There’s a certain allure to drumming that is best captured in the audio or video of a song, but is somehow lost in many of the photos of a drummer completely engaged in his or her passion for rhythm. Much like any other physical activity, the still shots of a drummer can reveal some unique expressions and faces, all of which can be taken out of context and shown as the next great Internet meme (or worse). Very few of us are stock photography models sitting behind a drum set or with a djembe in hand, and it is hard to keep our faces from showing the true voracity of drumming when we’re in the moment. Such attention to detail is rarely even a consideration when we’re in the groove… until we happen to notice our “drum face” has taken on the characteristics of a sweaty demon wailing in agony.
Fear not the photos, friends. We are here to tell you that your drum face is just one of the things that makes you a great drummer.
The Internet can be cruel, even to the most adored person, as snarky comments and Photoshoppers with too much time on their hands lead us down the path of dreaded “drum face” comments and comparisons. What nobody seems to understand is that when a drummer makes a “drum face,” it’s all about the music, the beat, the groove and the vibe. The photos that capture that moment are illustrations of just how much devotion we have to our art, the love we pledge to rhythm and our instruments. We are drummers; of COURSE we have a “drum face.” We just get to show it off more, since we’re physically pounding away while the rest of the world is just taking pictures of our awesomeness.
For other performers, such as dancers or vocalists, there’s a lot of training surrounding facial expressions. Much of that is to express the emotion of the songs, or to enunciate words for proper audience comprehension. A drummer, however, is rarely told to smile, look poised or soften the face. Why?
Because, drummers are too busy drumming to care. If a drummer wanted to have great photos, he or she would be a stock photography model… sitting behind a drum set or holding a djembe and smiling. Rhythm isn’t always about smiling. Rhythm can be devastating, or angry… it can be sultry or full of delight. The drummer’s face translates the emotion of the rhythm and gives us all a glimpse into the true meaning of the song – from a soft intro to a drum solo filled with passion. You try to keep that all buttoned up when there’s a camera in your face, Internet. Plus, it’s a natural face… the antithesis of “resting happy face,” or whatever is all the buzz is about this week in Internet Snark Land.
So, drummers and percussionists, there is no need to fear the inevitable: your “drum face” will come out when you aren’t expecting it, captured forever in a photo that you may not fall in love with, despite your love of rhythm. Just remember that every drummer will have the same experience, because we all get so involved in our beat, the last thing we think about is the faces we make. The rest of the world may not understand, and we’re all used to being misunderstood, anyway. We think differently, we act differently, and we can’t help but look differently from other musicians… and that’s okay. Being a drummer has never been an easy path to take, and the “drum face” we show the world is just more proof that when we rock, we rock hard.