One Friday afternoon, when I was lamenting certain aspects of my life in a therapy discussion, my therapist chimed in.
“Well, at least you can play your drums in your apartment all day, right?”
Eh, no. That’s not how things work. What felt really weird to me was that I had to explain to another adult why I actually cannot play drums in my apartment, at all, at any time, ever, forever and ever, never.
Imaging the scenario, where the police knock on my door at 3:00am. I answer the door and say, “I don’t know why you’re knocking on my door at this hour. If I hadn’t been up playing my drums, I would have been pissed!”
I should not have to explain why you cannot play drums in an apartment, to anyone. This is a perfect example of my Autistic experience.
DRUMMERS HAVE ONE BIG PROBLEM
We drummers actually have lots of problems, such as which girl to choose after the show, or the weight of responsibility that comes with being that hero your guitarist looks up to.
On a serious note, there are issues like lugging a large amount of heavy gear around. Sure, all of these problems are important, but I have one huge problem.
I have no place to rehearse.
If I owned a home, then I would have a place. But home ownership has always NOT been in the cards for me, because I’m the kind of person who had to work for a living and did not inherit any major money or property.
In the apartment where I live now, the landlord lied to me and said that I could play my drums in the garage. The garages are not attached to apartments, but they are close enough that people can hear the sound. All soundproofing efforts failed.
Plus, I think there is a guy living in the garage next to mine. He complained a lot.
There is NO electricity in the garage, except for the lights.
And things get dirty WAY too fast out there. After the big fires in September 2020, I had a 1-foot tall pile of ash on the INSIDE of the garage near the door.
I care about my gear, which is why it’s kept indoors, away from the elements.
People have asked me this, especially if they only know of my guitar or bass playing. The truth is that I started out as a drummer, and had every intention of being a working, performing, recording drummer.
As life happens, I ended up playing keyboard with my first band, and would end up on other instruments. With Noodle Muffin, when the band gave up on performance and spent time recording, I ended up playing a variety of instruments.
IN 1998, after I was done writing and recording the Ruby Cassidy project, producer and drummer Jimmy Hunter found me on Yahoo chat. My username at the time was BassManDan98, as I had a goal of finding a band that needed a bass player.
He didn’t like that handle, and he let me know why. He felt the “98” part made it temporary. He continued, “You’re all about drums, and you’re a wild man! Your handle should be DrumWild.”
And so it goes. In 1999, I started this website, and the rest is history.
There is one main reason why I keep it, and that’s the fact that it’s my brand. It’s how people know me.
My main limitation these days are that I do not have a place to play my drums.
What would it take to GO to a place?
I’d have to lug ALL of my drums downstairs and load the car. Then I’d have to drive 15 miles to the nearest rehearsal space. There, I’d have to pay $15 per hour to use the space, but those 3 hours would include set-up and tear-down, limiting my actual playing time to more like 2 hours. Then tear everything down, load up the car, drive back home, and carry all of it up the stairs into the apartment.
I did this all the time in LA when I was drumming in 3 bands at the same time. But the difference is that I had actual bands and goals, as well as money to pay for rehearsal space [and we’d all split the cost].
Today, I’d be drumming exclusively for myself, and I cannot afford that.
For a while, I spent lots of time playing guitar, as I had a guitar that I loved and it encouraged me to play. Actually, I had 25 guitars that I loved to play. Thanks to the pandemic, I had to sell all of them, keeping only a $100 CORT for myself. It doesn’t inspire me to play, so I don’t play so much.
So these days, I’ve been focusing more on playing the bass. I have an Ibanez GWB35 5-string fretless bass that is a true joy to play.
WORKING WITH IN THESE LIMITATIONS
As a musician who is primarily a drummer, the limitation of having a place to rehearse has always dogged me. In the late 70s, I skipped attending my paternal grandfather’s funeral because everyone else would be there, leaving me some free time to play drums without any complainers around.
This situation can be frustrating, and I do have my moments where I am upset or depressed about it.
But a few years before I left California, I met a guitar player named Ben Woods. Long ago, he had moved to California with the dream of becoming a metal guitar player.
One day, he woke up to find tha this roommate had stolen his guitar and amplifier!!! As he lamented this situation, he noted that there was just one thing the roommate did not steal.
That was a classical guitar with nylon strings.
So he worked with that and pressed on. Today, he is known for playing metal and rock music on classical guitar, with a Flamenco twist. He also plays more classic flamenco.
The point is, he was faced with a limitation and decided to run with it.
IN THE END
My current situation is such that I cannot play my drums. All the same, I won’t let that keep me from doing other things, including picking up a guitar or bass. And right now, the bass is pulling a bit harder than the guitar.
Sometimes limitations can lead us somewhere. Sometimes, that somewhere can be good. Only time will tell.
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