As a teenager, I had a crush on Mike Portnoy. I had posters of him all over the walls of my room. I even had posters of him in my wardrobe. OK, people, it was Mike Portnoy, not Justin Bieber! And anyways, I guess I was mostly in love with what he represented as a musician rather than his blue -back then, beard.
However, I could never imagine I would end up being with a drummer myself. Like... never. It just never crossed my mind.
Ever wondered what it really is like, to share a relationship and a home with a drummer? Let me enlighten you a bit. I should begin with making it clear that there are millions of stereotypes about drummers. I don't know if they are all true but I will simply add my own personal knowledge and experience on the topic, in case this helps understand these lovely but usually misunderstood creatures a bit better. Well... at least my model is a lovely one, I find!
''I LOVE TO DRUM!''
A drummer under normal circumstances will not hesitate to drum on anything he finds interesting around him. During a super romantic dinner at an italian restaurant by the sea, he could start tapping his fingers on plates, glasses and tables with the whole restaurant looking at you two and you, poor girlfriend, hidding your face and looking away saying to the waiters ''hehe, I don't know him, he's not with me...''
When the food finally arrives and distracts his attention it's all good again. Don't try to discuss the incident with him, he'll just say in the cutest way ''what? I love to drum!'' and then ''the food was really cool by the way!''...
THE DRUMS OF WAR...
At this point, I have to mention that drummers are beings that march under imperialistic flags. They have a tension to expand their space dangerously. Once they have conquered your heart they are ready to conquer your common apartment bringing in LOADS of equipement. After they style carefully that big puzzle called drum set-up in your living room, they call you to admire it. They might also ask you to take pictures. Call at the office and tell them you are sick because this is going to take HOURS!
If you move in with a drummer while there is a tour coming up, be patient. During these hectic periods, our dear drummers tend to expand their practice space even further. They begin their tour preparation promising they will only practice on their drums and pads but day by day you find them applying their gracious techniques on tables, chairs, walls, pillows, your butt. That last one is usually fun.
THE JOY OF DISCOVERY
Drummers are creatures that get fascinated by new things and they have fun testing their limits working on a new technique, a new fill, a new roll etc. This is endless. There is always something they are up to. So once they have tested their limits it's time to test yours... They will call you over 10 times to show you what new thing they came up with. But hey, you cannot fake you are excited! Nor that you understood what they are telling you.
Because what comes next is to show you countless videos of their idols doing something similar and there comes the question ''so, you see my point? Isn't it fascinating?!''... Erhhmm...?
Being a musician myself, I have figured that one of their favorite ''games'' is to play crazy rythms for you and then ask you ''now, what signature was the one I just played?''
And God forbid you are with a drummer who loves prog and jazz... Yes, I am that poor girlfriend and most of the times he won't even stick to one signature!
When you listen to music he has to analyze what the rythm section plays.
When you drive under heavy rain he has to play a million rythmic patterns over the steady ticking of the windscreen wiper. I am talking about CRAZY imagination!
THE PACKING ODYSSEY
Usually drum techs will take care of this when it comes to touring but let's say you want to go somewhere with your drummer and he wants to carry his...property with him. Why don't you better book some days off in Brazil for yourself and come back when he is done? It should save you 10 years of your life.
You are the drummer's girlfriend. You have to deal with it. Trying to talk on the phone, listening to music, reading a book peacefully etc become abstract concepts. There's always noise on the back. This might feel a bit abusive.
On the other hand, drummers have incredible levels of independence between their body parts. This is actually cool because they can cook pancakes, clean a pan, hug you, crush eggs and chip off onions at the same time. Practical, uh? Not to mention other fields of your relationship this is cool. ABUSE ME ALL YOU WANT!
Their brain works likewise. This is a bit confusing, however. The one second they talk about this and in the next 2 seconds they have already changed 3 subjects. Sometimes you don't even react. You just take a deep breath and let them finish their rollercoaster of thought. However, once you learn to follow them it's fantastic. Ideas get exchanged faster and more easily. Sometimes you don't even have to talk, you get the message before he even speaks cause you have simply decoded the way he thinks. I can assure you I have never had such a fantastic communication and chemistry before. It works!
ONE, TWO, THREE...
Drummers count. I mean, it's their job. But then I guess they fail to leave their job out of their private moments. My lovely one has confessed he even counts sixteenth notes when brushing his teeth... I did not call the mental help. Somehow, I am still alive.
''- DO YOU HAVE PETS?
- NO, I HAVE A DRUMMER...''
Tidying up and cleaning your house belongs to the mission impossible agenda. Suddenly, it is like you have twins, a hamster, three cats, a monkey and a crazy Jack Russel in the house. Drum parts is the name of the plague! Apart from the big pieces of a drum kit spread everywhere for no logical reason, there are also these smaller ones like keys etc that always fall somewhere you can't see them and that you are always going to step on them barefoot in the dark... and that hurts! What's worse, once the drummer sees you in pain, he'll try to make you feel better...playing a 50 minute drum solo. I'd call that a real clinic.
''NOISE..! WHAT NOISE?''
Just don't tell him he's making noise...
- When he is on tour, the house is empty. For real. Drummer gone, equipment gone, ''noise'' gone. Now you just totally miss every single tap. You might look at his seat 50 times a day and expect to see him there. There is no one to go ''dup dup bup'' the whole day on these strange skins, there's no one to drum on the fridge while you're preparing dinner, there's no one to make you watch drum DVDs when you'd only want to have some peace of mind. You actually stare at the DVDs lying there now and it might even cross your mind to watch them, just for fun. It's times like these it crosses your mind you never jammed together while he was still here.
- It must be the broad nature of the instrument that makes drummers so multi-layered and with so many sides. Seductive personalities (most of them, NOT ALL of them), smart people with broad frame of interests, usually. They can enrich your life significantly.
- I am a musician and I would always follow some drummer during jams but I could never estimate for real the importance of the instrument. MEGA mistake. Since I've been with a drummer my whole perception of things has changed. Now you will find me sitting near his set when he practices, watching him carefully. I might even read a book with all this ''noise'' around. I actually enjoy it.
- Life with a drummer can be extremely inspirational and therefore rewarding. Such a demanding instrument requires determination and devotion. Already the way drummers define themselves through what they do is incredible. It can't but be a great example no matter what you do in your life.
Finally, I believe a drummer can very often enclose a beautiful existence as simple and complicated, as charming and scary as the beating of your heart. Maybe because this is their wisdom. They hear what we all hear daily but don't pay attention to; they hear their heartbeat, and translate it into art.
P.S. If you get approached by a drummer, just say yes, date him, it's such a win!