photo manipulation & text by nacrowe
COUNT ME IN (RED & BLACK, 2021) is an interesting documentary because it is not so much concerned with the history of drumming per se (because it does dabble in the evolution of the instrument); its primary focus is the actionable pleasure of actually playing the drums. that driving PRIMAL CONNECTION to not only the other players, but the audience as well. it is the drums that establish and maintain that SACRED UNION and keep it pulsating in unison.
much of the film itself centers around interviews with STEPHEN PERKINS (JANE'S ADDICTION, PORNO FOR PYROS), CINDY BLACKMAN (LENNY KRAVITZ, SANTANA), CHAD SMITH (RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS) and JESS BOWEN (THE SUMMER SET) who all participate in a drum circle (with complete kits) at the film's conclusion. for me that active listening and seamless SYNCHRONOUS INTERPLAY between players is at the heart of what drumming is. it is something i witness firsthand in my youth in NIGERIA watching musicians there play in drum circles with talking drums; the collective INHALATION/EXHALATION as time signatures weave in and out of each other. im not religious but there is something SPIRITUAL about that.
the film does pay its due to those players that are key in the evolution from JAZZ to ROCK AND ROLL including the likes of ART BLAKEY, BUDDY RICH, ELVIN JONES, MAX ROACH, RINGO STARR (THE BEATLES), KEITH MOON (THE WHO), CHARLIE WATTS (THE ROLLING STONES), GINGER BAKER (CREAM) and JOHN BONHAM (LED ZEPPELIN).
that transition is interesting from JAZZ to the BRITISH INVASION bands is interesting because in essence the new breed thought like JAZZ drummers (in terms of FINESSE and SWING). but helped initiate a new lexicon that was the basis for all that followed. similarly the transition from the technically gifted drum gods of the 1970s to the more rudimentary PUNK drummers was an evolution in intent. there was a sense of going for the jugular and getting out just as quick, technicality being an unnecessary frill that distracted from the song's impact. interesting stuff. the drum becoming an instrument of PROPULSIVE AGGRESSION leading the charge.
watching this its very easy to nitpick about innovative and highly consequential past and current drummers that were overlooked including NEIL PEART (RUSH), DANNY CAREY (TOOL), TRAVIS BARKER (BLINK-182), MOE TUCKER (THE VELVET UNDERGROUND), BILLY COBHAM, DAVE LOMBARDO (SLAYER), ROY HAYNES, BILL WARD (BLACK SABBATH), ZACHARY CHARLES HILL (HELLA), TITO PUENTE and MEG WHITE (THE WHITE STRIPES). but i feel such criticism is not warranted because creating such an exhaustive list was not the intent of the film (although the lack any mention of latin percussionists is glaring). COUNT ME IN is much more involved with the joy of playing and those players that influenced the drummers being interviewed, which also included STEWART COPELAND (THE POLICE), TOPPER HEADON (THE CLASH), SAMANTHA MALONEY (HOLE, EAGLES OF DEATH METAL), CLEM BURKE (BLONDIE), TAYLOR HAWKINS (FOO FIGHTERS), NICKO MCBRAIN (IRON MAIDEN), RATT SCABIES (THE DAMNED), BEN THATCHER (ROYAL BLOOD), EMILY DOLAN DAVIES (THE DARKNESS, BRYAN FERRY), ROGER TAYLOR (QUEEN) and IAN PAICE (DEEP PURPLE).
i feel this film was successful in that not only celebrated the ARTISTIC POTENTIAL of the instrument, it also examined its nuances by including a consultation by JESS BOWEN with ROSS GARFIELD, a.k.a. THE DRUM DOCTOR. based on her needs he curates a kit that she utilizes in the studio at the close of the film. i think most people would that that a drum kit is a drum kit is a drum kit, but really once you get into sizes, materials and the vintage of the pieces the whole affair becomes quiet SUBTLE and INTIMATE. you really get a sense of the DYNAMIC RANGE of the instrument through this process, and not just SONICALLY but EMOTIONALLY.
and that was my big takeaway from the film. that and hearing the drummer from my favorite band (JANE'S ADDICTION) talking about why he loves his instrument so much. i was more than pleased to watch and learn that STEPHEN PERKINS was such a central figure in this documentary. so im biased. that said this is a film definitely worth checking out even if you cant keep a beat (like me).
thats probably why i play guitar.