Drummers often find themselves as second-class studio musicians as well. Percussionists typically show up early since, as with live shows, they have the most to deal with. Drums have to be set up, heads tuned, and then tested to get the desired sounds. That whole process can take a couple of hours and must be completed before recording can begin.
Meanwhile, the guitar and bass players amble in and stand around bored, tapping their feet while waiting on the drummer. “And I think a lot of young bands just–even bands with more experience–they just really want to get through that process,” says Mike Musburger. “And it puts the drummer on edge, ’cause they gotta get there first. They gotta get their shit over with, quickly and as efficiently as possible, and then get on to playing. And I think it winds up [with] a lot of [drummers]…when it does come time to perform, they’re not ready for it. They’re not relaxed.”
Nirvana drummer Chad Channing, who now plays guitar and sings in Before Cars, has a suggestion for guitar players who’ve never played drums.
“Any guitar player should really spend at least some amount of time playing drums,” Channing offers, “even if they’ve never played before, or they’re not good. Just take some time and try to learn a beat or something. Just dabble into it a little bit. You might even find you like it and end up becoming a fairly decent drummer by doing it, or at least, maybe get some idea of how difficult that job can be.”
Then there is Scott Vanderpool’s take on the percussionist’s ordeal. He has played with Room Nine, the Young Pioneers, the Treeclimbers, Chemistry Set, the Green Pajamas, and Down With People. How difficult has it been for him to play drums for six different bands?
“Well, you know,” says Vanderpool, “it’s just drums.”