Those of you that have been on a gig with me may have (often) heard me mutter slightly over my breath that "so and so needs to renew their subscription!" This of course refers to the age old musician joke that "Time is not a magazine." Those of you who know me well also know that even more than most drummers, I'm quite a stickler for good time. I hold myself to a pretty high standard and expect others to do the same. My friend, guitarist Matt Baldoni once called me and said "man, I just checked out your YouTube clips and the time is 98 percent right on. Amazing!" He meant this as a compliment, and I took it as such but the first thing I did was get out the metronome to make sure I "renewed my subscription" to the other 2 percent.
It's not that I think time can't be flexible. I'm a firm believer in things moving a bit as the song needs, or understanding when to play "on top," "on the beat," or "behind the beat." It's just that too few musicians are aware of where they are with regard to the time, and we ALL need to be. I don't mind if during your solo, you want to float the time to create a vibe (or for whatever reason really). Just be aware of it, and I'd humbly ask this favor. Please accompany me (timewise and formwise) during my solo! It's the one time where I get to stretch the time a little, play some weird over the barline shit or what have you, plus it gives the listener a reference point. I do it for you all night long. Do it for me. Another thing many musicians don't realize (until I point it out) is that usually the bass player and drummer never get to lay out during a tune. If a keyboard player or guitar player gets lost in the time or changes they just wait til they figure it out. If a drummer or bass player stops......MAJOR GROOVUS INTERRUPTUS.....and the band leader gives us THE LOOK!
Keeping good time is not only the responsibity of the rhythm section but EVERYONE's responsibility. The whole band sounds so much better when this is the case. The audience may not be able to tell you why something is really grooving but they know when it isn't. I can tell when a player is unsure of themselves because they always seem to wait that one millisecond to see where the rhythm section puts it.
So for the good of musicians everywhere, let's all take out the old clicker and renew our subscription to Time once in a while.