So there I was last night, early at the rehearsal room. The rest of the guys were late thanks to roadworks, so I had the unusual position of being on my own, in a rehearsal room, with my kit set up. A rare luxury, as I normally only ever find myself alone with my Roland kit; so what’s to do?
Well, I started off kicking around some poor-mans Steve Jordan groove type stuff, then messed into it with some fairly dodgy ‘Gospel-Chops’ type fills – quite unnecessary, but what the heck, I was on my own. Quickly becoming bored and quite conscious that my forays into chop-playing wasn’t really my best forte, I changed tack into some New Orleans type street-beat grooves. Although this felt good, it soon became very boring, very quickly. Without my band-mates, it all seemed to lack any purpose. What exactly was the point? Where’s it going? Who wants to listen to solo drums? Not me, that’s for sure. Who wants to listen to songs? Well, everybody – right?
It’s quite an unnerving experience to find yourself alone, with the luxury of acoustic drums, and nothing to inspire you to play the instrument you thought you’d never tire of.
Sure, at home on the Roland kit, I’ve got my Stanton Moore book, my Jim Blackley book, my Daniel Glass book and a whole lot of music to play along with. The stuff in the books inspires me and I get a great deal of satisfaction from learning new grooves (well they’re usually quite old ones actually) but put me on my own, in a room, with an acoustic drum set and say to me, “now play for fun – go mad!”, and I don’t have the inspiration. Nor do I particularly want to hear my own solo drumming. It irritates me – as does the majority of other solo drumming.
Had I been in the position to play along to music or had my books there, then inspiration would have been forthcoming. But on my own, as a blank canvas, I really don’t have anything interesting to say on the kit.
Now this could be viewed as a bad thing – a drummer who has lost the love of his own voice; or is it actually an effect of maturity? After all, once my band arrived, the connection with the instrument was reborn. I had ideas, I had inspiration I had a purpose for playing. My validation as a musician was complete.
Needless to say, when I was 14 years old, many moons ago, I would have battered several shades of s$%* out of my kit with the unabashed abandonment that seems to be freely on-tap at that age. But these days the goal-posts have changed and my remit for playing has entered a scary, but somehow more fulfilling chapter. Solo drumming’s not really for me any more. That existed in another person; the one that needed to feel like he was keeping up with pack and scared to embrace his real reasons for playing, which was always, always, for the love of music.