Makin' It Groove
Part 1: Acoustic vs Electric/Dynamics/Swinging the Triplets/Straightening the 8ths
Musician.com: Do you approach the music on Tonic differently from your electric stuff?
Billy Martin: In a lot of ways it's a more intimate interaction. Our language changes a little bit. We're basically the same guys expressing ourselves, but it's more challenging in some respects. Trying to play under the piano, that's important. We pretty much play the room that we're in, and try to keep a balance dynamically. There's more room for dynamics. It doesn't get loud too often, so there's a lot of subtlety in how we're expressing ourselves. And different things come out. There are more features, a little more soloing and trading around. In some ways it can be more dramatic. It's just using different tools and colors.
Musician.com: Some drummers find it difficult to play softly.
Martin: It's a challenge, technically, especially if you're more of a rock drummer. I grew up playing rock and roll just as much as anything else, but when I play funk, my funk crosses over into the jazz thing in a kind of New Orleans way or a hip-hop way. For me, the bridge that I make is the subtlety in which I play a groove. I don't have to hit the snare really loud. To me a funky backbeat is something that is subtler, and there's more rhythm going on. So with the piano trio I can actually play jazz funk beats and in some ways it's easier. I like playing soft, actually. Make it a more swinging kind of approach. I like to stretch the phrasing and play with that.
Musician.com: What do you mean by "stretching the phrasing"?
Martin: Well, the rhythms that I play change, so it's not the same beat all the time. But it's also the feel of the beat. If it's swinging, like more in a triplet thing, then I might straighten it out to more of an 8th-note thing. Part of the beat may have a little bit of both, all of those variations. By phrasing I meant more in the respect of the feel, of how it's swinging. Swinging more or less as opposed to just playing something straight, like a grid, like a drum machine. Actually changing the feel of a similar groove.
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3