by Brian Costello
Well it’s getting into Autumn of 2004 and there’s a lot going on in the world so it’s of manifest importance that I use this column for what’s truly important in the right here and now.
Of course, I’m talking about Drummers, and How to Show Your Love to the Drummers in Your Life.
I’ve never seen our communities so divided.
One side, you have lead singers, guitarists and bass guitarists, all of whom go on and on about this and that, all of whom get their pictures in the glossy art mags like Horizontal Action and Metal Edge, all of whom get the first crack at the booze and poontang, and on the other side, you have the drummers.
Drummers. “The backbone of the band,” sez Mr. Timothy Vulgar, and he would know because he played with Fast Eddie, who, to any of us who recall the halcyon days of Clone Defects shows, has one hell of a solid backbone, which was necessary when the Defects were faced with innumerable equipment failures and general sloppiness. Who held it together? Eddie. Duh.
Drummers. “A band is only as good as its drummer,” so sez Joe Strummer, who really should know better seeing how he didn’t even make Topper Headon a real member of the band until much later than he should’ve.
Drummers. “The Who really sucked after Keith Moon died,” so sez Me, because it’s true, and not just because Townshend saved the best songs he wrote from that era for his solo stuff.
Understand, dig: Drummers are more than their rhythms. It’s the personalities too. It’s the heart, the soul, everything. Nobody else in a rocknroll band gives so much for so long for so little. No shit. While the lead singers are getting the girlie action, while the guitarists are getting the songwriting credentials, and while the bass player’s scoring the free drinks and drugs, the drummer’s breaking down his kit, and if he’s lucky, he might get a turn at the merch table where some drunk gutter punk shithead who should’ve traded in his stinky CRASS tee for something at least a little bit more his age will talk his ear off about what just happened, namely, the show the drummer just got finished playing.
Oh yeah: And guess who gets to drive the van immediately after the show. That’s right the drummer, aka, the Designated Driver, because he sweated out his whopping two free drink tickets during the set and the physical exertion left him relatively, well goddammit, sober.
You can make all your stupid little jokes about drummers, like “What do you call a drummer without a girlfriend?” “Homeless!” Hardy har har, but where would you be without drummers? You’d be rhythmless, or else you’d be dancing to techno around drugged-up idiots. You’d have nothing but, blech, drum machines.
Drummers are a big part of the band, and yet they’re treated like a small part of the band. Like I was saying—it’s not just in the music either. It’s also in the personalities, and this takes me back to the Moon/Townshend dichotomy (oh, big words!). Besides being one of the greatest drummers of the last 10 million years of civilization (uncorroborated of course, because, like dude: think of all the drummers unrecorded in all of history. Whoa brah!), Moon didn’t seem like he was all that capable of taking himself all that seriously, unlike Sir Peter Townshend, who had quite a few pretentious excesses in his creative closet. Moon was his foil. This is one of several examples I could give, but this is the only one I can think of because I’ve been smoking PCP in my van all day in preparation for the inevitable escapism I will have to undertake for the next four years if our Blue-Blooded New Englander Dressed Like a Texan President gets re-elected, thanks in no small part to the Great Progressive State of Wisconsin.
Yes, we are a divided nation, and as a drummer who has also played guitar in bands, I would like to heal these wounds and make the bands in our world, no matter how lame and shitty, at least a little more cohesive. What follows is a manifesto, written on behalf of the International Brotherhood of Cymbal and Drummists Union Local #773, founded by one Francis Tyrade in the Spring of 2004 and co-sponsored by Ronald Cozumel and Billiams. Like the Port Huron Statement from the SDS in the 60’s, the Drummer’s Manifesto will reshape our society and make the drummers happy, and when the drummers are happy, the whole music appreciatin’ world is happy, because like Shirley Watts, wife of Charlie, once said, “It’s so much work behind it when all it is is making music for kids to dance to.” So let us being, shan’t we?
Preamble: Look brah: These truths are like, duh? Drummers are crucial members of your band and shouldn’t be treated like back-up singers and horn players. Drummers have the freedom to come up with whatever rockbeats they deem fit to the song, no matter how you “hear it in (your) head, man!” when you write your stupid song and present it to the rest of your band. The rhythm is the exclusive domain of the drummer. If you don’t like it, get a drum machine, or play your own damn drums, and good luck with that one, Mister Arhythmical Geetarist.
We demand equality, not just in the songs, but in the whole operation of the band. To achieve these ends, we propose the following Ten Points, and demand their immediate implementation:
Point One: Before and After a Live Set, The Lead Singer and Guitarists and Bass Guitarist Will Assist the Drummer in the Set Up of His Drums and Cymbals, at Least Until that Blessed Moment Comes When the Band Can Afford a Drumtech. Okay nondrummers, listen up: When you’re done plugging in your pussy cords into your pussy amps and you’ve tuned your pussy stringed instruments, here’s what you do: set up the cymbal stands, pass the rack toms, screw on the cymbals, anything that would expedite the set-up process that much quicker. DO NOT: Start playing wanky “hott lixx” on your guitar in anticipation of rocking out. DO NOT: Yell “Hurry up!” at the drummer while he’s trying to track down a drumstool. DO NOT: Leave the stage immediately after the set is finished so you can a. throw a starfit, b. meet the legion of ladies in waiting for your precious rockstar dong, c. let your friends take you to the bar for shots, d. run off to catch your breath, e. cry because nobody digs the feelings you expressed on stage. No, before and after, you are to assist the drummer with the set-up of his kit, because his kit is large and multi-faceted, unlike your amps, cords, and guitars. That way, you can start and end your time on-stage quicker, and everyone, band and audience, is pleased.
