Because it's not just guitarists who can wail...
31st Jul 2013 | 07:16
Aric Improta, Night Verses
Aric Improta, Night Verses
Guest drummers get chatty in a series of exclusive new blogs
Drum Expo 2013:"When I go to a show, one of the most disappointing things for me to see is a musician whose performance lacks emotion. Especially when I see that it is the drummer giving the half-assed performance. Drums are one of the most physical instruments in existence and I never understand when I see drummers playing completely still, showing no emotion in their face, and/or acting like they don't care about their performance.
Now when I say this, I hope it's clear that I don't expect to see a jazz concert where the drummer is spinning his long hair in a death metal windmill as if he were in an Amon Amarth video. Obviously someone's emotive expression should cater to the music they are playing. But even in a subtle setting such as a jazz club, watching a drummer play a low dynamic solo where he carries the emotion in his face can be just as effective as seeing a punk percussionist flip into his kit at the end of a set.
Though both are clearly different levels of energy and physical exertion, they each give the audience something substantial to take away from a live concert; something that would be impossible for a listener to feel if they just listened to the same song on a record.
As a fan, live performances have always been about gaining that deeper connection with the artist because you are in their actual presence and you are witnessing them in such a vulnerable state. As a musician, I always feel as though it is your responsibility to take advantage of the setting by providing an honest delivery that clearly depicts your music and its importance to you as an artist.
In most cases, the people attending your shows are already somewhat familiar with your record, so why would you want to play them literally the same thing they've already heard without providing aspects exclusive to that performance?
I remember the first time my friend played me the song Sleepwalk Capsules by At The Drive-in. At the time, I liked it, but I didn't fully get it or really understand what I liked about it. A week later, I saw a video of them playing Arc Arsenal at Big Day Out and it instantly all made sense. Cedric was hurling his mic stand into the air and diving off the drum kit, Jim was pushing his voice so hard the veins were bulging out of his neck, Omar was stutter stepping across the stage as if he were mid-seizure, and everyone in the band had this intense level of unified chaos that perfectly depicted the music they were playing.
The emotion was so vivid and undeniable that as a viewer, I didn't notice or care that the guitars were out of tune or that vocals were off key. All I could focus on was the honesty behind their delivery and the fact that they were literally giving the audience every ounce of themselves possible because that was the level of emotion that their songs carried.
Seeing that video instantly changed the way I view music. Because it was not only honest and intense, but also very unique – their movements didn't look rehearsed or contrived like most artists I had seen up to that point. Instead, they looked like they collectively decided to shut off their inhibitions and let their bodies do whatever they felt that very second.
I remember being so moved I actually got bummed on the idea that I was a drummer because I felt like I was limited to my seat and that I'd never be able to display emotion with the same freedom that Cedric, Jim, Omar and Paul did at the front of the stage. So I decided I don't need to abide by the traditional notions of drumming – there is no law that prevents me from leaving my throne. If there is a rafter nearby, why shouldn't I swing from it? If there is a heavy part approaching, why shouldn't I jump into the air before it hits?
Drummers feel music the same way guitarists, bass players and singers do, so we should react to the music exactly how our bodies tell us to. Once I figured this out, I began feeling completely comfortable on stage and that comfort made it easier for me to express emotion more naturally. Being able to let loose like that in such a vulnerable setting can be one of the most rewarding experiences of all time.
It's not only cathartic for you as an individual, but it also allows your audience to enjoy your performance that much more when they realise the connection you have with your art and your willingness to share it on such an honest level."
The Night Verses debut album, Lift Your Existence, is released in the UK on 22 July via Southworld records