Dennis Chambers: Legendary Tips For Modern Drummers (FULL DRUM LESSON) – Drumeo

(gentle jazz music) (upbeat instrumental music) (applauds) – Well done, man, well done. – Thank you. – Ladies and gentlemen. The one, the only,
Dennis Chambers. Dennis. Thank you so much for
coming to Drumeo, buddy. – Thank you, thank you
for having me here. – Yeah, you’re
more than welcome. I’ve wanted to have
you on for so long, and when we finally
got this all organized, and sorted, I was so
happy, so it’s a real honor to have you sitting
in that chair right now. And you guys are in for a treat. We have a really cool
lesson lined up for you, talking about tips from
a legend such as Dennis. So you got a lot in
store, but before we get into that, if
you guys don’t know who Dennis Chambers
is, I mean he needs no introduction, really. He’s a legend behind the kit. You’ve been playing
for how long? 56 years I think
you were saying? – 56 years, yeah. – Yeah, and you’ve played
with artists like Santana. You were the house drummer
for Sugar Hill Company. – Yep. – Also John
Scofield, Mike Stern, Brecker Brothers,
Parliament/Funkadelic, and so much more. Another thing that
you wanted to mention here is that you did not
play on Rapper’s Delight. – No, I did not. – No, you did not. You get a lot of
people asking… – Every time somebody
asks me that, and every time I tell
them, no I didn’t do it, they push me into
saying yeah, I did… Well, they didn’t push
me into saying I did, but they just refuse to
believe I didn’t play on that. – No kidding. – Yeah. – Alright, well there
you go, he did not play on Rapper’s Delight. Huge thanks… – And I’ve been, also
I wanna correct this. – Okay. – I’ve been playing
for 55 years. – 55? – Yeah. – Alright, there you go. And huge thanks to the
sponsors for helping. Pearl, I mean this
kit is unbelievable, so thanks so much
for providing that. Zildjian with the
cymbals, and that organic ride there, I think it’s Pat Petrillo’s ride,
sounds amazing. Evans’ with all the
heads, and Zildjian also with the sticks
and everything. So thank you so much, and yeah. Do you have anything to add? – The only thing I can add… There’s just that I’m
involved, right now, with Stick Twirl, a
company called Stick Twirl. And it’s this
little device here. – That’s right. – Now I don’t twirl
sticks, I don’t use this to twirl sticks, ’cause
I’m not a stick twirler. I used to be, in
my teenage years, but I did something,
and had an accident, and that was the end of
stick twirling for me. – Oh really? (laughs) – It’s a funny story,
but it’s also a crazy story, so I don’t
wanna go into it. – Okay. – So, you know, with
this, this device on my stick, it’s
just more guarantee that I don’t lose them. Sometimes when you
play, when you go around the drum kit,
and you’re moving around so fast, especially when you’re not playing your own
kit, the sticks get caught up under the rims,
or under the cymbals, or whatever have you. And, you know, when
you’re doing a lot of performance, you
don’t have time to sit there and try to grab
something, real… You know, grab a
stick real quick. You know, especially when you’re playing with somebody
like John Mclaughlin. Or somebody like
that, where the music is like flying, and
it’s high energy, and… Most of it, not all of it. – Yeah. – So, you know,
this is my guarantee to just hold onto the
stick a lot more better. – Very cool. Stick Twirl, check it out guys. And, for those watching
on YouTube, and Facebook and everything, welcome. Check out,
we are live like this quite often,
and we’re gonna be filming a bunch of exclusive
content with Dennis for the members area,
and there it’s just head on over to,
and check it out, please. And if you guys wanna
follow Dennis online just go to his website,, you can see what he’s
up to, and you’re always on the road,
you’re always touring, you’re always doing
clinics, and stuff, you’re a pretty busy guy, eh? – Yeah, sorry for that. – No, that’s a good thing. That’s what you wanna
be as a drummer. (laughs) So today’s lesson topic
is called Legendary Tips for Modern Drummers,
and we were discussing back and forth, what
you wanted to teach. You had so many great
ideas that I just wanted to try and encapsulate
as many as we could in there, because you’ve
seen the cycle of drumming come and go, you’ve seen
the new things that are hip, but you told me on the
phone that drumming has never changed, it’s
always been the same. And a couple drummers
out there, a couple… I guess you could say
segments of drummers, they have different focuses. They have different
priorities and stuff, so that, along with some
tips, on practice habits, along with just getting
your groove sounding better, some technique
tips, and speed tips, there’s just a ton
that you’re gonna hear about in this
lesson, so please stick around, and with
that all being said, I’m gonna pass it
over to you, Dennis. – Yeah, I mean, you
know, I’ve always said in my career, and anybody
that played as long, or maybe longer than myself, we all came to the
conclusion that there’s nothing new about
playing this instrument, or any instrument. Except for a few
guys, like you have Larry Graham, who
invented the thumb thing. You know, which
