Favorite Drummers

Bill Bruford

From his early work with Yes to his continuing relationship with King Crimson, Bruford remains my main drum hero. He has proven himself time and again to be fully capable of providing the rhythms of some of the most interesting music ever made. As such, he has worked on several of the most adventurous and interesting progressive recordings ever made. He worked with Yes during their most ambitious period and played on the immortal albums Fragile and Close to the Edge. Soon after, he left the successful ranks of Yes to join the equally ambitious and more rigorous challenge of King Crimson.

Although Bruford has been on every single recording released by King Crimson since 1973, he has continued to work with other artists and in other projects. He has continued to work with Yes alumni over the years. He rejoined the Fragile/Close to the Edge line-up (sans Squire) a decade and a half later for the Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe album and tour. This led into the Yes Union tour, in which both ABWH and Yes combined and where he and his replacement in Yes, Alan White, shared the same stage.

Bruford has also nurtured his interests in jazz. He recorded several collaborations with former Yes keyboardist Patrick Moraz along this vein. He also formed and released several albums with the 'British Jazz' group Earthworks. Currently, however, he is breaking new ground with the latest incarnation of King Crimson and is, again, paired with another drummer in the form of Pat Mastelotto.

Stewart Copeland

It was with the Police that Copeland first came to the attention of the general public. He had played for years in different groups previous to this, but he changed this with the emergence of punk rock in England. The Police was his idea originally. Upon meeting Gordon Sumner (or Sting to the uninformed) after he'd relocated to London with the Newcastle band Last Exit, the idea came into being. After completing the line-up later with replacement guitarist Andy Summers, the group proceeded to rewrite the scope of the pop group in the market place.

Copeland is a wicked fast and stylish drummer. It's not difficult to recognize his playing once you develop an ear for it. His sporadicly accented right hand technique plays a large part in defining his signature sound. Another is his delicate finesse with the hi-hat, both in his use of lifts and hand accents.

Another reason to like Copeland is the fact that he is a multi-instrumentalist. He played guitar on several early recordings before Summers joined the group. He also wrote a fair portion of their early material. Even before the Police called it a day (despite the fact that they've never officially broken up,) he'd written and performed the soundtrack to the Francis Coppola film Rumblefish. Since then he's scored over twenty films and several television shows, including the riveting theme to the Equalizer. As distinct as his drum playing is, his keyboard work is even more so. Other films that he has scored include the Oliver Stone films Wall Street and Talk Radio, the First Power, and Rapa Nui. He has also written at least three operas and a ballet...food for thought there, eh, Sting?

Copeland has played with several other acts over the years. He played with Peter Gabriel during the So sessions. He also played with singer Deborah Holland and jazz bass legend Stanley Clarke in the group Animal Logic. Info coming from Tony Levin's web page says that Levin, Copeland, and Summers are to begin practicing soon for a tour. No real word on what the material will be, but it at least sounds like an interesting prospect.

Stephen Perkins

Stephen Perkins is one of the finest drummers to emerge from the latter half of the '80s. With Jane's Addiction and now Porno for Pyros, he has demonstrated that the limits of the drum kit exist only within the imagination. His tight, precise drumming is more akin to the work of a percussionist than your standard drummer. His choices in playing are complicated yet tasteful polyrhythms which serve as far more than just background for the other players.

I'm not certain if he's played on any releases apart from those in the groups previously mentioned. One point worth mentioning is that Perry Farrell chose to continue working with him after the dissolution of Jane's. Considering the obvious talent of the other members of the group, this is obviously an honor. Fortunately for Farrell, Perkins is the main reason I continue to listen to him at all...in my opinion, it is the drums and percussives which provide the true appeal to Porno for Pyros.

Phil Collins

Yes, yes, I know... Phil fucking Collins wedged right in between two talents like Perkins and Stevenson... but have you ever bothered to listen to any early Genesis albums? If you've gotten this far, probably not. I put forth the challenge for you to listen to Nursery Cryme, Foxtrot, Selling England by the Pound, and the Lamb Lies Down on Broadway by Genesis and then debate my opinion. Not only will you hear some of the earlier recordings by Peter Gabriel, but you will also hear one of the most incredible drummers to ever be recorded. He remained a drummer to be reckoned with on post-Gabriel recordings Trick of the Tail (especially Dance on a Volcano,) and Wind and Wuthering.

Collins was the fourth drummer in Genesis and quickly helped establish the group as one of the foremost progressive acts of the day. He is a total natural. His sense of timing and placement are incredible and were a perfect mate to the dramatic nature of Genesis. Though he sang one song while Gabriel was still in the group, it was only after the latter's departure and subsequent frustrating auditions of replacements that he had any designs at all on singing in the group. It's also worthy of note that, for a time, Bill Bruford was the only drummer that Collins felt comfortable with live after taking over the role of vocalist.

I'm firmly of the opinion that Collins went downhill in the '80s. Part of this is due to technology. He initially used the drum machine as a tool to free up composition, but his drumming has become far more mainstream and too simple. I also blame the fact that he's become totally absorbed into the idea of being a singer. He's still a great drummer, but the ideas just don't come out in his music as they used to do.

Bill Stevenson

One of the more skilled and interesting drummers to come out of the depths of California punk. One of the more impressive details about his work is that he shared drum stools in both the Descendents and Black Flag in the early to mid-'80s. Though they operated within the same genre (and were even on the same label,) these groups couldn't be much more different. The Descendents were a faster band that were never quite as intense as the far more serious Black Flag. Stevenson proved himself repeatedly in these groups. His consistency within the confines of speed in the Descendents matched his dynamic and dramatic abilities in Flag.

True, Stevenson is the most technically basic of all the drummers on this page, but he proved himself mainly in his ability to switch between these two groups without many shared characteristics. The instrumental work of Black Flag also gave him a chance to show that he could operate outside of the confines of 4/4 time in an equally dramatic manner. After the break-ups of Black Flag and the Descendents, he went on to perform in the group All. He still maintains this role, but again pulls double duty with the reformation of the Descendents in 1996, released on Epitaph Records (yup, same label as the Offspring, punkers!) Reportedly the bands are both going to continue touring. According to friends on the web, the Descendents still kick much ass and Milo is as cool as ever.