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The beating heart of the band, part three

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Dave von Falkenstein
July 27, 2012

This is the third of a three-part series between Andy Beaumont, Shawn Sensiba and Dave von Falkenstein on their favorite drummers and what makes them great.

Click here to read part one.

Click here to read part two.

If you've ever been in a band, or have read enough books about bands, you probably know that there are innumerable jokes about drummers. For some reason, the drummer has been pegged as the "dim bulb" of the band. I myself, as a guitarist, don't necessarily agree with that.

I have always thought of the drummer as the glue that holds the band together. When you put a guitarist and a bass player in a room and have them play, it usually doesn't sound like much of anything. But when you sit that drummer down and have them put a rhythm together, it all starts to sound like something far better.

My 9-year-old son started taking drum lessons a few months ago, and I think it's the best instrument to start on when you want to get into music. You learn the rudiments, get down your timing, and it makes playing guitar or bass a heck of a lot easier.

I, personally, have never had the coordination to do anything worth a lick on a drum set, no matter how simple. However, the following people are the ones I wish I could play like. Similar to my list of guitarists, I will keep it to ten.

Shannon Leto—The drummer for 30 Seconds to Mars (and brother to Mars singer Jared), Leto comes to mind for his powerful drumming and machine gun quickness that make the Mars songs roar out of the speakers.

Stewart Copeland—The Police drummer was the first one I remember hearing and thinking "Wow, that sounds really complicated." He had this jazz/reggae-infusion that worked so well for The Police and made the trio's songs stand out in a time when there was plenty of "wallpaper" music being recorded.

John Densmore—The drummer for The Doors added another dimension to the already "out there" band. His off-beat drumming on "Break on Through" makes the song what it is, and his ability to use fills and jam out on many songs prove that he is usually overlooked when it comes to best-of lists.

Matt Cameron—Who first played for Soundgarden, then Pearl Jam, and is now in both bands. This choice is a no brainer to me. This is the music I listened to in my formative years when I started to notice the individual instruments. Especially the drums.

Larry Mullen, Jr.—On top of being a pretty damn good drummer, Mullen was the one who put the "band wanted" note on the bulletin board in the high school where U2's members attended. Mullen's phenomenal sense of rhythm is evident in many songs, and nobody sounds like him.

Dave Grohl—It's not often you get a quadruple threat like Grohl. As well as being a fantastic singer/songwriter/guitarist, he first came to be as a drummer in a little-known '90s band called Nirvana. It's impossible to disregard his drumming past, and he still plays drums with Them Crooked Vultures, as well as sometimes with Tenacious D and Queens of the Stone Age.

Levon Helm—If you've never seen "The Last Waltz" by The Band, go see it now and it'll be obvious why Helm was so important. As Shawn said in the last entry, he was the foundation and main presence of the band. He's also about the only drummer/singer that I can think of that doesn't bug me. What an amazing musician.

Keith Moon—Incredible talent, if perhaps incredibly crazy. I mean, the guy would put explosives in his drums to make a bigger bang. I always believed that Animal, the drummer on the Muppets, had to have been modeled after Moon, but that's probably not true. He had that big sound that made The Who sound larger than life.

Danny Carey—The drummer for Tool was the first one I really listened to in order to try and figure out his timing. I found it to be impossible, and soon gave up. He seems to play different time signatures with each appendage and completely fills in the back end of any Tool song. Simply incredible. I never get sick of listening to him.

John Bonham—He MADE Led Zeppelin's sound, if you ask me. Sure, it doesn't hurt when you've got John Paul Jones playing bass, Jimmy Page as your guitarist and Robert Plant howling your vocals, but no one holds a candle to Bonham when it comes to hitting the skins. Listen to any Zeppelin song and it's impossible to imagine it without Bonzo's heavy, hard and loud drumming. It's what drumming is supposed to sound like.

Click here to read part one.

Click here to read part two.



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