Four score years ago (give or take), our forefathers brought forth the drum solo. The people watched and listened, danced and cheered, and it was good.
Prophets and pioneers like Baby Dodds, Chick Webb, and Big Sid Catlett passed the sticks down to Gene Krupa, and his showmanship and rhythmic grace brought the spotlight to the drum solo as a popular performance piece. Gene Krupa was the first and only drummer to have a movie based on his life, and more than forty years ago, before I ever touched a pair of drumsticks or knew what a snare drum was, I saw The Gene Krupa Story on late-night TV. To the boy I was then, the notion of being a drummer seemed exciting, glamorous, elegant, and dangerous, and my eyes must have been shining with inspiration and desire. I remember thinking, "I wanna do that!"
A few years later, when I did get a pair of drumsticks, and learned what a snare drum was, I began to get a sense of how much I had to learn. By the mid-'60s, so many giants had come before, pushing the frontiers of what had come to be known as jazz music. Buddy Rich's amazing technique and musicality had raised the drum solo to an even higher level of artistry and popular appreciation, and other inspired soloists like Louie Bellson, Max Roach, Joe Morello, Sonny Payne, Roy Haynes, Art Blakey, and Jack DeJohnette took the form in fresh, exciting directions.
And at the same time as I was starting out, drum solos began to bloom in rock music too, in concerts and recordings. Ginger Baker, Mitch Mitchell, Carmine Appice, John Bonham, Carl Palmer, and Michael Shrieve brought audiences to their feet in theaters, arenas, stadiums, and festivals, and fired me with more inspiration and desire. "I wanna do that!"
Through the '60s and '70s, jazz remained vital and constantly changing. Its various mutations produced brilliant innovators like Billy Cobham and Tony Williams, who built a bridge between jazz and rock-a bridge that would later be crossed in both directions by Steve Gadd, Steve Smith, Peter Erskine, Bill Bruford, Terry Bozzio, Dave Weckl, and many others, all traveling with their own musical mastery and unbounded imagination.
For anyone who appreciates drum solos, whether playing them or watching and listening, I hope Anatomy of a Drum Solo will be entertaining, informative, and maybe even inspiring.
For those who recognize the feeling, "I wanna do that!", I can at least demonstrate and articulate the way this drummer thinks about drum soloing, but my far greater hope is to inspire others to build their own solos, tell their own stories, as an expression of their tastes, their character, and their lives.
The drum solo is a tradition handed down to us, our heritage, as it were, and it is a heritage worth celebrating. Giants have come before us, and giants will come after, but even while us mere mortals play in their shadows, we can be inspired to aim just a little higher every day - or every night.
Drum solos are not for everyone, of course, whether they're drummers or music lovers. But even drummers who choose not to perform drum solos can still enjoy and benefit from a private indulgence. Exploring and experimenting freely, and even just that kind of practicing on your own, can only nourish and improve your playing.
At the end of my commentary in this DVD, I offer a blessing, or a wish, that is not just for drummers, but for everybody:
Go forth into the musical wilderness, and play well!
Anatomy of a Drum Solo presents newly-recorded, in-studio footage of Neil discussing, in detail, his approach to soloing. Using a solo recorded in September, 2004 in Frankfurt, Germany, as a framework, Neil talks about each segment of this nine-minute tour de force that is a feature of each Rush performance. He describes the inspiration and the conceptual thinking behind each part of the solo and discusses, and often demonstrates, the technique necessary for playing that segment.
Also included are two "explorations" - completely improvised workouts at the drums, each over thirty-minutes long; a never-before-released solo recorded in Hamburg, Germany in September, 2004 ("Ich Bin Ein Hamburger"); "O Baterista", Neil's Grammy(r) Award-nominated solo (previously released on the Rush in Rio DVD); two full Rush performances from Frankfurt '04, all shot from the perspective of the drum cameras; interviews with Lorne Wheaton, Neil's drum tech, and Paul Northfield, Rush co-producer and engineer; a full-color booklet, a photo gallery and more.
