The Drummer. Part One

He sits behind the kit with a sense of confidence, not because he's cocky, but because there's nothing else in the world he'd rather do.

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He sat backstage twirling his drumsticks through his fingers with his eyes closed, waiting for the song on-stage to finish. It was almost his turn to play, but you would never notice it cool as a cucumber on the outside, but forever screaming in anticipation on the inside. These butterflies keep him doing what he loves most in the world playing music. It was when he was playing did he truly forget everything else in the world, all his problems float away for those few short minutes, and continue to float anytime he thinks about his performances. Music was his drug.

The song on-stage finished, and he walked out the room door, down the hallway, when he passed his competition going the other way. Some no-name kid stared back at him but he couldn't criticize, as he had never been in a band besides school endeavors. People's shouting became louder and louder as he got closer to the stage, butterflies continuing to fly, and a grin coming across his face.

He sat behind the drum-set with a sense of confidence a confident drummer is a good drummer was a lesson he learned earlier on in his drumming career' (although it wasn't much of a career at this point). Peter turned towards him, and gave a nod, before picking up his other, black, Ibanez ARX140 guitar for the next song much easier to use more than one guitar than fiddle around with tuning, plus you get different tones suited for different songs. Behind the kit, he noticed this and understood completely he had played guitar as well for the last few years, but drumming was his true passion. He simply nodded back at Peter.

Derek introduced the next song to the eager audience. Vicarious by Tool was the song that would decide his fate in the band it was a live audition between him and the other drummer. The rest of the band couldn't decide during the first audition, so it came down to a one on one performance second audition of a song of their choice. Panic Attack by Dream Theater was the other drummer's request, a respectable decision.

He always learned that drummers were hard to find, and he was up against one of the best he'd ever seen (that wasn't signed). Panic Attack seemed near flawless, from what he heard backstage; the kit he was sitting behind didn't have nearly as many parts as Mike Portnoy's epic kit, but the song still sounded amazing.

The Ox was probably the calmest of them all, simply standing behind his Ibanez SRX500 bass (the drummer really didn't know what the band had to do about Ibanez, but as long as it floats their boat he thought), with a continuous blank look on his face. Truth was, no one in the band knew The Ox's real name, and everyone had addressed him as that ever since he had joined the band (as Derek explained to him earlier before the show). He asked Jon behind the kit whether he was ready, to which he nodded back. The Ox relayed that to Peter, who began his guitar intro. The audition had started.

The audience falls to a dead-hush during the intro, as Jon does his few notes on a triangle clipped to the bass drum's top edge. A few bars later, the song picks up into its main beat, consisting of blazes of drum notes perfectly on time. As the band knew, Vicarious was a very percussion heavy song, with a very simple guitar part (well, at least compared to the drums), and if Jon could pull it off, it would be a very, very convincing audition indeed.

Jon pulls back as soon as the singer comes in for dynamics, as the guitar builds up for a bang at the end of the eight bars or so. Danny Carey had always been a drumming idol for Jon, and he felt it was a true honor to even attempt to emulate him. This thought bounced through his head throughout the entire song, but especially this part, as he needed to keep that legendary aggressive, confident feel of Danny, while still playing very, very quietly.

That's my kind of story, it's no fun til someone dies. Only a 1:40 into the song, and already the entire band were sweating like a pen of pigs on a hot summer's day. Sweat crept into the eyes of Jon behind his glasses, but he had to keep going no matter what happened. The crowd at this point was simply electric, roars drowned by the sounds pouring out of amps and drumheads.

Until 3:47, everything was as it should've been the bridge is going as it should, a solid performance by all so far. Except that at that particular bar at 3:47, Peter missed his cue to come in. This left just Jon solo until 3:59 when Derek came in, as they didn't have a dedicated rhythm guitarist (only Peter to attempt to fill both shoes). The result of this mistake is what got Jon the job.

A solo that Jon could never possibly attempt to emulate again spawns after a look of confusion between him and Peter. He flicked his left stick behind his back, flipping it over his shoulder to his left hand in front of him (while still keeping the groove all this time). A 10 second fill of double-bass, toms, and a one-handed roll or two keeps the audience absolutely stunned, ending with falling back into beat perfectly on time at 3:59. A simply awestruck look befalls the band during this random improv display of drumming talent. Jon simply looks back calmly and continues onwards, however he was just as awestruck as they were about the situation he never thought he could actually do those 12 seconds so flawlessly.

The rest of the song finishes up with a great performance from all (and a renewed sense of confidence for Jon). People from the crowd demand an encore, but the band rejects in order to take care of business back stage. The other drummer was seen leaving out the entrance onto the street while Jon headed backstage, giant grin forming again underneath mounds of sweat, and slightly steamed glasses.

