Thursday, January 14

Journal In A Jar - Part 3: 'Charlene.'

"What Instrument Do You Play Or Wish You Could Play? Why?"

The instrument I do play is the drums. I've been a drummer since March of 1994, when I saw Green Day perform 'Basket Case' on The Late Show With David Letterman. Not many people can pinpoint 'turning points' in their lives, but that was a huge one for me; less than a week later, I was the proud owner of a vintage kit that was better off in a museum than in my bedroom. Honestly, I don't know where this drum set came from; I think it once belonged to Buddy Rich.

From 1994 to 1995, I played religiously and even took lessons, but things got expensive and I started paying more attention to girls, so I sold the drums and music took a backseat for awhile. It wasn't until 1998 or 1999 when I picked up the sticks again; my friends were starting to noodle around on guitars and they needed a percussionist with which to play Green Day covers in backyards all across the village of Winneconne. I was the man for the job.

From 1998 to 2002, drumming was my main gig, as I was now in a real band, with real songs and real fans. When the band called it quits in 2002, I laid off for good. I only now play as a hobby (My main kit is in the basement; I have an electronic kit in my Rumpus Room that I can play without the cops showing up).

Through it all, however, I always wanted to play guitar. I wanted to be the frontman; I was already writing the songs, why not sing them, too? With the exception of Phil Collins and Genesis, no successful band featured a singing drummer. Due to circumstance, though, that has so far never happened. I'm a lefty, I'm too impatient to understand chords, my fingers are small and my attention span is waning by the minute. Maybe someday I'll take the time to master the six-string, but until then, I'll have to stick to Rock Band and Guitar Hero. I have a guitar that I mess around on from time to time, but nothing beyond a few chord progressions here and there.

Will I ever play on stage with a band again? Perhaps. I'm not in the market for a band right now, but I wouldn't rule it out. They were fun times.

Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your day. For more information about Journal In A Jar, click here.

Bands with singing drummers:

The Band
Electric Flag / Band Of Gypsys (Buddy Miles)

Not to mention many of the bands where the drummer sings backups. Ok, I'll mention a few: REM, Nirvana, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers.
Oh, for Christ's sake you guys, I'm talking about wildly successful, historic bands that feature a drummer on lead/primary vocals. It's a complete rarity! Nobody on Earth could argue that Queen's most well-known vocalist was Roger Taylor.
Doesn't the drummer for Cowboy Mouth also sing lead? Maybe they don't exactly qualify as wildly successful and historic, but I did see them on Letterman once.

In high school I played the trombone in band, and despite my sheer musical incompetence I was first chair trombone. This was mainly due to the fact I was the only trombone in the band. This arrangement worked out for the better part of my last couple years of school, but at the culmination of my senior year I was selected to participate in State Line Honors Band due to my position as first chair. I had another event the morning of so I missed the introduction and orientation, instead arriving right after lunch and rushing to my open seat in the auditorium next to three other trombonists. The band conductor was none other than Mike Leckrone, the UW Marching Band director, and we were all supposed to learn a piece that day and play it in concert that evening. Right as I sat down he started again through the piece, and after about a minute of trying to frantically keep up and figure out the notes (reading music was never my strong suit) Leckrone stopped and started shouting "TROMBONES! I NEED STRONGER TROMBONES" and had the four of us play our parts together. I tried to play as softly as I could to mask my ineptitude, but he singled me out quickly as the culprit, shouting "NO NO NO NO NO!" Referring to me as "Number Four," he had me run through the hardest progression in the piece, all while shouting critiques of my many, many errors. After what seemed an eternity but was likely three or four minutes, Leckrone gave up and turned his attention to the French horns. To date, I have never been more scared in my life.

I actually picked up the notes and didn't completely embarrass myself at the concert that night, but it was the last time I ever performed a musical instrument. You could say I was scared straight.
Dude, chill. The Band was a collaboration, but the best known songs were sung by Levon Helm. Rik Emmett may have sung the 'hits' but Gil Moore wrote and sang a bunch of their songs. And Buddy Miles had hit singles, man.

And you just said about singing / songwriting drummers. Without Roger Taylor's high tenor, the Queen harmonies wouldn't work, and he wrote "I'm In Love With My Car" and "Radio GaGa" amongst others.
And therefor we owe Roger Taylor for the wondrous Lady Gaga, who got her name from "Radio Gaga." The circle of life, people!
WALLROCK - Shit, that really sounded terrifying. It's experiences like that which drove me to writing. Makes the crying stop.

SMED - True 'dat, but you would agree that this is a serious rarity among legendary bands.

EMILY - Oh man, I never made the connection. I despise that song!
Grand Funk Railroad drummer Don Brewer sang lead vocals. And there's a band called Oppenheimer whose drummer sings most of the time--though as far as wildly successful.... well they opened for They Might Be Giants. that's pretty rad.
also a turning point inspiring wanting to play music--playing an inflatable "air guitar" that i got from a carnival, standing on my bed playing along with the solo from The Doobie Brothers' "China Grove." even when i was 14, i was older than i looked. what about it?

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