Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Drunken with Drum-dom! Rat-a-Tat-Glug. And My Brother.

I'm revisiting the live tracks my band recorded at the last church picnic we played in 2007, chiefly to hear how the Rogers acoustic kit was mic'd up, since I'm playing it at this year's picnic on the 11th. It's a sucky and unprofessional recording to say the least, but I refer back to it sometimes to re-learn fills or beats that my alcoholic-fogged memory can't muster since I got sober. It's also a useful tool to remind me how much better a drummer I've matured into in the last 4 years.

I *do* recall showing up to the picnic half in the bag that morning (I started early) and having my usual giant-water-bottle-filled-with-wine at my side during the entire gig, of which my fellow band mates were not even aware. Some of the songs we played that day I've since learned far better fills and beats to. With others, I performed fills that day that I simply can't replicate stone cold sober. It's weird. (Visit www.reverbnation.com/stpaulcontemporarypraiseband to hear the results if you're so inclined.)

The electronic kit the church bought me (to artificially quiet me down, frankly, because I was "too loud") isn't my favorite thing to play,and I'm terribly excited to have the chance to play my acoustic kit again on Sunday, but what the electronic kit has taught me is how to fill much faster. The pads are smaller, closer together, and have quicker response time, by virtue of their design and capacity. I'm learning to drum faster and more adventurously and believe, despite my pinched nerve hand injury, that I will carry that skill over to the Rogers kit this weekend.

TOC and I are driving out to De Kalb on Thursday night after work (super yay, "us" time, long overdue) to pick up the Rogers kit which is being stored at my brother Steven's house. (I need a man, for crissakes, to help me haul that kit back to church in Chicago, and while I have no shortage of guy pals I could've asked to help me out, I *wanted* to spend time with TOC.)

Steve also has my Tama acoustic kit, and his own Gretsch kit, and part of the Rogers kit, set up as a giant kit that he plays in his basement that he takes apart when he plays for his own church's praise band every weekend. I don't know, he has something like 11 toms (from 3 kits, plus roto toms) set up, and a double bass, and cymbals of all kinds. See below.

The thing is, Steve's ten times the drummer I am. His speed, precision and rhythmic talent outshine mine by a million miles. He's a professional and I pale in comparison. While TOC and I are in De Kalb, he wants to show us some patterns and solos he's been working on with the giant kit. I can't wait, for I absolutely love watching and listening to Steve drum. What's already unnerving me is that I have to follow him and play myself, in front of TOC, who's never seen me play, and in front of Steve, who isn't critical and is very supportive of my art, but behind whom I feel like a dweeb. This will be after an acupuncture treatment on my injured hand, so it will be good to see what I'm capable of afterwards.

I've been bugging TOC to come and see my band play at church for months (we're currently working on October) and I feel somehow safer backed by the rest of my band as opposed to performing a solo on a giant kit in front of him with 1 1/2 working hands. What if he thinks I royally suck? How potentially embarrassing will that be? My former bassist, who is really kind of an asshole at heart, once told me, "You can keep time, but that's about it." Thanks, man. With votes of confidence like that, how can I go wrong? Nervous, nervous, nervous.

My brother and I have done dual, trade-off drum/conga gigs on a few occasions with my band, and it's always a source of joy. I love playing WITH him; I just hate playing in comparison TO him. He's planning to join us at the picnic on Sunday, most likely on congas, unless my hand is uncooperative, in which case, he'll play the Rogers kit and I'll accompany on congas. We'll see. The picnic will be after I've been drumming for an average of 6 hours the prior two nights.

My drummer friends and I have been going back and forth on Facebook critiquing David Letterman's "Drum Solo Weeks #1 and #2" that he had on-air a while back, with some famous artists (Neil Peart, Stewart Copeland, Sheila E., among others), some relatively unknown but talented artists, and, inexplicably, Justin Bieber (OMG, even I drum better than that little weenie). This morning, I resurrected a drum solo my brother did in '06 with his band for their annual convention. It's a short clip, and he's playing in tandem with a talented percussionist, but Steven did a hell of a solo. I posted it to my drummer friend Sree's page today, and he gave it a resounding thumbs-up.

Watch below to see what THIS Miklasz is competing with with THAT Miklasz. Damn, he's good.

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