Actually sitting down to woodshed

Dumpy

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I haven’t really sat down behind a kit in a long time. My playing was at its very best several years back. Was I on the level of someone on a mainstream, commercial record? No, but considering that on one recording that I did, I have been told the drum part inspired air drums by the people that listened to it. That was the performance that the studio owner sabotaged (I told this story in another thread). When that song writer tried to re-record the song, they ended up going back to my drum part.

I recognize I am not that drummer any longer. I am under no delusion that I can just woodshed for a week and just audition for an open spot for the busiest band in the area. Even though I have been slowly building up a sound system, I don’t know if I will EVER play in a band again. The band dynamic would only work for me if I am THE GUY. I will not be a sideman. It always led to disappointment and bitterness; those things could kill me these days.

I am hoping to just play for the joy of it, no matter where this new path leads. I will have to be patient with my playing. It will be painful to listen to. I hope Mrs. Dumpy won’t divorce me over my playing! I want to enjoy gigging IF that’s where this leads, and if no gigging materializes, that’s fine, too. I’ll play along with my influences, whether Phil Collins, Clem Burke or others. I may be inspired to finish my entire record I set out to finish years back.

I will chronicle my new journey in music. I am just glad I didn’t sell it all off when I quit!
 

shuffle

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I understand your plight.
2 yrs ago,I stepped out of 2 working bands to live a quiet life which i now do.
Got tired of all the hub bub.
I was a better drummer then than now and thats ok with me.
I still play about once a month with a church group and always have a kit set up to dink around on in the drum room to keep what chops i have.
Keep spankin those drums,Dumpy!
Enjoy the process and the fun of drumming!
 

JimmySticks

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Just go with it and see where it takes you. Don’t lay out any hard and fast rules. The way you feel right now probably won’t be how you feel 2, 5, or 10 years down the road. Maybe then you’ll be chomping at the bit to get into a band and maybe you won’t care about being the sideman either. Stay open minded....
 

Dumpy

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I understand your plight.
2 yrs ago,I stepped out of 2 working bands to live a quiet life which i now do.
Got tired of all the hub bub.
I was a better drummer then than now and thats ok with me.
I still play about once a month with a church group and always have a kit set up to dink around on in the drum room to keep what chops i have.
Keep spankin those drums,Dumpy!
Enjoy the process and the fun of drumming!
Sounds like we’re from similar places in the journey. Gotta keep the fun aspect. I used to be so intense, and that was a source of the internal torture. Thanks for the good advice.
 

Dumpy

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Just go with it and see where it takes you. Don’t lay out any hard and fast rules. The way you feel right now probably won’t be how you feel 2, 5, or 10 years down the road. Maybe then you’ll be chomping at the bit to get into a band and maybe you won’t care about being the sideman either. Stay open minded....
You’re right. If my mind is closed to all possibilities, I could miss out!
 

Dumpy

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I like playing open mics because it's less work than a band and I can go home when I've had enough.
What always irritated me with playing out was the super-late starts, and if we weren’t playing to empty chairs on the last set, we’re playing to belligerent drunks who keep yelling “Free Bird” and “play some Doors”. That would be hard for me to get back into...
 

Dumpy

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You want to know Mrs. Dumpy had to say? “Dumpy, aren’t you glad that you heeded my warning about never being able to repurchase the drum stuff?” THAT is a smart woman right there!
 

shuffle

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What always irritated me with playing out was the super-late starts, and if we weren’t playing to empty chairs on the last set, we’re playing to belligerent drunks who keep yelling “Free Bird” and “play some Doors”. That would be hard for me to get back into...
When theyd yell Free Bird,we'd immediately yell,someones buying Free Beer! That shuts them up! Lol
The load ins were getting to me,especially at events,finding your way to the stage,unloading hoping a band mate,if ones there,to watch the gear as you find parking 5 blks away.
Gave me anxiety, lol!
 

Dumpy

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When theyd yell Free Bird,we'd immediately yell,someones buying Free Beer! That shuts them up! Lol
The load ins were getting to me,especially at events,finding your way to the stage,unloading hoping a band mate,if ones there,to watch the gear as you find parking 5 blks away.
Gave me anxiety, lol!
I had a guitar player who would ask me why I wouldn’t bring my DW’s to gigs, and I simply replied “would you leave your Les Paul in a trailer unattended?” He never bugged me about it again!
 

