"A drummer's job is to use big sticks and beat on animal skins stretched across round pieces of wood. This takes absolutely no formal musical training to accomplish, of which the drummer has none anyway. To put it frankly, drummers just aren't too long out of the caves. They are primal, and fundamentally flawed in their genetic code."
Drums connect with our primal selves. Maybe this is why most drummers will have animalistic tendencies, or if the current universe allows, actually BE animals...
This is technically Truth in Television
(since humans are, by scientific definition, animals), but in the non-literal sense this isn't always the case. Real Life
instrumentalists can often pick their instrument in accordance with their personality. And regardless of any personality implications, drums sets require the largest and most muscular movements of any instrument in a modern/rock music repertoire, and therefore it really helps to be physically fit.
When dealing with a Five-Man Band
, The Big Guy
usually becomes the drummer.
Compare Cymbal-Banging Monkey
, Dumb and Drummer
. See also Nobody Loves the Bassist
for another example of a band-member stereotype.
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- The Cadbury's commercial with a gorilla drummer.
- The Energizer Bunny, a toy rabbit playing a large (for its size) bass drum that keeps going... and going... and going...
Anime & Manga
- Nishida, drummer of the eponymous Detroit Metal City. He isn't just an animal when drumming, his whole character is, um, well, only driven by basic needs.
- Veffidas, the Zentradi drummer of Fire Bomber in Macross 7. On the other hand, despite being one of the main characters she has the least lines of dialogue in the entire series; not because she appears rarely but because she's The Stoic. While the others do the talking, she's practicing drum soloes in the background on the nearest wall with her sticks.
- Downplayed with Ritsu from K-On!. She's the most extroverted girl in the band and will do things she wants to do (sometimes to the dismay of Mio), but she's nowhere close to other examples on this page.
- Jeremy in Zits tries to get Pierce to be in his band as a drummer because he says "All drummers are jerks". (This was before Pierce's Flanderization.) To his credit though, Pierce is quite hyperactive while drumming.
Films — Animation
- In the Norweigan film Pinchcliffe Grand Prix, the gorilla Emanuel Desperados is a literal example as he guest stars in a band at the unveiling of the Il Tempo Gigante, naturally as a drummer.
Films — Live-Action
- Brought up in the Tamara Drewe movie.
- In The Commitments, both drummers of the group fit this to a tee.
- Hinted at in "The Drummer" when Sid learns from the drummers in the mountains that drumming is about control not anger.
- Subverted in That Thing You Do! where drummer Guy Patterson is probably the sweetest, most grounded member of the band. Their manager Mr. White plays up the image though dubbing him the "bad boy" of the group and creating the alter ego "Shades" accordingly.
- Robert "Fish" Fishman, the main character of The Rocker, to the point of his former bandmates being kind of terrified of him.
- The succession of drummers in Spinal Tap, somethnig of a running joke, all of whom die in bizarre accidents, ranging from spontaneous human combustion to an unspecified "gardening accident".
- There are several jokes involving drummers:
Question: What does it mean when a drummer is drooling from both corners of his mouth?
Answer: The stage is level.
Question: What should you do when there's a drummer at your door?
Answer: Pay him for the pizza.
Question: What do you call a drummer who broke up with his girlfriend?
Question: What's got three legs and a twat at the top?
Answer: A drum stool.
Question: What do you call a person who hangs around musicians?
Answer: A drummer.
Question: What's the difference between a drummer and an extra-large pizza?
Answer: The pizza can feed a family of 4.
Question: What did the drummer say just before he got fired?
Answer: Hey guys, let's try one of my songs now!
- Epic drummer at the wrong gig.
- This is why the tradition-bound bards of Llamedos disapprove of percussion in Soul Music. The Band With Rocks, in having a troll for a drummer ("I hit dem wit der hammers"), might be an example.
- In Chorus Skating, Jon-Tom finds the drummer in a displaced Earth band... easy to identify.
- One Giftedly Bad Nightside band has a werewolf drummer. On breaks, he shifts and goes on searching for fleas and licking his balls. "Presumably, because he could."
