Drummers You Should Know: A Short List of Under-the-Radar Savants

By Stevil, November 21st, 2016

 
Dale Crover of Melvins at age 7. Note his handling of sticks after hitting puberty early.

When most people think of their favorite bands or the musicians that inspire them, they think of singers. On occasion they'll spout off the name of a guitar player, and more times than not, that guitar player is also a singer.

Singers are important. So are guitar players. So are digestive systems, and the one thing they each have in common is the ability to turn something nutritional into another substance. But the focus here will be on the back-end of the rhythm section: drummers. They too are capable of producing waste products, but there are many who don't, and I'd like to draw attention to some of those deserving of more attention.

With that said, here's a short list of brutal-backbones that have beaten their way into my memory banks:

  1. Tony Reed. Tony comes up first on this list because of his importance to the Kitsap County music scene, which has been a vital contributor to the Seattle scene. He's been in nearly every worthy project from the peninsula, and Kitsap wasn't even his first peninsula of dominance. He's best known for his work in Treepeople (all instruments) and Mos Generator (guitar/vocals), but he's produced a solid foundation for a variety of different sounds. One of my personal favorites when he's on drums is Woodrot. They don't come much more diverse, nor as strong, as Tony. Few have his humor as well.
  2. Andy Selway. A quick search of Andy's name will tell you he's the drummer for KMFDM and many of you will fail to understand what they have to do with punk rock, whilst quick-witted insults fly from your forked-tongues in an effort to discredit me from behind a computer screen. But a feeling of humility should settle-in shortly after a feeling of humiliation, as you realize he's been one of England's greatest gifts to Seattle and has treated music fans to an energetic-feast of talent via The Spittin' Cobras.  
  3. Dale Crover. Some of you may know Dale's name as a former drummer for Nirvana. But what he's done with Melvins has been far more rewarding, and toughness in music remains alive today in part because of drummers like Dale. Should you run in to him, be sure to buy him a drink and thank him for his part in repelling the putrid sounds of the South Sound, specifically from Olympia. 
  4. Dave Gleza. It may appear that I'm bent on listing drummers from the Pacific Northwest, and I am. Given that I'm originally from the PNW, it should make sense. Dave is among the many talented drummers from that region, and his work with My Name and later Victims Family are worthy of your attention. He brings technical skills that few other punk drummers show, so do yourselves a favor and check out the bands he's been in.
  5. Marky Ramone.  Surely everyone knows the Ramones, and I can imagine those who had the wind knocked out of them after their snide-attempts at criticism failed them in my imaginary rebuttal regarding Andy, would be eager to take another stab here. But they would fail again and probably stop reading (yes, it's presumptuous of me to assume anyone's reading this) if I were to respond too harshly, so I won't. The subject here is easily explainable though, as most credit is given to Tommy for being the figurehead of Ramones-drumming, and I would counter that Marky brought the stamina of that band to a new level, which really was the essence of that band. Can anyone really disagree with that? When people think Ramones, they generally think Tommy (and the rest of the originals). I want them to start thinking of Marky as well. 
  6. Charles Montgomery. Who the fuck is Charles Montgomery you ask? Well, he's better known as Chuck Biscuits, and even with a nickname like that, he's still relatively unknown, as much as he's likely a slave to Pepto Bismol (TM), which is a a true tragedy, given how many great bands he's been a part of over his seemingly never-ending career. Good luck trying to find just one other drummer who's been in as many significant projects as Chuck.
  7. Christopher Millar. Once again, I suspect few know this name. Like Charles, he's better known by a stage-name, Rat Scabies, but most of you still probably don't know who he is--and you should. He's the author of many of the greatest songs by The Damned, and this was the band in England that deserves most of the credit for the emergence of Punk Rock in the U.K. Seriously, go find "Love Song" on youtube and do something constructive while you learn from this list. 
  8. Scott Asheton. Before Punk Rock even had a name, before Tommy Ramone was a Ramone, Scott Asheton was laying the foundation for generations to come with his raw, yet energetic and powerful back-beats. Music today wouldn't be the same without him. 
  9. Dennis Thompson. Like Asheton, Thompson of the MC5 was one of the founding fathers of Punk Rock, and while he's not a household name, his offerings undoubtedly helped many kids in rough households find a way to release their frustrations and enjoy life with a new breed of music at a time when war was stealing lives for selfish political ambitions. 
  10. Derek O'Brien. From Social Distortion to D.I. to Agent Orange (and back again for short stints) to Adolescents, Derek has the mileage, experience, and lack of Grammy's to sustain his place on this list. Like most punk drummers cited here, his career started at a young age, and both his talent and contributions grew rapidly. And unfortunately, like most of the names on this list, he probably hasn't had the kind of recognition he's deserved. 
Of course this doesn't begin to cover all of the important drummers out there, but that wasn't the point. The point was merely to talk a little about names most people either didn't know, or have forgotten. Names deserving of respect for the influence and impact they've had on society, or at least those of us disgusted with the mainstream.

While politicians continue to disappoint us, we can usually count on musicians to offer substance, and the names listed here all have something to offer. If you're not familiar with their work, you should make yourself familiar with their work. You'll have a great time in the process and the suffering you will have endured having read through my onslaught of needless jumbling of words will have all been worth it.

And now if you would excuse me, I'd like to draw your attention away from here as I attempt to relate with singers, guitar players, and digestive systems. Photos and description will be excluded.

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