Drummers versus Drum machines

are we the endangered species? by Chris Quinlan



where's my monkey!

..... an early model drum machine circa' 1920's

The burning issue of the 80's a decade on ...... Is it time for a mass debate or is it all just a wank?

Once upon a time, a long time ago in a place known as Publand, many people gathered to hear music played by real musicians (real musicians being defined as those who could sink tons of piss and still remember the lyrics to Creedence's Bad Moon Rising) As the years wore on, nearly everyone was happy, except for the practicing drummer eager to try his now newly acquired "Hot for teacher" chops on an unsuspecting crowd of punters ready to dance to the latest Milli Vanilli single. Not being able to stand it any longer, our practicing drummer lets loose on a wild double bass drum driven rollercoaster ride of temposhifting; the rhythm guitarist nearly falling over his own pile of necked stubbies.

"Jesus, man! Keep the beat ..... all I want is Boom-Schplat!" "But what about my individuality?" cries our now clearly defensive puncher of percussive pandemonium." "Christ, man, nobody plays that sixties shit anymore, your sacked! "And with that, our practicing drummer sinks gigless into a repetitive cycle of giving drum lessons to young non-practicing children who want a "McLesson" .........a "McLesson" being where a young wannabe type person decides they want to be a pop-star and orders a big-mac, large fries and a cool fast roll down the drums without the practice, to go. Meanwhile, the rhythm guitarist (a rhythm guitarist by definition: one who fails lead guitar chop school, so therefore has neither lead OR rhythm chops)..... decides to buy a drum machine, most likely an Alesis HR16 because it sounds like John Bonham in a box only without the bartab.

"Wow!" he cries "Now, we can get that gig at The Angler's Tavern and the whole band can fit on that dinky stage!" "Plus, we only split the money three ways, SHIT HOT!!! "So, as the "Schmoozmatics" rake in the extra cash; the session scene dies and the muso's union becomes moribund; our practicing drummer; paradiddling his way through another "McLesson"....doesn't realise that there are other unfortunates just like him, all teaching, waiting for the next break ...... practicing, practicing, practicing....... As a couple of years fly by, something mysterious happens .......... the world is suddenly full of angry young and young at heart drummers flailing away at their instruments of diabolical decebelia! A collective cry has started to emanate from a disenfranchised community..... The rhythm guitarist, meanwhile, struggles to keep up with machinery that is totally unforgiving to his lack of tempo comprehension."Jesus" he says "If I'm going to keep this cushy gig at the Angler's, I better learn to keep up with this bloody thing" Ever so slowly, the rhythm guitarist's sense of time starts to improve; it slowly dawns on him that a real drummer is like a heartbeat; ebb and flow, color and excitement. The drum machine looks more and more like a clickety pacemaker.

One fateful day, the rhythm guitarist learns that Milli Vanilli suck, his sense of time has improved and the new flavor of the month is Pearlvana and Zappatallica ......... he rings the practicing drummer ........"Hey dude, how's my bodacious banger of bongos battling?" "Totally excellent, you lack-lustre loser of lost dreams" "The band, man, we gotta get the band back!" "Hmmm, well, OK, what's the deal, is it still $120 a gig like in '88?" "Nah, now we do originals and it's all door-takes, we basically play for petrol money." "Sounds fuckin great, I'll do it!!"

So, dateline today:
Kickarse drummers are essential and there are now many.
Machine based music rules the Clubs, the Cinema and TV.
Live original music is alive and well, except you play for free.
Cover bands eek out a generally ok deal, unless you play Zappa then you're up to your arse in debt with no friends.
Everyone has a CD, even the dinky local school band.
CD's make great drink coasters.
Drum-machines suck unless they're doing Prodigy, then they sound great, ..... but Prodigy would sound even better if they hired Terepai Richmond.
Drum machines haven't succeeded in Jazz.
Jazz is lucky to succeed anywhere.
People over thirty generally don't go to gigs because beer gets spilt on them, unless, of course, they have a chance to get a root.