- Keith Fucking Moon. His antics included blowing up his drumkit on stagenote , driving his Lincoln Continental into swimming pools, and getting banned from hotels for trashing them. He's been quoted as claiming he's clumsy rather than crazy; he never meant to trash hotel rooms, it just happened... Which would be contradicted by both his reported fondness for blowing up hotel room toilets with cherry bombs, M80s and dynamite. That Other Wiki also mentions an anecdote in which he's being driven from a hotel to the airport. He tells the limo driver to go back because he forgot something. What did he forget? To toss his room's TV set into the hotel pool. Clumsy? Riiight.
- John Fucking Bonham. Moon liked to trash hotel rooms; Bonzo liked to trash people.
- Ginger Baker. Known for being aggressive when playing, but also in general. Was known for getting into fights with bassist Jack Bruce, often on-stage.
- Phil "Philthy Animal" Taylor. Need to say more?
- Tribal drums aside, Gene Krupa could quite possibly be the Trope Maker, or at least the Trope Codifier. The man literally invented the drum solo in this song. Before him, drums were used to keep the beat and occasionally throw in a quick lick or two to punctuate things.
- Buddy Rich embodied this trope on-and off stage. A beast on the drums, and a monster to his band (audio is NSFW). Buddy Rich vs. Animal in an old-school drum battle.
- Tommy Lee from Mötley Crüe, probably best known for his wild sexual activities with groupies and even Pamela Anderson. He is also a crazy party animal, possibly the rowdiest of the entire band. That is saying something, considering Nikki Sixx once partied so hard he died... and then got better. And THEN wrote a song about it.
- British heavy metal band Samson (the one where Bruce Dickinson started his career) had Thunderstick, a drummer who wore a black leather S&M mask and played his drums from inside a cage onstage.
- Heavy metal band Raven was once described as "Two brothers and a lunatic". Said lunatic was drummer Rob "Wacko" Hunter, a man who performed wearing hockey gear onstage. The other guys in the band discovered him in a music store where he was testing cymbals by banging his head into them.
- The Ferals. In the occasional music thing, Derren the dog was the drummer. It became more prevalent with Feral TV.
- Kita, the drummer of Lordi, is portrayed as being a Mi-Go from the Cthulhu Mythos, which would make him a literal application of the trope.
- Liberty DeVitto, drummer for Billy Joel. Billy tells this anecdote that helps illustrate Liberty's personality.
- Dave Grohl is an odd case. His drumming style actually looks a lot like Animal from The Muppets (and Grohl in fact played the stand-in for Animal in the 2011 film as something of a Lampshade Hanging) and the music styles that he's most famous for are hard rock, punk, metal and grunge, but he is also a subversion of the trope, being so famous for his off-stage affability that the title "Nicest Man in Rock Music" follows him around. And then again his oddball sense of humour has him often majorly playing up to this trope especially in Fresh Pots.
- Another good example is the drummer of Grohl's band, Taylor Hawkins.
- Dennis Wilson of The Beach Boys, to a T. At the T.A.M.I Show, while performing "I Get Around", he actually shattered a drumstick mid-song.
- Stewart Copeland of The Police has been known to bust a snare open in the middle of a number.
- Rick Allen can work up a sweat behind his kit (and apparently, commit domestic abuse) with only one arm.
- Paul Hester of Crowded House played up this trope although his actual personality was less wild.
- Darren King of Mute Math comes off less as an animal and more as a robot, combining computer-like precision with raw mechanical power. He's been known to drop a stick in mid-performance and complete the rest of the section with one hand with no noticeable difference. Every fan who sees the band live for the first time will eventually have that moment where they realize, "Wait a minute — that part of the song WASN'T an electronic loop?" As David Letterman once remarked: "How 'bout that drummer? Lookit that guy!"
- In a funny subversion, Max Weinberg, long-time drummer for Bruce Springsteen seemed more straight laced and less colorful than the rest of the E Street Band. Then he became the bandleader for Late Night With Conan O'Brien where they developed a comic persona for him which was more perverse and disturbing as this fake PSA and this skit demonstrate.
