just decide to join a band on a whim and have no worries about it. Conversely, there are just as many or more groups where I fret and sell myself short...I say things like "I'm probably not good enough but if you wanna take a chance." Shockingly, I don't get call backs on those gigs.

Anyway, when I took the job my only intention was to copy the drum parts as closely as I could to the originals. This was a little tough, because I was stepping into the shoes of a self-taught, unconventional drummer. I'm mostly self-taught too...but I kind of operate in a very standard framework. Not so for my predecessor. But I tried my best to copy him. And I thought I did a decent job.

But all along the band has said things like "I really like what you've done with the drum part" or "this song has a whole new feel with you playing drums." This frustrated me because my goal was to just copy the old way. This meant I was either failing in that...or that someone was blowing smoke up my ass (my default assumption about all compliments...I HAVE ISSUES).

This morning I listened to the first album by the group because we are adding back in two old songs from that disc that I haven't done much with them. I was surprised to find that, yes, I DO play most of the songs significantly differently from the old drummer. I had no idea. There are parts that I would have sworn that I stole from him that just don't exist. And he plays stuff I've never played. Me skipping things he did doesn't surprise me, because it was hard unconventional stuff that I just couldn't pull off at the time. But the adding of things that weren't there to begin with surprises me. I know that I didn't do it on purpose. There was no grand creative vision. It just happened because it felt natural to do...and so I guess I assumed that it was already there.  Not to blow my own horn, but the upshot I think IS actually better than the original. I've left out busy sections that distracted from the vocal or other parts and I've added things that add interest (particularly on the bass drum). The bass drum is interesting, because the first album had no bass guitar. But when I came into the group, we had a pretty dominant bass player. My right foot naturally just did what the bass player was doing without me realizing it.

I don't know what to make of all of this except:
1) Apparently I have my own style even though I didn't think I did
2) Without trying, I seem to make "musical" choices that support the group. Whether this is because I can't play complicated things or if it is an instinct built on years of playing music I don't know
3) Now I'm super worried that all those Pixies bass lines that I thought I was playing note-for-note from the original could be TOTALLY WRONG. I can't decide if this is a good thing or a bad thing.

Monday, November 25, 2013

TD 11/22/2013 Mr Roberts

With Stereo Effects. Another tale of two gigs. Previous Thursday's gig was a disaster...this one nearly perfect. There's no explaining it.

Some Delirium
At the Door
Easy Life
Goin Down the Drain
1 is 4 man
It's alright
Movin' On
Sent It
Bodies R Burnin
Better N Better
Gotta Tell U
Gun in your Grave
Hold You Under
Kiss U Kill U
Vacuum Man

Friday, November 15, 2013

TD, Mr Roberts, 11/14/2013

We played with Tween Wolf and The Type. I used TS's kit from The Type and it was great. Pedal (a DW5000) was set exactly the way I like and the heights on all of the cymbal stands were good and in the right place. I only used my own throne, cymbals, and snare. His kit was tuned higher than mine, which was a little weird sounding for the tom heavy tunes, but it was okay. He showed up super early to set it up too. One of the best kit sharing experiences that I've had.

Despite the kit being great...the evening was...well...

Sometimes shows are just weird.  The whole thing feels like a blur now. I wasn't getting any lead vocal in my monitor. What's weird is...we've played shows with WAY worse sound. I thought I could push past it...sing along in my head...but no, I kept messing up the transitions.  A contributing factor could have been that I also couldn't really hear the bass, which I probably key off of a bunch too. Later on someone told me that it wasn't me messing up the transitions, it was the lead singer. In retrospect, this makes a lot of sense. If he wasn't getting the transitions right and I couldn't hear him...than I couldn't adjust to his mistakes. Still, I guess it felt shocking to realize that without the lead vocal...I get a little lost in the song and can't tell where I am. Again...duh...if you go "boom-chick" 5,000 times in a row you are going to get lost without sign posts.  Anyway, I feel like I played well technically...but was unhappy with the performance because I was getting lost so much. I'm sure that, aside from us all grumbling about it audibly, the audience was none the wiser that there were problems happening. That's the way audiences are generally.

There was other stuff too. Interpersonal stuff related to the above. Lots of stuff. But happily no one seemed to find me at general fault...but more a victim of technical and ...stuff. There are just behavior patterns and ways of relating at play that get tiresome over the long haul. And even when things seem to be getting a little better as time passes...people really never change at a fundamental level, or if they do they change painfully slowly and sometimes, often, revert to past behavior. Bands = drama. It has always been so and I suppose it always will be so. 'Nuff said.

We have another show in a week...a 90 minute set...which is probably the longest show we've ever played. I have a feeling last night will be talked to death during load in. Hopefully it'll mean things go better...but it could very well mean things will go worse. Who knows?  I know that I will make damn sure that I can hear the vocals and the bass.

We brought down $50 per band.

At Door
Some D
Hold U Under
Gotta Tell U

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


Just got an offer to open for The Toasters. First Mustard Plug, now this. Craziness.

It's a good niche!