A few months ago I turned 30 [Editor’s note: Remember, this was written in 1999]. This means absolutely nothing to me (not to mention the fact that everyone thinks I’m 24 – big deal) except that I remember a period a long long time ago called “The ’80s.” In the early part of that decade a lot of studio drummers freaked out because everyone thought machines were taking over. This was the era of Linn Drums, 808s, and – who could forget? – Simmons pads! Generally speaking, this was a pretty atrocious era in music, but I could never understand why people were so against programmed drums.
It’s 20 years later, and I’m still amazed at a lot of the attitudes musicians have towards sampled or looped drums. I think more people should be a little bit more open-minded when it comes to beats. In some ways I understand the purist attitude toward drums regarding the human element, but I can’t help but like something if it sounds good and makes me feel a certain way. After all, it’s all in the rhythm.
The following are some of the sickest loops I have ever heard, and I dare you to attempt to play them. Don’t forget to play these at the correct bpm. And good luck (you’ll need it).
John Stanier is the former drummer with Helmet. He currently DJs around New York City and performs with three bands: Battles, Tomahawk, and The Mark Of Cain.