I like the idea of being influenced by one thing while you’re playing something totally unrelated.
Maybe on your drive to a session with a singer-songwriter, an N.W.A. song comes up on the radio and influences you to try some nasty groove over the top of a mellow song with acoustic guitar. Or maybe you were listening to Elvin Jones, so you wanted to try playing with that wide-open, loose feel. Would that be an interesting juxtaposition? Those are ways to break out of just playing the same old stuff.
You can always just show up and do “the drummer thing.” That always works, and a lot of times that’s what people want. But if you do this every day for a living, or if you want to do this for a living, you have to at least try some other stuff. You might surprise some people, and you might discover something. Otherwise, why even be a session musician or offer your services as a drummer for hire if you’re not going to bring something to the table?
Modern Drummer, January 2012