The Motorik Beat

Since I ‘ve mentioned Can and the beats of Kraut rock it is only natural to make a post about the motorik beat.

Kraut rock is all about atmosphere contradicting with obsessive simplistic yet bombastic drum patterns. The constant 8th note beat with the closed h/h and the bass drum hitting hard together was pattented during the Kraut rock era by the likes of Neu!, Kraftwerk and of course Can.



Jaki Liebezeit – The Can Groove

Jaki Liebezeit is the drummer for the infamous German avant-garde psychedelic band, Can. He is said to be the founder of the “Motorik Beat“, the most commonly used drum pattern in the Kraut Rock scene (straight 8ths with closed h/h + bass drum and snare backbeat).

However, this post is about another trait of his, another signature beat he plays in numerous CAN compositions. Just click on the following links.

Now, remember all those times in rehearsal when your band wants to write a new song and you ‘re like: “Darn it, I have to play something different now for sure, gotta sound always fresh“. Oh well, apparently Liebezeit never had that problem in his mind…

*NOTE on the constant quarter notes on the right hand instead of 8ths. That way, the 16th note subdivision happening between the bass drum and the snare sounds even more immense.

Aynsley Dunbar – Epicness

The man who lost to Mitch Mitchell to a coin flip when Jimi was picking a drummer. The man that rejected Jimmy Page’s suggestion to form Led Zeppelin. The man who turned his back on Jeff Beck. The man who thrived alongside Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention. Aynsley Dunbar is a beast.

Drum solos are not my thing, you probably know that by now. But this one, this one is something.

“Say what, find a concept for my solo? Sure, I ‘ll just play the first half of it with the left hand keeping offbeats on the hat. Maybe, I don’t know.”



Drum Cam Footage #2

This is another sample of my gigging session work. This time with the singer/songwriter, Katerina Makavou. It’s a cover of a Greek rock classic tune called “Den Choras Pouthena”. Essentially, a rock n’ roll song. The drums were originally all about heavy hitting on the toms/bass drum but after attempting that on a rehearsal we decided we should make another rendition, a “softer yet uptempo one”.

I went for the “Violent Femmes” approach. Brushes, constant 16th notes and just accents whenever needed. To make the 16ths a bit smoother I tried to use only double strokes. That way, the left hand backbeat had a bit more authority.

PS1. Once in London, I had the honor of playing with the singer of Violent Femmes himself, mr Gordon Gano. We played three of his greatest hits with the band including Blister in the Sun.

PS2. Gear Used:
Set: Pearl Luan Mahogany ’68 – 20/13/16, Snare: Premier Royal Ace ’69 – 14×5.5, Bosphorus Cymbals: Traditional Dark Hats 15″, Traditional Thin Ride 20″, Groove Series Wide Ride Thin 22″

Nikos Portokaloglou Drum Cam Footage

The time has come for me to post a little bit of myself playing.

Stefanos Sakellariou, is a good friend of mine (and a sick drummer as well) who had the kindness to lend me his Zoom Q3HD recorder. I ‘ve set it up at a couple of recent gigs in order to have a second listen at what I played. As it turns out, things are not always the way we think of them in the heat of the moment. Some of your powers end up sounding not so good and some of your weaknesses don’t sound weak at all. It’s a mess. But a constructive one.

This song is taken from last Friday’s gig with Nikos Portokaloglou. It’s one my favourite songs in the set, mainly because of the vocal melody. People seem to love it as well as they all wanna join in on the chorus. On this version I tried to add a faux “trip hop” vibe to it by keeping it stubbornly straight and airy at the same time.

Gear Used:

Set: Ludwig Classics ’79 22/13/16 (6ply maple shells), Snare: Premier Royal Ace ’69 14×5.5 , Cymbals: Bosphorus Traditional Dark Hats 15″, Traditional Thin Ride 20″, Groove Series Wide Ride Thin 22″

Hanging the keys on the left cymbal has become a habit of mine. Mainly because it gives sustain even in the softest of hits. That way you can have a quiet version of a big crash during the soft tunes. Enjoy!

Patterns Of Reality – Finding A Musical Alter Ego

One of the things that genuinely excite me about music is that everything we do has a somewhat historical background behind it. Most of our ideas and musical experimentations are in a way a product of the past,  meaning that someone has built a foundation for us to expand it and create something new. It’ s a legacy thing.

That said, it’ s always even more exciting to discover the musicians that shared common ideas with you in a different time and era. Enter, Jim Gordon. His case is similar to Hal Blaine, Earl Palmer, Pistol Allen etc etc: you may not have heard him by name but you have definitely listened to a record he’s playing at some point in your life. Gordon stood on the rockier side of things during the late ’60s/early ’70s as he was the drummer for the legendary Derek and the Dominos.

I was turned to a record he played on by one of the most talented guitar players in Greece, Alekos Voulgarakis. He told me to have a listen to Andy Robinson’s, “Patterns Of Reality” cause he thought the drums reminded him of me.

From the first run through the record I realised what a huge compliment that was. It’s one thing to like the drumming on a record, but to admire every single note played while thinking you wouldn’t change a thing on it… it’ something else. I fell in love with the drummer on “Patterns Of Reality”. He gave me a magical sense of belonging, a feeling that in some way what I personally do when I play the drums, actually has some historical existence. When I later found out who he was I became hysterical about it.

The way I think of it, it’s like finding an ancestor, a truly awesome one that you can always look up to and take inspiration from. So now, I am in the process of learning everything about him. Each masterful performance leads me to another one.

You can just have a glimpse on his huge discography and immediately understand that he should be probably standing amongst the great session legends. Unfortunately though, Jim Gordon is in jail at the moment for murdering his own mother because “her voice tormented him for years”. That’s awkward.