revalized the whole idea, or sound of playing bass. You know… Then you got Jaco,
people like that. But far as drumming
is concerned, there’s nothing new to it. The only thing that’s
new to it is how you present it, how you
represent what you feel. And that’s what makes it new. You know? And, what makes a
drummer a drummer is the fact that he uses… How he uses his
imagination, based upon how he feel about
playing certain things. In other words, it’s not like… You don’t play by what you
see and hear other people do. You know, there’s a little
bit of that involved, but you play… It’s more that you
play what you feel, and how you perceive
and how you feel. That’s new. – Got you. – You know, you can sit
down with seven drummers, and you play something,
and you say to them, play something similar
to what you just played. And seven, eight
drummers, gonna come up with seven, eight
different things. If they’re playing from
their hearts, you know. Or playing from their souls. – So what are some of
the mistakes, then, that drummers
make, you’re saying when we were chatting,
drumming is not a sport. You have a big thing
about how a lot of drummers are
considering it as a sport. Why don’t you talk a
little bit about that? – Yeah, I mean,
you know, nowadays, when you go hear somebody play, the drummer, he’s back
there, he’s playing a lot of crazy
things, and every time there’s a hole he fills it up. You become very selfish
when that happens, and it’s not musical anymore. You know. Drumming should never
be about playing a song, and then approaching it as
you would play a drum solo. You know. And I’ve also heard young
guys, when you talk to them, everybody wanna be the
fastest drummer in the world. They wanna know how fast,
how did you get that fast? – Yeah. – Well, you know,
that’s not important. What’s important is you
have to learn how to crawl before you learn how to run. And if you learn how to
crawl before you learn how to run, what
happens is then you approach the same
concept as playing music, what happens is you have
a better understanding how to play grooves,
and how to play pockets. And there’s different
variations on how to do those type of things. But if you start off
playing everything fast, you know, then you tell
somebody who’s a very fast player, all they do
is play everything fast, and you tell them
to play a groove… And you say, look,
I’m gonna put a gun to your mother’s head… (chuckles) – Yeah. – I want you to play me a
killing groove right now, and he’d be the one
standing there talking about, “I love you mom. “I love you, I’ll see
you in the next life.” ‘Cause it ain’t gonna happen. – Show us a killer groove. Show us in the pocket playing. (melodic drum music) – Or a James Brown groove. (upbeat drum music) Now I like to do that, if,
and when I’m practicing, I like to start off
with something like that because the
interesting thing is, you know, that’s a nice
tempo to play it in, but when you speed it up a
little bit, something happens. – Okay. – And it becomes a little
bit more interesting. – Okay. (upbeat drum music) Faster. Goes to the right, the left
hand, it just never sits still. And, you know, you have
to have more control over your ghost notes. – Yeah. – You know. – Now we’ll talk about
technique in a little bit here, but I wanna focus on
what you were talking about with the groove
there, because that, clearly, was in the pocket,
I was bopping my head, there’s this natural
groove to it. First off, how do
you get that, how do you play in the pocket? – How do I play in the
pocket is just like I said, you know, you just take
something real simple, and try to turn it
into a hypnotic groove. You know, like… When I did Atomic
Dog with P Funk. (melodic drum music) The other thing is
how to, you know, lay back with the left hand. When somebody say put
things in pockets, it’s… One lesson is like
you’re just taking it, the left hand, the hand
that’s hitting the snare drum, and placing that
behind the beat, not necessarily putting the
whole drum set behind the beat. So if I take a side
stick, go and play a side stick, it
sounds like this. (gentle drum music) This is on the beat. Now I’m gonna play off the beat. Call it behind the beat. Now, it’s a flam to the hi-hat. So it’s consistent. So stay comfortable,
now I want the hi-hat. Exaggerate the back beat. Now you’d probably get
fired if you do that though. – Yeah, too much. – Well yeah, that’s the idea. – So just because I
couldn’t hear while you were playing,
first you played with the click, or
the rim shot, or the cross sticks, were on the beat. Then you played it behind it. – Yeah. – You can feel that, you
can feel that, you know. So when you’re talking
about that other groove, you were talking with… You were playing both
feet on the peddles there, you were saying to take
something simple and repeat it? – Yep. – Can you elaborate
on that a little bit? – Well. You know you take a
groove, like I said, that was the groove that I
played on Atomic Dog, basically. And the whole idea,
when I first started doing it, is having a
flam to the base drum, every time the base drum
hit, it hits a beat. (bass drum booms) (upbeat drum music) – Very cool.