Produced by Paul Siegel and Rob Wallis
Written by Neil Peart with Paul Siegel and Rob Wallis
Directed by Matthew Wachsman
Edited by Phil Fallo
Line Producer Dan Welch
Assistant Director Alfonse Giordano
Associate Producer Taryn Grimes-Herbert
Lighting Mike Bollacke, John Frazee
Audio Engineer Paul Northfield
2nd Audio Engineer Sean McClintock
Video Engineer Ralph Umhoefer
Floor Manager Glenn Banning
Cameras Dan Welch, Michael Bollacke, Carlos Rios
ENG Sound Greg McKean
Jib Operators John "Kosmo" Kosmaczewski, Carlos Rios
Neil Peart's Drum Tech Lorne Wheaton
Truck Driver George Steinert
Production Assistants Jill Durnin, George Steinert, Juan Medina, Steve Race
Videotaped at, Allaire Studios, Shokan, NY
Studio Manager Mark McKenna
Edited at Chez Fallo
Audio Remix, Paul Northfield, Sean McClintock
"Der Trommler", Mixed by Richard Chycki and Alex Lifeson
Still Photography, Andrew MacNaughtan
Additional Still Photography, Greg McKean, Paul Siegel
Research Consultant, Bruce Klauber
Neil Peart uses:, Sabian Cymbals, Drum Workshop drums, Pro Mark drumsticks, Remo heads
Mics provided courtesy of Shure Microphones
Production Staff and Equipment provided through New York Video Crews (http://newyorkvideocrews.com)
Drum Transcriptions, by Steve Ferraro
Additional Archive Photos and Footage, Courtesy of the Bruce Klauber Collection
Recorded and Mixed by Paul Northfield and Sean McClintock
DVD Developed by Brian Brodeur/NewYorkDVD
Art Direction and Design by Hugh Syme
Cover photos by Andrew MacNaughtan
The Producers wish to thank Bruce Klauber, Ryan Smith, Jordan Schlansky, Pierre Lamoureux, and Allan Weinrib.
Special Thanks to Pegi Cecconi and Bob Farmer, for their support and invaluable assistance.
Neil would like to thank the following good people:
At DW, Don Lombardi, John Good, Garrison, Louie, and Javier
At Sabian, Lennie DiMuzio, Bill Morgan, Chris Stankee, Mark Love and Wayne Blanchard
At Pro-Mark, Maury Brochstein, Pat Brown, and Kevin Radomski
At SRO/Anthem, Pegi Cecconi, Sheila Posner, Shelley Nott, Anna LeCoche, Cynthia Barry, Rayanne Lepieszo, Andy Curran, Bob Farmer, and Randy Rolfe.
On the home front, Jennifer, Keith, Claudia, and Winston.
To Bob Larkin, for saving "Ich Bin Ein Hamburger" for me.
And my longtime creative collaborators Hugh Syme, Paul Northfield, and Andrew MacNaughtan
Extra special thanks to:
Paul and Rob, for being such great creative partners and directors on this project
My always supportive parents, Glen and Betty Peart
My brothers and band mates, Alex and Geddy, and manager Ray
My loyal and conscientious drum-brother, Lorne
And my loving wife, Carrie
© 2005 Hudson Music, LLC
"During soundcheck, we played a few extra songs for the cameras and recording truck, and after dinner, I made a quick note about the upcoming event: 'Filming and recording tonight, just to make it 'extra special.' Big pressure on solo particularly, if I go ahead with that instructional video. Oh boy...' Sometimes that kind of pressure inspired us to rise to an exalted level, as had happened the previous tour in Rio de Janeiro, and for other performances we had recorded and filmed over the years. However, other times that kind of pressure had the opposite effect, making us tense and...lousy. Frankfurt, sadly, was the second kind. I had a cold coming on, and felt fuzzy headed, and all of us were edgy, overconcentrating and overanalyzing. It seemed like we had to fight our way through the show. I made a nasty mistake right in the first song, the 'R30 Overture,' and never really recovered. Something bad happened in 'Earthshine,' and again in 'One Little Victory,' and at the time I though they had all been my fault. (The next night, after I had tormented myself all day about it, gone over those parts in my head all day, and even rehearsed that part of 'Earthsine' in the Bubba-Gump room before the show, Alex told me it had been Geddy in 'Earthshine,' and Geddy told me it was Alex in 'One Little Victory.') I also had some technical and mental difficulties in the drum solo, the part I had particularly wanted to be perfect if I was going to use it as the basis for an instructional video. So, I waas feeling pretty low after that show, down on myself about it. (Again, the recorded solo would prove to be fine, objectively, for use in the convert DVD and the instructional one, Anatomy of a Drum Solo. The unexpected changed only amounted to "variations on a theme." Bust still - it hadn't been what I wanted it to be.)" - Neil Peart, Roadshow
"Hamburg...we did play really well that night, and for me, the solo was particulary strong, confident and inventive, one of the best of the tour. After I ended it with the big gong sample (the only possible conclusion to all that bombast), I climbed down and sat behind the dryers during the acoustic interlude. Gump gave me his rare praise, 'Nice one, man,' and I said 'Why wasn't that one caught on film?' Gump must have talked to the video crew about that, because at the next show, Bob from the video crew gave me a DVD of the Hamburg show. It was only an arbitrary view from a couple of their cameras, and a rough mix off the board, but still - at least it was captured. (And would appear on Anatomy of a Drum Solo, as a 'sidebar.')" - Neil Peart, Roadshow