SKF NOTE: My three-way exchange with drummers Max Weinberg and Paul T. Riddle had never before seen the light of day. I’ve posted one segment from the interview. In the early 1980s, Max and I were collaborating on a drum book. This interview was done for Max’s book. Part way into the project, Max wanted to take a different direction I personally found less interesting. We ended our collaboration on very friendly terms and I retained this interview.
The conversation at this point was about good nights versus bad nights for drummers. Paul T. Riddle’s advice was: Have fun! Which prompted Max’s opening question in this exchange.
Max Weinberg: What if you’re not having fun? What do you do if you get in a situation where you think, “Well, I’m not really grooving here.”?
Paul T. Riddle: If you’re having a bad night — relax. Take that deep breath. I always try to relax my shoulders. Danny [Marshall Tucker Band crew member] was talking about how he can look at me from behind and tell me — especially if I’m playing matched grip and I cock that shoulder up — if I’m a little tense. There will be that difference, and he can tell. You [drummers] can feel that more than anybody else, I guess. I used to crouch real bad. I’m still pretty bad.
Scott K Fish: You crouch forward a lot.
PTR: Yeah. I’m better though.
MW: We were sitting on the side watching and I said, “Boy, he looks just like a jazz drummer.”
PTR: That’s what everybody used to always tell me. I didn’t think I looked like that anymore. Because I think I’m sitting up a lot better than I guess I am!
But, try to take that deep breath and relax if you feel like you’re having a bad night. And play the song. Go back to the song. Listen to the lyrics and get into the music. And quit thinking so much about what you’re doing.
I find if I’m having a bad night I start zeroing in on every little thing. Whereas, when you’re having a good night and you drop a lick or something doesn’t sound quite right — you just laugh about it or brush it off. It’s no big deal because you’re having so much fun. Who [cares]?
Then if you’re having a terrible night, every little thing starts snowballing. That’s why you’re sucking. Because you’re thinking about every little thing.
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