So much of the storytelling of an album or a song is the drumming dynamics and changes, or the lack of change which can be a creative statement in it’s own right. There are the standard ways of staying inspired like going to watch other drummers perform, taking lessons, or reading notation from a groove book. But the random moments in life when you are not necessarily drumming can be when the magic happens. Sometimes I subconsciously click my teeth together while I am driving and realize that I am doing a variation of the Bossa Nova that I have never played. One time a beat even came to me while I was sleeping and I woke up with a strange rhythm ingrained in my brain. I decided to ask three different women I had the pleasure of drumming with on the road about their unconventional ways of staying inspired. Each of these drummers played a big part in the reason why I loved watching their band’s live show (although I may be a tad biased as a drummer myself), and each woman had a unique style of playing although they all played rock’n’roll.
by Miro Justad
Frankie Mars Gunner – Flesh Panthers & Mr. Ma’am (Chicago)
Frankie Mars Gunner photo (above) by: Aaron Ehinger
I really enjoy listening to different accents from all over the world. I find myself analyzing the rhythm and flow of phrases and words when spoken. When I hear an accent I can hear the beat to it. The sentence can be so rhythmic. Sometimes words are slurred sometimes they are sped up and mashed together. Take a group of people from different areas and have them recite the same sentence. The flow and the rhythm of that sentence is going to be different but the phrase is still the same. Imagine that sentence is a measure and the words are the beats. Imagine all of the variations of beats! I really like to manipulate my vocals and the rhythm of the words around my drumming when I am singing. Hearing the flow of words in different accents really inspires me to create my own accent with my music.
Mara – Candace (Portland)
Mara (above) photo by Todd Walberg
For me, inspiration for drum parts and rhythms is all about attitude and the song at hand. It sets my soul on fire when I see or hear something with a distinctive strut, attitude, boldness, or truth and that is something I’ll be searching for for the rest of my life with drums and songs. I see it in weirdo people, piles of garbage, great jams, bad paintings, natural phenomena, anything that encapsulates the ridiculous patterns of life. I feel like in my drum arrangements, it’s my job to highlight, support, and be honest so the song and the vibe can exist and flourish.
Kaylee – Bleach Party & Rabble Rabble (Chicago)
Kaylee (above) photo by Rob Gazcol
There are many ways in which a drummer can be inspired to create beats or rhythms that are new to them. Other than the obvious method of looking through drum books and practicing what’s written in them, there a few ways that I get inspired to go straight to the drum set. At work, I do a lot of walking; I use the rhythm of my steps as a 4-count, and I kind of just let my hands go crazy on the tops of my thighs. The cool thing about this is that it’s very private. Any onlookers just think that I’m dilly-dallying randomly with my hands, but in my head, I’m working out some new beats that I might just debut later at band rehearsal.
I live in Chicago, so I do a lot of driving, and that means I sit in a lot of traffic. I try to keep my music fresh while I am driving, listening to as much new music as I can. One of the best ways to find inspiration is to listen to new musicians express their new ideas. What’s different about listening in the car by myself is that I can tap it out on the steering wheel. I’m pretty high-strung, so I always need something to do with my hands. I can really go crazy on that steering wheel if I’m in bad enough traffic, or if the music is just to good!