– That’s the idea. – Yeah, so you cut
out that same concept with the snare drum
too, on the back? – Yeah, yeah, yeah. – So is that the missing
ingredient to groove, is that what puts
you in the pocket? – I think so. – It’s just relaxing a bit? – I think so. – So you apply that to
everything you play? – Yeah, yeah, I try to. – Yeah. – I try to be as
musical as possible. I mean, even when I’m
taking drum solos. Just always thinking
about music. You know, the concept
is just trying to be… Just thinking of music, how
to be musical as possible, how the, when I’m
doing a drum solo, how to start a drum
solo, where I’m going with that drum solo,
and how I’m gonna finish that drum
solo, musically. – So you… – And the same thing with music. – Are you singing it
in your head then, or are you thinking about
– No, no, no. – what you’re doing? – I just feel it. – Just feel it, eh. As drummers I think
we all wanna get to that level of
just feeling it. Do you know when that
started happening in your drumming life,
when you were able to just feel it, and play? – Yeah, yeah, yeah. See it all started with, like… My father went out
and brought me this machine called the trinome. I sent him to get a metronome. He brings back a trinome. – Okay. – Trinome is like a big
black box, probably… The face of it’s
probably like that. About that wide, and
it had four slide bars. So it went from one to 21. So, you take the fourth
bar, which is you go from four, all
the way up to 21, the third bar, from three to 20, and you vice versa,
versa, versa. You know. But you never moved… If you’re gonna move
the one, make sure it stay on one, or stay on four. Or eight. – Yeah. – With that idea it
teaches you how to hear poly rhythms and
things like that. But, my first thing
was just try to develop some kind of decent time. So naturally, you know,
when he brought this thing, when he brought it home,
and I plugged it in, it sounded like somebody stuck
a tennis shoe in a dryer. And I unplugged
it, wrapped it up, stuck it in a closet
for a lot of years, rediscovered it
when I was 14 or 15. Pulled it out, plugged
it in, and then as soon as I plugged it
in I heard Elvin Jones. You know? But, in between that
time, I got a metronome from somebody, because
at that time there were no drum machines, or
any kind of click devices, and stuff like that. And I would sit
there and try to work things out quietly,
with a metronome. But nowadays you
have all kind of… You can buy drum machines
for a phone app now. So I would take
something like this, like I did earlier,
starting this out, and if I change the patterns,
it sounds like this. (upbeat instrumental music) So, something like this I
would play real simple to. Because now I’m using
this, or anything like this as a percussion track. Well I’m treating it
like a percussion, so like another instrument. So. (upbeat instrumental music) And as it go on, you get a
little bit more adventurous. (upbeat instrumental music) And as it go on you
get more adventurous. (lively instrumental music) But you come back. – Very cool. So that’s what you do,
you would just practice, keeping it simple,
and adding some more variety to it, getting more complex, coming back to it. – Yeah. – So beyond… – But not to lose this. – Yeah. Always have that in you. So beyond laying back
on the back beat, and practice stuff
like this, what is a tip that you can give the
viewers to work on their groove, and their pocket? – Well first of all
you have to listen to guys who do these
kind of things. I would suggest listening
to Clyde Stubblefield. Zigaboo Modeliste. Modeliste. For the meters. Melvin Parker, when he
played with James Brown. David Garibaldi, you know. It’s a lot of
drummers out there, but there were a lot of
drummers that came before us. You know, do some research. You know, do some homework. – Yeah. – You know that’s
really important, because when you
do your research, then you discover
there’s nothing new about none of this stuff. When you hear a
younger guy play, he’s not gonna fool you, you
can hear exactly where it came from. – Totally. Lets talk a little
bit about technique. I know you had a lot
of really great little tips on technique,
some stick control tips for beginners out there. Maybe how you developed
some of your speed. – Yeah. Technique. It’s very important. You know I used to
practice a lot on it. And I always say in clinics,
you should learn how to… Make sure you learn
your rudiments. And you don’t have
to master them, but at least you know
them, and then you find out, or find which
one are your favorites. Like, for me, my favorite
is single double, paradiddle, single
paradiddle, and five’s. – Okay. – And flams. – What makes those
your favorites? – ‘Cause they feel
good to the hand, and you can pretty much… Everything that I do relate
to the singles and doubles, first of all. And anything I do in triplet
form, it relates to the five’s. You know. I mean, when you play like a… (upbeat drum music) That’s something Vinny used
to do, but not in that way. You know. Or, you know if you’re
playing a paradiddle, like Gad used to have
this thing called… (energetic drum music) – Okay, so you chose
a couple rudiments that you felt were very
comfortable for you, for beginners though, how did
you approach your technique? – At first, in the beginning, I didn’t have no
techniques, till I met somebody like Buddy
Rich, who’s got tons, and tons, and
tons of technique. – Oh, totally, yeah. – And I used to
spend a lot of… I was blessed by living in… By being able to live
in Baltimore, Maryland, and around the time
period that I grew up in. Because a lot of
drummers were coming out of New York,
or a lot of bands were coming out of New
York, and they would travel, when they’d
go on tour, they would go through south, getting
ready to go south. So, as they were going
south, the next stop down from New York would
be Wilmington, Delaware, Philly, and all that,
and then Baltimore, and then, you know,
all the major cities. Washington D.C., down
to North Carolina, South Carolina, all that. So everybody passed
through, so I got a chance to see everybody, you know. – Yeah. – I got a chance
to see everybody. I saw Ma Vishnu twice. Oh, I saw him twice
with Billy Cobble. – No kidding. – And I saw him
once with Notter. – Awesome. – I saw Tony Williams
with Miles Davis. – No kidding. – I was a kid man, in
fact I was playing… I was a playing in a night
club called the Bait Place, when I was six years old. And they just happened
to be playing there, because they knew
the owner, Mr. Baker. Henry Baker is his name. He was a jazz
saxophonist, first of all, and everybody knew
him, you know. And they would come through. And I remember
Baker, “Shortie…” He called me Shortie. “Shortie.” He talked like that. “Shortie, you know you’re
pretty good and all, “but you wanna really
know something about “some drumming, you need
to come back next week. “And, in fact, I’m
gonna make sure you… “He’s gonna let me
know if it’s okay, “but I’m gonna make sure
you’re cool to come in.” Because I wasn’t
supposed to be in a club. I was underage. – Yeah, right? – And it was a lot of
payola, and back then the cops were patrolling
the neighborhood by horseback, so he
paid off the cops, and they would stay
away from the club, for like some hours. – So you got to go in? – Yeah, yeah. – No kidding. – And play.
