Back to Basics (Again!)

By Herman Matthews Originally Published in DRUM! Magazine's March 1998 Issue

I know I always preach about simplicity and that a player should be able to play the gig with the basics. I was called on it this past tour. A fan and a reader of DRUM! caught me playing with Kenny Loggins and made a comment about my set up. His comment was, “Yo dude, that’s more than a kick, snare, and a hat.” I smiled and took a look at the kit and sure enough it was one of the biggest four-piece kits I had seen in a while.

The touring kit is a four-piece with a floor tom on the left hand side along with two snares. I play an 18” kick drum (in addition to my 24” kick) that we call the sidecar kick. I also play a lot of cymbals. Nonetheless, one should be able to play the gig with a simple set up.

I was put to the test on the last show of the U.S. tour. We had to use rented back-line gear because our gear had to be shipped overseas for the European leg. I had a basic four-piece kit, and I wasn’t crazy about the 12” tom that was rented, so I got rid of it and did the Kenny Loggins gig with a kick, snare, hat, and floor tom. It was interesting adjusting from playing a gig where I had used everything that I had needed to trying to play everything on a reduced kit. Everyone should try it. I would love to hear Dennis, Vinnie, or Weckl on a scaled down kit.

We must remember that it is all based around the kick, snare, and hat. That’s the basic thing, the heart of your groove and drum kit. I’m seeing more players play the basics. Just listen to Ahmir Thompson, that’s one big phat phunky phoot mutha funker!I


Herman Matthews has played with Richard Marx, Kenny Loggins, Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, Maxie Priest, Tower of Power, and Rebekah. He currently works with Kina.

More Lessons