Talking Drums: Drummers Who Write

Drummers Who Write

danny thompson

I recently interviewed Danny Thompson of Face To Face about their upcoming record Laugh Now, Laugh Later. The album is as solid a comeback as you can record, and Thompson does a great job driving the tunes along. In an upcoming issue of DRUM! there will be a transcription of the tune “The Invisible Hand” off the new record, so keep your eyes peeled.

While speaking to Thompson, I found out that he was quite a Renaissance Man in the drumming industry. He runs a music school in Orange County called The Music Factory (, he used to build drums with Kenny Livingston (drummer of The Sugarcult) at their custom drum shop LTD Drum Company (, and when he returns home from a two-month long tour with Face To Face, he will be recording a full length DVD on drum tuning.

One of the most interesting things I found out about Thompson was his influences. He had three names:

  • Peter Criss
  • Stewart Copeland
  • Topper Headon

Like a lot of drummers between the ages of 20 and 40 Peter Criss of Kiss inspired Thompson to become a rock drummer back when he was in grade school. He cites Copeland as his biggest influence. And, he says Topper Headon was his favorite punk drummer and the most underrated drummer of all time. Thompson enthusiastically praised Headon for writing “Rock The Casbah,” among many other tunes.

What do all of Thompson’s influences have in common? They’re all musicians who wrote some of the material for the groups in which they drummed. Peter Criss co-wrote “Beth” and a ton of other Kiss tracks, Stewart Copeland’s percussion arrangements on tunes such as “Walking On The Moon” are compositions in themselves. He established himself as a first-rate film composer after leaving the band (including Oliver Stone’s Wall Street). And, Thompson already set us straight with Topper Headon. They were all well-rounded musicians.

It was not surprising to hear from Thompson that he gravitated toward drummers who thought like composers and singers. Thompson drives the new Face To Face record forcefully, but primarily concerns himself with supporting the music he’s playing. I recommend that you check out his drumming on Laugh Now, Laugh Later–the record is a both a great example of his drumming, along with a stellar listening sample of a kit that he personally built and tuned. If you’re not familiar with the band, start with Big Choice, move to their self-titled album, then pick up Laugh Now, Laugh Later. Listening to the progression of drummers is interesting since Thompson is cognizant of the drumming styles of two previous Face To Face drummers--you can definitely hear how he blends their styles while putting his own stamp on the tunes.

Get the How To Tune Drums Minibook when you subscribe to our newsletter