Drummers have to consider plenty of options when choosing an appropriate fill to play in a given situation. Factors such as voicing, subdivision, density, and speed comprise just a few of the choices. While keeping these options in mind, we recently took to social media to ask our readers and followers if they generally prefer to play chops-burning figures or simpler phrases. Here are some of the responses.

Fat, solid drumming anchors the band and makes it much more meaningful and exciting when you choose to play a fast fill.

Nate Giebink

It totally depends on what’s being played. If I’m playing R&B, taste is all I’m thinking about. If I want to play metal or something similar, I usually try to hit the gas a bit.

Jesiah Yarish

While it’s fun to play fast fills, I’ve always regarded timekeeping as the primary duty of any drummer. If your groove is off, all the fills in the world are meaningless.

Ralph Senecal

I love both types of fills. But you can have huge, in-your-face fills that are also as fast as lightning. It’s all in your sound, ability, and touch.

Matt Bover

It depends on what style I’m playing. If it’s funk or rock, I’m going with a simple yet huge fill. If I’m playing punk or metal, I tend to go for speed.

Isaiah Keller

How about just laying down a solid beat that makes people get up and dance? Be the steady force that everyone in the band can rely on.

Alvaro Perez

Want your voice heard? Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and keep an eye out for next month’s question.


December Issue

Roy McCurdy

I wanted to thank you for featuring Roy McCurdy in your On Topic section of the December issue. I was blessed to hear Roy play live with Toshiko Akiyoshi in 1978 when I was sixteen years old. Being from a small town in Texas, I’d never seen or heard a drummer play with the taste, precision, and energy that Roy displayed on such a small Gretsch kit that night. I also spoke with him after the gig, and he was so kind and encouraging. He is truly one of the greats and a living legend.

David Alexander
Southlake, Texas

12 Heartland Prog Albums

I wanted to send a quick reply to the “12 Heartland Prog Albums” feature in the December issue. Crack the Sky is happily still recording and performing in the Baltimore and Mid-Atlantic area with three of the five original members, including drummer Joey D’Amico. For those interested in listening, Crack the Sky’s two most recent releases, Ostrich [2012] and The Beauty of Nothing [2015], are every bit as good as the self-titled debut album referred to in your article.

Dave Tarr
Charleston, South Carolina


Remembering Barry “Frosty” Smith

Thank you for the piece about Barry “Frosty” Smith [September 2017]. I was surprised to learn that Frosty passed away this past April.

I was very fortunate to have seen Frosty perform with Lee Michaels in 1969 at the Northern California Folk-Rock Festival in San Jose. I went to this festival with some friends because Jimi Hendrix was headlining the concert.

There were several bands that played that day, and I hadn’t previously heard of most of them. There was a lot of anticipation as each band played because we couldn’t wait to see and hear Hendrix perform. When it was time for Lee Michaels to perform with Frosty, I had no idea who either of them were. When they walked out on stage there was just a B3 organ and a drumset with a row of speakers that stretched from the left side of the stage to the right.

From the first chord and incredible groove, I was fixated for their entire performance. There were only two bands that would get standing ovations that day before Hendrix played, and Lee Michaels with Frosty was one of them. Unfortunately they couldn’t play an encore because Frosty cut his hand while playing an incredible barehanded drum solo.

We’ve lost one of the unsung drum heroes of our time.

Sid Thompson
Boulder Creek, California