Let’s face it, we all know that outside of a few standout exceptions, the most interesting person on stage to watch when seeing a band play live is usually the drummer. The energy, the fury, the sweat and frequent shirtlessness of a good drummer have kept me entertained through a lot of otherwise lacklustre performances. And while I may certainly be biased having dabbled in the percussive arts myself in my younger years unless a singer or guitarist get really creative with their showmanship, it’s kind of hard to rival a dude beating the crap out of things on stage.
Still the only thing more impressive than a great drummer, is a great drummer who can sing at the same time. Seriously, where do these guys get off? It’s hard enough as a journo to compete with regular musicians, let alone crazy mutant hybrids like a singing drummer.
Looking back across the history of rock and roll there have been some great skin bashing vocalists. From The Band‘s Levon Helm to The Eagles’ Don Henley but we here at Music Feeds wanted to highlight some of the lesser known stick wielding vocal acrobats from recent years… well, with one exception.
Spring King pretty much is Tarek Musa, the all singing all drumming songwriter/producer and creative nucleus of the now four piece British post punk band. Starting out as a solo project for Tarek, the kid is a multi tasking legend, managing to seamlessly sing lead vocals while still hitting away on the skins. The bands sunny take of what can often be a bit a gloomy genre seems to stem in part from Tarek’s manic energy, that makes his otherwise simple drumming style so engaging. No double kicks or root-toms here, just someone who fucking loves bashing the drums.
Pretty much the quintessential psycho drummer band, I’m not really sure you could call what Lighting Bolt’s Brian Chippendale does singing, it’s more of a sustained distorted wail often followed by furious whelping and whining. Still the fact he can manage anything at all while drumming like the insane madman he is is impressive enough. And really, normal signing would just sound weird over the incredible cacophony that is Lightning Bolt. Oh yeah and they always play on the floor so every gig is essentially a giant mosh pit.
While you might not consider Seekae‘s Alex Cameron a drummer as he is more often playing some kind of electronic drum like instrument than a traditional kit, I remember back in the days when he did have a real kit and he was awesome on it. When he started busting out with his ghostly high pitched vocals at the same time, I was thoroughly impressed and more than a little jealous. Then he went an released a solo album of twisted electronic pop songs from the perspective of a washed up TV talk show host. What a legend
These guys aren’t kidding with the name The Babe Rainbow, especially when it comes to vocalist drummer Angus Dowling. Seriously what a dream boat. Not only is he devilishly handsome, he’s mastered the two most sexually appealing instruments. The voice and the drums. On that front he does an amazing job of seamlessly moving between the two which for someone who struggles to do one thing at a time is more than humbling.
Lightning Bolt’s demented Japanese cousins, Afrirampo are the kind of band that would have their own kids show if David Lynch were president of the world (one day). Again another band who more sort of scream their way through things, these two were the unexpected highlight of their first Australian All Tomorrow’s Parties, especially for their bizarre home made mask based Nick Cave impressions. If you’ve never seen a tiny Japanese woman pretend to be Nick Cave you’ve never lived. I wish I could see them play once a week. They are just too adorable. Check out this other video of them pretending to be kangaroos and koalas.
While I would argue that Phil Collins is technically still active (despite various efforts to stop him) and therefore a valid entry in a list of contemporary bands with drummers who sing, but even I can’t argue he is in any way lesser known (remember that exception that I mentioned?). Still I don’t think I could put my name on an article on drummers who sing that doesn’t pay tribute to the master of the craft, old Phil “baby face” Collins. I don’t care what your personal feelings about the man may be, I challenge anyone with a heart and eyes to watch the video of him performing In The Air Tonight above and not be moved (the drums kick in around 5:30 for the impatient among you). It is sheer music magic.