- Ian Paice of Deep Purple is known for his explosive drumming style (see intro to the title track of "Fireball", all of the title track of "Burn" and the second half of "Space Truckin'" from the drum solo onwards) but is known for almost never talking during interviews and being generally very reserved. Given that much of Deep Purple's lineup problems were due to the presence of huge egos in the group (Vocalists David Coverdale and Ian Gillan, and most notably guitarist Ritchie Blackmore), it is perhaps not a surprise that he is the only remaining founding member of the band.
- Mike Wengren of Disturbed is a completely straight example. He's not just the craziest member of the band, his style often plays with booming tribal-beats and he's well-known for his bass-kick speed and polyrhythm. He's not just an animal himself, he invites you to become one.
- Somewhat of a subversion; Nick Mason has always been the quiet one of the group, but his drumming style could be considered wild at times, especially on rockers like "Interstellar Overdrive" and "One of These Days". Also, on the one song he "sang" on in the band's whole career, "One Of These Days", Mason had only one line, growled through a ring modulator: "One of these days, I'm going to cut you into little pieces!"
- KISS takes this literally with the Cat (Peter Criss, then Eric Singer). Eric Carr never wore the Cat make-up; he was the Fox. And yet Eric Singer's style is more like Peter Criss', jazz-oriented and very relaxed and technical. It was Eric Carr, the Fox, who was the rampaging rock drummer of the band.
- Aerosmith's Joey Kramer is both an example and a subversion. Onstage, he pulls all the funny faces and during his solos he tends to abandon his sticks and use his hands, forearms, elbows, and head to drum. Then you read his book and his Twitter and discover he's a quiet, shy gentleman who mostly tweets about his wife and Labrador puppy.
- Dan Konopka of Ok Go is a notable subversion: his nickname is "Danimal" and he's gone face to face in a hardcore staring contest with the muppet Animal, but he's actually a pretty quiet and easygoing guy.
- Dream Theater have had two; original drummer Mike Portnoy and current drummer Mike Mangini both play with considerable energy and tremendous skill. Mangini currently holds the world record for the most strokes in 60 seconds.
- Mike Smith from Suffocation was one of the pioneers of brutal death metal drumming and renowned for both his technical skill and focus on pounding the shit out of his kit to make every note hit the listener like a sledgehammer, but there was also his infamous temper and proclivity towards violence, something that caused Terrance Hobbs to force him to take anger management classes for in order to be allowed to stay in the band.
- Nicko McBrain of Iron Maiden (he even invented a technique where he kicks the snare drum instead of using a pedal!), helped by the fact that he's Crazy Awesome.
- Current drummer of The Mars Volta Deantoni Parks is known to pull some very primal facial expressions.
- Similar statements can be made about Joey Castillo of Queens of the Stone Age. As one youtube user put it: "Every band should have Tarzan on the drums".
- Zach Hill, drummer of Hella, El Grupo Nuevo de Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, and Death Grips, plays so hard he wears out drums faster than usual. He also injures himself a lot playing, even once having to take a hiatus because of a drumming related wound.
- John Longstreth, while known for his almost inhumanly calm and composed live performances in spite of the incredibly difficult material he's playing, is also known for his tendency to make bizarre faces at the camera.
- Matt Morley of Everything Else.
- Terry Bozzio, Frank Zappa's most famous drummer.
- Absu's Proscriptor McGovern. Also the lead vocalist, he combines this trope with Large Ham, best exemplified here.
- Mimi Parker of Low averts this, largely because her role as a vocalist is sometimes more important than her role as a drummer.
- John Weathers of Gentle Giant is an interesting case; he thrashes about wildly whenever he drums, but given the rhythmic complexity of the material he performs, this belies his ability.
- Just guess what instrument GG Allin got his start by playing.
