Jean Paul Gaster's Tips on Writing Drum Parts
1. Find the '1'
"When you're approached by one of the guys with an idea, it might be a riff or a chord progression, I always think first of all, where's the '1'? It's great to first of all establish that – everything that happens after that is sort of going to fall in line. So I think about the '1', I think about the quarter note – where the quarter note sits in this groove, whether it's an odd-time thing or whether it's four."
2. Where's the clave?
"After that, think, where is the clave? Is it a 2-3 clave, a 3-2 clave, most of all the stuff we do is going to fall into one of those two so it's important to be congniscent of that. I'm not a Latin drummer, I'm not a jazz drummer, but I think about that concept a lot because these tools help me make something feel musical."
3. Think about the lead voice
"I think about what the lead voice is in that musical passage, whether it is a
guitar, a vocal line – at the end of the day it's your job to provide time and support that lead line as best you can.
So you've got a lot of options to do that. You can think about stuff on the hi-hat, you can think about stuff on the ride cymbal but mostly I try to stay out of the way of the vocal and support that as best I can."
4. Be creative
"Try and be creative, think about favourite drummers, stuff you get excited about. I think about Jabo Starks and Clyde Stubblefield, I think about Elvin Jones, Mitch Mitchell, Buddy Myles – all these guys that really made rock'n'roll what it is today. And to me that's what's exciting about the drums."
5. Enjoy yourself!
"Then after that, I think it's important to just have fun with it!"
Check out Jean Paul's playing on Clutch's 'Electric Worry' for more inspiration: