The Best Drummer You’ve Ever Heard But Never Heard Of

It’s pretty impressive that 2 people can create such a groove:

But it’s less surprising when you learn the drummer is one of the most sought-after session drummers in history, Matt Chamberlain. Oh, and he was in Perl Jam.

You might not recognize Matt Chamberlain’s face, but you probably recognize his deceptively-simple, rock-solid driving beats. It’s pretty cool to realize that what makes the following songs work so well is their drums, and the drummer is all the same guy:

Fiona Apple, “Criminal”

One YouTube commenter described his performance as such:

This is a tough part to play consistently, because you’ve got to portray strict 8th-note rock on one hand, yet make it swing at the same time. Drummer Matt Chamberlain does this beautifully. The slightly late, monotonous, “stiff-armed” hi-hat 8th-notes suggest all rock, but the little ornamental notes on the snare and the occasional stuttered 16th on the hi-hat give it a certain swing and a most unique sway, too.
Chamberlain is an immensely talented drummer, so it’s not at all surprising that he’s among the most in-demand studio players of our time. He just makes it all sound so simple. Playing at his level of depth, however, is most definitely not!

The Wallflowers, “One Headlight” (Impressive cover video btw…)

Perl Jam, “Even Flow”

John Mayer, “Home Life”

And in recent news, he’s collaborated with a software company to create digital loops for musicians, and this is an interesting overview of his style:

Specifically, these beats are pretty amazing. Seemingly simple, but endlessly complex.

Lastly, listen to this story about Matt Chamberlain setting up and recording a drum track for The Long Winters. What he ended up doing completely changed my understanding of how talented a drummer can be. He basically took his performance, mixed and edited it in his head, then played 1/5 of the part 5 times in a row so the recordings could be overlayed to create the final drum part. I didn’t understand it the first time either. Give it a listen here.

So to anyone who thinks that being a “great” drummer is a matter of being able to play fast or be flashy, think again.

Just like with great hardware or software, sometimes less is more.

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