London of City Sleeps here, with a few tips for the road and at home. First–and I can’t stress this enough–practice with a metronome. I see a lot of drummers out there who don’t even bat an eye at the idea of playing to a click track. Don’t get me wrong, I love to just be free sometimes. But this is the basic principle of drumming–keeping time. I find that playing with a metronome not only tightens your natural pocket, it also keeps a comfortable state of mind for the other musicians. When everyone’s on the same page, it makes for better a performance. Basically, if you’re not doing this now, get on it. Try an hour each day on a practice pad, going over rudiments and finding the right tempo for those songs that are going to make you millions. Then move to a click at band rehearsal, and so on, until you feel so tight with it that the sound of the click almost disappears in your ears. This is for your own good, trust me.
On the road it’s important to be extremely fast and accurate in set changes. There’s nothing more annoying to a club owner who is paying for entertainment than a band who can’t get up and off in the required amount of time. This should usually take fifteen to twenty minutes. The best way I’ve found to knock five to ten minutes off set-up and break-down time is to strike your own drums. You should always have a rug or mat of some kind. Put aside a day before you take off into that wild life on the road, buy some glow-in-the-dark tape (which you can get at any hardware store), and build your set from bottom to top with your eyes closed. Once you’ve set it up so it’s in the position that’s most comfortable for you, take the tape and outline your kit on your rug, kind of like a making a chalk outline of a body at a crime scene. You can also strike your hardware at the points you have set them to. This makes for a faster build and load-in. Using glow-in-the-dark tape also ensures that you make it to your kit when the club is darker than need be, which is usually the case.
These are just a few ideas. Try them and see the progression. It also doesn’t hurt to have the right pair of sticks. I use Silverfox because they pitch-match their sticks so that every hit is consistent, and they’re the most durable sticks out there because of their choice in wood and their Duracrylx coating.
Be sure to check us out at www.CitySleeps.com or at a venue near you soon.