Bad drummer

Saintjonah

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Ok, some backstory.

I play in a "band" with my cousin, friend and uncle. Uncle is the drummer. Uncle has the basement we play in. Uncle has the PA. Uncle has a recorder (for some reason). Uncle has the drum kit. If we boot my Uncle we don't have a place to play. The rest of us have young families and no room for a "band". Basically it's deal with Uncle Drummer or no Thursday therapy :laugh2:

Anyway, Uncle Drummer is horrible. I mean...horrible. It's really like he's playing a different song most of the time. If he clicks in it's purely out of coincidence. This makes everyone suck, obviously. The guitars and bass can't groove because the tempo of the drums is just all over the place. I play rhythm and man, I try. It's almost physically painful at times. It's like I'm trying to hoist an elephant up a cliff with one hand.

You just want him to play a simple beat. I get it, we're none of us amazing players. We just like to get together and mess around. It's for fun. But it'd be nice to play a song without feeling completely dejected. I don't expect him to be amazing. If he just played the basic beat I'd be trilled, but he tries to throw in all these little rolls that he can't come back from and just these random ass cymbal hits and kick drums that don't really serve any purpose other than to confuse the tempo even more.

I guess I'm looking for advice. How can I get him to just get it without hurting his incredibly fragile feelings? If I was in a gigging band I'd dump the guy, but he's family and he has the space. He's got us by the balls :laugh2:

Is there a simple "Look, try this it might help us get a bit tighter" type of advice I can give him? He claims to practice, but if he's just practicing the way he normally plays it's not going to help any. I suggested a metronome and he got all offended. Maybe I should say *I* need a click in the background while we jam because MY rhythm is so bad. I don't know. It's pure frustration. I just want to play and not have my playing hamstrung by someone else. If I suck, I'd like to suck on my own accord not because the drummer is in another world.

ARGH! :run:
 

eS.G.

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Does he drink?????? If so, get him to stop!!! If not get him a drink or 3 :dude:

Seriously......thats a sticky wicket. You could (I have done this) do a "Chinese Fire Drill in mid song (when he is really stinking it up) and everyone take the instrument to the left.......and play.......and get someone behind the drums that can play. He might (given a little time) get the clue :dunno:

We used to do that in my basement band just for fun, but we all played multiple instruments to start with. However it was standard for anyone to yell FIRE DRILL in mid song and everyone had to switch.

Try it, either way its fun:thumb:
 

LeadFinger

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"Is there a simple "Look, try this it might help us get a bit tighter" type of advice I can give him?"

Metronome? Drum machine? Something to anchor his playing.

Oh, just re-read. So he got offended by metronome. At least a drum machine would be adding something, so it's not purely remedial.
 

Biddlin

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OK, you could wear head phones with a drum machine or clicktrack in your monitor mix, to help you stay on track. Add it to his mix, subtlety, hoping he subliminally gets the beat. As the Borgia's said, "Family: They can't live forever!":laugh2: Opposite problem in my family. Uncles and cousins all played for big names like Dorsey an Goodman, I had to wait about 30 years to get a solo at family reunions.:laugh2:
;>)/
 

Heket

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Wow, his feelings must be incredibly fragile. No one should get offended at the suggestion of a metronome :( No one has perfect timing! Tell him you all suck and you're setting up metronome for all of you stringy players and he'll click in.
 

Tobacco Worm

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Now I drummed for decades as well as played guitar. Fortunately I was properly trained and was on call for many bands in the area when they were short a drummer and was paid well for this. But if your uncle is "self taught" and plays poorly, his bad habits and poor performance will be VERY hard to break and see him improve. Being a family member and the one with the space for you guys to play in makes this indeed a real predicament.

As a family member, you telling your uncle that he sucks as a drummer will not go well and may cause lasting bad blood so to speak. My thoughts on the matter go to a person not of the family. Here's what I mean. Get one or more people NOT related to come and listen to you guys play. Let THEM tell the drummer uncle that he's not up to snuff. It's human nature that we take criticism from a stranger far better and with more lasting results than from a family member. Far better would be to have that stranger be a good drummer as well. But that may not be a workable deal if you have a shortage of good drummers in your circle of friends. But it's worth a try. At the very least your uncle can get mad at someone else or perhaps take the hint that he stinks. Who knows, he might even attempt to take some lessons and maybe break some of his bad habits that stick out in his playing. Drumming is pure muscle memory and if he's had time to learn wrong, then he's got to retrain his mind and body to work correctly. Not as easy as it sounds without proper instruction and correct practice.
 

eelir

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Just say he is doint to advanced things and that confuses the rest of the band. Add in a metronome or something like other suggested. I know it is a lie, but it is white one :D
 

Saintjonah

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Now I drummed for decades as well as played guitar. Fortunately I was properly trained and was on call for many bands in the area when they were short a drummer and was paid well for this. But if your uncle is "self taught" and plays poorly, his bad habits and poor performance will be VERY hard to break and see him improve. Being a family member and the one with the space for you guys to play in makes this indeed a real predicament.