34 comments sorted by best / new / date

    AU79 XY
    cyborg_monkey wrote: meh. well written, but the 2nd person perspective a bit offputting
    Second person perspective is when a narrator tells you what you are doing. This is third person.
    BlouPontak
    I find, as with a lot of other stories that I read on UG, that the people writing them tend to get too caught up in the technicalities of the situation. This is usually to the detriment of the story itself, to the narrative pull, the pacing etc. This includes things like focusing too much on the gear. most people give brand and model numbers. This is not what it's about. I personally play Ibanez and I know their catalogue by heart, but when it comes to the story, putting it in seems clumsy. Rather focus on atmospherics and storytelling than the little niggling details. Also, on characterization, two words: Mary Sue. Don't go there. it's much better to read about an average guy overcoming his shortcomings than to read about this perfect machine getting everything right. Hope this has helped. I am certainly not doing this to be a bastard, but I feel that there are certain shortcomings which could be focused on. Enjoy.
    fnmpm
    Good story, but verb choice weakens the story. Verbs like "spawn" and "befall" are misused. The tense is also forgotten a few times, switching from present to past. Also, mad props for both Tool and Dream Theater . Good luck and keep going!
    ahigs
    its a little tricky to understand whats happening clearly at the start, but it definalty gets better theres a lot of these sort of stories going around, hopefully this one will be good
    chuckflan333
    screamsoftly wrote: The sort of name dropping aspect is always a little weird to me, like, specifically mentioning certain songs and guitars seems strange.
    It felt a little bit like he was trying to prove he knew what he was talking about to us, didn't it? I didn't really like that.
    Syncope
    First off, I seriously had no idea that Peter and The Ox were The Who names - I don't listen to them personally, so that's just a very, very odd coincidence. I just thought they'd be suitable names for those people. Odd... I like to mention specifics in songs and guitars because some people can relate to that, and (hopefully not giving too much away) you'll see the progression of songs and different guitars as the band matures and gets more money. And lastly, I'm making this whole series kind of minimalist on purpose to attract the more casual crowd - people who don't have all that much time to read over Ultimate, and wanna just pop in for a minute (plus each part will be about 1,000 words versus other stories' 2,000). The next part should be out by Monday (due to Ultimate not working weekends), so stay tuned!
    willwelsh816
    I thought this was somewhat about the who. The guitarist's name is peter, the bassist is the ox, no rythm guitar. it seemed like that
    screamsoftly
    The sort of name dropping aspect is always a little weird to me, like, specifically mentioning certain songs and guitars seems strange. Your writing is good though. This part especially made me laugh because it's so relatable: "A solo that Jon could never possibly attempt to emulate again spawns after a look of confusion between him and Peter."
    MattAnderson111
    I really enjoyed it, the descriptive text was real awesome. I'm no critic, but i enjoyed it. This is gonna be something good.
    NOSPI
    This is a strong piece of writing, because it drew me in enough to actually make me listen to the song, so i could understand what he was playing. Not many stories do that. I like the writing style, it's... i suppose in a way, minimalist. Definitely doesnt spend too much time going over things, and keeps it short and to the point. I like that, and I like the pov, focussing on one member of the band rather than all of them. I like how you didn't try to bring in too much detail and introduce too many characters in the beginning, because it gets hard to keep track of them all. Very good, i'm looking forward to the next instalment.
    Syncope
    Oh, wow, thanks Deek, Nolan is pretty much the main writer on Ultimate that everyone pays attention to, it's an honour to be placed up with him already! Of course, there's still much to improve. I thank another up and coming writer u.n.t.a.m.e.d for the critique as well. I've been having problems with that throughout my rec writing career - looks like I still need to look that over more carefully. And to Andragon, if you notice, the songs played were the drummer's requests, adding to the specific characterization of the drummers in this case. The other members will of course, have specifications in pieces played in each performance. You'll see different genres highlighted throughout the series to keep it short.
    Syncope
    Thanks for the 'well written' comment. It's good to know that the language is enjoyable (which makes characterization much easier). It's a shame that you don't enjoy the point of view, but that's to be expected, as the series is intended to focus more on the one character than the entire band. It isn't exactly 2nd person, it's more third-person limited (since it's stating 'Jon' instead of 'you'), but I can see that it has the same feel as a 2nd person story. Thanks for the positive words of encouragement guys!
    DoubleyouW
    Great start! =D It's nice to have a story about drumming, because I can relate to it more than guitar =) Btw, while reading the story, I started listening to vicarious. =)
    Deek_13
    Finally something else i can get into, this and the stuff nolan is putting out is way better than anything else being posted up
    Syncope
    Cool, thanks for the extra words of motivation, it seems as though you either love it or hate it depending on who you are, which is fine by me, everyone gets their own opinion. I'll reveal some details about the second part on my blog later on (after some homework), as well as other little details (including why I decided to make it about the drummer, and why I used Vicarious so heavily), so I don't take up too much space on this post.
    Andragon
    The "prog" enthusiasm needs some subtlety , but it was an enjoyable read, nonetheless.
    u.n.t.a.m.e.d.
    Nice start, the only thing I have to say is about youur tenses. It seems you've flipped between past and present a few times, I'd be careful about that. Apart from a few missing words and such, excellent.
    screamsoftly
    Syncope wrote: I like to mention specifics in songs and guitars because some people can relate to that, and (hopefully not giving too much away) you'll see the progression of songs and different guitars as the band matures and gets more money.
    That actually sounds like a really cool idea, I'm about to go read part two right now.