How practical is a singing drummer?


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Alex Vik
12-24-2009, 12:33 PM
Hey, right now my "band" is trying to figure out who's going to play what instrument, and the only one of us who has a good voice is our drummer. Would there be any problems down the road with having a singing drummer?

12-24-2009, 12:35 PM
A couple bands have had singing drummers. Look at Scrantonicity for example.

12-24-2009, 12:36 PM
I've heard it's easier to sing standing up, something related to like air intake or some shizzle like that, but the drummer from Atreyu sings parts and he does fine, although never quite as good as they are on the album.

Just have a few practices with the drummer singing and see what it's like.

12-24-2009, 12:37 PM
If he can sing and play well, no reason why he shouldnt sing.

12-24-2009, 12:39 PM
My band's drummer does backing vocals and he's alright, has a nice gooseneck mic.

The Arsis
12-24-2009, 12:39 PM
ZZ Top.

12-24-2009, 12:41 PM
I'm gonna point out two of my favorite drummers since this is being mentioned.

Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater. He sings and does all kind of crazy progressive drum beats at the same time.

Arien van Wessenbeek of Epica. He is doing most of the grunts and spoken word sections on the new Epica album and he does them amazingly well live!!!

I don't think this is a problem as long as the drummer can handle it. :D

12-24-2009, 12:42 PM
I find it harder... but im not good at singing or drumming lol. you have the best voice standing, but it doesnt really hurt it allot sitting (air intake). just look at The Band.

12-24-2009, 12:45 PM
The only problem with the drummer being the singer is that it's a lot harder for him to interact with the audience and be a frontman as is usually expected from the lead singer. Drummer backing vocalists rule though

Roger Taylor FTW

12-24-2009, 12:45 PM
my bands drummer does vocals/backing vocals
if he can sing and play well enough then there really shouldn't be a problem
it might be good to have another vocalist as well so you have a kind of 'co-lead vocalist' thing going on so one guy has the other guys back and vice versa
if it works then theres no real problem, i mean look at Don Henley

edit: i agree with the guy above me ^^, it is harder to interact with the crowd when you're a drummer so i suppose that might be a factor, as well as the fact some sound guys look at you very oddly when you go "oh by the way can we get a mic for our drummer as well?" haha

12-24-2009, 12:47 PM
look at KISS with the song Black Diamond..Eric Singer is singing and does a pretty good job

12-24-2009, 12:50 PM
Should work just fine. Phil Collins sings, and he's the drummer.

12-24-2009, 12:52 PM
Atreyu does that watch the video for Becoming The Bull it shows him singing most of the parts

12-24-2009, 12:56 PM
Anybody remember Jellyfish, the drummer played drums standing and he sang the lead vocals. Check out their videos on youtube they're quite good.

JBizzle Da Truf
12-24-2009, 12:57 PM
John Stamos did it in an episode of Full House. Did a damn fine job too

Kevy Absolution
12-24-2009, 12:59 PM
It's just as effective as playing guitar and singing. If it sounds good, do it.

12-24-2009, 01:04 PM
A couple bands have had singing drummers. Look at Scrantonicity for example.

12-24-2009, 01:12 PM
Our drummer sings quite a bit, lead and back-up. He says that the biggest problem is running out of breath, at least with us. He plays with another band, different kind of music, and it isn't as difficult for him. When his face gets red, and the vein in his forehead pops out, we know we're at the right tempo.

We are guilty of drummer abuse, but he likes it. :D

12-24-2009, 01:20 PM
The guy from Night Ranger and the drummer from journey do a lot of singing- its not unethical and should be encouraged.

12-24-2009, 02:16 PM
I'm the drummer/main singer in an experimental metal band, and I have no problem drumming complex rhythms and singing, growling, or shrieking at the same. As long as they can play the part and sing while they do, and neither one suffers significantly, then there's no problem. I've also never had a problem with getting enough air, even for growls.

12-24-2009, 02:56 PM
I've also never had a problem with getting enough air, even for growls.

Our guy is 54, and it still takes a while to wear him down, so I guess I can cut him some slack.

12-24-2009, 03:01 PM
Should work just fine. Phil Collins sings, and he's the drummer.
so does don henley of the eagles

12-24-2009, 03:56 PM
look at the guy from Atreyu. Or look at Ringo Starr from The Beatles. or The Drummer from The Eagles. They are all good singers and drummers

12-24-2009, 04:07 PM
look at the guy from Atreyu. Or look at Ringo Starr from The Beatles. or The Drummer from The Eagles. They are all good singers and drummers

12-24-2009, 04:52 PM
My drummer sings and screams, and he does just fine.

12-24-2009, 05:14 PM
The only problem you may have with this setup is that the band will not have a "frontman," someone to talk to the crowd and put on a show. If his voice is truly good enough and he wouldn't mind, it may be better for the band for him to just sing. Another decent drummer is easier to find than a decent singer.

Other than that, it would probably be fine for him to do both, just make sure he can actually do both at the same time to a good standard.

12-24-2009, 07:57 PM
Didn't the Drummer from Grand Funk the Vocalist?


