The band’s backbone, the music’s heartbeat, the butt of most band-related jokes. The drums are an instrument that has defined and aided humanity throughout our short existence as a species. From thunderous war drums to the speed and complexity of Buddy Rich, the drums play an integral part in life, whether lead guitarists want to admit it or not. And while this instrument may look like you’re just hitting things in random ways, I can assure you it’s more complex than at first it seems.
I love the drums because they provide me with an escape, to be a drummer is to be one with the music as you carry it, you are the backbone of the band, the beating heart of a song, without drums there is no song. All songs have a beat and therefore the drums are the one constant through all musical mediums. If you view my profile on this website, you’ll see my picture is me sat behind my Mapex Tornado drum kit, the first proper kit I have ever had. More recently I have found pictures of my younger self wearing shirts depicting drums, showing that this instrument has been a part of me my whole life. But still, there’s a question I find I often get asked;
Why the Drums?
The short answer is I started drumming to impress a girl, it didn’t work but that’s by the by.
The long answer is that the drums are integrally linked to my love and passion for Rock music, and my love for the drums is my journey through music.
Ever since I can remember there’s been music in my life, my parents own an extensive vinyl collection, my mum is a pianist and we would listen to Absolute radio every day going to and from school. And for long as I can remember I’ve always tried to play along, slapping my knees or any hard surface to and match time with the song. This culminated when I was bought a child’s drum set one Christmas. A small rudimentary kit that was made for messing about and not serious play, but still it was a kit nonetheless! While my memory of this time isn’t the best, I can remember loving and playing that kit every day trying to play along to the Kaiser Chiefs cd’s my mum would play while exercising or even being as bold as to try and imitate the legendary John Bonham when my dad put a Led Zeppelin Vinyl on. It was my first foray into playing music, a small but important step into a hobby that now defines who I am. Whilst I don’t remember what happened to that small, electric blue-coloured kit, it left an impression on me that has never left.
I lost connection with the instrument after that, and my attention diverted to other means of music, I tried my hand at guitar and the cornet, and I also became a singer during that time. But all the while I was still tapping along to any music with a beat that I could hear. The drums never left me, and when I started attending more concerts, I would always snap a picture of the drum kit.
In 2017, I found myself back at the skins, and yes, this is where the short answer from earlier comes into play. I was asked to learn a cover of Come as you are by Nirvana, a song I knew and loved. For the first time in what must have been over ten years, I sat behind a kit, and something just connected, it felt correct like I was meant to be here behind the skins of my high school’s battered Yamaha drum set, that it was my calling. The unease and uncomfortableness I felt whenever I tried a different instrument didn’t sit heavy in my stomach, I felt as if I was home, so I decided I would make myself comfortable in my musical home.
It was through this instant connection to the drums, and now the means of being able to practice every day that I began my first proper dive into becoming a musician. I started paying attention to songs more, not just ideally tapping along but searching desperately for what part of the kit was being played when, all so I could download the ones I felt I could imitate and blast them into my ears as I played along, I can’t read sheet music so I had to learn by ear. It went terribly at first, but with the aid of my friend and now lead guitarist, Julian, I would soon develop a plethora of covers that I could play to an ok standard. I also gained valuable experience in being able to improvise, setting me apart from other drummers in my school. Unlike them, Im not professionally taught, I taught myself most of what I know and the lessons I did have didn’t build me up to doing any grades, but they did teach me how to play along with other musicians, which is a valuable skill to have.
I also began to take a deeper interest in other drummers and how they played, in a way you could call it studying. The drummer who stuck with me the most, was Dave Grohl, the first drummer I had properly tried to cover, and one that had a similar musical start to me. I found myself relating to him in the fact he was self-taught and had leant the drums through listening and playing along with them, there was similar heavy-handedness in the way we played the skins. That feeling of familiarity is how I fell in love with the Foo Fighters, my favourite band of all time.
The rest of the story is a mixture of gigging and creating songs with various bands, culminating with my band Crossover starting to gig in and around Leeds last year but this story all builds to one conclusion.
My love of the drums is an integral part of myself, they have been a constant in my life even when I didn’t realise they were. And now, they provide me with the chance to play and express myself in ways that I didn’t think possible until I sat behind a kit on that fateful January day in 2017. So when people ask, why the drums, the answer is that they have defined me and my musical life, and I owe a part of who I currently am to the drums!
And if you ever want to try the drums, the best thing you can do is sit down and play…