October 9, 2010

The Simon Phillips Influence

As documented on my recent blog entry, with my purchase of a second-hand yet still good set of DW double pedals, I just returned to double bass drumming.  Currently, I am in the slow and steady process of re-learning double bass, working more on my footwork strength and technique.  As far as my personal style and preferences are concerned, I don't think I'll ever reach the extreme double bass skills of today's technique and speed demons such as Virgil Donati and Derek Roddy.  And with my band's style of music, I cannot utilize double bass all the time, as much as how dominant double bass drummers like Mike Portnoy, Charlie Benante, and Vinnie Paul did with their respective bands and recordings.  I guess I'm grooming myself more into a tasteful, musical, and occasional double bass drummer, opting to play double bass when it's called for in the music.

And speaking of tasteful and musical, my double bass studies have brought me back to one of my favorite drummers, a significant innovator in the art of double bass drumming, and among the best rock drummers of all time...  Simon Phillips.

I always thought of emulating Simon Phillips' drumming style, which I like so much.  It's also interesting to notice such diversity in his skills set.  Simon is often described as the consummate rock drummer.  Yet he is so well-rounded, for he can convincingly play different styles, such as pop, fusion, and jazz.   Simon's drumming style may be technique-oriented.  Yet he's also groovy and fluid.  His drumming feels oh-so-good.

Simon's been playing on the same signature double bass, multi-tom, open-handed Tama drumkit set-up in the last 30 years or so.  Though people who are not familiar of Simon's drumming may have the impression of an overplaying basher on a monster drumkit, it's actually the other way around.  Simon is no hard hitter (to the point of breaking stuff).  He treats his huge drumkit as one powerful musical instrument, meticulously creating musical drum parts with every tom, octoban, and gong bass.  Simon's also got excellent ears for great drum sounds, which seem to be a mix of the more focused fusion drum sounds & the bigger-than-life rock drum sounds (which I also like).  And of course, I mentioned his wonderful double bass technique.  Take note too of his open-handed playing style, his knack for composition, & his ability to create very cool drum licks and fills.

Embedded below are three video excerpts coming from his instructional videos in the 90's.  The instrumental performances also feature guitarist Ray Russell & bassist Anthony Jackson.  The three examples below best represent what Simon Phillips is all about.  Power, finesse, groove, feel, technique, style, creativity, musicality, great drum sounds, cool drum parts...  I would love to emulate Simon Phillips' style.

Well, except for those old-school tights.  I'll never wear one.

My Simon Phillips blogs from the past: