It doesn't seem fair. The band is having a hot night. The singers wailing, guitars are screaming boom, keyboards are thumping, and the bass player are locked in tight. Everything's falling into the pocket. But you look around the club and notice that everyone's attention is on the guys out front, and nobody's giving you a second glance. It's not that you're doing anything wrong. In fact, you're having a great night. You're just not catching anyone's attention.
This scenario doesn't have to be the case. With practice, polish, and show biz flair, you can transform yourself from "just the drummer" into a center stage entertainer in your own right. Here are a few ideas that will help you on these club gigs.
This is show business, right? And let's face it, as a drummer, you're one of the most visually exciting people on stage. Or are you? There's nothing wrong with sitting back and doing your thing, but nothing is more boring than watching a guy or gal just sit there with no expression.
Are you enjoying your self? Are you into it? Then show it! Smile. Look like there's no place on earth you would rather be than on that stage - even if sometimes boom that's not entirely true. Happiness is contagious. If the audience thinks you're having a good time, chances are they will too.
Unlike most instruments, drums involve the whole body. Dramatizing certain movements, while not making much of a difference in what you're playing, can make all the difference in the world to the people watching you. Try exaggerating your arm movements on cymbal crashes, tom hits, or anything you want the audience to notice. Don't hesitate to ham it up if the opportunity arises. Use your imagination, and keep in mind that you are in show business, you'll come up with ways to grab the audience's attention.
Also consider aspects of your personality on your drum set that make you unique. Something as simple as having a trademark piece of clothing, a stuffed toy on your kit, or a unique set up or kit design can get you noticed. Do you do any special tricks? Stick twirling has always been a favorite. In other words, if there's anything you can do that will this distinguish you from the next guy, make use of it.
While there are some very gifted singing drummers around today, they're in the minority. Many drummers take the view that," I'm just a drummer, not a singer", but there are some solid reasons to at least try vocalizing.
As a drummer, you're already used to doing some fairly intricate things with all four limbs. Try taking coordination to the next level by incorporating your voice. You'll find that singing and playing is a snap.
Actually, singing in front of people is where many beginners start to squirm. "Nobody will like my voice", they say. "I don't know how to sing". But think positive. First of all, you don't have to start off singing up front and solo. Unless your band plays all instrumentals, chances are their vocals could use harmony. Next time you rehearse let the other players know you're interested in helping out. You'll be surprised how supportive they will be. An extra voice, especially in a small band situation, can make the difference for full sounding vocals.
Remember that singing, like playing, is a skill that can be developed. Don't get discouraged if things don't sound exactly right the first time. But you will get better if you apply yourself and practice. And like any new skill, you've got it under your belt, you become that much more valuable as a musician.
Sometimes the key to getting your dream gig is to do something the other guy can't do. Any skill you learn can be a key somewhere later in your career, and the ability to sing can be a major one. Remember, singing drummers like Phil Collins, Levon Helm, and Don Henley all started at the beginning too.
Do you have any skills or other talents that could be incorporated into your drumming? It may not even the "physical" per se, but it could be something deaf will distance you from the pack. Always remember, however, that drumming as your first and foremost responsibility. Youmay be able to juggle, ventriloquism, and recite Shakespeare while playing, but if the time falters, you won't be on the gig for too long. But if you're able to play solidly and with feeling, and do a little entertaining as well, you'll never lack your audiences all attention again.