– Yeah, yeah, yeah. – But that night I
came back and I saw something that just
blew me freaking away. I didn’t understand it. But I knew it was
something unbelievable. And I could not keep
my eyes off of Tony. I mean ’cause he
sounded like the cops were outside waiting for him. Or he sounded like
that was gonna be the last time he ever
played drums in his life. – No doubt, hey. – And at that time, you
know, I saw Buddy Rich play, but that’s a different
way of playing, you know. And I remembered the
drum kit, it was a white satin, Gretsch drum kit. And Tony was just
sitting there, you know, it looked like he was
reading a newspaper. But, you know, his right
hand, just playing… Killing dotted eighth
notes on the right hand. His hi-hat had a
different zip code. – Yeah. – You know it was just full
beast to the bar, you know. And then the left hand
was just doing something totally different,
and I’m sitting there watching all of this,
and his bass drum was just feathering
eighths, every now and then, and also accenting
things, whatever he was pulling off at the time. And I was one of
those kind of guys… One thing I’ve learnt is,
by doing all this stuff, or watching all
this stuff, I put myself in the frame of
mind, I’m gonna do this, or it’s gonna kill me. But, later I learned
that I shouldn’t, and didn’t want to emulate them. In fact, it was blasphemous
to emulate somebody back then. And that’s why you
had, or you have, if you look at the 60’s,
70’s, and the early 80’s, music was in a different state. And nobody sounded alike. I mean you had tons
of groups, and none of them sounded alike. Lets take Motown for an example. Motown, and forgive me
if I forget anybody, but Motown had The
Temptations, the Supremes, Marvelletes, Smokey
Robinson and the Miracles, the Jackson’s, Stevie Wonder,
did I say Marvin Gaye? – Not yet. – Marvin Gaye, Four Tops,
and various others, right? So, they had Red Earth, too. And they had all these people,
and they had Rick James, but Rick James didn’t
come till later. But they had all these
people, and none of those people sounded alike. But one band played on all
that recording, basically. – They all sounded different. – All sounded different. – So did you learn
technique from watching Tony Williams at that
one night, or you also mentioned that
you had a chance to chat with Buddy Rich as well, what did you learn regarding
technique, from them? – Oh yeah, yeah, yeah,
I’m sorry about that. I went on all day.
– No, it’s great man. – But yeah, talking to
Buddy he kind of broke it down and then he
said, “If you wanna learn “speed, and power,
and technique, “you should practice
on a pillow.” Now, I hear people
say that pillows are not a good thing to practice on. But how do you
explain Buddy Rich? How do you explain Billy Cobble? How do you explain me? How do you explain
marching drummers? And I think that
the guys who are saying it’s a bad
idea to practice on pillows, maybe
they have the wrong conception of how to
practice with a pillow. ‘Cause there is a way
that you’re supposed to practice with a pillow. And, when you practice
on a pillow, firstly you try to work
out your rudiment. So you try to do very
slowly at first, so you can feel the stick
beat, every time you lift the stick
out of the pillow. Every time you strike
it, you can feel it. Right, but the idea is
not to burn yourself out with it, you
know, like when you start feeling pain, and you
try to play through the pain. You put the sticks
down, and you just relax or stretch, do some stretches. And whenever you
feel like going back into it, then you do it again. And then, once you
get finished that, then you get on a drum set, and do the same thing there. So therefore you get the
feeling of two different… You understand the feeling
of two different surfaces. – Yeah. – I think some of
the guys who practice with pillows, they
got the wrong ideas, like you’re supposed
to, you know, they sit there and
practice on pillows, and nothing but pillows. – Yeah, yeah. – No, you still gotta
use the drum kit. You know. You know, with me,
practicing on pillows, and doing it that way for
a long period of time, and playing through… Playing up to the
pain and breaking levels with my muscles,
and then going back, after stretching and stuff,
go back and do it again, I found that it was
very easier, and then longer, the more I do it,
the longer I can play. – Yeah. – When I get back to
the drum kit, my hands are moving faster than
my limbs can take them. – Yeah, well you’re well
known for your speed. I’ve seen videos of you
just blazing around the kit, so that’s what you would
chalk it off to is that. Pillow practice?
