When you look at a live band performance, you always have one eye at the back of the stage to see just what the drummer is doing. It might be drumstick tricks, lively body movements, or even wondering why the drummer Makes weird pieces. In any case, you start to wonder a few things about the drummer.
Why do drummers make weird faces? Drummers pull funny faces for many reasons. These reasons can include feeling the physical strain of performances, feeling the music as they play, or just exuding their outgoing personality. Each drummer has a different reason for making these faces.
In the rest of this article, we will explore why drummers make these unusual expressions.
Reasons Drummers Make Weird Facial Expressions
They’re In Sync With The Song’s Rhythm
As the driving force behind the song, it’s natural for drummers to feel a link with their beats. Getting the feel of the song is essential to move fluidly between different parts of the drum kit. This fluidity helps the rest of the band know when to come in and out with their song parts.
Therefore, it’s natural for your body to move in sync with the beat you are playing. This feeling leads you to make faces as you transition to different parts of the song. Naturally, their mannerisms will change as the song progresses naturally, and the overall tempo of that section follows. Quicker sections will likely see you pull more eccentric movements as the rapid nature builds up adrenaline and forces you to react accordingly.
The same can be said for slower sections as everything grinds to a halt, including the drummer’s body. They can feel the energy dissipating with the rhythm slowing. This rhythm change organically syncs the drummer’s mind to react in the same way, including facial expressions.
An article by Alan Fridlund of UC Santa Barbara confirms this. It describes the face as an indication of what can come next, explaining the following:
“The face is like a switch on a railroad track. It affects the trajectory of the social interaction the way a switch would affect the path of the train.”
By reflecting on this, it naturally links to the mannerisms pulled by a drummer during a performance. It reflects how a song naturally progresses and physically expresses the different changes occurring throughout a performance.
Drumming Requires a Lot Of Physical Endurance
Of course, it’s more than just the music that makes the drummers feel the need for weird faces. After all, nothing is more exhausting than playing the drums – be it for 5 minutes or 2 hours. It takes an astonishing amount of effort to play the drums. Drummers are the fitness freaks of a band. It sometimes comes down to the point that they are showcasing the physical strain from their bodies.
When drummers dive into their craft, they unleash a storm of energy and motion. Their arms, legs, and even their core muscles come into play as they strike the drums, crash the cymbals, and work those foot pedals. The intricate coordination required is mind-boggling—they have to control different rhythms with each limb, like a rhythmic octopus. All this intense physicality can lead to some interesting facial expressions.
Blink-182’s Travis Barker is a great example of this, his arm movements and facial expressions really show how much physical effort he’s putting into his performance.
Drummers Use Every Part of Their Body
Unlike other instruments in a band, drums require multiple limbs to be working at once. It could be one arm, both arms, one leg, or all 4 of them. Imagine trying to do is this repeatedly for an hour.
Try to imagine deadlifting without changing your expression.
It’s virtually impossible to do. The body is pushed to its limit with multiple rapid movements continuously for minutes at a time. The drummer needs to find ways to cope with these rigorous demands. Therefore, you start to see weird faces.
Drumming Takes a Lot of Endurance
If a band finds themselves in a headliner slot, a drummer will have to perform for 1 or 2 hours at full exertion. While there may be small breaks, it’s not uncommon to play some songs consecutively without much rest. Think of what the drummer’s body is going through!? It’s not hard to see then why drummers pull weird faces! If you’ve ever tried working out strenuously for over an hour, you’ve probably made some weird faces by the end of it too.
Drumming Requires Intense Concentration and Focus
Have you ever been taking a test in school or focusing on a very complex task and noticed that your face might be sticking a certain way? The same can definitely be said about drummers. Not only is drumming a physically demanding task, but maintaining rhythm in the way drummers do requires a ton of mental effort along with hand-eye coordination.
All that focus can result in some pretty silly faces. Furrowed brows, narrowed eyes, or a look of deep contemplation are often the main indicators of some intense concentration.
Drummers Use Faces to Communicate to Their Band Members
Rarely do drummers ever get to be on the mic, and that can make it difficult for them to communicate to their fellow band members, crew, and front of house. Guitarists, bassists and singers have the freedom to move around, shout things in different directions, and communicate through the mic. Drummers don’t really get that luxury most of the time.
When you play in a band with a group of people for a while, you tend to develop a shorthand through phrases and body language to communicate specific things, especially when on stage. Drummers can use their facial expressions to let band members know if something’s off about a song, or wrong with a monitor on stage.
Drummers Feel A Special Connection to The Music
There is also a certain stigma that drummers are extremely outgoing people. Some might even go so far as to call them crazy. Look at some of the most famous drummers of all time like Keith Moon, John Bonham, or even Animal from The Muppets. You can instantly find a story where they take things to the absolute limit.
This exuberance translates naturally from behind the scenes to the stage itself, and it can be where the need to pull weird looks originates. As they bash and crash their way through a set, their over-the-top nature makes them stand out to both fans and critics. It’s their way of saying, “Hey, look at me,” instead of the vocalist or guitar virtuoso naturally taking the spotlight.
Are There More Relaxed Drummers in the World?
Not all drummers pulling weird faces are crazed lunatics crashing cars into pools and trashing hotel rooms. Some even deliberately dial it back to help match the band’s image. A few examples include Ringo Starr or the tongue-in-cheek style of Dave Grohl in Nirvana’s “In Bloom” video. Many will match their faces to meet the band’s image, and a more relaxed style can also make them a hit with fans.
No matter how they conduct themselves on or off stage, the drummer’s facial expressions are another way they make their identity known to fans.
The Bottom Line
It does seem natural for drummers to pull weird faces while playing. It acts as a way for them to feel the song’s beat and help drive it forward throughout a performance. On top of that, it also shows the physicality that the role itself entails.
Of course, some will use it as a platform to increase their notoriety and make themselves a face to remember. No matter what the reason might by though, there are plenty of good reasons to understand now why drummers pull weird looks.