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Perry, Peart and Bozzio: Pearls of Drumming Wisdom

by Omar on July 7, 2009

in Drummers, Event Review

Doane Perry, Neil Peart, and Terry Bozzio

I eagerly awaited June 18th, 2009. DrumChannel.com was going to feature Doane Perry (Jethro Tull), Neil Peart (Rush), and Terry Bozzio (Frank Zappa, Missing Persons, DrumChannel resident). So many years of drumming experience, coincidentally from the so-called "progressive rock" genre. In any case, it was an event I couldn't miss.

Those who have followed TheParadiddler.com can deduce who my favorite drummer is, so I thought that this would be a good opportunity to get to know Perry and Bozzio a little more. Doane Perry I knew the least of, and I remember Terry from his Missing Persons days (crazy hair and all). Unfortunately, I missed Terry during his Frank Zappa days as well (boy, do I have a lot of homework to do!). But I can always catch up.

I had no expectations about this event. Maybe some thought that the three would at some point break out into an all-out jam, going crazy all over whatever drum kit they were presented. I for one, merely wanted to be a spectator and try to glean from them whatever pearls of wisdom I may not have heard before, and find a way for them to fit into my philosophy of drumming. I did submit via the chat room a couple of questions, but there were so many questions, and some most likely submitted theirs even days before the event, that mine were not asked (if anyone wants to know, and if I remember them, just let me know!).

So with paper and pen in hand, I listened, and waited. It actually was a little mesmerizing to see such great drummers altogether, like old chums, yapping it up, laughing with (and at!) each other - it was a lot of fun. From what I gathered, some people still seem to think that Neil Peart is a very moody, somewhat somber person. Maybe because he's so serious when he plays, that transfers to other parts of his life. Now I don't know him personally, but he seemed the most jolly and affable of the three (well, four if you count Don Lombardi, who was conducting the interview). Terry's just a nut (in a good way). His enthusiasm is so contagious - you can't help but get excited when you hear him speak. Doane was more the passive one, slowly doling out his story (even to the point of Neil 'mock' dozing off during one of his stories). They just all got along and had a good time.

Ahem, back to the paper and pen. So I thought I'd jot down the 'pearls of wisdom' that any of these guys might say that we would want to think about and remember. Of course, we can go to DrumChannel.com and watch the rebroadcast of the show, but for those who either missed it, or would like somewhat of a summary, the following is what I found most interesting. I'm sure I'll miss a few (or several) things, but hey, we can watch it again! I'll mention what the drummer said, and what I think about what they said. I'll be paraphrasing for the most part.

  • Neil Peart: 'No other instrument is like the drums. There are as many different setups as there are drummers.'

    • The Paradiddler: How many instruments can you tinker with different positions to tailor to the individual player? Very few if any! But with drums, configurations are limitless. You have different piece counts, cymbal counts, throne height, tom angles, hi-hat height, how open you have the hi-hats, drum tuning possibilities (don't even get me started there!), percussion, etc. Really, how many ways can you configure a saxophone?

  • Doane Perry: 'Drums are misunderstood. They seem easy, but most struggle past a straight four-beat. Drummers sympathize with each other.'

    • TP: I totally agree with this! Many look at drummers and think what they do is easy. "Oh, anybody can sit down and do what that guy's doing." But sit them down and have them play something simple as "Back In Black" by AC/DC, or almost any Creedence Clearwater Revival song, and they will always flop. I alluded to that in my article "A Perspective On Drum Covers". Even though I still think the drummers in the aforementioned bands could have done more, their simple beats served those songs. Plus, it's a lot harder to keep a solid beat than most think!

  • DP: Doane said he at one time took lessons from Billy Cobham.

    • TP: This might have been the funniest reaction of the whole show. Both Terry and Neil were like "Whoa, wait a minute, back up - what did you say? Lessons with Billy Cobham? When did this happen?" Apparently nobody knew that! A little trivia for us drumming buffs.

  • Terry Bozzio: 'The music you want to play should dictate what skills to practice. Also, practice what you don't know. Don't waste time practicing and warming up with paradiddles if you already know them."

    • TP: Ok Terry, quit bashing paradiddles! (Just kidding). What he says make perfect sense. If you're going to be playing more jazzy stuff, you might be wasting your time practicing blast beat double-bass drumming. You may want to hone your skills with traditional grip, for example. Or if you're going to cover rock bands, where most bars are straight fours, practice timing. Well, timing (or groove, maybe) is good for all genres, but that's just an example. I'm still practicing single and double stroke rolls!

  • NP: 'The 9x13 drum is my benchmark drum size. I love the tonality.'

    • TP: In my article "Neil Peart Solo Number 3 - Rush In Rio, 2003", I called Neil's 9x13 tom the 'magic tom' (you'll have to read why if you haven't!). Little did I know what Neil thinks of this particular drum! It is a beautiful sounding drum. I'm sure for Neil this tom and his snare have a very good relationship!

  • DP: 'The more you practice, the more things "come to you". But you have to sweat it; you have to practice a lot.'

    • TP: Personally, I've found this to be true. On a particular practice session that I recorded of myself, when I watched it I was actually dumbfounded that I could play what I was playing. I didn't realize until afterwards that I'd been trying to play specifically that way for some time, and I actually did it! And it came with practice.

  • TP: "Gadd is in the details"

    • TP: Ok, this was me in the chat room, but I was actually surprised that I said it! Someone had commented that Steve Gadd's style of drumming, at least for this chatter, was boring. I then said the above. I got some compliments on that, but I do believe it's true. Many will swear by Steve Gadd's technique, so much so that most will agree that, well, "Gadd is in the details." I haven't followed Mr. Gadd as much as I'd like, but that's the great thing about all these great drummers: so much to look forward to!

  • NP: "You don't have to keep the time; everyone's keeping the time."

    • TP: I find this to be true even when playing a drum cover. When I was recording my drum cover of Rush's "Dreamline", I found myself at times following Geddy Lee's voice more than Neil's drumming! Maybe Neil does this as well. Yes, everyone's keeping the time, but drummers, make sure you don't lose time, ok?

Well, there was a lot more said, but you can view the encore presentation at DrumChannel.com. This was more of a highlight list, the things I found most interesting, the 'pearls of wisdom'. But of course, the drummers had to jam, and jam they did. It wasn't a bombastic display, as some expected. But is was more a melodic approach. Well that went on for along time, and Don Lombardi had to stop them! Time flies when you're having fun, I guess. Here are a few photos from the show*. I hope you enjoy them, and if you missed it, go to DrumChannel and hear it from the boys themselves!

The trio at work

The trio at work

Terry's in there somewhere!

Terry's in there somewhere!

Terry Bozzio at home

Terry Bozzio at home

"Even I don't know what to do with this kit!"

"Even I don't know what to do with this kit!"

...and scene.  That's a wrap!

...and scene. That's a wrap!


*Many, many thanks to Stephanie (the muse!) and Claire (you're so clairific!) from DrumChannel.com in provisioning for TheParadiddler.com some of the great photos you see in this article.

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