Worldwide pandemic or not, we’re all spending more time online nowadays, and there’s plenty of drumming action happening on the social media platform Instagram, which allows users to upload photos and videos. With a video length restriction of sixty seconds, that’s still plenty of time for drummers of all types to communicate with their followers. Below are some significant players active on the site, and their posts vary from quick but informative lessons to live footage to clips of them rocking out in their living rooms. So go down the rabbit hole of some internet-savvy drummers, and check out their offerings to the masses.
Chad Smith has been laying down tough and funky beats for the Red Hot Chili Peppers for thirty years now, and his IG account has plenty of his live performance clips with the Peppers and other bands. But lately he’s been putting up guessing-game videos of what we presume are his favorite beats from his favorite songs, played in his home drum room. Smith lays down grooves for everything from U2’s “Sunday Bloody Sunday” to the Police’s “Roxanne” to Led Zeppelin’s “D’yer Mak’er” to Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” while his followers take turns guessing in the comments. Very low key and very fun.
With his band Wilco, Glenn Kotche has always taken the path less traveled, with unconventional kit setups and weird and wonderful beats. His account also has clips from shows and soundchecks, but lately he’s been posting his “#DrumBeatProject,” which gives you a glimpse inside his fertile rhythmic mind. Kotche offers “a beat a week,” with all sorts of linear patterns and cool ideas where he’ll play a cymbal stack in place of a snare. The drummer also posts the related drum notations, so you can simply listen or try your own hands at executing some killer grooves.
Aaron Sterling has recorded with tons of artists including John Mayer and Taylor Swift, and his account has lots of posts of him tracking in studios as well as home recording. Sterling is pure feel-good pocket, so it’s fun to just watch the clips. But throw on a pair of headphones and you’ll hear why he’s in such demand. One video will be a dry-as-toast funky backbeat thing, and the next clip will feature some beautiful reverb on his toms. He’ll also share his thoughts on everything from using tape on his drums to showing the versatility of a cymbal he’s loving at the moment.
Carter McLean is another groover who has spent his recent time between The Lion King on Broadway and laying down the funk with guitarist Charlie Hunter, and his account is used as a showcase for an assortment of his beats and as a teaser for his YouTube channel, where he has more room to get into deeper concepts. McLean will post strokes he’s working on but also show a slew of diverse kit setups, and he reviews snares and bass drum pedals and lots more. Those looking to geek out on gear and see some great playing will find much here.
If you’re looking for serious chops and nasty fill after nasty fill, Eric Moore’s page fits the bill. Moore recently toured with Italian pop star Eros Ramazzotti and was Suicidal Tendencies’ drummer for years, so his posts feature everything from tight pocket playing underneath guitar solos to blazing Gospel funk and fusion where his sticks are a blur. There’s also a wide variety of drumkit setups, often with lots of toms and cymbals, but sometimes with a more compact arrangement, like when he’s showing off his developed but seldom heard swinging skills. Either way, Moore is bringing the heat.
Benny Greb has been thinking outside the box for years now, so it’s expected that his social media offerings run the gamut of live clips of mind-expanding and time-bending solos to videos of him speaking or performing at his clinics. Stumble onto videos of Greb moving brushes over a table edge for a filter effect or blazing over a salsa vamp with wicked chops. Greb has plenty of officially released instructional videos that are essential learning tools, but check in to his account for short but sweet earworm nuggets to grapple with and incredible drum pyrotechnics to simply be awed by.
Ash Soan, who’s toured with Squeeze and Glenn Hughes and recorded with Adele and Billy Idol, is yet another drummer who posts enlightening and instructive clips from his home studio. Soan is active on his IG account, so you’ll get everything from him laying down fat reggae beats to tips on incorporating your hi-hat foot into a four-beat linear combo. Another player who subs lots of gear in and out, Soan can be seen tracking in his space with snare drums from the 1950s to applying audio effects units that make his kit sound otherworldly. Creative, approachable, and enjoyable.
Ten-year-old Nandi Bushell gained some international acclaim when she appeared in a British catalog retailer’s commercial drumming along to Simple Minds’ 1985 classic “Don’t You (Forget About Me),” and her Instagram posts will surely brighten up anyone’s day. Bushell puts up clips of her drumming along to hard-rock tunes by Nirvana, System of a Down, and Led Zeppelin (she nails those “Good Times Bad Times” kick triplets), as well as jamming with Lenny Kravitz during a soundcheck. The sheer joy on her face is infectious and inspiring, and she not only changes outfits but rocks out on different instruments. Log in periodically to watch her getting better and better.
Guiliana keeps feet in the worlds of acoustic jazz and his own brand of modern electric fusion (“beat music”), and his account is filled with clip after clip of crooked hip-hop beats, space funk, and heavy-duty “traditional” playing with the Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet. His whole sense of time and metric modulation tickles the part of the brain that’s thirsting for the “new,” but if you choose not to have your brain sprained, you can just check out a clip of Guiliana laying into his kit with abandon while Matt Cameron plays guitar on a track the Pearl Jam drummer sent along. Intriguing stuff.
Rich Redmond’s day gig with country star Jason Aldean has lasted two decades, so he’s had lots of time to amass the knowledge he frequently dispenses through his account, which includes live clips of him onstage grooving and trucking through high-energy shows and loads of examples of him tracking drums and percussion in a vast array of genres. He also includes well-produced clips from his clinics and instructional courses as he tackles dynamics and train beats and showmanship—bassically all the things one needs to become a successful touring and recording drummer. Redmond’s Instagram remains exceedingly educational and thorough.
Dave Elitch gained notoriety after a stint with the Mars Volta in 2009/10 and has since been in demand for sessions and private lessons and as a technique/body mechanics specialist. He doesn’t post much from his courses on his account, but he freely waxes philosophically about topics that interest him, which range from stick grip to only allowing yourself to be exposed to the “good stuff.” Elitch plays with great power and perfect posture, even while slamming away on metal beats or sick inverted double-stroke grooves or improvising at 67 bpm. As a taste of the end result of his teaching and concepts, Elitch’s Instagram does the trick.
Todd Sucherman brings fiery passion and unbelievable technique nightly at a Styx concert near you, but he’s also, you guessed it, an active clinician, session drummer, and teacher. Sucherman posts clips from his very detailed instructional videos, snippets of big rock-tour road life, heaps of videos of him onstage in arenas and bars, and even behind-scenes-footage of him tracking drums on his own solo album, where he also sings almost as well as he kills on a kit. Check his fountain-of-knowledge account for the way it’s done for fusion, funk, or jazz, or the proper way to play “Come Sail Away.”
By Ilya Stemkovsky