apropos of nothing

Which Bands Should Fire Their Drummer?

Photo: Getty Images

In a piece in yesterday’s New York Times Magazine, John Wray heralds the return of the one-man band and profiles several musicians who, thanks to cheap recording technology, are finally living out their dream of not having to pay a bass player. When asked, specifically, why he doesn’t employ a drummer, Final Fantasy’s Owen Pallett (whose album title He Poos Clouds the Times hilariously deems too scatological to print) answers, “Drummers ruin bands … There are probably about 10 people in indie rock who know how to play the drums. If you’re in a mediocre band, just fire the drummer, and chances are you’ll have the best band in the world.”

Could this possibly be true? Haven’t R.E.M. been working tirelessly for a decade to preemptively debunk Pallett’s theory? We’d always thought the real shortcut to rock-and-roll success was hiring a second drummer, which, counterintuitively, is almost always a good idea (see the Grateful Dead and Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs and Englishmen album). But would some bands actually be better off without their drummer? Bands besides the Eagles?

The Raconteurs
We’ll forgo the easy joke about Jack White firing his other drummer (if anything, we’d actually like to see Meg do a solo album), and say he should lose the one in his side band. The country songs on the Raconteurs’ recent Consolers of the Lonely make us curious to hear what they could do with just a pair of guitars and a mandolin.

Since we still want to hear them play “The Bends” at Liberty State Park in August, Phil Selway should definitely keep his status as a touring member — but would it eliminate the four-year gaps between albums if Thom and Jonny just broke down and used a drum machine instead of trying to get him to play like one?

Iron Maiden
No offense to Nicko McBrain, but he totally sucks.

Arcade Fire
They’re already the whitest band ever, but just imagine how much whiter they’d sound without a backbeat?

Vampire Weekend
Without the drums, would they sound less like Graceland-era Paul Simon and more like Paul Simon-era Paul Simon? We could get behind that.

As everyone knows, the most annoying part of any Coldplay song is the rock coda they insist on tacking to the end of all their weepy piano ballads. Might they sound less bland if they lost Will Champion and all their songs were four minutes shorter?

Ringo Starr’s All-Star Band
Wouldn’t Hamish Stuart, Gary Wright, Billy Squier, and Edgar Winter sound great together if they weren’t playing a bunch of crappy songs that Ringo wrote?

Surely there are others, right?

The Return of the One-Man Band [NYTM]

Which Bands Should Fire Their Drummer?