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They are a rare breed of musician and come under a lot of flack for their chosen instrument. But is it so richly deserved by those who would find themselves playing electronica without them?

DrummerRemember those infamous scenes from Spinal Tap where, one by one, each of the band’s drummers die in mysterious accidents? One unfortunate 'sticksman' even implodes live on stage. A misunderstood creature maybe, but no musician comes in for more stick (sorry!) in popular culture than the drummer. And there’s a very good reason for this. The drummer is the guy who chose to learn drums because he can’t sing, wasn’t clever enough to learn lead guitar and couldn’t count the number of strings on the bass. So is it really any surprise that a whole subgenre of comedy has sprung up with the poor misunderstood drummer as its central character? 

 

What do you call someone who hangs around with musicians?
A drummer.

Unfortunately, we can’t do without them. To be in a really good band, you need a really good drummer. Which is the main reason that so few bands make it. Finding a really good drummer is like finding Axl Rose turning up 15 minutes early for a gig. If you want to remain an unsigned Irish band, then keep feeding your drummer. Alternatively, if you want to be known as one of the best live Irish bands in the world, sack the drummer and get a drum machine in. After all, you only have to punch the information into a drum machine once.

Seriously though, it’s highly debatable whether drums are a real instrument in the first place. You can’t make a tune with them. You just hit them with sticks, or whatever else comes in handy. Which is why more and more real musicians are happier using drum machines. In most cases, drum machines have more personality anyway. So, if you’re ready replace your drummer with a machine that can actually keep time, here are a few legitimate excuses you could use. 

 

How do you know there’s a drummer at the door?
He doesn’t know when to come in. 

It’s actually quite easy to sack drummers because they get it wrong in so many ways. Firstly, there’s the drummer that actually thinks he’s a musician. He’s so wrapped up in being artistic behind the kit that he forgets that he’s there to lay down the tempo for the rest of the band. Which is why when something goes wrong, it’s always his fault. That’s why you’ll so often see guitarists glaring at the drummer mid-song, as the no-hoper obliviously attempts a Neil Peart solo when all the live band needed was the simple 4/4 beat to ‘Highway To Hell’. 

This ‘glare’ is, of course, the natural precursor to his departure from the band. Another common excuse for firing the drummer is when he comes out with that immortal line: ‘Hey, guys, why don’t we try one of my songs?’

 

What do you call a drummer that breaks up with his girlfriend?
Homeless.

Then there’s what’s known affectionately as the ‘building site’ drummer. This is because he most commonly works on a building site hauling round a tonne of cement in one arm and a hod of 100 bricks in the other. The problem is when it comes to playing drums, he doesn’t play. Instead, this muscle-bound moron batters them and everything in a two-mile radius into submission. Distressingly, for the rest of the band, there is no volume knob on a drum kit. Some drummers play so loud that you can’t hear the guitarist despite his twin 100W Marshall stack set up. The simple solution is to sack him!

 

What do you call a beautiful woman on a drummer’s arm?
A tattoo. 

Then there’s the drummer who’s only in it for the money and the chicks. Big career mistake! No girl wants to go out with a drummer and no percussionist has the intelligence or business acumen to make money anywhere other than the building site. What’s more, they’re just too much of an easy target, so they end up getting ripped off by the band and just about everyone else in the music industry.

So the moral of the story is, if your drummer isn’t adequately financing the band and 'in' with a national radio station playlist controller (nod, nod, wink, wink)... then sack them and buy some backing tracks!

by Liam Carey @Bandpages