So I have a 4 piece band where I am one of the singer guitarists and every member of the band can play drums competently. Except the drummer. He actually has the best chops out of all of us he plays our covers very well but when it comes to our originals he is clueless. We send him a demo of each song when it's finished so he knows the songs well. The problem is that he simply has no feel for when to play fills. Everybody I know who plays drums learned to play fills by just jamming but we've tried that and the book of fills he bought didn't help either. We still think he could learn in time but we're getting tired of waiting. So my idea is to boot him and continue as a trio with our singer/guitarists switching between drums and fronting the band depending on who wrote the song. Could this work? And is booting the drummer a good idea?
Is everybody else okay with that plan? Sounds mean to the drummer but I've seen bands that switch places like that and it's awesome IMO.

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Rotating is usually a bad idea playing live...usually feel and creativeness come naturally when you learn the instrument. I don't play much drums but from playing so much music I have a good idea of what fills I'd try...seems easy to me if you're competent. Have you talked to him about it? Maybe he gets nervous?
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Also have any of you tried playing drums on demo to show him what you'd like?
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Give him some time. Our drummer was a guitar player and was pretty good at playing guitar in our old band but then we broke up. So then we made a new band with me an old friend on guitar and then my friend said **** it ill play drums. He wasn't don good at first but he had the dedication to actually focus and learn. 2 years later he became a beast. He had a hard time playing easy songs like hangar 18 but now he is doing blast beats, amazing footwork, he uses the cymbals creatively. Now he is all about the drums. Remember you want people in the band to be dedicated.
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Tell him what you want him to play. Also tell him if his fills don't work. It really sucks if you haven't told anything about it to him and then say he's fired. You need to talk about it first.

Other than coming up with fills, can he play well? I would say fills aren't that important. If he can't improvise them, he could write his fills or then you could tell him what kind of fills you want the song to have. If he can play well, I wouldn't kick him. But really, talk about it first!
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Like I said he's got some chops he plays our cover of white room by cream perfectly. But we're an original band and we have to spend half of every practice showing him exactly what to play for each fill he still forgets half on them by next practice. He has no confidence or feel for the songs which is his biggest problem. It probably doesn't help his confidence that we baby him through everything but there isn't much choice.
I know it's a drag but you could write down problematic parts for him and ask him to practice it slowly at home. If he still can't learn them properly then hes just not interested enough... Using Guitar Pro or similar programs to tab it out would probably be best solution.
I'm confused here, so he has the best chops, but the worst rhythm (which I would include as part of a drummer's chops)? That makes no sense. I would question a drummer's ability who can't add simple fills. Perhaps he is just not a natural drummer? In which case you can only go so far with him behind the kit. I would take a drummer with great feel who can keep a heavy beat and keep it interesting rather than someone who can pretend to be Neil Peart for 5 seconds before losing their place.

If he can play White Room well, I see no logical reason why he can't do simple fills for original songs.

I mean if there really is some huge disparity in his ability to play covers decently and his inept ability to create drum beats for original songs, then there's really only two options. Stick it out with him for a bit and see if he improves or drop him and one of you guys take the kit.
Last edited by Haynus_aynus at Sep 18, 2013,
Like any musician, a drummer should practice. That's how you get better. If he is not willing to practice then you have a problem if he is that unbearable; he'll never improve.

A drummer is there primarily to keep the time. If he struggles with fills etc. then you could start him off with just playing beats. It might sound lifeless for a bit, but once he becomes more confident with the timing and tempo he should become more confident adding and changing parts.
you have to ask yourself, is he a good drum? does he keep timing? does he fall on the beat every time? do you get along with him well? if yes to all of these then keep him and help him with the fills, instead of letting him come up with them all the time maybe give him some ideas of what to play, I used to do it with my drummer if I wanted a fill in a song I'd say to him "add a fill in here, play something like dum ka du dum ka cha" or something along those lines and he'd get the rhythm of it and make a fill similar to the noise I made, he just needs a little encouragement!
you can borow my drummer.....he just constantly play´s fills...all the time!!! ;-)

seriously though he has his vision you have yours...try to meet half way. Conversating guitarist to drummer is hard at most times...it really is musicians with 2 different languages. Find different ways of trying to explain what you need from him, such as finding fills in parts of songs "from 2:12 to 2:18" and write them down and give them too him. Or just record it yourself and show him. If he´s just not practicing and is sloppy cause of that then it´s ultimatum time...

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Kick the drummer, put the bassist on the drums.

Bassists are dime a dozen.
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