Point Two: During a Live Set: Members of the Audience Are Not to Give the Drummer Shots of Whiskey. Seriously. It’s like, why don’t you just dump a bunch of sand down my throat? I’m doing this thing that takes a lot of physical exertion, and you give me a powerful dieuretic? Please. Do you give marathon runners shots of whiskey when you watch them run down your street? No. Beer is fine. Water is better. Fuck us up after the show. Then, suck our dicks, but that’s another point entirely.
Point Three: Audience Members: Suck the drummers’ dicks first. Seriously. Now ladies, I know the lead singer is seen, in your pathetic little minds, to be the head person of the band, but really, who’s shaking your libidos? Here’s a hint: it’s the dude providing the rhythms. That’s right, the drummer. Therefore, while the lead singer might be more “attractive,” might have a better “personality,” and he might have a bigger “penis,” that doesn’t make it okay to not go up to the drummer after the set and be all like, “Wow, the Functional Blackouts sure are something! Can I suck your dick after the show, Cozzie?” ‘Preciate it, chickadees!
Point Four: All group shots of the band should include pictures of the drummer. Dear Photogs: Why have you so shateth upon us? In all your so-called “action shots” of the band in the heat of their performance, you’re suckered by guitar pyrotechnics, by the rawk faces and gyrations of the singer, by the…the…whatever it is bass guitarists do, but whither your drummer action shots? We’re tired of being black toner in Horizontal Action, tired of getting the nanosecond cymbal shot on MTV, tired of being in the back, ignored by you who take pix. The time has come to stop the Photographic Politics of Exclusion. I’m sick of your racism and prejudice, picture takerers. From now on, you must include us in your snappity snaps.
Point Five: The Drummer Will Not be the Designated Driver After Each and Every Show, Even if He Happens to Own the Band Van. Drummers need to get fucked up after the show to, and yes, once every 500 years, about as often as the Chicago Tribune endorses a Democrat for the Presidency, the drummer gets like you know “lucky,” so out of respect for that, drummers should only drive everybody home a. as often as everybody else, or b. if he actually wants to drive.
Point Six: The drummer is free and independent to dress and act however he sees fit onstage, assuming it does not mess up the song and doesn’t go too overboard with the shenanigans. The rest of the band is permitted to whine to the drummer if they feel his behavior is a little “over the top” to which they will be invited to take a gander at Point Seven, to whit:
Point Seven: Suck the drummers’ dick if you don’t like it.
Point Eight: Guitarists and singers are banned from touching the drummers equipment in any way, shape, or form during the set. In other words: If you think you can use the head of your guitar as a drumstick to crash on the drummer’s ride cymbal, expect a bitch slap with a real drumstick across the face. If you think you can act like Kurt Cobain and dive headfirst into the drumset, expect a brutal asswhipping which will leave you dead and jamming with Kurt Cobain.
Point Nine: During the set, guitarists and singers are banned from staring at the drummer in any kind of rocknroll onstage “solidarity.” Yeah, you think as you strum your guitar, I’m shaking my head in rhythm to the drums, to that great drummer I have working for me (and that’s bullshit, see Point Ten), so I’m gonna turn to him and shake my head at him in smile and he’ll smile back and the audience will see that we’re having ourselves a ball up here on stage.
Nuh-uh. Unless your Max Weinberg and Bruce Springsteen (no, I take that back, this rule DEFINITELY applies to them too), don’t try and lock eyes with the drummer during the set.
Point Ten: The drummer does not work for you, nor does he back you up. The drummer is part of the unit, which is, of course, your stupid band that nobody likes anyway because you suck. He will be treated accordingly.
(Manifesto created in the Year of Our Lord 2004, in the computer lab of Columbia College Chicago, next to some crazy homeless looking dude who talks to himself while he writes.)
And that’s that. Before I go, I just want to say that I said a lot of things I didn’t remotely mean about our former lead singer Brian Nervous on a message board in the heat of extreme anger. I apologize for writing them, and if you really care: Nervous is quitting because he’s trying to get his adult life together, because, as some of you know, playing the kind of music we play doesn’t even cover the down payment on a Big Wheel, much less mere survival. Brian (and his brother Mark) were great friends to play music with these past 3 years, quite often the sole voices of reason (or partners in reason) when it seemed the whole thing was gonna implode, and they’re largely the reason the whole thing lasted long enough to get some recorded material out there. So I wish him (and us) the best of luck in the future….and barring that, may Survival Knife live on to propagate humanity in a post-apocalyptic (read: 2nd GW Bush term) chemical wasteland.
Until next time, this is Anonymous Goy saying: Later, faggots!!!
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