Bill Maxwell: I Don’t Think Drums As Much As I Do The Whole Band

maxwell_billSKF NOTE: Andrae Crouch, The Winans, Freddie Hubbard, Koinonia — Bill Maxwell’s work as drummer and producer is among the best. Bill first came to my attention through my ears in 1981. No pre-judging on my part.

Introducing The Winans arrived as a new release on my Modern Drummer desk in 1981. I listened to Introducing…. on a marginal stereo system in my rooming house residence — and the music grabbed me immediately. Everything about that album was first class: the Winans, the songs, the arranging, the musicianship, and the production. The drummer and producer was a name new to me: Bill Maxwell.

Long story short, after listening and loving a few more albums with Bill Maxwell producing and/or drumming, Bill stopped by Modern Drummer on August 17, 1982 for a feature interview, published in the August 1983 isse.

My typed transcription of Bill’s interview is 61 pages — much more material than space allowed in his MD feature — it will be fun reading through again, looking for diamonds in the rough.

Here’s Bill Maxwell saying why he branched out into record producing. His first co-produced album, Andrea Crouch’s Take Me Back, won a Grammy Award.

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Bill Maxwell: I liked [producing] because I always felt very limited, as a drummer, being able to express the whole scope musically. When I play drums I don’t think drums as much as I do the whole band. I’m thinking the top end with my cymbals, or I’m thinking where the pulse is and what the bass is doing, with my foot. I’m very aware of all the vocal things, and the moods, and the key.

Doing drums you can’t get as fulfilled. But when you’re producing, or when you’re in charge, you really have a say in everything that goes on in every aspect of music — including the way it’s put on tape.

That was very, very interesting. It was just like a broadening of what I was doing playing drums.

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