Les DeMerle – It’s Not the Notes, It’s the Rests

SKF NOTE: More words of wisdom from drummer/bandleader Les DeMerle. The back story to our interview is here.

Scott K Fish: Is it possible for a drummer to become so technically exact and proficient that the naturalness of his playing suffers?

Les DeMerle: If the music is super, super technical — then that might apply. But if you learn to master the music and relax with it, then there’s no reason why it shouldn’t swing.

For years, Harry James used to tell me that it’s not the notes, it’s the rests that count.

In order for a band to really get a lilt and a groove everybody has to contribute just a little bit, and be aware of what notes the other guys are on. That’s what makes it really happen.

You could have a phenomenal drummer, but if there’s a busy piano player and guitar player the band’s going to feel like a sinking ship. It’s going to feel like lead.

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