What would it be like to be a ... drummer in a band?

We asked Andrew Knott - who is a really great drummer - some questions about
drums and drumming. Andrew lives in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia.

Andrew drumming in his home studio

Can you go deaf from playing drums? They're very loud!

You can't really go totally deaf, but you can do a fair bit of damage to your ears if you expose them to any loud noises for too long (listening to music on headphones turned up too loud, operating heavy machinery, anything that exposes your ears to prolonged loud noise including playing the drums). Severe tinnitus (constant high-pitched ringing in your ears) can happen and is irreparable, so to prevent this I wear ear plugs most of the time I play. I do have a little bit of tinnitus, but nothing that is too bad.

When you play in a band it must finish really late. What time do you go to bed?

Finishing late is pretty much part of the job. I usually get to bed by about 3 o'clock in the morning. Though some gigs have run so late that I've been going to bed just as the sun was coming up.

Where did you have the most fun drumming?

Anywhere as long as I'm behind the drum kit!

Do you get tired when playing your drums? You have to hit them a lot.

For sure! Usually a gig will got for about 4 hours (not counting setting up and pulling down), and by then I'm pretty tired! It's a great workout though, and when you're caught up in the music, you don't really notice until the gig is finished ... but by then packing up can sometimes be a bit of a drag.

What type of music is the most fun for a drummer?
Is there music you really don't like playing, but you HAVE to?

That's a really hard question. Different drummers will like playing different kinds of music. Drums have a large part to play in most music styles as they are such an important building block of music (the first music was pretty much drums - hitting logs with sticks etc), so fun can be found in most styles. Progressive Rock and Jazz tend to leave a fair amount of room in their arrangements for the drums to come out to the fore in the form of solos and technical
ability. But others drums tend to favour 'grooves' rather than flat out 'showing off' so it's really a personal taste thing. I love playing drums regardless of the style most of the time... except
perhaps Country.

If you are involved in a cover band you can end up playing songs you don't particularly like, but on those occasions I tend just switch off, groove along and enjoy the fact you're still getting paid to do something this fun.

Have you played in other places than just in our city?

I've played live drums all over Tasmania, as well as in Melbourne, Canada, Denmark and China. And if you count people listening to albums I've been involved in, I've been played all over the world!

What are some of the cool names of the bands you have played in?

I currently play for 3 bands: The Third Ending, Selecta and The Jetpack Trio. I've also played for other bands called Crikey, Orpheus and Forgetful Jones.

Can you read drum music? I don't think drummers can read music.

My dad thinks drummers aren't that smart. He says there are jokes about drummers.

What do you call someone who hangs around with a band?

A drummer !

Your dad is right, there are a lot of jokes about drummers, but they are normally made up by guitarists because they're jealous that they're not as cool as drummers. But drummers certainly can read music, though they have their own special type of music. It is based on normal music but instead of musical tones, the notes represent different drums and ways of playing them.


(B = Bass Drum, S = Snare Drum, HH = High-Hat)

Does it get confusing thinking about which drum or cymbal to hit next?

Not really. Part of learning to play the drums involves knowing what sounds each drum or cymbal makes and what will sound good at a certain point in a song. It's just like any another musician knowing what notes to play.

Are there different types of drum sticks?

There sure are. Hundreds of different types. Thick ones, skinny ones, plastic ones, wood ones, felt-tipped, plastic-tipped, mallets, bundled sticks, rubber ones, large tips, small tips, round tips, pointy tips, hickory, maple ... the list goes on. Each different kind of stick affects the sound they make when they strike a drum in all sorts of different ways. Also there are different sticks for different kinds of drums. The sticks you use on a drum kit are different from the sticks (or mallets) you would use on a kettle drum or timpani for instance.

Have you got a favourite drum or cymbal? Why do you prefer that one?

Not a favourite as such. I do tend to like Splash cymbals a fair bit though, they are like small crash cymbals and are higher pitched and have a faster decay (they stop ringing quicker), and I’ve got 5 of them! They are great for adding little accents and a bit of colour into the drum sound.

Does a drum make more than one sound?

Sure does. You can use the drums in any way you like really, it's only limited by your imagination, and what sounds good!

Which is the coolest instrument? Why do you think that?

Drums, clearly. Why? Because only the coolest people play them ... drummers !

Andrew's birthday drum-cake !

Thanks so much Andrew for your thoughts on drums and drumming. Mr Williams plays the ukulele, so, being a drummer we probably know what you think of that!
Rohan thought Andrew might like to have a bit of power in his drumming. It looks, though, he's got electricity flowing out his head!!! That's some POWER drumming!

Mr Williams' Wiki