I Once Played Drums In A Boy Band

Dear Michael and Caroline,

I’m playing my drums in a band in our basement. Bob Lawrence is on lead guitar and Bob Hernandez on bass. Three guys named Bob.

Maybe we’re practicing “Wipeout” by the Ventures or “Twist and Shout” by the Beatles. I’m pounding out some standard rock beat on my four-piece Ludwig drum set – snare drum, small and large tom-toms, bass, ride and crash cymbals, high-hat. The other Bobs are twanging away on all the right chords.

I’m feeling pretty cool behind my drums, the next Ringo Starr (he also played Ludwig). I’m probably tilting my head right and left once in a while as Ringo used to do. We’re all feeling pretty cool playing our instruments there in the basement, our music – if you can call it that – sounding all the louder for being contained in his underground space.

We’re musicians now, or at least wannabe musicians, and we’re trying to get the right sound down, and the right look, too. It’s largely a matter of mimicry, less so artistic inspiration.

Of course I do want to make music here. I’m doing my little rolls here and fills there, backing the guitars with my beat, giving the songs an accent now and then.

And oh, I’m in heaven. Playing the drums, getting behind all the equipment as if climbing into the cockpit of some fighter jet, is as cool as a job gets. Your whole body goes into it, your left hand flicking the snare, your right hand teasing the ride cymbal, your left foot tapping on the high hat and your right foot pressing the pedal to the bass drum. It’s a physical, athletic act, calling for masterly coordination and a precise sense of rhythm.

Of course I’m still picking up my skills here, still new to the drums. I have some raw ability, pretty good hand speed and a knack for tempo, but hardly anything approaching real technique. But hey, I’m 13 years old here. It’s 1965 and everyone is listening to the Beatles and the Beach Boys and the Rolling Stones, and I’m in a band, and back then, with all the great music coming out, nothing could be cooler than to be in a band.

We’re absolutely of the moment, we are.

P.S. — See part 2 tomorrow.

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