This article could be called ‘How to get the gig’. And is designed to follow on from my 2 previous posts regarding Tips For Intermediate Drummers & Tips for Beginner Drummers.
At this point it is assumed you have the playing side of things down. It’s always a work in progress but it’s time to sort out the one percenters that can make all the difference. Lot’s of people are really good drummers.
So what is going to set you apart?
1. BE ON TIME. BE ON TIME. BE ON TIME: No excuses. Got it? Okay let’s move on.
2. KNOW THE MATERIAL: It doesn’t matter how fast your single stroke roll is if you don’t know the tunes. Do your homework or don’t do the gig.
3. DON’T GET DRUNK: People lose gigs and even get kicked off tours for this all the time. You have to have self-control. You couldn’t turn up to a 9-5 job and get raging drunk. This is no different. You don’t have to become a Monk. One beer is fine, 12 isn’t.
4. DON’T PLAY DURING SOUNDCHECK OR BREAKS: This screams unprofessionalism. There is nothing more annoying and distracting than a drummer trying out his best licks at inappropriate times. Of course you DO need to soundcheck. Do your soundcheck and be done.
5. NEVER OVERPLAY: Play the music. Don’t try and dominate the gig. You are a sideman and your job is to make everyone else sound good. If you are easy to play with you WILL get hired. The music needs to feel great. Random polyrhythmic linear bursts of that new hot lick are not required.
6. IMAGE: Yes this IS important. Maybe more important than your playing. Are Britney Spears or Justin Bieber the best singers in the world?…. No!
You have to have a great attitude. Be easy to work with. Beam confidence and ‘vibe’ with whoever you play with. Always dress appropriately for the gig.
7. SMILE: Cheesey? Maybe… maybe not. If you look bored, the crowd will not give you anything back. It’s a give and take relationship. If you are having a GREAT time, the crowd will too. If you aren’t happy on the night for some reason, fake it. If you notice someone in the band not giving 100%, give them a stupid look. Do a stick trick. Anything to make them laugh and snap back into reality. Looking like a sad sack on stage is unacceptable. If there is a genuine issue you or a bandmate is going through DON’T gig till you sort it.
I swear if you can tick off everything on this checklist, things WILL happen for you. You have everything working in your favour.
As always, would love to hear any feedback and let me know anything I’ve missed.