Groove Analysis: Nathan Followill

Nathan Followill is one helluva groove master. One of his tricks to create catchy parts is to play repeating phrases of two or four bar lengths that offer just enough variety to keep things interesting.


This the first single from KOL’s latest recording, Mechanical Bull, which you’ve no doubt encountered on constant radio rotation by now. Followill plays a driving quarter-note snare drum pattern that’s a variation on the Motown Beat. His hi-hat’s play eighth-notes with nearly inaudible upbeats and his bass drum creates a four-bar repeating phrase. The chorus takes a similar approach but with a simpler bass drum pattern. At the bridge, he pares it down to just his kick drum and tambourine on the backbeats.

DRUM! Notation Guide

nathan followill

“Rock City”

The intro of this one may throw you at first. The key to feeling this one is to understand it starts on an anticipation, just before count 3. The song has a lazy swung feel, which I wrote as triplets so that this essential aspect isn’t overlooked.

nathan followill

“Wait For Me”

For this track, Followill chose to play a funky beat with lots of ghost-notes to add motion without clutter. This half-time groove has a strong snare on count 3 and ghost notes at the end of each measure, and wet if not actually open hi-hats. This four-measure phrase repeats throughout the verses and a similar two-measure pattern occurs on his ride in the choruses, but this time the bass drum pattern changes a bit at the beginning of each measure.

nathan followill

“Family Tree”

This song has a very funky swung groove. His tom notes really make the part stand out. Apparently his band agrees, since they began the song with just this groove.

nathan followill


Another funky pair of two-measure grooves from Followill. I especially like the snare pattern in the verse that echoes the bass drum on 3 ah (4) &.

nathan followill