The Bobby Rock Newsletter #88 (12-11-22) - "The Monster" Turns 40!
The Bobby Rock Newsletter #88 (12-11-22) - "The Monster" Turns 40!
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Greetings One and All!
Thanks for being here, everybody! Always appreciated. And once again, you are catching me in the throes of a Lita Ford run as I put this thing together. Let’s jam!
In This Issue:
The Here and Now
Pic by Teddy Allison
It’s 5:15 AM. We are just about to fly from Chicago to KC, via Minneapolis, where we will all jump in a couple vans and drive to Pittsburgh… Pittsburg, KS, that is! (Slightly different spelling.) Last night was another bangin’ show in Chicago-Land, back at the Arcada Theater in St. Charles (with Warrant). Kick-ass crowd and, as always, tons of fun to play those old-style theaters. The balconies, architecture, pristine acoustics, and overall vibe of these places never get old.
Drummer’s perspective, before and during the set…
At the office…
After the hit, we had some killer catering backstage featuring a little vegan Italian:
You know I love this.. but so do my non-vegan compadres. Today’s “plant-based” options aren’t like the second-rate approximations we used to have to deal with back in the early 90s from the hippy health food co-ops. This shit is slammin’, full-stop!
Of course, with such a screamin’-early lobby call at 3:15 AM, sleep has been at a premium. So on nights/mornings like this, the key is to stockpile sleep as we can, grabbing a few winks at the hotel, and on our two flights this morning: Chicago to Minneapolis, then Minneapolis to KC. Here’s the read-out from my sleep app. Read it and weep!:
The three modest cat-naps are delineated
by the red in the outer circle…
with “modest” being the key word here!
Once we get to the hotel this afternoon, I will get this Newsletter tightened up, then hit the weights before soundcheck. Sleep will be scarce tonight, as well, as we have another early lobby call tomorrow. But who gives a fuck? I’ll get caught up back home Sunday night.
“Living the Dream,” as we always say…
Update: Okay, so we’ve had some delays today at soundcheck, which meant hitting the hotel weight-room post-show. Will have to finish this tomorrow (Sunday) en route home. But here are a couple shots from the Kansas hit. This was an exceptional crowd, in terms of vibe and presence. Rockin’ show!
Pic by Jarod Woznik
More of this starting on Thursday in NY...
"The Monster" Turns 40!
It's a bird… it’s a plane… no, it’s a super-complex Latin funk-rock groove that plays like a solo passage from a percussion ensemble: Or at least that was the intention behind its creation! Here’s the lowdown…
My first instructional video, circa 1989
The Quick Back-Story
Exactly 40 years ago, in the fall of 1982, I was enduring my third semester at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. As I’ve always maintained, Berklee was one of the greatest musical learning experiences of my life, and a big part of my evolution at the time was my particular practicing protocol: 40 hours per week, tabulated to the second on a cheap Casio watch. That’s roughly 6 hours per day and, believe me, when you start tracking your practice time by the second, you quickly figure out that what you once thought was a 4-hour practice day, was actually closer to 3.5 or even 3… if you’re lucky. But mere days into my first semester the year prior, I got this time-tracking idea from a drummer named Dave Wood, who used his watch’s stopwatch function to log his practice hours. It inspired me to do the same… with one variation: I’m pretty sure Dave had a daily goal of 6 hours. However, when I tried it initially, I had a few days where, given classes, private lessons, labs, and ensemble work (playing with an ensemble didn’t count towards practice hours, by the way), I would come up short of my 6-hour daily goal. So, I decided to go with a weekly quota instead. The advantage? If I ever happened to fall short of my 6 on one day, I could make up for it on another day that week. Also, if I was in a great groove and was able to stockpile an extra hour or two beyond my 6-hour average on one day, that would give me a bit of advanced buffer for a day later in the week when I might fall short.
I sustained this 40-hours-per-week protocol through my first two semesters, and also during the summer back home in Houston—where I would often get in my full 40 hours of “woodshed" time in addition to gigging every weekend. The chops were a-blazin' pretty good by the time my sophomore year commenced, and I stepped immediately back into my weekly-40 from day-one back at Berklee.
The other unique thing about my lifestyle and practice schedule back then was this: I would go to sleep every evening around 6:00 PM, just after dinner in the cafeteria. I would wake up around midnight, push my drums down the hall and around the corner to the practice rooms (which were located at the end of each floor of the dormitory), then I would practice until 6:00 AM, usually getting the bulk of my daily quota done, depending on how many breaks I took, or friendly interruptions there were. From there, I would shower, go to breakfast, then get into my complete schedule of classes for the day. In and around this class schedule, I would jump into some practice pad or kit work (depending on time logistics) to try and finish up with the six hours before dinner at 4:30 or 5. And that was it, seven days a week, no days off, end of discussion.