– Yeah, yeah, yeah. – Now your foot,
too, I know you’ve got a very fast foot, and
you had a really good tip. A really good tip on
this, elaborate on this. – That’s something I
got from Buddy Rich too. You know, Buddy Rich
used to tell me take the spring off the pedal. And when you do that,
you can’t bury the beater into the bass drum head
anymore, ’cause now your drum head is your spring,
to bring the beater back. – So you take the spring
completely off the pedal? – Off the pedal, yeah. And the idea is just
try to keep it going. You know, try to do quarter
notes with it, first. You know? Very slowly. And of course,
again, do it slow. Don’t try to do it
fast, ’cause if you’re not used to the technique,
you’ll never get it. If you try to do it fast, first. Do it slow. And gradually build
the tempo, you know, up where it’s very
comfortable, where you can do it for a period
of time, and then work your way into… You know, working your way
up into different tempos. Try to get it fast, I
mean the Buddy Rich… I witnessed him do this, you
know, he was doing 64th notes, without a spring on
the pedal, while he was taking a drum solo, the
last drum solo of the night. And, I mean, I’m
looking at his hands and his hands are like
disappearing, but I’m looking at the foot,
and it’s just going. But see, when he first
told me about it, he didn’t tell me about the
pain I was gonna experience by doing this. And he didn’t tell me that,
you know, that you couldn’t bury the beater
into the footboard, I had to learn
that the hard way. And then when I saw
him the second time, I was talking to him
about what I had to do, he said, “Oh yeah, I forgot
to tell you about that. “You know, you gotta not bury
the beater in the bass drum.” But a lot of people
didn’t know he was a tap dancer as well,
a very good tap dancer, by the way, I may add. So his ankle control
was just unbelievable. Right? I mean he didn’t do
any heel and toe thing, but he just had
unbelievable ankle control. – And that was developed,
just ’cause when you have no spring the
beater’s not gonna come back, so you’re in control,
it’s almost like dribbling a basketball,
just horizontally. – Exactly. It’s just like dribbling a… – Dribbling a basketball, yeah. – Dribbling a basketball. – That’s crazy, now
see I’ve seen so many tips on bass
drum techniques, and all this stuff, but
never actually heard that one, so when you
were telling me about it, I’m like we gotta
talk about that. Especially if it
originally came from Buddy, that’s legendary, if
you ask me, right? So, when you sit
down, I know you might not practice regularly
anymore, but when you were first
starting, what kind of stuff did you practice to
develop your technique, besides on the
pillow, and besides just taking your spring tension? Or your spring off. – The most important
thing for me is like, when I practice, was
just practicing grooves. You know, emulating records. That was the most
important thing for me, because I believe, while
I was in my mom’s womb, all I heard was
music the whole time. I mean, ’cause she was a singer. And it was all this music
around, all the time, and, you know… And, of course, when I was born, I still had music
around me, and my mom put a group together in
Baltimore, and she noticed it was the only thing
that would keep me still. ‘Cause I was wild, man,
I had all this energy, just like any other kid. I had all this energy, you
know, I would never keep still. But soon as they practiced,
she noticed I would just sit there, just watch. You know, like I understood
what was going down. And I would just watch
the drummer, you know, because he had that
shiny looking cymbals… – Of course, yeah. – And shiny drum kit, you know. I still remember the
color of the drum kit, it was a champagne
sparkle, Gretsch kit. – No kidding. – Yeah. – So you just jammed to music,
listen to, emulate records? – Yeah. – So here’s the
biggest thing, I think, to take away from
all these little tips that you’ve been
kind of giving us, how do we apply
that, how do modern drummers apply some
of these tips that might have been forgotten, or
might have been brushed over? What are the bad habits
that you see a lot of new drummers taking on, and
how do you stop that? – Yeah, that’s a good question, I’m glad you brought that up, because I cannot
stand a lot of times, going to clubs, and reason
being is because drummers, the young drummers,
not all of ’em, not all of ’em… – [Dave] Yeah, okay. – But there are some
drummers they have the wrong understanding
of what music is about, and, you know, a lot
of those guys when they get together,
they get together and try to blow each other away. – Yeah. – See who’s got the
most killing chops, or try to embarrass
the other drummer. – Yeah. – And then they
apply that to music. And they think that’s what
music is about, and, you know… And then they develop this
thing of having an attitude. You know, like I’m
Blue So-and-So, yeah, I must be killing,
I’m this and I’m that. – Yeah. – And then they, you
know, some of them going on kissing themselves,
they think they’re so great. – Yeah, yeah. – And then they go home, and
their phone’s not ringing. – Yeah. – Or they get a gig,
because somebody heard them, heard that they’re
supposed to be this unbelievable
player, and they sit and play for them
and, you know, he may do the gig for a couple of days, and then all of a sudden
their phone is not ringing. – Yeah. – And their reality hits. – So it’s a shift
in focus maybe. – A shift in focus. And I think, you
know, again, it has something to do with
your listening habits. You know, when you
start shying away, or you start listening
to music that… Or when you listen to drummers, versus nowadays
we’ve got YouTube, and we’ve got, you know… We’ve got YouTube. Well we’ve got
YouTube, and YouTube is nothing for somebody
to sit and learn, anything and everything about
who their favorite drummer is. So, if their concept,
or their goal is to be the fastest,
then they go on YouTube and find out
who’s the fastest, and try to, you know,
develop all of that. So everybody goes
to, immediately, trying to learn how
to be the fastest. And you know what,
the thing that gets me is, and I try to tell ’em, you can be the fastest
drummer in the world if there’s such a thing,
unfortunately there’s not. But no matter how fast you are, you still gotta play music. – Yeah. – And if you can’t
play music then you’re no good behind the kit. – Yeah. – Or behind any instrument. – Like you said, your
phone’s not gonna ring. – Your phone’s not gonna ring. – Yeah. So, there’s tons
of books out there, there’s tons of
exercises, there’s tons of videos out
there, we have tons of curriculum on Drumeo,
but as a beginner drummer what do
you think the most important thing to focus on? Like applicable practice? – Time. Time, you know, just
sitting there… (gentle drum music) With the click. (gentle drum music) And, you know, guys they
may look at that and go… Or they may try to do it,
and they go this is boring. But believe me, if you do that
for a long period of time, you know the better you’d
be as far as the time keep. – Yeah. – You know. – Especially when you
practice with a click, or a sequence device. – Yeah, yeah. And you have that on
your iPhone, that’s what you played in the
beginning, that’s what you kind of jammed to, just
a sequencer is what it is? – Yeah, I mean it’s just a… I just bought this app
a couple of days ago. – No way. Just trying new patterns? – Yeah, just trying new things,
you know, I mean this… All these things
in here, you know, and this is what I do. I don’t know anything
about this thing, other than the fact
that I just picked some things that sounds
good, feels good, and try to make some
musical sense out of it. (upbeat instrumental music) I’ve never heard that before. (upbeat instrumental music) I mean you get the idea.
