Jan. 21st, 2012

Drumming

Jan. 21st, 2012 07:37 pm
shermarama: (Default)
I haven't been playing regularly in a band since something like 2008. Until this afternoon, I hadn't even sat down behind a drumkit since March 2010. There didn't seem to be much point when there was always something else I was supposed to be doing, when it cost money I didn't have, when it would be stupid to join a band when the plan was to leave. But then I did leave, to here, and there's someone from Hyves who's a bassist and looking for other band members, and today it was time to work out if I could still play the drums or not. I'd heard about a practice room that's walking distance away, and arranged a couple of hours for this afternoon, and dug my cymbals out of their hard case and gathered sticks and earplugs and headphones and stuff and went off to try it.

The short answer is that I still can, insofar as I ever could, play the drums. My tempo's probably rather wobbly but the muscle memory is right there. It's kind of weird to find your hands and feet still capable of these complex things, to think about a sound and have it appear in front of you by means of playing it. I had some music with me, and played along to some old stuff, but also to some things that I know I've never tried to play before because they hadn't been released last time I did that. I could still hear what they were, take them apart. It's good. We're having a bit of trouble working out where to find other band members, but hopefully something will come together soon.

However, the best thing about the experience was the practice room itself. It's like a whole bunch of aspiring musicians sat around imagining what a practice room is like and then made it reality. Go through the coffee shop, through a weird dark tunnel to the back, and there's a fairly large room, made to appear even larger by the random selection of mirrors around the walls (but the not big intimidating whole wall of them like I've seen in some more modern places) and it's filled with all sorts of mostly old, but mostly pretty good quality music kit. The drumkit was a Pearl, a decent one, with an eclectic selection of heads on, all of which probably could use a change but all of which were far from cheap when they were bought. It looked like a classic, but without the depressing unusable decrepitude of most shared-use kits that look like that. There were various things that hovered between useful and decorative; random world-music percussion, more guitar stands than a band could really use, a sofa, some old keyboards. And for the other traditional requirements of some musicians there was, well, a coffee shop out front. Big pre-rolled spliffs sitting in racks, a few Saturday lunchtime customers sitting staring into space; the ability to not only light up at your practice room but to score there too. Not that I smoke much ever, and never when playing the drums, but for some UK bands that would be a dream come true.

In my music-playing experience so far you pretty much either get old run-down practice rooms with shit kit that no-one looks after, or modern and quite efficient places with good kit but with fiendishly crammed schedules, where you turn up on time and you pay if you don't show, and pay quite a lot whatever happens. If you went into the centre of London they were generally expensive and shit (grief, the place near Old Street that stank), or expensive and good but dealing in larger chunks of time, aimed more at semi-pro bands. This was booked while walking past last night and had surprisingly usable kit, so it was well off my known scales. I went to pay at the end of my session, and the man behind the counter gave me a bit of a squint, in the manner of a man who has plainly been joining in with his customers.

'Two hours, just me,' I say, 'how much?'

'One hour, wasn't it?' he says.

'Well, one and three quarters,' I say, 'I got here a bit late.'

'Ah, I'm weak,' he says. 'Call it an hour. That'll be five Euros.'

I think I might be playing the drums some more.

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Sherm

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