12-24-2009, 08:39 PM
I think it depends on how he/she drums and/or sings. I mean have you seen how Dave Grohl drums? If your drummer drums like that and really gets into it they'll have a harder time singing. Try it out though

12-24-2009, 08:58 PM
El Duce from the Mentors is the singer and drummer

12-24-2009, 09:56 PM
I'd advise against a drummer full time lead singer. It's doable, but its definitely harder connect with the audience from the behind the set. Decide what he's more valuable as. If he's a better singer than drummer than get a new drummer and have the current guy be the frontman. If he's more valuable as a drummer than have him do backing vocals and find a real strong full time frontman.

12-24-2009, 10:00 PM
:shrug: faultless singing!

The main problem with having a singing drummer, for me, is that its hard for them to interact with the crowd. I think that the way Ringo did it was perfect. He kept all his drums either low down or out of the way, had a high throne, and was usually on a raised platform. This allowed him to see the crowd and to be visible. He was also very energetic and expressive.
This all makes for a better frontman/drummer, IMO. Matt Helders from the Arctic Monkeys is a similar one I believe.

Another solution would be for another member of the band to act as frontman, introduce songs, talk etc. but doesn't actually sing the songs. I can picture a band who did this but just can't think of who it was. Maybe Alice in Chains?

12-25-2009, 07:06 AM
Karen Carpenter, Dave Grohl....duh

12-25-2009, 03:08 PM
I'd recommend doing a few shows with them (if you haven't already). Use these to gauge whether they can sing/play well enough in a live situation, whether the audience can engage with him, and whether anyone else in the band can fill the gaps in terms of 'frontmanship'.

People mentioning big bands - Phil Collins sang backing vocals with Genesis for years before he became their main singer, and Dave Grohl was famous for his work with Nirvana where he didn't sing lead. In other words, by the time they started fronting bands from behind the drums, they had a big audience who were keen to come to live shows, and they were building fans mostly from recordings of their songs. It's important to be sure that your singer/drummer can engage with an audience enough to interest people...because, as a small band, your live shows are utterly critical to gaining support.

12-26-2009, 07:50 PM
If it doesn't effect the drummers drumming, want to sing, and if he is a good singer I'd say sure go for it.

12-27-2009, 04:21 AM
Death From Above 1973

12-27-2009, 12:58 PM
I guess the only problem with this idea is that the singer won't be the frontman, which is traditional. But that doesn't mean there won't be a frontman. A guitarist or bassist could be the frontman, if you have a mic for backing vox. That's how my band does it. The other thing that you could do is write songs that only have guitar or bass intros, not drum intros. Then the drummer could get up from behind the kit, do his frontman thing and kick the crowd into a frenzy, and then sprint back behind the kit while the guitar-only intro plays.

12-28-2009, 10:52 AM
Work with what you got, nothing's ever written in stone.

01-06-2010, 02:33 PM
Someone already mentioned Mike Portnoy, but seriously. He sings half of Constant Motion and does some pretty crazy beats at the same time. The band doesn't suffer at all (Maybe because not many people like LaBrie anyway but y'know).

01-06-2010, 05:01 PM
It works great.


(I'ts hard to find videos when you actually see Chris Reifert drumming and growling at the same time)

As for the crowd interaction problem, just give everyone a microphone, even if they aren't singing and the problem is solved.

01-06-2010, 06:07 PM
Aaron Gillespie FTW

01-06-2010, 06:10 PM
Usually the singer is the frontman, for most it gets a bit annoying to watch a drummer sing lead vocal for more than a song or two. Much better to look for a good frontman entertaining singer IMO.

01-07-2010, 12:56 AM
It shouldn't be a problem. I've seen some really insane drummers that do vocals. Check out Slaughter Box.

Alex Vik
01-07-2010, 04:30 AM
Addressing the frontman issue: I might be able to be the frontman, since I'd need a mic anyways for backing vocals, but I had another idea. What if for half the set, I was the frontman, but for the other half, the drummer and I would switch spots and have him be the frontman and bassist, with me doing drums and backing vocals?

Uber Man
01-08-2010, 01:49 AM
When i went to a Five Finger Death Punch concert, one of the opening bands (2 Cents) had a singer for a drummer. they had his kit put in the front of the stage and facing stage right, that way the audience could see him. The only problem i noticed was that it didn't give much room for the 2 guitarist and bassist to move around, but oh well.

01-09-2010, 07:40 PM
Mastodon does it sometimes. Especially on the new album.

01-10-2010, 03:07 AM
definitely have to be steady, and let the wrists do all the movements, instead of the arms. try singing while waving your arms like a madman. now try singing while waving your wrists. if your drummers got the voice, make sure it doesnt bounce too much.

Alex Vik
01-10-2010, 11:41 PM
Well, we tried it today, and it didn't work. He couldn't sing and play drums at the same time. Fortunately, we also found a new singer for us today. Thanks for your help guys.

01-14-2010, 03:54 AM
It's easier to sing standing because it's easier for air to travel or something but it's perfectly fine to have a singing drummer, listen to Absu, they have a singer/drummer

Metro Gnome
01-14-2010, 01:49 PM
I saw a local band have the drummer do all the vocals and tbh, somehow it really annoyed me. It's like watching the band play the song and you hear vocals but there's no crowd connection. It's one thing to have the drummer sing backup, but personally I don't like the idea of the drummer being the main singer

n to the k
01-14-2010, 05:54 PM
i would either get a new drummer and let the old drummer sing or the other way around. it is pretty unpractical but i'm not saying you shouldn't do it, its just my opinion