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Old 08-29-2012, 04:30 AM   #1
Spaztikko
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How should a drummer interact with the band during the writing process?

I'm at the point in my band where we're doing some good songwriting. Its going well, myself and the other guitarist gel extremely awesomely and are making some pretty cool beats. The other members, however, I can't say the same for.

I have no idea what the hell to do with my drummer.

Like, we'll be writing, and he'll just sit there. We'll pause to discuss, and later I'll have him telling me I should have sorted the song, and then he could come and play his beats or whatever, and thats just not good enough. He doesn't contribute that much because he feels that everything should be done beforehand, and then skips practices because "last time he didn't do anything".

This is coming from my last band with a different drummer. Albeit a guitarist predominantly, this other guy was productive, played a major part in songwriting and was awesome as ****. It just dissolved due to lack of motivation on some parties and a clash with the other guitarist. At this point in time though, I can't try persuade him to join.

I think I'll have to fire him - I need someone productive who actually helps write shit right? It's just awkward because he genuinely seems motivated, in his way of course, and sounds like he wants to contribute.

What should I do from this point on? I suppose this is an awkward situation for me because he hasn't openly been a massive douchebag giving me immediate grounds to get rid of him.

Thanks.
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Old 08-29-2012, 04:50 AM   #2
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Just had a similar issue with a previous drummer who we ended up getting rid of.

I always find it's easier to write guitar parts/songs on some music production software (Studio1, cubase etc). This allows you to to plan the structure & write the drums so the drummer has a better idea of how you want it to sound.
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Old 08-29-2012, 05:08 AM   #3
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Could you not differentiate your band sessions into rehearsals and song writing sessions and only ask your drummer to rehearsals? If the drummer seems interested, isn't being a douche and isn't exactly a naturally creative type, can you not first write some songs, drums and all without him there? Then you can have a rehearsal session where the drummer will have lots to do. You could then slowly start to try an include the drummer in the song writing stage. I'd only suggest booting him if he's completely against that sort of approach. It could be he's just not used to doing things 'your way' and needs time to adapt. If he's open to change, I'd keep him in the band.
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Old 08-29-2012, 05:19 AM   #4
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Basically in my band it works like this:
I write the songs, then I show them to the band. They play along. It's that simple. I'll play riffs over and over for ten minutes if they want me to just so they can get their part down. I really should get a looper.
I'll also sometimes play stuff slower for the bassist. I'm the only guitarist in the band.
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Old 08-29-2012, 05:41 AM   #5
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I'd just like to point out this has been going on for the past four/five weeks, since we asked him to join. It just really doesn't work with me - is it so bad for wanting all members to contribute? Fact is the other guitarist and myself are the core songwriting unit, but we cannot naturally do drums as we play guitar. It isn't possible.
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Old 08-29-2012, 05:42 AM   #6
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^ this. (what Timbit said)

Writing during practice IMO only eats up tons of rehearsal time with little finished product. Rarely have I gained anything with any "wow" factor.

Create rough demos. Share licks and recording ideas between writing participants. Program basic drum tracks on Hydrogen or other drum software. There is nothing wrong with putting down the groundwork, and then let everyone polish up their part. If you are a guitarist laying down drum tracks, I imagine your drummer would at some point want to outdo a guitarist on a computer. He might just take a very basic beat and turn it into something awesome.

Look at it from the drummers point of view: Let's say you are a punk band. His main beats are most likely going to be slight variations of a few different staple beats. Cut/paste in some standard fills and turnarounds at important changes, and his work is mostly done. His only creative options might be on his cymbal playing "DING ding DING-DING ding" instead of "ding DING-DING ding ding". Yawn...

Boredom is a drummer's worst enemy. Most of them are borderline psychotic and/or ADHD anyways, so it's a crappy formula. Have you ever wondered why a lot of beginner to intermediate drummers "overdrum"? It takes a number of years before many musicians figure out the concept of "less is more", and drummers are certainly no exception.

Maybe ask your drummer to not be a drummer for a little bit. See if he can give you input on what sounds better. "Hey... what sounds better for this chorus? A#, G#, D? or F, D#, D?"

Or, he may be impossible to please either way. Damned if you do, damned if you don't!
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Old 08-29-2012, 05:48 AM   #7
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And no, there's nothing wrong with wanting everyone to contribute. There's only something wrong with expecting everyone to contribute equally.

Would you rather have the drummer's half-assed participation and lame input, or leave him out of stuff that doesn't seem to interest him? He may just be a session player.

Open up a dialogue with him on these points. Is it something he wants to be a part of, or is he cool with not being a huge part of the songwriting?
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Old 08-29-2012, 06:31 AM   #8
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I think I need to say something more.

