An Editor’s Overview
As drummers we’ve long battled identity issues that never seem to go away, no matter how far we advance our art. For years the famed drummer Bill Bruford has pointed out a certain “pitched-instrument bias” on the part of the public, other instrumentalists, and even ourselves. Among the topics in his latest book, Uncharted: Creativity and the Expert Drummer, Bruford explores the phenomenon of drummers being disrespected “despite the fact,” as he recently told me, “we all know a band is only as good as its drummer, etc.
He grabbed headlines as one of the most talked-about drumming prodigies in the history of the instrument, playing alongside musical icons three times his age and establishing a reputation for blistering clinic appearances. In his first MD interview in years, the drummer, who’s currently on an international tour with superstar Katy Perry, opens up about finding his unique place on the musical landscape, well outside of the box that some of his early chops-obsessed fans would prefer he stay in.
The retro-leaning group is known for its dynamic, high-energy live shows, a reputation solidified during world tours opening for acts like Brian May, Bon Jovi, the Who, Dave Matthews Band, AC/DC, Lenny Kravitz, and the Rolling Stones. Further notoriety came via a 2014 Honda Civic TV commercial featuring the band performing its song “Today Is Pretty Great.”
We chat about some big topics in the life of Primus drummer, Tim Alexander.
An Editor's Overview Words Count Features Katy Perry’s Tony Royster Jr. Features Richard Danielson of Vintage Trouble Features Tim Alexander of Primus Features Crucial Jazz Drumming Recordings, Part 2 Features Grizzly Bear’s Chris Bear Features Lia Braswell of A Place to Bury Strangers Features Grady Tate Basics Reading Syncopated Rhythms Education Playing on the Upbeat […]
Amid the relentlessly creative song-oriented drumming on Grizzly Bear’s 2017 album, Painted Ruins, the track “Aquarian” stands out as particularly percolating. It’s got the flowing, forward-motion feel of paradiddle-based phrases dancing by in spiraling patterns that might bring to mind a slower, more organic version of drum ’n’ bass. I imagined Chris Bear sitting at his kit and figuring things out precisely, finding exactly where, and where not, to place the little rhythmic curlicues that animate the beat. I sure was wrong about that.
From an early age the drummer has put her passions and pain into her music, allowing circumstances both within and outside of her control to feed her hungry heart. Like most successful artists, Braswell doesn’t ignore the messy storylines of life or hide from her own sensitivities. She lays them right out on the table, pushes to form deep musical and personal alliances, and leans forward into the unknown with the goal of creating something new and exciting.
Master drummer Grady Tate, whose sixty-year career featured work in nearly every prominent genre, died last October 8 in New York City. The drummer’s peer Roy Haynes’ style was often characterized as snap, crackle, and pop; Tate’s would be referred to as clean, crisp, and tasteful.