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I first heard about Ilan Rubin when he was playing live with NIN (2009). There was a lot of buzz about him at that time: “Dude have you heard the new NIN drummer? He is crazy tight and super passionate and very creative.” People were telling me this over and over, and those attributes are exactly what I want a drummer to have. I checked him out and became a fan.

Ilan’s playing is firmly rooted in the rock world. His feel, power, and ideas are the best kind of Bonham tribute, with a bunch of the pop punk sound thrown in (he replaced Atom Willard in Angels & Airwaves and played all drums on the recent Paramore record, if that gives you an indication of his style).

Go read his wiki page if you want more biography info, or you can let his playing do the talking:

Some commentary:

First off, his ideas and chops are awesome. The solo itself isn’t hugely mind-blowing or progressive, but it’s super rad nonetheless. BUT THEN he plays it all in near perfect pocket with the sampler track that he sets up (which is pretty cool on its own). That’s what I want to zero in on in this post.

We’ve all heard drummers play dope, complex, difficult, progressive, and creative stuff… and I love it. Shredding is shredding, and it’s cool at the right time and place. But many (if not MOST) of the shreds I see online or live or wherever are marred ever so slightly by small imperfections in time and feel. In fact, it seems like subtle sloppiness is even assumed to a certain point, as if the crazy chops required to really shred outweighs said sloppiness. Rushing is common, or unintentional flamming, or just an overall looseness.

Don’t misunderstand me, the looseness that lives in the Jay Bellarose or Pete Thomas styles is not what I’m talking about. That kind of looseness is awesome, mainly because it’s an intentional groove/feel thing that serves those styles of music. Most “gospel chops” drumming is NOT aiming for that kind of looseness. The Bellarose/Thomas feel makes the gospel chops stuff sound worse, not better.

Complicated and flashy playing needs to be executed with incredible precision, and I usually don’t hear shreds that feature the kind of precision that Ilan is delivering in the above solo. He is playing some crazy stuff – conceptually complicated and physically challenging – and he is just BURYING that loop.

People. That is HARD to do. Or at least it’s really hard for ME. I like to think that I can pull out some shred-fest if you back me into a corner, and I feel comfortable playing with a locked feel in a song that has programming and click track, but doing both is VERY VERY difficult.

So, for that reason, the above solo is one of the most amazing shreds I’ve seen in a long time.

Paul Mabury showing us how the Moeller technique is supposed to work. And how locking an overdub take with a pre-recorded track is supposed to work. And how ghost notes are supposed to work. And how patience is supposed to work.

Many of my regular readers probably know that Carter Beauford isn’t a dude I normally list as an influence. He’s certainly a famous drummer, and deservedly so. I think other players have simply spoken to me in a more lasting way. That’s all I’m saying.

But let’s just acknowledge that the dude can THROW DOWN. It’s difficult to find anyone that plays more TIGHTLY than Carter, and this concept for a drumcam angle is just too rad to pass up.

Dan Weiss is an NYC-based jazz drummer that you may have heard of. I’ll be honest and say that I hadn’t heard of him before coming across this video. I searched my iTunes library for tracks that he’s played on and I guess I don’t own any.

But I’m including Dan in the Drum Solo Fridays series because of the sheer genius of this solo. It’s unreal. I freaking love it.

PS… I really wish I posted on this blog more often. Don’t you? Don’t answer that.


Another classic drum solo from another classic drummer… the legendary Joe Morello.


– Dave Brubeck’s famous tune “Take 5” has that title because the tune is in 5/4. So is this whole solo.

– The “1… & of 2” motif runs throughout the solo. Is that boring? Man, not for me. I like the approach of using a particular theme/motif for an entire solo so much more than randomly cycling through different ideas and patterns. The latter seems far more boring to me.

– Morello pulls the classic move-the-kick-drum-closer-because-it-slid-away-during-the-loud-part move at 2:13.

Papa Jo Jones (not to be confused with Philly Joe Jones) was one of the forefathers of the drumset, on the front lines of the instrument’s evolution. It’s cool to me that the drumset is young enough as an instrument for footage to exist of founders like Jones.


– Check out Jones’ performance faces. He’s making a lot of them, and NONE are the “oh wow I’m in so much pain because I’m such a deeply artistic person” thing that is so common currently. But somehow his playing is still cool. I’m not saying that his facial expressions here are any better than the artsy ones, but at least it’s clear that his expressions are coming from a performer’s mentality, rather than a pretentious mentality.

– Lots of old school jazz drum solos quickly become simply a rudiment demonstration. Jones uses plenty of rudiments, but always to form musical phrases. Playing rudiments is never the purpose of playing drums.

– Speaking of Jones’ phrasing, check out how “hooky” so much of it is. He’s demonstrating well what most guys are trying to describe when they wrongly use the term “melodic.” There’s a ton of storytelling going on in this solo.

I tend to steer clear of the show-boaty drum solo world, but DANG GURL… this guy is really something…


– The triple meter stuff at the beginning is very well executed and full of interesting ideas. I for one find it significantly more difficult to make precision and creativity happen in the triple meter. 

– Very cool use of double kick stuff early on, instead of the standard chugga-chugga-chugga patterns.

– I could do without the Roland pad melody he plays (drags a bit there), but he’s definitely got some serious limb independence. MENTAL NOTE: A cool idea is sapped of all its coolness if one drags while playing it.

– The jumping thing toward the end is AWESOME. I’m totally gonna rip that off. 

– Personally, I find Aric’s performance to be WAY more entertaining than the winning performance. So why didn’t Aric win? I think it probably comes down to his somewhat shaky feel during groove sections. Carlos sits a little front side in the pocket, but his groove is cleaner and feels better overall.

Once again I skipped the usual Friday post in favor of a Saturday post, but this time not because I forgot but rather to honor Good Friday. Not that Jojo Mayer’s playing isn’t honoring to our Lord and Savior in its own way…


– Jojo is one of the few chopsy-drum-magazine-Guitar-Center-dvd-shelf that I really dig. 

– This vid is obviously a clinic setting, and he’s demoing the use of Bonham triplets in a solo setting. The whole solo is played with just a “kick-right-left” pattern.

– Check out the rhythm change at 1:50… from triplet 8ths to 16ths… while still maintaining the Bonham triplet, but in a polyrhythm instead of a symmetrical quarter not grouping. He keeps the hats going on the quarter note too. Killer.

Last week’s video wasn’t *technically* a drum SOLO, so this week has two to make up for it (1:30 in the first video and 6:00 in the third video).

“To best illustrate Elvin’s contribution to the drums, just play a pre-Elvin Jones recording, then play an Elvin record, then play a post-Elvin record.” – Ron Carter

Well, I missed the deadline for Drum Solo Friday again. The good news is that Vinnie Colaiuta doesn’t care…


– I’m pretty comfortable listening to odd time signatures and over the bar phrasing and all that. He still loses me… A LOT.

– Style points for traditional grip. 

– Index finger out technique on the right hand stick grip… which is very similar to how I’ve always done it. Guys have told me that this is “wrong.” I’m just going to show this video to the next guy who tells me that.

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