Hey everyone! My name is Ash Doodkorte, and I’m from the faraway town of Perth, Western Australia. I play drums for the modern progressive metal band Voyager and also for the dirty fuzz punk blues band the Floors.
I taught myself to play from books and by learning all my favorite songs. (I still regret never taking lessons at that early stage; I fear there are many aspects to my technique that will be difficult to un-learn.) I remember a particularly formative moment where, after two days, I finally figured out what Dave Grohl was playing in the main chorus bits. It sounded like a one-handed drum roll (it wasn’t), and how do you even do that anyways? (I hadn’t heard any black metal yet.) I didn’t get it.
Five or six years into playing exclusively metal with my first real band, I started playing with art-rock and jam bands like Will Stoker and the Embers and the Floors. The precision, the fixed structure, and the logical progression of the songs went out of the window in favor for extended jams, changing-parts-when-it-feels-right, and drum patterns that seemed to make no sense in the context of the song but totally made sense when played out properly. (Check out the work of Zach Hill for an example of this kind of out-there playing.) I didn’t get it.
After ditching metal for a few years, the opportunity to play for Voyager presented itself, and I jumped at the chance. They were using a backing track live, so I had to defer my internal metronome to the click track. They are a progressive metal band. How do you rock out live and maintain feel with a click pounding away in your left ear? How do you make two bars of seven then one of five groove and get people moving? I didn’t get it.
But I think “not getting it” is one of the best things that can happen to you in the development and progression of your drumming skills. It can dent your confidence a bit (and sometimes a lot!). But if you just see it through, it can be a great opportunity for learning and improvement. Constantly feeling like a musical fish out of water forces you to try new things or interpret old things in a new way. You add the bit you know from a completely disparate field to a new environment, and it sounds fresh; it vibes differently.
Right now, I’m dumbstruck by the work of the “djenty”-type drummers like Matt Halpern, Steve Judd, and Jay Postones. Where’s their one? Where’s their meter? How do they remember all those different bits and keep it together and have it sound so musical? I just don’t get it. But I tell you, trying to “get it” is doing wonders for my left hand and for my creativity as well!
I’ve been putting some of these things to good use on Voyager’s latest release, V. It’s getting some very flattering reviews, and we’re heading around Australia to launch the bugger. Then we are heading to Europe in September/October and hopefully getting back to the Americas in 2015. Hit up our Facebook page below for dates, and come down to a show to say hello!