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First off, you can get your chops back within 90 days. You just have to hit it everyday and have goals. Whatever it is: time, balance, technique, reading, it’s all doable with dedication. That said; you have to find the motivation to attack it & have measured progress or it will fade in a week. Next, you don’t have to play in a band at all. Unless you want to make your living solely in drumming and suck it up playing other people’s music, you don’t need a band. If you’ve ever managed your own band you know full well, it sucks. You end up being a referee & a baby sitter 99% of the time. Left that long ago. But that doesn’t mean put yourself down and settle for less with your talent. There are so many players today that do their own thing with solo drumming and percussive pieces . Terry Bozzio, Grant Collins, Marco Ianetta, Pierre Van Der Linden, Fredy Studer, Daniel Humair. Many more. Even if you develop a few 10 minute pieces with foot Ostinatos and solo playing over the top of that, you can do little events at schools or music stores and educate others and pass on your gift. If its about money? Well that’s another story completely, but for me I never picked up sticks to make money, I did it for the love of the drums. And for you to talk about it here, you love the drums as well. Peace
 

Dumpy

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First off, you can get your chops back within 90 days. You just have to hit it everyday and have goals. Whatever it is: time, balance, technique, reading, it’s all doable with dedication. That said; you have to find the motivation to attack it & have measured progress or it will fade in a week. Next, you don’t have to play in a band at all. Unless you want to make your living solely in drumming and suck it up playing other people’s music, you don’t need a band. If you’ve ever managed your own band you know full well, it sucks. You end up being a referee & a baby sitter 99% of the time. Left that long ago. But that doesn’t mean put yourself down and settle for less with your talent. There are so many players today that do their own thing with solo drumming and percussive pieces . Terry Bozzio, Grant Collins, Marco Ianetta, Pierre Van Der Linden, Fredy Studer, Daniel Humair. Many more. Even if you develop a few 10 minute pieces with foot Ostinatos and solo playing over the top of that, you can do little events at schools or music stores and educate others and pass on your gift. If its about money? Well that’s another story completely, but for me I never picked up sticks to make money, I did it for the love of the drums. And for you to talk about it here, you love the drums as well. Peace
Thank you.

Please know when I do bring up money, I say if you’re able to play for survivable money, then you’re doing something few others can do. To me, it would be a thrill to make money playing as I love playing, but I know it’s not realistic at this point.

You have actually broken it down well for a goal-oriented person. This makes it less overwhelming! I am definitely going to take your suggestions!

I just want to put a lot less pressure in myself. I used to be super-intense, which did nothing for my inter-personal relationships. My bandmates hated me because I expected them to be as committed as I was, my wife hated me because I was consumed with being the best so I could move up, and it was hard to live with myself! I want to play like I did as a kid: without a care in the world. That’s also where I am being lead to no more bands. And you’re onto something with solo performance! I may even revisit the trigger thing as I used to be able to make common “found” objects into triggers and had a ball with performing with MIDI flower pots, toy bears and the like! I had a theramin kit I built inside of a Mickey Mouse telephone!

I appreciate your well thought response! Thank you!
 

Old Drummer

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I recognize I am not that drummer any longer. . . . I will not be a sideman. It always led to disappointment and bitterness. . . . I am hoping to just play for the joy of it. . . .
I have abbreviated your post to emphasize the points that resonate with me.

If you don't want to be a sideman, I think you were wise to quit. I have NEVER been in a band in which I wasn't essentially a sideman. Usually unless drummers sing lead vocals plus know enough about how to play other instruments to teach band mates how to play songs, they will always be sidemen. It's just the nature of the beast. When Ringo fronted his own band, he hired another drummer, a sideman.

Many years ago I became sick to death of being a sideman in crappy bands, and that led me to deciding that drumming wasn't for me. I wanted to do something where I could use a fuller range of my talents and have more control over the outcome. At one point I was so sick of being a sideman in a crappy band that I gave notice of my resignation. Alas, that lasted only a few months. The band kept calling to ask me to fill in, which I did, and before I knew it I was back in it. The appeal, of course, was the money, but I felt like a whore and couldn't wait to quit for good. Later, when my daughter became a musician, I discouraged her from playing too many gigs, explaining that's a fast route to burnout as a musician. And she didn't have it as bad as I had it. I was a perpetual sideman.

A couple years after quitting my band only to end up back in it, a geographic move gave me the opportunity to quit the business for good. Callouses started falling off, my remaining chops went to seed, and I considered myself retired.

Then (and I'm not sure how this happened) I hooked up with some guys putting together a band and started having fun playing again. I was still essentially a sideman, but I liked the guys and the music they were playing. We even got a few gigs. And that band led to others, none too ambitious, but all getting a few gigs. It was a blast.

I also found myself LIKING being a sideman. Although no one would confuse me with a nice guy, I realized that I like helping to bring the best out of other musicians when I like what they're doing. At the same time, with arrogant lead guitarists, I like goosing them. My attitude is, "If you think yours is a wild lead now, just wait until I push you." Then I push them to their limits. It's fun. Sidemen really have a lot of power. We can make or break the front men. When I like what they're doing, go figure, I like to help them do it better. I even started thinking that playing drums is a bit like being a social worker. We can help people a lot, and there's a certain satisfaction to doing that.

