Give The (Little) Drummer Some

I played a private gig with DonCat this weekend. Grown men and women danced and drank during our set. They were incredibly welcoming, and knew all of DonCat’s songs.

But, at the front of the crowd was a little girl, air drumming for her life, and making these faces that only a drummer can make. They’re the types of faces that make you question if the person donning them is gravely injured or having the time of their life. But you’re sure it’s one of the two.

It was clear the girl wants to drum. So after we finished the gig, I gave her some sticks and sat her behind the kit. It was adorable. I told her to keep the drumsticks, and she ran around the party drumming on everything – people, tables, drum cases, beer bottles. Let’s just hope she tries her hand at some rudiments too.

DonCat Goes To Shredsville, Split Screens Goes On Tour

DonCat Crowd

At 8:28 PM, Duncan, Jesse, Chris and I all paced around. Duncan was doing vocal warm ups. I drummed on empty boxes in the hoarder-esque backroom of Rickshaw before our set with DonCat. In 60 seconds it was time. We walked out at 8:29 to an absolutely packed room. We walked off stage at 9:01. The gig was a whirlwind.

We’ve been working real hard on the new album, Easy Cowboy, which is coming out next year. It’s always a pleasure to play these new songs, especially for such a supportive crowd.

Split Screens Tour
SplitScreensTourAs if Chris and Jesse didn’t spend enough time together as the rhythm section of DonCat. Now, we’re going full steam with Split Screens. It’s time to get in gear for the Split Screens tour. We’ll be going all the way down the coast to Tijuana and all the way back up to Portland. I don’t know what’ll happen in between those two stops. But I can guarantee I’ll be full of coffee + burritos and I’ll spend too much money at Revival Drum Shop in Portland.

See you on the road!

Tape Study: The National’s Secret Weapon And His Best Drum Fill

Artist: The National / Bryan Devendorf
Song: “I Should Live In Salt”

No one is grabbing The National‘s “Trouble Will Find Me” LP off the shelves to get a party started. Unless that party is a dad-rock party. In which case, this is the first record you grab.

The National have a penchant for making records that unfurl the more you listen to them. The more you give, the more you get. You’ll hear Sharon Van Etten’s harmony buried beneath an organ on your 34th listen of “Hard To Find“. You’ll hear the way the wonder twins Bryce and Aaron Dessner captian an army of woodwinds, brass, and guitar swells that overlap but still move together like a weather pattern. You’ll hear those things, but you’ll feel Bryan Devendorf’s drumming.

There Are No Small Parts In Bryan Devendorf’s Drumming
Bryan perfectly illustrates how there are no small decisions in drumming. Every single note he plays has been carefully selected to serve the song in the most economical fashion possible. This does lead Bryan to play the same type of beat a lot, a call and response between bass drum and snare drum. (cough, cough, Apartment Story cough, cough) I’ve poked fun at it. But, his beats are variations on a theme. He knows what serves the band well, and sticks to his guns.

The National Plays In A New Time Signature, Bryan Makes It Feel Familiar
On The National’s last album, “Trouble Will Find Me” they entered new territory. They opened up the album with “I Should Live In Salt,” a slow burn of a track that oscillates from 9/4 to 8/4. The National hadn’t delved into non-traditional time signatures before, but they make this new terrain feel like home. This is largely due to Bryan’s work on the drums.

He makes the flow from 9/4 to 8/4 seamless, and demonstrates how comfortable he is in his opening fill. It’s not too flashy. He’s not accenting any weird upbeats like the “e” of beat 7. He’s guiding the listener into the song, and into the album with confidence and cool. It sets up the whole song, and in doing so, the whole album.

Here’s the fill transcribed below along with a YouTube clip that starts right at the fill. You’ll find his primary beat he uses in the verses transcribed as well.

Happy playing!

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