I was just watching the 2005 Modern Drummer Festival on DVD. Some fantastic drummers on there like Jason Bittner, Keith Carlock & Rodney Holmes.
But my man Chad Smith, drummer for Red Hot Chili Peppers comes on along with Ian Paice, drummer for Deep Purple, another amazing drummer.
Ian was great but Chad blew me away. Not for his chops, not for how many super fast notes he played, but the man can groove like nobody’s business.
So Chad gets up to do a drum solo. Or at least I thought it was going to be a drum solo. He sits down and starts into a pretty simple medium speed groove playing 16ths with his right on the hi-hat. I’m thinking ok any minute now he’s going to break out and go into a typical drum solo.
But that was not to be the case…
One minute goes by he’s still playing the same beat. Two minutes, three minutes, still playing the same beat. Four or five minutes went by of nothing but a simple groove, heavy two and four backbeat. He did not deviate for a second.
He jumps on the mic after and says to the crowd that consisted mostly of drummers;
“A lot of drumming going on here today, million mile an hour notes all over the place, amazing, incredible…but…didn’t get the gig! You want the gig you’ve got to play a groove…and you’ve got to play that groove as heavy and as deep as you can man!!!”
He was sending a powerful message to all the drummers in the room; you want the gig? You won’t get it unless you can groove. You might have great chops and the ability to play a million notes but if you don’t know how to harness those chops no one will want to put you in their band. You won’t pass the audition.
I’ve always come from the school of keeping it simple, laying down a solid groove. Of course throwing in color around the drums and cymbals for transitions and things like that. But always returning to the groove. Which probably explains why I’ve been able to work steady for over thirty years.
Chad Smith’s demonstration totally confirmed my belief of how important groove is.
Don’t get me wrong I have great admiration for technicians like Neil Peart and drummers like that. But give me a guy like a Chad Smith or Kenny Aronoff. Guy’s that are passionate and put their heart and soul into just laying it down simple with great feel. I’ll take those guys any day of the week.
So my advice to you is, never stop working on your chops but never forget the groove. Do that and you’ll get the gig! After all, that’s what we all want right?