Drumming, Drumming, Drumming

28 Aug

Kirk Drums1Whew. It has been an exhausting week.  I’ve spent half of my time getting ready for the big show next Thursday, which is going to be… epic. I’ll write more about the band next week, but if you’re in the bay area, you should really, really be there!  The other half has been spent getting ready for the school year to begin at Urban – though I only teach there a few hours a week, this time of year is one of the most intense/rewarding for me, since I get to attend workshops with all of the other teachers, catch up with everyone, and basically act like a for-reals educator for a week.

The flip side is that I have been extraordinarily busy.  Like, so busy I can’t write blog posts, or watch TV, or hang out with people… or exercise or eat properly.  But, one thing that I have found time to do, among my comings and goings at Urban, is practice the drums almost every day.  And dudes, I’m getting pretty good!  Basically, I’m Dr. Worm.

The more I play, the more relaxed I am when I play, and there’s just something so right about how the drums feel when you’re all warmed up… wow.  I can’t wait to get my dad’s 60’s Ludwig kit out here and find a band to play with.  In the meantime, my practice routine focuses on two things – doing exercises out of Charles Dowd’s amazing A Funky Primer for the Rock Drummer, and playing along with my favorite drum-centric recordings. I thought I’d put together a list of my favorite tunes to play along to, in the order that I usually play them.

The Kirk Hamilton Drumming Workout


51C6XB0EKXL._SS500_Belle and Sebastian – “The Blues are Still Blue,” “Funny Little Frog,” and “For The Price of a Cup of Tea,” all from The Life Pursuit. I love, love, love this album, and if years ago, you’d have told me that this band would put out an album so funky that it would be this much fun to drum along with, I’d have thought you were nuts.  But here it is – Richard Colburn has really worked it out, and all three of these tunes are a total blast to play along with, and are great warm-up tunes.

SteelyDan-TwoAgainstNature-FrontSteely Dan – “Janie Runaway” and “Gaslighting Abbie” from Two Against Nature.  Speaking of great warm-up tunes, Ricky Lawson is like a clock on this record, and plays with such a precise groove that it’s impossible not to feel it.  I really, really like this album, and these two tunes are my favorites.  Partly because of Chris Potter’s solo on “Janie Runaway”… never a bad thing to feel like you’re playing along with Chris Potter.

23569048_1The New Pornographers – “Use It” and “Sing Me Spanish Techno,” from Twin Cinema. The most drum-heavy of the band’s albums, these two tunes have a lot of really fun things going on, particularly the 12/8 in “Use It.”  Never not fun to play with, especially when I really work it out and nail the fills.  Kurt Dahle is super, super good at the drums, huh?  Really creative player.

[AllCDCovers]_spacehog_the_hogyssey_2001_retail_cd-frontSpacehog – “This is America,” and “A Real Waste of Food” from The Hoggessy, “Mungo City” from The Chinese Album. Jonny Cragg did some really creative work with this band, and all of the band’s tunes had a really fun sense of swing to them… “This is America” is a real work out, superfast rock up until the giant half-time coda… I usually hit this stuff once I’m pretty warmed up.

Queens Of The Stone Age - Songs For The DeafQueens of the Stone Age – “No One Knows,” “First it Giveth” “Song for the Dead,” from Songs for the Deaf. Now we’re cooking.  Dave Grohl’s playing is without a doubt my favorite part of this album, and the tunes are perfect to play along with, a great blend of repetition, creative soloing, and groove.  The intro on “Song for the Dead” is the first drum solo I’m transcribing, and when my right foot is warmed up, it’s pretty fun to keep up with his kick drum.  I haven’t figured out the tom rolls on the chorus of “First it Giveth,” but hey, there’s always room to grow.

Me'Shell Ndegeocello - Peace beyond passionMe’Shell NDegéocello – “Leviticus: F@ggot” and “N***erman” from Peace Beyond Passion. Okay, first off, let me say freaking thanks, Me’Shell – the two tunes that I play along with on your album forced me to almost write two words that have never been written on this blog before.  Sheesh.  I’ve edited them just so that google won’t direct any hate-speech searching people here (you should see some of the search strings that already wind up here) …but I digress. These two tunes groove so hard – Gene Lake, man.  They’re usually tunes I play at the end of a practice session to bring it down.  Getting even close to Gene’s pocket is something that would take a lifetime, but you gotta start somewhere… ye gods this record is good.


So, those are my current favorite albums to play along with.  If any drummers out there have good suggestions for new records to try, I’d love to hear them!

If you’re heading to outside lands, have fun, and look for Switzer, who’s playing trumpet with a number of bands on all three days, or Dan A, who is interviewing Dave Matthews.  That’s right.  You heard me.

Have a great weekend, and keep next Thursday free!

Kirk Drums 2



2 Responses to “Drumming, Drumming, Drumming”

  1. Eric August 28, 2009 at 11:38 am #

    Great list of songs. I love Mungo City! I’ve got some V-drums here, but they don’t quite feel the same as playing on real drums. Fortunately I also have some Rock Band drums which, though even less realistic, do provide instant feedback. I haven’t tried any of the other tracks on the V-drums, but I’ve played Use It a bunch of times in Rock Band. The drum track is so creative it’s a blast to play. Anyway, I’m totally envious of your kit and all your practice time. Also, Dr. Worm is awesome!

    • Kirk August 28, 2009 at 5:56 pm #

      Thanks, Eric! Yeah, Dr. Worm for president. He thinks he’s getting good but he can handle criticism.

      I didn’t know that “Use It” was out for Rock Band – I’ve been without the game for too long, I think. This is gonna sound kinda lamer, but I’m finding that, sadly, the more I play real drums, the less I like playing drums in Rock Band! NOOOO!!! It was my favorite thing, and now it just feels like being tied in a little box!

      Oh well, now when I’m over at my friend’s house, I’ll just play guitar, which is something that I need to get better at (Rock Band guitar, that is, not real guitar. Though I need to get better at that, too).

      I bet that V Drums are fun too. Do you ever set them to make different sounding cat-meows for each drum? Then maybe a big dog woof for the crash cymbal?

      So, a rock beat with a fill would be like “Meow, meow, meow, meow, MEOW, meow, rear, meow, rear, meowmeowmeowmeowWOOF!”

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