In fact, I've reflected recently that one of my main skills as a drummer is bringing out the best in other players, and even though I'm not a nice guy, I like doing that for most players.

I've even reevaluated my decision not to make a career out of drumming. No, I don't regret abandoning the craft, but I've come to realize that there's a lot of dignity in being a good sideman. It's at least as honorable a career as social work, teaching, or coaching. What's wrong with helping others be their best?

Though I guess for me I prefer to make it a volunteer activity instead of a career. When I was stuck being a sideman, I really didn't like it. But when I choose it, it can be quite satisfying, even attract enough money to pay for the hobby and a 6-pack.
 

Dumpy

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@Old Drummer Thanks for the well-thought response!

I am rethinking a few things with the posts here. I can sing and play other instruments. And it could very well be that I could be fronting my own project.

I got tired of being a sideman as I felt I wasn’t treated as anything other than a clock. I learn the lyrics and arrangements so I can give queues to where the next parts of the song. In the end, I try to be conductor. Then the band leader forgets the arrangement and blames me. Don’t get me started!

I am easy to work with until I don’t feel like I am treated well. The last two situations were just not good. And it seems so many times, the drummer is the one who takes the brunt. That’s what is making me say no to being a sideman. One band I looked into auditioning to play in, I looked over their social media. The spot for the drummer had a hidden trap door, figuratively speaking. How many drummers in two years time? Seven. No thank you.

Who knows where my odyssey leads? I may even be a side man again!
 

Treviso1

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I went from gigging very consistently 2-3x/week for many years to quitting altogether for 10 years. I played on my own, but I didn't play a single gig for a decade. I hit a level of burnout where I didn't enjoy playing on any level. Bickering/bitching band members, petty behavior and playing the same songs over and over without adding any new material led me to a level of boredom playing that all I could to at a gig is think about how much the breakdown and load out was going to suck. I quit after my night before Thanksgiving gig and never took another gig for a decade. My kids were little at the time and I don't regret anything. It took a while before my passion for playing came back, but it eventually did and now it's fun again.

When I came back, I discovered that live bands had gone out of favor and that the next generation of young people don't enjoy live music, in general. If they are there at all, they don't pay attention to the band at all. Few to no places were left to gig at and you pretty much have to make your own gigs at this point. The band listening audience is a 50-ish crowd... I can't see much future in that...
Finally, who knows if we'll ever return to the world we know before this year? I am just glad that I don't depend on playing live.

Dumpy, I would say to just have fun. If it is fun, do it...if it isn't, don't do it. That's a great place to start. You will know what to do from there. Good luck, brother!
 

Dumpy

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I went from gigging very consistently 2-3x/week for many years to quitting altogether for 10 years. I played on my own, but I didn't play a single gig for a decade. I hit a level of burnout where I didn't enjoy playing on any level. Bickering/bitching band members, petty behavior and playing the same songs over and over without adding any new material led me to a level of boredom playing that all I could to at a gig is think about how much the breakdown and load out was going to suck. I quit after my night before Thanksgiving gig and never took another gig for a decade. My kids were little at the time and I don't regret anything. It took a while before my passion for playing came back, but it eventually did and now it's fun again.

When I came back, I discovered that live bands had gone out of favor and that the next generation of young people don't enjoy live music, in general. If they are there at all, they don't pay attention to the band at all. Few to no places were left to gig at and you pretty much have to make your own gigs at this point. The band listening audience is a 50-ish crowd... I can't see much future in that...
Finally, who knows if we'll ever return to the world we know before this year? I am just glad that I don't depend on playing live.

Dumpy, I would say to just have fun. If it is fun, do it...if it isn't, don't do it. That's a great place to start. You will know what to do from there. Good luck, brother!
I am wondering if the pandemic has accelerated the death of live music. A former band mate is still getting some gigs. Live music isn’t completely dead in my locale, but I am not going to say that every bar in the area has bands.
I am just going to go with it. You never know what could happen. I could just end up doing some bizarre performance art thing.
Thanks for your kind words AND wisdom.
 

Treviso1

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I am wondering if the pandemic has accelerated the death of live music. A former band mate is still getting some gigs. Live music isn’t completely dead in my locale, but I am not going to say that every bar in the area has bands.
I am just going to go with it. You never know what could happen. I could just end up doing some bizarre performance art thing.
Thanks for your kind words AND wisdom.
Absolutely! No matter what, you have to have fun doing it. Neither one of us "needs" to do it to put bread on the table. I look at it as a hobby these days...a very expensive hobby! All the best to you and yours. Cheers! Rob
 

Ian S

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Good luck and keep at it Dumpy, you never know what opportunities may be around the corner. I was at least floundering if not a wreck, until I rediscovered my passion a couple years ago. I wish you success and I'm sure if you want the music, it'll find you.
 


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