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Wednesday, October 4, 2023


Tying it all together

Drummers have generally been in the shadow of guitarists and lead singers, but the contributions behind the kit are being more widely recognized today. So, who pounds the skins the best?

Let’s start at the top with Travis Barker. Barker joined blink-182 in 1998 perfecting its fast, pop punk, refining the sound and experimenting with tempos that took the band out of the skate park and to the top of the charts. Since then, Barker has expanded his repertoire, empire and r’eacute;sum’eacute;, becoming the most sought-after drummer in music today.

Barker has also collaborated with many prominent hip-hop artists such as Busta Rhymes, Paul Wall and The Game. He has made remixes of Rihanna’s "Umbrella" and Flo Rida’s "Get Low," and has performed at club gigs drumming alongside D.J. AM. Barker showed dedication and talent last summer when he learned to drum one-armed after an injury during the video shooting for his post blink-182 band, +44. Barker taught his right-foot to act as another arm – an amazing feat to anyone who knows anything about the instrument.

Derek Grant cut his teeth in the business playing with The Suicide Machines before becoming a permanent member of Alkaline Trio, replacing a revolving door of drummers. Grant’s big drum fills and versatility have expanded Alkaline Trio’s creative growth, making him one of the most well-respected drummers in the genre. Grant auditioned to front the new incarnation of the Misfits, before opting to join the ‘Trio. Good choice, Derek.

Jazz prodigy Brooks Wackerman had some big shoes to fill when he replaced Bobby Schayer in Bad Religion. Playing with men old enough to be his elders, Wackerman has established himself as one of the fastest drummers in punk. With a last name like "Wackerman" what else would you expect?

Drummers are always overlooked, and considering they hide behind the lead singer and a drumkit, that comes as no surprise. So naturally, Mike and I decided to highlight three drummers we feel deserve a little more recognition and appreciation they get.

Without a doubt, one of the best drummers is the newest addition to The Mars Volta, Thomas Pridgen. The man is a machine, and I got the chance to catch The Mars Volta play a three-hour long set in April, and Pridgen was relentless, not taking any real break. Keeping in mind that he was sponsored by Zildjan at age 10, it only feels natural that The Mars Volta recruited him. He’s also been voted best Up-and-Coming Drummer by Modern Drummer magazine.

Christopher Tsagakis, drummer of RX Bandits, is another worthy mention. Having drummed in his own side project, Technology and supergroup The Sound of Animals Fighting, Tsagakis has the ability to transcend genres in style. One of the most interesting things about him is that he uses two snares as a part of his regular kit, and manages to utilize both of them flawlessly in live settings.

Last but not least is The Roots’ charismatic and afro’d drummer, Questlove. Having drummed for everyone from Jay-Z to Common to Erykah Badu, he is often looked at as hip-hop’s favorite and most renowned drummer. Questlove maintains a sense of style and swagger behind the kit, and along with his impeccable timing and seamless sense of rhythm, he surpasses nearly every hip-hop drummer.

These three drummers just crack the surface of some of the most skillful drummers out there. All of the aforementioned artists, along with affiliated bands, are making some of the most interesting and relevant music.

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