5 Tommy Lee Drum Tips
These 5 Tommy Lee drumming tips will start you on the path to pounding the skins in the manner of Motley Cruë’s resident rhythmic madman. Young drummers just learning the instrument will be able to pick up quickly on Lee's more basic stylings, while advanced drummers will have fun playing around with his complex soloing.
- Double Bass Attack – Tommy Lee is a vocal proponent of the double kick drum. He goes all out with a two bass drum kick, rather than futzing around with a double pedal on a single drum. However, Lee differs from metal drummers like Joey Jordinson or Gene Hoglan in that he doesn’t hammer the beat with double bass patterns. Rather, he using them sparingly as accents or to create complex patterns in drum solos. Master the occasional use of the double bass drum and you’ll have this Tommy Lee drum tip down.
- Accents on the Beat – On Motley Cruë, one of the most notable aspects of Tommy Lee’s drumming is the accents he brings to the beat. He hits crash symbols and rolling tom fills at the end or beginning of measures and patterns to accent the natural patterns of a song. If you’re looking for Tommy Lee drum tips, this is a great place to start, and a skill that can be mastered by drummers of all levels. It’s a simple technique but effective technique.
- Pocket Drumming – When tracking songs, Tommy Lee is very much a pocket player. Though he possesses the technical skill to play intricate polyrhythm, he saves that for his soloing. On record, Lee plays relatively simple beats that fit into simply time signatures and are easy on the ears. This type of drumming serves the dynamics of rock music by keeping all of the instruments in sync, as opposed to the complex patterns of a drummer like Mastodon’s Brann Dailor, who plays off and around the beat. Focus on the basics of keeping time, and you’ll learn this Tommy Lee drum tip.
- Intricate Soloing – Despite being a simple, obvious drummer on record, Lee is a polyrhythmic soloist. His solos often start with either simple or complex but slow patterns. When Lee begins with simple patterns—say, triplets on the bass drum and a straight 4/4 on a tom or a symbol, he makes the pattern gradually more complicated by changing time signatures with each hand and his feet and switching from crash to tom to ride to cow bell during the course of an off-time pattern. When Lee begins slowly with a complex pattern, he plays it at gradually increasing tempos until his arms whirl like those of an octopus. Playing intricate solos is one of your Tommy Lee drum tips.
- Showmanship – Lee is a consummate performer and showman. When learning to play drums like the Cruë’s backbone, you’ll have to work on your moves, too. Tommy twirls his sticks, makes ludicrous faces and is often writhing like a worm behind the kit. During solos, he engages the audience with dialogue and, at the height of the Cruë’s popularity, even hung upside down over the audience. Even if you don’t have hydraulic equipment to suspend yourself from the ceiling of an arena, you can master this Tommy Lee drum tip by working on your moves.