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Mad Respect for “The Mad Drummer” [Guest Post]

Many of you have probably seen this video, which went viral this month and recently showed up on Failblog as “Drummer Win.

It depicts Steve Moore, the “Mad Drummer” for West Virginia cover band Rick and the All-Nighters, tearing it up during a performance of “Sharp Dressed Man.”

I love this video, but I don’t really know the first thing about drumming beyond beating Rock Band songs on the “Easy” level.

So I called in one of the finest drummers I personally know, ROTI reader GoGoMrPoPo, for a review of the Mad Drummer’s chops.

After reviewing the video evidence and this interview that Philadelphia Weekly conducted with Moore, here’s his take.

Wow.  Steve Moore really is insane.  Much respect.

He does an incredible job of not missing a beat or even messing with the sound and feel of the groove while basically performing seated gymnastics.  Close your eyes and listen.  If you listen to a lot of music and have an ear for the drums, you can easily hear little flubs or miss-hits in much more studio music than you would think, and all the time in live shows.  I don’t hear them in this clip. Granted, Sharp Dressed Man is a very simple groove with very basic fills, but sometimes that’s where mistakes stand out most, when they’re most obvious.  It’s a very impressive display.

I’ve never been one for “visual drummers,” as Moore calls them.  Most guys who focus on that stuff kind of stink as drummers or just don’t seem to get what I think the drums are about in a rock band, and over the years I’ve just grown to really despise flashy stick work and drum tricks like that.

I remember I really loved Twin Cinema, the New Pornographers album of about 5 years ago.  Great song writing, beautiful vocals, catchy tunes, and really strong drumming with crisp, thick drum sounds, and I was really excited to see them live, but it turns out the drummer [Kurt Dahle] is a fruit fart who twirls his sticks every chance he gets and makes pained sexy faces as he squirms on his throne.

I know it sounds stupid or petty, but it ruined the album for me.  I can’t listen to it anymore because I see him doing his silly stick tricks and making that creepy face whenever it comes on:

The truth is that a lot of drummers can do a lot of cool stick tricks.

I was never interested in them and definitely can’t do them myself, but a lot of drummers spent more time in lessons or just immersed in their kits than I did.  I liked playing with bands and listening to music, not watching Terry Bozzio or Dennis Chambers videos while I twirled my Vic Firths (I probably would be a better drummer if I did), so I’m usually more interested in hearing the interplay among band members.

Moore says himself that he saw a gimmick that he could run with, but I think the dude deserves more credit.  He’s mastered that gimmick, and he’s making a living off it.  That’s a hell of a lot more than a lot of really good drummers can say about their craft.

But all this talk of him being in the wrong band, well, I disagree.

There’s not a whole lot of interest in “visual drumming” in today’s music scene, and a cheesy cover band is absolutely the best platform for that kind of gimmick.  Maybe it would be cooler if he were combined with a shredder with Eddie Van Halen chops, a Geddy Lee look alike with the skills to match, and a dead ringer for Bon Scott, but even if they rocked righteous they’d still have to be a cheesy cover band.

Most bands, most front guys, really, don’t want a drummer like that.  They’ve got their own gimmicks like having pretty hair and cool clothes and being all magnetic and stuff, and Steve Moore would totally kill that vibe, man.

I’m sure things will change.  Chicks used to go wild for Simon and Garfunkel as much as they did for the freaks in Cinderella or Eddie Vedder, and as much as they do now for James Blunt (do they?).  But Moore made the right call by sticking to his meal ticket (and standing by his friends).

I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a nod to his humility, though.  He comes across like a real self-aware sweetheart.  I may not love his tricks, but I respect the hell out of him as a professional and a person.

GoGoMrPoPo dwells and drums in Brooklyn.

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About Alpine McGregor
Just like you, man. I got the shotgun, you got the briefcase. All in the game, though, right?

2 Responses to Mad Respect for “The Mad Drummer” [Guest Post]

  1. SecretM says:

    That sure is some impressive arm flailing. I’m not sure if I like the way it looks but seriously impressive flailing. There is no reason why really monstrous drumming can’t be combined with sick visual appeal. Just ask Roger Knight.

    http://sickweek.com/Runner_and_The_Thermodynamics

  2. Shaun K says:

    Very entertaining. I was watching it with my brother in law who plays the drums and he said exactly the same, that he didn’t miss anything or poke his eye out!

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