SKF NOTE: A glimpse at Billy Cobham’s drumming concepts 41 years ago in Different Drummer magazine.
Billy Cobham: My concept is my own, my personality is my own. Dynamics enhance my playing and gives a lot of contrast to the amount of intensity and volume that I project off the drums naturally. When the band is really in a level of intensity, I like to let it all hang out and then drop back and let it build again.
The more drums you have the wider your scope in what you can think to do. Drums aren’t just drums to me, they don’t all work in every situation. I don’t record with the drums you see. I record with other drums that have a mellower sound, and, to me, they record better.
Depending on who I play with is what I’m gonna use. If I’m gonna work with people that don’t play hard, I’m gonna use smaller drums to cut down on my projection. I want to play with people, not against them.
I’ve always considered myself a better rhythm player than a soloist, so I learn toward team playing. I have nothing to prove. First I want to be an artist. I want to share my emotional thoughts with the people through the musical medium. I’m going for something where I can say here it is right here all the time, but there it is up there too. You can’t grasp that, but you can grasp this. So grasp it, and we’ll take you.
Source: “Billy Cobham,” by John Stix, Different Drummer, November 1974