When you’re in the abyss of isolation that is the practice room, in the middle of the night, often with no one else around, you tend to explore some radical shit. 4-way Independence was something that I had become obsessed with since even before Berklee. This is the concept of having each of your four limbs simultaneously playing different rhythms, on different sound sources, which can often sound like more than one drummer playing at the same time. (Oh, the joy of this!) Fun stuff, to be sure, but tremendously tedious and frustrating to actually practice—and let me assure you, a ton of practice is the only way I’ve ever known any drummer to develop any degree of 4-way Independence.
And so… late one night in the fall of 1982, the earliest flickers of The Monster began to formulate. I was doing a downbeat toe-heel rocking motion on the hi-hat with my left foot, while sustaining a fairly intricate up-beat funk-rock pattern between my bass drum, snare, and cowbell. And then… I heard it: a completely independent timbale part, as if Latin percussion great Tito Puente had stepped into the woodshed behind me. (Perhaps I was a bit delirious by this point in the night, but whatever!) I paused the groove to bang out my “Tito” rhythm on my smaller tom with just my left hand. And then… I saw it: What if I could play both the snare and cowbell parts with just my right hand? That would then free up my left to play the timbale part. (At least in theory.) And so the quest began.
As it would appear in my first book:,
The Metalmorphosis Workbook:
Top-to-Bottom Key: high-timbale, low-timbale,
cowbell, snare, bass drum, hi-hat (left foot only)
First, I transcribed the whole thing on a single piece of paper so I could better see how everything lined up vertically. And then, over the next several nights, it was practice, practice, and more practice… slowly, painstakingly, a piece at a time, until I was finally able to find some flow with it. Finally, on the third or fourth night, I was practicing in one of the original wooden-door practice rooms at the end of the hall since none of the newer, glass-door, refrigerator-style sheds were available at midnight. A few hours later, after playing this thing over and over, ad nauseam, I emerged from the woodshed for a break and saw one of my "late-night woodshed club" comrades breaking down his gear a few rooms down. As I said hello as I walked passed him, I noticed he was transfixed on the open door of my practice room, apparently waiting for “the other guy” to come out.
“That was just you in there?” he asked.
“Uhhh, yeah,” I replied.
He shook his head slowly and continued slipping cymbals into his trap case. “Monster!” he grunted.
And while I believe my friend was paying me a compliment by referring to me as a “monster”—a popular word around campus back then reserved for those most technically elite at their instrument—I immediately attached it to my latest creation. And thus, The Monster was born.
+ + + + + + +
A Bit of Legacy
Once I started doing drum clinics some four years later, The Monster became an indispensable part of my presentation. I was all about the “melting pot” approach to drumming, having started off as a rock drummer, delved deep into other styles like funk, Latin, and jazz, and then returned to the rock world with a fresh approach that encouraged the expansion of one’s drumming vocabulary via studying and playing other styles of music. The Monster was something of a showpiece for this concept, and in 1989, my first video and book—Metalmorphosis and The Metalmorphosis Workbook—detailed this approach and, of course, featured a detailed demonstration of the pattern.
Through the years, I’ve personally known of at least a half-dozen different drummers who could play The Monster (although I’m sure there are many more out there who figured this thing out). Hard to believe it is now 40 years old!
Here’s the original clip of me demonstrating The Monster in Metalmorphosis. (And yes, the cowboy boots were definitely a byproduct of my pre-vegan days!) Scope it HERE.
I’m a long-time Instant Pot lover, especially when it comes to soups and chilis. (An Instant Pot is basically a pressure cooker that delivers Crockpot-style dishes in a fraction of the time.) Here’s an easy-to-prepare recipe that I think you guys will love. It’s an interesting cross between a soup and a chili, is great for batch-cooking, and also freezes well. I got it from my sister and took only a few minor liberties with the original recipe.
Sister Pam’s Three-Bean Chunky Soup
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion
2 - 14 1/2-ounce cans of chunky fire-roasted or stewed tomatoes
18 oz water
1 - 8 oz can of tomato sauce
4 teaspoons of chili powder
2 tablespoons of spicy mustard
1 teaspoon of season salt
1 - 15 oz. can of pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 - 15 oz. can of white kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 - 15 oz. can of red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups frozen whole-kernel corn
1 1/2 cups chopped zucchini
Opt: Shredded vegan cheese!
Click the “Sauté" button on the Instant Pot
Once it's warm, add the onion, garlic, and oil, sautéing until brown. Add a bit of water if it starts to stick.
Click the "Cancel" button to stop the sauté feature.
Add all of the rest of the ingredients, and stir well.
Close the lid, turn the valve to “sealed,” then click "Manual" and reduce the time to 3 minutes. Starts automatically.
Once the cycle is complete, let the pressure come down for at least 10 minutes before releasing (or better yet, let it completely release naturally).
Stir well. Serve warm.
And don’t forget the shredded vegan cheese on top!
Thanks again, everybody. Connect next week!