– Yeah. – What’s the app called, do
you remember what it’s called? – No I don’t, I just… – You just found it on the
store, the Apple Store? It’s crazy. – It’s called EZ-Beat. – EZ-Beat. – Yeah. – Bet you they weren’t
ready to have an endorsement from Dennis Chambers,
there you go. Just check out EZ-Beat. (laughs) – But it don’t have to
be, it could be anything. – It could be any sequencer,
or just track, yeah, loops and stuff. We’re running low on time here, and I wanna make sure
that you get everything… There’s everything
you wanted to say, you have a chance
to say in here. So is there anything
that we missed, or any other tips
you wanna give these modern drummers, or just
drummers in general, to better their groove,
better their time, refocus their practice,
and anything like that? – Nah, I mean… I mean you should listen
to all styles of music, if you, you know… Listen to all styles
of music, you don’t have to master it, but just
listen to all styles of music. I think if you learn,
or listen, and learn all styles of music, the better
you become as a musician. In other words, it’s
like don’t go through your musical career
with blinders on. Or, you know how
you see a horse, when he’s going down
the street, and you got these blinders on. – Yeah, yeah. – Well music is not like that. – No, no. – And, you know, if
you’re a jazz player, and you learn how to
play funk, and you learn how to play
rock, and you learn how to play Latin, Latin music,
it’s beautiful music man. And it’s so many different
variations of Latin. And if you just listen to that, you know, you become
a better musician. – No kidding, yeah, yeah. Well it’s really cool
to hear your insights, because, like you said,
you’ve been playing 55 years. And your resume is
just off the hook. You know it’s crazy
all the different shows and opportunities
you’ve had to express yourself,
and you’re known for your speed, for
your pocket playing, for your versatility
behind the kit, so it’s really cool to
get those tips from you. I love the pedal idea,
practicing on the pillow too, is one that
I’ve heard of it a lot, but the way that you
explain it, ’cause I’ve heard the counter-argument
for that too, you know. You wanna be able to
control the rebound of the stick, but
you gotta at least train your muscles,
and your limbs, to be able to get
to those beats, without the use of the
rebound as well, right? Do you mind playing us a solo? Is that cool, I wanna
get a solo out of you. And if you guys have
questions, I’m gonna sort through them now,
there’s probably a ton. We are gonna do a
little interview, kind of Q and A session
for Edge members tomorrow to catch
any ones we missed, but get those in now. But is that cool with you? – It’s cool with me. – Lets do it. (energetic drum solo) – Absolutely amazing. Got a couple of questions
for you, if that’s cool. – Sure. – This one here’s
from Pedro Santana. He says… – Uh-oh, Santana. – Santana, Santana, with
the two apostrophe, ana. (laughs) He says, “Thank you so
much, Mr. Chambers, it is “such a pleasure, to be
able to watch you play. “How do you keep
motivated to play “after having achieved
so much behind your kit? “In my opinion you are one
of the all time greats.” – How do I keep motivated? Well, I listen to… I keep my ears open, you know. I listen to everybody,
anybody, you know. Anybody that have something
to say behind his kit. I mean I listen to
Marvin Smitty Smith. I listen to David Garibaldi. Vinny Colaiuta. – Yeah. – Vinny White. Billy Cobble. Tony Williams, Elvin
Jones, Roy Hanes. And these are the players
before me, but the guys I listen to now,
is Little Mike Mitchell. – Yeah. – Who’s a phenomenon. Chris Daddy Dave. – Yeah. – Who’s… (laughs) That dude, he thinks
way outside the box, and I love him for that. I mean, you know, you don’t
get any better than that. Steve Jordan. Chris Coleman. – Yep. – And there’s a drummer
that play with Kneebody. Nate Woods, who’s a pretty
sick individual himself. And he thinks outside the
box, and I love him for that. I mean there’s a
lot of great guys. The drummer that… I can’t think of his
name, but he played with a group called
Funky Knuckles. – Okay, yeah. – And they’re phenomenal, man. You know, he’s got
something to say. – So you keep motivated
by just keeping up with music and
listening to the greats. – Yeah, yeah.
