Drums are loud, powerful rhythm machines designed to keep everyone in the band playing together. The drummer’s role is not simply keeping time (although that certainly is a big part of it), it’s also to lead the entire band! If a band were a train, the drummer would be the engineer, keeping everything on track and running smoothly. Drummers have full control over how loud or quiet a song is, how fast it’s going to be, when to signal a changing part of the song (i.e. verse to chorus); that’s why when we hear count offs, it usually comes from the drummer. All this can be done in a number of different ways, such as a well-placed fill to lead into a chorus, Changing the cymbals we play when playing a beat, play beats softer or louder, or even changing a beat completely whenever at a different part of the song.
With all this power comes great responsibility. Drummers have to let the rest of the band know, verbally or musically, what they’re going to do to give everyone else time to react. Changing tempo, dynamics, grooves, or really anything without preparation will throw everyone off guard and make the music less fun to play. Drummers aren’t just good team players; they have to be great team leaders! There are also certain points where things in music are generally placed, whether that be fills, changes in the song, crash hits, etc. and these can usually be at the end of every 4, 8, or 16 bars depending on the situation. The best way to learn how to effectively use all the power you’re given as a drummer is to really listen to drummers you like, hear when they switch things up, add fills, get loud/quiet, etc. And always remember every song is different so what works on one song won’t work on every song.
Overall, drummers are an important part of the band; they set the mood, groove, and tempo for each song and lead the band through changes that occur. Drums are a key instrument in a band. It’s hard to imagine rock without a drummer keeping things together and even harder to imagine great drummers like John Bonham or Neil Peart never playing the drums. Drummers keep it real, and no band is complete without one.