Monday, July 6, 2009

Even Drummers Want Love Sometimes

One of my regular pastimes is to develop theories on things. I'm probably not up the standards of Freud, Plato or any of the other great Disney characters but I still like to do my thing, to try to figure out structure and logic to things that might seem random.

After attempting it for such a long time I'm only now beginning to realise that not everything has to have structure and logic, not every system or behaviour has to operate under a set of "binary" rules. Some things just are. I'm sure there are many, the scientist types, who will say that everything, even randomness has a structure. My opinion is different, some things are without form and rules.

But, over the last ten or more years, I've got a half baked theory in my head. It's so half baked that the average academic would laugh at me for uttering words that are so unspecific and unprovable. If you bought it in a supermarket and it was labelled as one of those theories that you can pop in the oven for ten minutes to finish off and make it seem totally fresh, you'd take it back and seek a refund, saying to the cashier that it wasn't half baked but more like the raw ingredients had been left on a tepid pavement for about thirty seconds.

I'm proud of it though, with the full knowledge that it needs work to become a fully fledged theory, with its own clothes and maybe a little house, nothing flashy or ostentatious, perhaps one of those ones on Gregory's Road would suffice. So I'm not actually going to share it with you, not just yet, even though a few people who read here might have heard me babbling about it from time to time.

What I will tell you is that it's about musicians and personality types, patterns I've observed and behaviours I've noticed. And one of the specific group of musicians is drummers, for I'm actually one of the fellows, I don't know if you're aware of that.

The RD opinion is that most drummers share some key characteristics, that having these character traits may well be why we're attracted to playing the drums in the first place.

I reckon we're the least attention seeking member in a band and by "band" I really am talking of a "conventional" four or five piece band, not a huge big one with a brass section and percussionist all over the place.

As drummers we want to be part of the team yet with a role that's different to all the others. We're usually heavily motivated by responsibility and recognition, that big, big motivator for so many, matters little to us. There's plenty more, but it's not important at this juncture.

One of the contradictory natures of my theory is that most musicians, the ones who perform to a public, no matter how large, are somewhat motivated by recognition. There are many people who are fantastic musicians but only ever play on their own in their bedroom. They presumably pursue their knowledge of music and their instrument just because they want to, or sometimes because they just don't have the balls or drive to go out and seek more.

The rest of us, whether a drummer in a band, a lead singer or a violinist in an orchestra seek some form of recogntion and often try to get that by performing music to an audience.

My point, so vaguely presented, is that all musicians who perform to an audience are driven by recognition to a certain degree. It's just that lead singers fed on recognition like the rest of us need air and drummers are much less bothered about it.

That's the introduction done, here comes the story.

There I was, last Saturday.

The gig, a party thing, had gone rather spiffingly. It was in a marquee and nearly had to be cancelled because of a torrential downpour, an overflowing river, water and electrical leads and equipment. In the end we moved things, swept things (water) and rearranged things and went ahead.

People danced, they rocked and rolled and clapped, sang, whooped and hollerred. Even my loose and freeform drum solo went down well, the one that I dread so much. We were stumped to be asked a couple of times if we did any MJ songs, but managed to claw our way over that hurdle with only some difficulty.

Yes, it felt good.

After we'd finished, only a few minutes after, there was myself , the lead singer and the lead guitarist standing outside the marquee and getting a bit of much needed fresh air, as well as patting each other on the back as if we'd just reached the summit of Mount Everest, without the coldness mind.

A fellow, one of the guests, came out of the flappy door thing, the things they have on tents, and walked the couple of steps towards us. We didn't know him but he looked at us with familiarity.

"Nice one guys, that was really great, thanks a lot. You were fantastic" he said. It was a nice thing to hear of course and I was the first to reply.

"Oh thanks very much, we enjoyed it too" was the carefully thought out but virtually instant response. I felt that it was appropriate.

The fellow looked at me, the same way you look at a trishaw driver when he's tried to charge you a tourist rate and you're actually a local, that look that lasts just a second or two before you speak. I wondered if I had a large bogey hanging out of the RD nose or if I'd done an involuntary fart that he'd heard and I was wholly unaware of.

Then he said it, he delivered the killer blow.

"And what did you do in the band then?"

It was said with genuine interest, with no malice intended and with a very real puzzled expression on his face. Those things didn't help, they made it worse and I was so wounded that I could barely get the words out.

"Erm, I was the drummer. It was my groove you were dancing to all night."

"Oh right, yeah, well thanks then."

But I could have been anyone.

I've almost booked my singing lessons.


Anonymous said...

When a post like this gets zero comments and posts on most hated songs and the diffrence between men and women get about 10 comments, I guess it tells you of your readership.

Phew. Glad this is off my roll.

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Anon - Thanks for the wisdom as ever. Clearly being off your roll doesn't stop you reading around here!