And, by "each instrument", I mean each proper instrument; drums, bass, lead guitar and vocals. Forget about all those keyboards, wind and what have you. They're decoration, fitting in in between the others. Is it okay to say "in" twice like that anyhow?
The thing is, there are undoubtedly traits that are shared by pretty much all of the players of each of the four instruments. Where Dave Grohl fits into this theory I know not. But I care, for I care about everything to do with Sir Dave.
Us drummers are the quiet responsibility driven fellows in the band. We want to be part of a team yet need a role with a semblance of individuality. Most of us put in a shed load of hard work and effort into our craft. We put in hours and hours of practice, working on the little things others would find simply stupid and unnecessary. If you're a singer reading this you'll be lost now, but that's okay. The rest of us are used to singers getting lost while reading the words.
One of my first teachers used to tell me that the drummer's job was to make the band sound good. It might seem an arrogant thing to say, but he didn't mean it in that way. It's more about the fact that a good drummer does make a great band, but almost never gets the credit. But usually that doesn't matter, we're not that fussed about credit and applause and all that. We leave that for the lead singers and lead guitarists, that's their thing.
If a band does a gig with a great drummer the audience usually thinks that the band was great. If the drummer is poor then usually the crowd thinks the drummer was poor, that's how it works.
And usually we're okay with that.
There I was on Thursday evening. The covers band were doing a gig and all was going swimmingly. The pub wasn't as packed to the rafters as usual but that was to be entirely expected because of the entirely unexpectedly sunny weather we had, as had been forecast. Few people want to go to a hot and sticky pub to see a band when things get like they did here last week.
But, it was all good. We got them all dancing, there was whooping and hollerin' galore, there was that dodgy middle aged dancing that I seem to see a lot of and there were a good dollop of mistakes made by us on stage, largely unnoticed by the audience.
Still, we rocked. And at the end of the first set left the stage to mingle with the common people and soak up the adulation.
I caught sight of B, our lead guitarist in conversation with a friendly looking fellow whom I didn't know. I ambled over expecting some praise, perhaps a little chat about how the stranger loved that song we played, maybe asking how long we've been together or about my own influences as a drummer. It's rock 'n' roll and things can go crazy, as I thought in the middle of one song when I glanced over while everyone was dancing and saw our sound man sitting at the desk reading his newspaper.
B introduced me to the chap. He was called Roger. He probably still is for that matter. In a rare display of sense, maturity and willpower I resisted any attempt at an Airplane style joke using his name. Oh yes, I can do the serious stuff too. Introduction done, B left Roger and myself alone and went off to sign a girl's breasts. Or order some coleslaw, I forget exactly which it was.
Roger turned to me, I looked at him. I don't mind admitting to you, dear reader, that I felt slightly smug. It had been a good first set after all. I'd grooved and the band was tight and on it. There was a pause. I wondered what Roger would say. I could sense his indecision, but finally he made his mind up and said
"So RD, did you catch any of the first set then?"
He turned out to be quite a nice bloke.
But still. I mean. For fuck's sake. There are limits, even for the drummer.