The Turning Point in My Drumming

For 8 full years I practiced without a metronome and developed a horrible habit of RUSHING through the rolls. My timing was so horrible that few wanted to play with me. Mind you, I could play very fast and had incredible technique by this time but without a proper sense of time I LOST THE REST OF THE BAND every time I did a roll.

I couldn't understand why bands didn't like my playing.

Finally I was watching a local Detroit TV station variety show with "The Worlds Fastest Drummer" (Barret Deems at that time in 1979) I heard that he was playing with a local group called "The Surfside 6"

I went to the club where the band was playing but Barret wasn't there. I stayed around though because they were playing some good swing stuff and finally I got up enough courage to ask to sit in. While I was playing with that band, I could see that the bass player (playing an acoustic standup bass) was VERY UNCOMFORTABLE with my playing, and I was feeling uncomfortable as well. He was trying to force me to keep time and I was trying to rush ahead. When we finished I actually had the nerve to ask him how he liked my playing.

He said that I had a good feel but that my timing was terrible. He told me to go home and practice with a METRONOME. I WAS CRUSHED but I finally realized that I needed to listen to him. I had been told TWICE in the past to use a metronome but didn't listen. I said the same thing as most kids these days....."BUT I PRACTICE WITH RECORDED MUSIC" ! "Not the same" he said. "Musicians don't have perfect timing."

For the next entire year I never practiced without a metronome and others began to compliment me telling me that there was a great improvement in my playing. It DID pay off.

Over the period of 1 year, I had to relearn all of my rolls IN TIME. This is not as simple as it sounds. Playing with a metronome won't only make your timing better, but will also make the rushing type like me LOUDER because you will have more time to LAY INTO the drums. The faster you move, the shorter your strokes will be, thus quieter. Anyways that jammin with the surfside 6 was the major turning point in my drumming style, even though I never met Barret Deems.