The backbone of Hip Hop is the DJ, but the backbone of funk is definitely the drummer and without him we would not have that one thing that DJ’s love so much, the break! We caught up with drummers from three really great funk bands that have all recently released 45′s to ask them a few questions on what makes their drumming so unique, choice drum kit and favorite all time break.
Felix (Fusik, pictured above)
Whats unique about me is before I was a drummer I was a dancer. When I play my motivation is to make people move. I try to make all my rhythms really groove and feel good. It’s all about the pocket and locking with the band.
I play a Jazz Yamaha stage custom with a 13″ maple snare. I like the smaller sizes and tight sound. Keeping it simple nothing fancy just what you need to drop the beat.
This has to be the hardest question ever! I would say Donald Byrd – love’s so far away Fusik’s new 45 “On The Fly” b/w “Battlefield” is available now at www.fusikmusik.com
Mike Bandoni (Funkshone)
I’d have to go for an a typical answer and say my feel. It’s the reason I get sessions and why I am doing so well as a funk drummer. I know of some fantastically technical drummers in the Jazz and Metal genres but they don’t always have a groove that is distinctive. In order to make a break that matters you gotta have feel. This is singularly the most important aspect of drumming to me. Groove is king! I’m self taught and so have some different methods for laying down patterns and rhythms and I expect this goes someway to defining my overall style as a drummer.
There’s a lot of beautiful drums out there! I’ve played some nice old vintage premier kits etc but these days I love the sound and feel of Mapex kits. I play a custom Mapex Pro M with a mixture of cymbals and a pearl 14″ brass shell free floating snare. My Cymbals are a mixture of Paiste and Sabian but I also have some secret weapons; a set of completely unmarked and unbranded cymbals (Hats, Crash and Ride cymbals). To date, no drummer I have met can identify what they are but they all agree they sound dope! I picked them up a few years back when I bought an old Pearl Export for spares. The cymbals have turned out to be a priceless purchase!
Probably the toughest question of all and one I have not stopped considering since you asked it! I’ve decided to go for (amongst so many incredible breaks and beats) for Young-Holt Unlimited’s ’Bumpin’ on Young Street’. The feel of this break is nuts. The whole track is a work of art but the breaks grooves so nicely and the different tones he (Isaac ‘Redd’ Holt) gets out of the snare in this track are a joy to listen to.
A close second and third would have to be Rusty Bryant – Fire Eater (Idris Muhammad) and Soul Drums (Bernard ‘Pretty’ Purdie). Both of these drummers are idols to me. Who could also forget Funky Drummer (Clyde Stubblefield)? Not only do all of these tunes contain incredibly good drum breaks but all of these tunes are killer listening too!
Funkshones new album “Funkshone 2″ is currently available on Skyline Records.
Frank Schlupp (Big Pimp Jones)
I don’t think it’s unique at all. Clyde Stubblefield is unique. I’ve just been lucky enough to work with some really talented artists who make me sound good sometimes. Unique things happen occasionally while I’m recording, but it’s not intentional. For example, when we recorded My Game’s Too Tight, our producer, Jason, said, “Hey, I like how you keep making that one mistake over and over again.” I didn’t know what he was talking about until I heard the playback. It turns out I was dropping a hi-hat note at the top of each verse and didn’t even realize it. But that’s not unique, that’s lack of technique. Luckily the way it went down created some tension and added to the groove. It’s one of my favorites from that session. I also like what happened on The Band Gets Swivey on the Drums. Keith wanted to do a wild, funky, Son of Bazerk type song. I thought he was crazy but I went along with it anyway. The song starts out laid back but blows up during the chorus. Playing it always feels like reckless driving to me. For some parts I got to play much heavier than I normally do, almost John Bonham Achilles Last Stand heavy. (Big Pimp Jones bass player) Chris made my job a lot easier. Once we locked the groove down it was like telepathy. Sometimes we could anticipate what the other guy was going to do before they even knew what they were going to do. Our music makes people want to dance: If my drumming helps establish the groove, then I’ve done my job. It’s a great feeling to get people moving. We have a couple songs in the bag that seem to work without fail. A good example is Fry Chicken in Your Hot Pants. When we play that song live the whole room starts bopping.
We used a couple of different sets at AudioLux in Philly. My favorite was a vintage Gretsch Catalina Elite which you can hear on a couple of the breaks. Jason was going for a trashier sound with the cymbals so we used a mix of old Zildjians and Sabians. I was over at Hopetown Sound a few months ago and played a set of DW Collectors. If I could only own set, that would be the one.
Gus Lewis “Let the Groove Move You”