– Yeah. – Again, the guys
I named at the end, these are the younger
guys who are passing the torch, I feel. And, Snarky Puppy, all the
drummers that come through that. – Larnell Lewis, and Spud. – And Spud, yeah. Spud is like phenomenal. – He’s insane, yeah. – I mean, and he’s a nice guy. You know, when you meet… When I meet these guys,
the most important thing that really
impresses me is these are nice individuals. Nice human beings,
that’s really important. – [Dave] Big time, yeah. I completely agree
with you there. Here’s a question
from Already, Not Yet. Says, “Hey Dennis,
thank you so much “for doing a Drumeo lesson.” He says, “My question
is I know a bit about “your friendship/mentorship
with Tony Royster Jr. “Tony was fast,
even as a youngster, “but what was it about
Tony that you saw in him “that you knew you’d
become a mentor to him. “What kind of specific
things did you teach Tony “that we could find
applicable to all drummers? “Thanks again.” – Well first of all I didn’t
give Tony any lessons at all. – Okay. – He basically, you know,
he did the same thing I did. When I first him,
his father told me they used to pop in
my video, and that was the only thing
that kept him still. And he would sit
and watch the video. Later, when I saw him play,
I mean he always could play, I met Tony, I met
the Ronald Bruner, and I met Thomas
Pridgen, almost right about the same time. And I forgot to add
Thomas Pridgen… – [Dave] Yeah, he’s
a heavy hitter. (coughs) – It’s funny for me to
see people like that who’ve grown, you know,
’cause when I first met him… – Yeah, I guess. – You know he was like
six, seven years old, I think, and his
grandmother’s… Beautiful grandmom, you know. Would bring him around
to all the gigs, and she was a great
supporter of him. And she took him everywhere. You know, and introduced
him to all the greats. And I remember meeting
him, and he had that attitude, he’d
be looking at you, you know, with his
head cocked sideways, and he’d look at you,
just like he do now. He’d look at you. You know. But, you know, when
I heard him playing, I was like man, he’s
gonna be unbelievable, if he ever get his
stamina together. – Oh, okay.
– Back then. – Now, he’s got
too much stamina. I went to see him
play with this group, and I forgot the
name of the group, and I keep asking him
every time I talk to him, what was the name of that group? And he tells me, and
I keep forgetting. But what blew me away was
he’s playing metal music, and as a metal player you
have to be really in shape. – Oh, for sure, yeah. – You know, I mean
he was just… I mean the songs
were really fast, and he’s just going
through it, playing, not missing anything, and
I’m sitting there looking at him, man that
there’s no way in the world that I could do that. – Yeah. – You know, ’cause
first of all I’m too old to be doing it, and… But I look at him and
it’s like, man this… He’s just phenomenal. – Yeah. – And then when I… You sit and listen
to him and you talk to him about certain
things, he’s learnt a lot in a very
short amount of time. You know, when he
went to Berkley. And he gets it,
he really gets it. You know, here’s a guy who’s got a lot of chops, and
whatever you ask of him to do, he’ll perform it. – Yeah. – He got it. – He’s insane.
– Yeah. – Yeah, we’ve had him on
a few times on Drumeo. I wanna get both of
you guys here one day. And do a dual kit thing again, like you did way
back, that’d be great. – But Tony Royce,
there’s another one. You know, I mean to
answer the question about Tony, I didn’t teach Tony. When I was around
him, at the time, I would show him
the right things, and the wrong things to
do, or explain to him the right things, and
the wrong things to do, and I would always pump
him with music, you know. Leave him with
something to listen to. Or I would send him some
things to listen to. And he got it, you
know, and that’s why he’s working the
way he’s working. – Alright, cool. – You know, you understand
music is not about just… When you walk into a
situation, you know, like when you walk
on a band stand, it’s not about the
Dennis Chamber’s show. It’s not about the whoever the drummer is, it’s not about him. On the marquee, or out
on the thing there, it says who it says. And you have to back that up. Like when you walk
on the band stand, if you’re working with
two, or three people, or in my case when I
work with Funkadelic it was 16 people,
17 people sometimes. You know, when you play you
have to play to all of them. And whoever is on
that bandstand, you have to listen to
them and make it all feel good, as one. ‘Cause I’m no good than the
guy who’s playing with me. I’m not better than the
band that I’m playing with. – [Dave] Yeah, yeah. – So, I have to
play to them, and we all play to each other,
but how we do that we listen to each other. That’s the most important
thing, you know. You have to listen
to each other. – Yeah. – And the same thing
when you go into studio. You know when you
walk into the studio the first thing you learn
is, you know when someone… If you’re a reader,
when they hand you the chart, when they
hand you the drum chart, it don’t say Steve Gad, it
don’t say Vinnie Colaiuta, it don’t Dave
Weckle, it don’t say whoever the drummer
of the year is. It don’t say that, it just
says drums, or drummer. Meaning that anybody
can do this if… Anybody that can play
this music, pull it off, make it feel good, he’s the
one that’s hired for the gig. – No doubt, yeah. – So…
– You’ve done… – Sorry, go on. – So that mean when you
walk in there you don’t play beyond the chart. – Yeah. You’ve done a lot of recordings. – Yeah. – You actually, I
was talking to you, what do you prefer,
and you said you really enjoy the recording
studio work that you get. Here’s a question
along those lines, from Lucas, not even
gonna try your last name, but it’s from
Lucas, but it says, “Hey Dennis, and Dave, I
would like to get Dennis’ “advice on getting session
recording business. “And thanks again to
Drumeo for bringing “legends like this for
all of us out there.” You’re welcome. – Again that’ll go… It all goes back to, you know… First of all, it all
depends where you live. You know, a lot
of recording work is normally done out
