Twice a week now, I venture out after work to a studio in Bayview, a residential neighborhood capable of illustrating that San Francisco is not actually as blisteringly white as it appears to be. It's supposed to be a "bad neighborhood," but it has more pink and blue houses than most bad neighborhoods I've seen in the United States. It also seems to have a higher incidence of studio space.
I park on a virtually empty street, avoiding some glass from the latest car break-in, and knock on a bright-green door. A nice young man opens it and we walk through umpteen other doors to get to a cold, dimly lit room, the centerpiece of which is a shiny and spectacular drum kit. I pay just $10 for the privilege of spending an hour in that room, sucking at playing the drums.
The first time I got there, the guy who runs the studio asked, "Do you need a ride?" I stood there dumbly. He held up a cymbal. A ride cymbal. "Oh. Um, I don't know. Sure." Whatever dude, I'm just here to suck.
In fairness to myself, I can now play a relatively solid rock beat through a song, as long as you don't ask me to do something crazy like play a fill or hit something other than the snare drum (low tom? hi tom? tom cruise?) while maintaining the beat.
It's slow but steady progress, and in my optimistic moments I imagine playing with some mediocre band on weekends when I get good enough, which should be in about five years or so. I try not to get too regretful about the fact that it's only taken me about 25 years to get started on drums, after realizing that I wanted to learn them. Having the prospect of playing in some dismal garage band at the age of 17, or even 27, is one thing. Contemplating my future 40-year-old self in that scenario is a bit more depressing.
Still, it's fun for me. So I keep on rockin', and keep on suckin', each time getting ever-so-slightly less terrible, hoping to eventually near the skills of this kid, who is 31 years younger than I am.
Igor is my hero. So are Sheila E., Questlove, and Sam Fogarino, the drummer for Interpol. Please feel free to share your drummer-related thoughts here, or anything else about rocking, or trying to rock.