“Shedding” may be a foreign concept to our younger metal-musician readerbase. For the non-jazz guys, or general instrument novices, the bare bones explanation is, one who sheds is one who practices one’s ass off. Shedding for drummers in particular is a spiritual, zen-like experience, in which you lock the door and pound on a practice pad until your parents bust it down in fear that you’ve been masturbating yourself to death.
Stories of the shed are critical drummer’s lore. Richard Christy (Iced Earth, Death, Charred Walls of the Damned) has told stories of practicing death metal all through the night in his family’s barn in Kansas while wearing ankle weights. Brann Dailor would invite friends over to play Van Halen songs in his parent’s garage, where he would mime busy Eddie-style tapping guitar licks on his toms. John Bonham simulated makeshift drum kits with pots and pans. The list goes on.
Although I have occasionally have mixed feelings about jazz/prog-jazz/jazz-rock/-core group The Bad Plus’s original music, there’s no denying that each member of the band is an exceptionally talented musician, of the highest rung not only in the jazz world, but the music world at large. See pianist Ethan Iverson’s braniac music theory blog Do the Math, check out a track from the band’s 2014 re-interpretation of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring for trio, or catch the band live! No disrespect to the bigwigs in heavy metal, but the chops that these guys have are on another level.
I am personally a huge fan of drummer Dave King, who in addition to having insane chops, is a player with serious personality. He doesn’t always play the most showy stuff (although he is certainly capable of it, when the band’s music calls for it), but even in the simplest grooves, you can hear years of meticulous shedding of his technique. And luckily for you all, he is sharing life stories, practice routines, and technical secrets in a free web series, Rational Funk, which started just a few weeks ago. A lot of thought, humor, and production went into this series, such that it’s not only highly instructive, but also highly entertaining.
The first four episodes are below. King’s already up to seven of these, with no apparent stop date. Check out his YouTube page to subscribe and see the rest.