of LA, and New York, now it’s Atlanta, or Texas. Lot of stuff’s coming
out of Atlanta now. So you have to go
to where that is. If you wanna become
a session guy. And again, music is not
the same as it used to be. It’s… The session world had
dried up, so to speak. I mean, for instance,
you take somebody like Steve Gad, his
daily work habit was like he’d get up… He had to be at the
studio by nine or 10. And then he would go
from session to session, studio to studio, and
this goes on for years. And, you know, from
there when he’s done, at the end of the
day, then he’d go to a club, and he’d go play,
or listen to somebody play. And then he’d go home,
and by the time he wound down, it’s like two
or three in the morning. Sometimes four in
the morning, but he’s gotta be up at eight
to get to where he gotta be at nine, or 10. – Recording again. – Yeah. – It’s not like that anymore? – No, it’s not like that. – So you still get
called for recording, you still fly in
and do sessions. – Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. But not as much as
it was, you know. ‘Cause like I said,
that whole New York thing had dried up. I mean there’s still some
work to be done there. – Yeah. – But it’s not like it was. – Yeah. – Everybody was recording, and
they had studios everywhere. Now the studios are
becoming the home studios. You know. – I know you can
even get drummers from around the
world to mail you their stuff now, it’s crazy. – I was doing that a lot. – Yeah, no kidding. Well it’s almost five o’clock. I’ve got… I told you, time goes… It just flies by, man. (laughs) I got so many more
questions to ask you and I wanna keep
talking, the one thing that’s really cool
about hanging out with you Dennis is that your
stories are unbelievable. And, I just love
chatting, and we’re gonna chat more with you
on Drumeo Edge, tomorrow. Talk about more of
these questions, but really just hear some
more stories from you, that’s gonna be a lot of fun. But, we do have to
wrap up here, so is there anything else
you wanted to say, anybody you wanted
to thank, or anything like that, before we wrap up? – Yeah, I really wanna
thank my drum company, Pearl, allowed me
to sponsor them. And I’d also like
to thank Zildjian for allowing me to sponsor them. – [Dave] Yeah. – Both companies has
been a heaven sent. And Evans too, Evans drumheads. You know, all three
companies been heaven sent, and it’s nothing like,
you know, going on tour, or whenever you
need the support, it’s just a phone call away. – Yeah. – And… Right now I have to tell you, I liked to say,
or tell everybody, I’m working with Victor
Wooten, and a guy named Bob Franceschini… – Oh wow. – Who plays saxophone. – Yeah. – So sax, bass, and
drums, so you sit there, when I say that, you
go, how does that work? – Yeah, yeah, really. – But it works out
great, I mean Victor is a phenomenal bass player,
and he’s very, very musical. You know, some
people think that, you know, he’s just about chops. No Victor’s more than
just about chops, he’s got chops, but he’s
very musical, you know. He knows exactly when to
lay in, in the pocket. He knows exactly when
to chill, and just play. But that’s because
when he walks on the bandstand his
ears are open too. – Yeah, yeah. – And Bob Franceschini is
just a phenomenal phenomenon, saxophone player. – So you’re working
on that right now? – Yeah, we’re touring. We’ve been touring
for a minute there. At the last two, well
actually all the tours, has been very successful. – What do you call your group? – Well we’re still trying to… We haven’t figured
out what to call it. Right now it’s just the
Victor Wooten’s Trio. – Okay. – But it’s supposed
to be a band name. – Yeah. – And we’re still trying
to figure that one out. – So follow on, I’m sure you’ll post
information on there once you get everything sorted. ‘Cause if you’re watching this
on YouTube it’s probably… You guys are gonna do
an album I’m imagining? – We just finished a record. – Oh, it’s gonna be so good. Alright, well keep
an eye out for that. Thanks everyone,
again, for watching. If you guys are
watching us on YouTube and all that, come out
to Drumeo tomorrow, because in the Edge
members we’re gonna do an interview with him. We’re also gonna have a
course on the legendary paradiddle sweep, also known as the Baltimore sweep, I guess. – Yeah, yeah.
– Yeah, whatever, whatever. – Yeah, whatever. – That’s something,
we’re gonna do something. (laughs) And again, you were
so right with Pearls, Zildjian, and Evans,
they came through. In fact, today we were
looking for a cymbal, and they actually ordered… It arrived, what is
it, like maybe an hour before the lesson? It was just perfect. So you guys rock,
thank you so much. And Dennis, hey, thank you
so much for coming out here. – Thank you. – It’s an honor. And you’re always welcome back. And we’re gonna leave you
guys with a play-along, or a song, or performance
piece from Dennis. Do you wanna set
this song up for us? – Yeah, well first
of all, I’m gonna have to kill this
input, so I can plug it in into the computer. – Yep, we’re good, yep. So is this a tune you’ve
recorded on before, or is this something
you’re just working on? – No, it’s a tune that’s written by a lady named Leni Stern. Leni Stern. – Leni Stern. – She’s a… For those of you that don’t know Leni, she’s
Mike Stern’s wife. – Oh, okay. – And she’s a great,
great, great musician, and she’s a great
composer in her own right. And I’ve had these
two tracks from her for a lot of years,
and I found they’re very musical, and I
really like playing to these tracks. But we only got one
to do, so far, right? – You can do both
of them, I would love to hear both
of them if you want. – Okay well I’m gonna
do one at least, it’s called Bubbles. – It’s called Bubbles? – Yeah, Bubbles. And her name is spelled,
L, E, N, I, Leni. – L, E, N, I. – So make sure you
got that right. – Stern.
– Stern. – Okay. Check us out, and
if you are finished with a song and you
feel inclined to do the second, please do,
I’d love to hear it. – Okay. – And we’ll see
you guys all later. (gentle instrumental music) (upbeat jazz music)

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