The ABCs Of Things I Hate

A is for all the stuff that can go wrong when you play drums.

B is for blisters. It’s been a long time since I had one, but I haven’t forgotten.

C is for getting onstage cramps and still trying to keep playing.

D is for dented drumheads. There’s nothing worse than trying to pull tone out of a dead head.

E is for eating crap on the road. But how can you avoid it?

F is for freelancing. I like having a steady paycheck.

G is for gouging your knuckles on your hi-hat cymbals and bleeding all over your drums. Who hasn’t done that at least once?

H is for still having another 300 miles before you get to the motel.

I is for playing for a room full of drunken idiots.

J is for being jerked around for money by the club owner.

K is for when people call a bass drum a kick drum. I’ve never kicked a drum. Never will.

L is for linoleum floors. See M.

M is for bass drums and hi-hat stands that move all over the place on linoleum floors.

N is for never getting songwriting royalties. For the record, no one has ever written my drum part.

O is for opening a show with your band before the audience has even shown up.

P is for gear problems you can’t troubleshoot. Grin and bear it.

Q is for bandleaders who call three quick shuffles in a row. Give my left hand a break, dude!

R is for getting ripped off for recording royalties. I won’t name names.

S is for broken sticks. There’s no elegant way to deal with it onstage.

T is for not having the right tool to fix the problem.

U is for unimaginative soloing, whether it be from the guitarist, bassist, keyboardist, or me.

V is for playing to an empty venue.

W is for waiting to go onstage, on the road, to the next gig, and so on.

X is for xylophone sonatas, if there are such things. (Okay, so I had trouble thinking of an X.)

Y is for stifling a yawn onstage at 1:15 a.m. on a weeknight. It gets harder as you get older.

Z is for when the zipper gets stuck on your cymbal bag.


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  • The “kick drum” thing bothers you? Having played in percussion ensembles, it helps to distinguish it from a concert bass drum. On second thought, I also call it “pedal bass.”
    This was an entertaining read! And relatable!
    You are right about the xylophone thing, although that behooves one to play Bach violin pieces or something like that on the xylo. Much better to play music written for the instrument, anyway.