We'll go away, write stuff, and then come together at this practice thing to piece it all together and then jam on it and make it better. For the most part, it works. Its just, I dont know how I would involve the drummer more. Its like, he never comes in and is like "Yo, check out my beats I was jamming to last night". Nor, when we have a cohesive song plan layed out and then mostly all thats left are the drums, does he seem to want to put out any.

And, its not like I'm a punk band either. Its pretty open as to what direction his drumming takes.


Am I really just setting too high the expectation with the experiences with the previous guy, and am deluding myself?
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Old 08-29-2012, 07:27 AM   #9
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Through a series of grunts, clicks and gestures.

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Old 08-29-2012, 07:28 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spaztikko
Am I really just setting too high the expectation with the experiences with the previous guy, and am deluding myself?
The main thing to ask is how the other guys in your band feel? If they feel the same, boot him. If they think you're being OTT, then maybe you need to re-think your position.
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Old 08-29-2012, 07:29 AM   #11
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Well i think the problem is with your drummer, obviously.
The way it goes with me and my drummer is, when i write a riff/song, i either play it at the rehearsals, which he immediately adds drums to it. Sometimes its not good and changes it later but he does his job. Because he wants to play lol, i get more trouble trying to stop him then trying to make him play =D. The other way is, i record it with my shitty mic, then send it to him. Then he works on it, palys at rehearsal, or records drums over and send it back.
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Old 08-29-2012, 07:35 AM   #12
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Have you told him this, that you appear to be unhappy with his creative side and lack of input?
Not everyone is Dave Grohl and can drum and write hit songs. It would be nice that he contribute, but if it is not in him, you aren't going to change that.
Maybe he is actually unhappy as well and doesn't want to let you guys down by quitting? Maybe he is forcing you guys to make a move.
Perhaps he really doesn't have a clear idea what is expected from "the drummer" in your band?
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Old 08-29-2012, 09:44 AM   #13
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Does he play the same improvised drum fills when he plays along?
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Old 08-29-2012, 11:48 AM   #14
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Am I missing something or is the drummer writing the drum parts and not any other parts? Well that isn't his job is it? Try coming into practice with rough demos instead of writing at rehearsal because he isn't going to have anything to do for most of the time.
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Old 08-29-2012, 08:16 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by G-Dog_666
The main thing to ask is how the other guys in your band feel? If they feel the same, boot him. If they think you're being OTT, then maybe you need to re-think your position.


I've had a chat with the other guitarist, and he is driven as much as I am. He's told me that if someone more motivated turns up, then we should kick the current guy.

Quote:
Does he play the same improvised drum fills when he plays along?


I can actually think of one time where he's actually played along for about five minutes. When we all try to discuss things to make the song seem better, he just sits there. Thats when he turns up.

Quote:
Am I missing something or is the drummer writing the drum parts and not any other parts? Well that isn't his job is it? Try coming into practice with rough demos instead of writing at rehearsal because he isn't going to have anything to do for most of the time.


Well, in no way do we turn up with the finished product, but we have semi-developed ideas that we then craft together and modify to sound good. So it's not like all we do is write in these sessions.

I thought it was fair though to think he would come up with drum parts, but he doesn't. He'll just sit there.
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Old 08-30-2012, 03:27 AM   #16
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Its not practice. Its songwriting. You and the other guitarist should do songwriting in your own time and leave practice time for practice. Imagine how you would feel if you spent your free time lugging your gear somewhere just to watch two other guys scratch their heads, look at each other, and ask "what should we do here?"

Sorry to be harsh bro.... work on polishing full songs at practice... not songwriting...
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Old 08-30-2012, 08:07 AM   #17
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I'm the bassist of my band, me and the the guitarist write all the music away from rehearsals, then bring it to the drummer for him to put his parts to. When we rehearse with the drumkit and amps, its to either run over covers or already written originals, or to discuss and work out half written songs. We never just start writing in the rehearsal, at least 50%-60% is done unplugged/without our drummer. He contribute lyrics and writes his drum parts, which I see fitting. But I agree, working on riffs/chord structures at practice will leave him with nothing to do. We have the bass and guitar parts pretty much done (sometimes lyrics are done too) and then he adds his own drum parts. It's kind of a "bring everything in and see what happens" scenario, just more structured.

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Old 08-30-2012, 08:34 AM   #18
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When I write riffs, the drummer contributes beats as quick as I can write. It really helps actually haha.
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Old 08-30-2012, 10:23 AM   #19
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How should a drummer interact with the band during the writing process?

The standard procedure is to constantly drum away as loud as possible even when you and the other musicans are trying to discuss how the song should go and working out the structure.
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Old 08-30-2012, 10:28 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mithaearon
How should a drummer interact with the band during the writing process?

The standard procedure is to constantly drum away as loud as possible even when you and the other musicans are trying to discuss how the song should go and working out the structure.


"the typical rock band consists of 3-4 musicians and a drummer"
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