Saturday, January 16, 2021

Battling the either/ors & Love the Music, hate the Business

 I recently got a chance to read 2 excellent books. One was the recent Jeff Porcaro biography, It's About Time , by Robyn Flans and Life, Billy, and the Pursuit of Happiness by Liberty DeVitto. In both reads, it reaffirmed my recent tweet that went " Most musician's experience in the business are a lot closer to Pete Best's than Ringo Starr's". Being in music can be heartbreaking at times. Being treated unfairly, the toll on personal relationships, losing gigs, etc. are all a part of the deal we make, so it's good to hear from others who experienced the same thing and came through it. A lot of what I just mentioned here applies to the Devitto book more than the Porcaro one, but even in the latter's case there is a description of Rickie Lee Jones' behaviour towards him that is relatively staggering in it's level of mind games and disrespect. It can happen to anyone, even someone with a career and resume such as Porcaro's.

The other thing both books got me thinking about is how drummer tend into 2 camps. One is the " I have incredible technique and can do circus tricks on the drum set, and can't really function with a band." The other is " drum solos suck and performance on the drums really doesn't exist UNLESS the drummer is accompanying someone." To be sure, I align with the latter more than the former, but they both feel like traps to me. (Pun unintended.)  I feel that as a drummer, it's a fun challenge to take listeners on a journey that's musical and interesting, without necessarily using  chord changes or determinate pitch. I'm also aware that on a MASSIVE number of gigs drummers play, there is little need to desire for  them to be a soloist, or even to be a functional soloist at all. HOWEVER, a lot of the greatest players of our instrument can do both. I feel that accompanying and soloing teach us different things, yet also inform each other. So, don't be afraid to work on both. :) 

Finally, let's leave the last word to Tony Williams. A drummer who was so visionary as an accompanist AND a soloist I can't really separate the two. Enjoy! 

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