PRACTICE AND INSPIRATION
I believe that practice makes perfect. To accomplish your instrument you must be honest with yourself and really put the time in. I practice for a few hours a day, sometimes more if inspiration hits me. I make sure that the work I do is a mix of problem sorting and making new ideas come to life.
The problem sorting is what I notice at gigs that might not be working too well. I am very honest with myself and it helps me to move forward. Denying these little problems does not make them go away and it only makes you more defensive about your weaknesses and exposes you to more criticism.
You must make sure your practice is good practice and not just practising what you are already good at.
My practice will involve playing rudiments or grooves to a click. Sometimes, I will play freely to let ideas flow naturally. This kind of practice I love as it pulls on your musicality, experience and drumming memory, which I call channelling. Often many groove or fill ideas come from this very meditative way of practising. I let the ideas come through me as I play them. At times, the thread is perfect and everything links together in a very organic way.
The more I relax the more comfortable I am with my playing therefore new ideas and expression are able to flow without judgement. This way of playing takes years to perfect but the idea can still work at all levels.
Listening and understanding the great improvisers will help you find ways to work on your own style of drum channelling. I have read a great deal about John Coltrane, and his approach and work ethic can apply itself to any instrument. Through my study on John Coltrane I began to see and hear more than just the notes he played. I could visualise places, people and felt things through passages of his music that I had never experienced before.
When I play a drum solo I feel like I want to take people on a journey through rhythm, dynamics, humour, music and technique. I want them to feel and imagine images when I’m playing and I strive for this whenever I play. It is a very strenuous experience and quite musically draining. It is more exhausting for me than just doing a crazy 32nd note drum fill around the drum set. You are replacing this with a concentrated effort to connect with listeners’ ears and souls. It is very easy to get lost in the romanticism of it but this way of playing exists and when it appears and you feel it for real, then it becomes the most amazingly uplifting emotion that any musician can experience.