As a family member, you telling your uncle that he sucks as a drummer will not go well and may cause lasting bad blood so to speak. My thoughts on the matter go to a person not of the family. Here's what I mean. Get one or more people NOT related to come and listen to you guys play. Let THEM tell the drummer uncle that he's not up to snuff. It's human nature that we take criticism from a stranger far better and with more lasting results than from a family member. Far better would be to have that stranger be a good drummer as well. But that may not be a workable deal if you have a shortage of good drummers in your circle of friends. But it's worth a try. At the very least your uncle can get mad at someone else or perhaps take the hint that he stinks. Who knows, he might even attempt to take some lessons and maybe break some of his bad habits that stick out in his playing. Drumming is pure muscle memory and if he's had time to learn wrong, then he's got to retrain his mind and body to work correctly. Not as easy as it sounds without proper instruction and correct practice.

You know, it's funny but we've kinda tried that. We had a half-decent drummer friend (actually a friend of his!) come down to jam with us. He tried to show Uncle Drummer some things and by all that is holy the man just simply can't be taught. I've actually sat down and shown him how to just play the backbeat and try to forget adding all the fills and cymbals until he'd gotten that down...but he just won't do it. He gets all jittery and out of time. It may be hopeless. I just felt like venting I guess. I look so forward to our time playing but I always leave feeling deflated. I must have a short memory though because I've been coming back for years :laugh2:
 

Saintjonah

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Wow, his feelings must be incredibly fragile. No one should get offended at the suggestion of a metronome :( No one has perfect timing! Tell him you all suck and you're setting up metronome for all of you stringy players and he'll click in.

They most certainly are. Sometimes, if we're a little too critical, he'll get up and leave the room for 10 minutes in a huff. I mean...just the smallest things set him off. I would love it if someone gave me constructive criticism. I feel like people are being too nice to me most of the time. But then I want, so badly, to get better. I don't know that he does.
 

dbb

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I know a way to settle this sort of thing fast, but it ain't pretty.

Record the group during your jams. Get whatever digital recorder, ipad, smart phone or computer you can and start documenting the playing. Then there is no question about who was off beat...the tape (or whatever) doesn't lie.

Even better, try to record a tune with a click track, just like in a pro studio. It's not just for "Uncle" but for the whole band anyway...and if you use a DAWS that can show your recording tracks against a tempo grid based on that click track, then you can see who is out of rhythm fraction of a beat by fraction of a beat.

Enjoy the show.
 

smitty_p

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As for the metronome, I would point out that even professional drummers may have a click. Some drummers have a click fed into their headphones or in-ear monitors, even while playing live. No one else hears it, but it really makes things better.

You say he's got a recorder. I have to support what David said. Have you recorded your sessions and had him listen to it? Several years ago, I listened to a recording of our group playing and was stunned. I was just way, way, too busy. It was an eye-opening experience and I learned a lot from that. If you had him listen to himself, is he self-critical enough to honestly see the problem?
 
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shreddy bender

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David's right. Recording your session is the way to go. I'll be doing this at my next rehearsal. I noticed at last rehearsal there were many "that sounded awesome" and "we really nailed that one" comments flying around. I didn't agree as I was aware of many mistakes that I made not to mention everyone else.
I said that I'd bring the recorder next practice to find out if it sounded great or just felt great. Everyone agreed that that was a good idea as the tape doesn't lie!
We want to be able to perform in public and don't want to look like greasy kids out there!
I also recorded a demo for a buddy's band back in the early 90's. They were going to go and spend big money to record in a pro studio and I knew they weren't ready and would waste good money and time so I suggested renting an 8 track and recording their songs live off the floor before going and spending thousands in the studio.
After 3 days of struggling they had a demo and a new found humility as to where they really stood. They jokingly nicknamed me "The Tyrant" because I'd stop them every time they'd mess up.
That experience made them a much tighter band and they did go on to record and play live shows that were really well done.
Yup the recording machine is the most brutally honest critic out there!
Record your next session, all of you sit down and listen back to it and be honest - not just to your uncle but find all the flaws in your own performance as well. I have played for over 27 years and can still stink up the place with my bad playing!
 


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