- Averted with Neil Peart from Rush. He is well known for being The Stoic of the band, and his face while drumming would convince you that he was filing accounting paperwork or something. Similar comments apply to Charlie Watts of The Rolling Stones.
- Reanimator from The Protomen is constantly climbing on his stool, drums, fans, and items on the stage, either posing dramatically or leaping down to hit his drums with so much force that he frequently snaps his drumsticks. Photos of him make it appear that he can defy the laws of gravity, frequently photobombing above everyone's heads. There is now a Meme about it called Get Down From There Reanimator, where fans caption pictures nagging him to get down from wherever he is and play sweet jams.
- Alex Bent is known for his manic live performances and equally manic and unpredictable playing style (he's basically a gospel and fusion drummer playing death metal), as shown here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFSQf0ynsZg&feature=relmfu.
- Ringo Starr is a notable subversion, a fairly-low key sort generally regarded as the Nice Guy of The Beatles. That doesn't mean he didn't occasionally indulge in wacky drummer-type antics, however; check out the video for "Day Tripper". He has a saw.
- Space rockers Hawkwind are renowned for their bewildering number of personnel changes over the years - at least thirty-five and possibly more members have been through the band. At the last count. sixteen of them have been drummers, including the legend Ginger Baker and Terry Ollis, who insisted on playing gigs naked, arguing that if stage dancer The Amazing Stacia could get her kit off, he could too.
- The late Jimmy "The Rev" Sullivan of Avenged Sevenfold also counts. Just check some of their backstage scenes during their concert tours for proof.
- Yoshiki Hayashi of X Japan counts as a subversion - he's one of the most attractive-looking drummers in heavy metal (being the Trope Maker for Visual Kei), and at first glance, isn't the type of guy who would go crazy on the drumkit. Yet, he is frequently listed as one of the worlds' finest metal drummers due to his immense speed (when he was still in top form, he was one of the few drummers back then who can hit speeds of 800 BPM, which is ungodly, even by today's standards), stamina (extremely long drum solos are his hallmark; one of the most well-known lasting12 minutes), and technical skill (even after his injuries got so severe, he still plays with the high level of precision he was always known for). He is also known for violently trashing expensive drum setups after shows, as well as bars, hotels and even people.
- Animal from The Muppet Show was apparently inspired by Keith Moon of The Who.
- in the 2011 Muppets film, Fozzie was found working in Reno with a "tribute" band called The Moopets made entirely of Suspiciously Similar Substitutes of the real Muppets with the exception of Animal, who was impersonated by Dave Grohl.
- In The Banana Splits, the group's drummer was a monkey named Bingo. And an elephant played the keyboard, so it's not much of a stretch.
- Guitar Hero
- The band's drummer is a big, brutish-looking lunk.
- The loading screens take quite a few shots at drummers as well. (As well as singers, but drummers seem to get it worse.)
- "Don't let your drummer handle the money."
- "Don't give your drummer a microphone. It'll only end in tears."
- "Well, maybe a drum machine will show up to practice on time."
- In Primal, after watching one Undine brutally attacking the corpse of another, Jen says, "Lewis's drummer gets like that after his fifth shot of jack."
- Viewtiful Joe has a music video after the end of the game that extends this trope to the drummer and lead guitarist.
- The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask
- The drums are given to Link's Goron form, which is essentially The Big Guy of Link's various forms.
- As well in the band of Zoras, the biggest one is... Dun dun dun, der Drummer.
- World of Warcraft: In-universe, Blizzard's Heavy Mithril band Level 70 Elite Tauren Chieftain has Chief Thunderskins, a Tauren (bull-man) as their drummer.
- Subverted in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City where Love Fist's drummer is, by far, the smartest member of the band (and the only one capable of defusing a bomb that was planted in the band's limo.
- Donkey Kong plays Bongo.
- The drummer of the Fake Band "Midnight Riders" in Left 4 Dead 2 is nicknamed Ox, and is the biggest and hairiest of a big, hairy lot.
- Persona 4 Golden: The Inaba Scooby Gang gets roped into putting on a concert at the local department store, and to no one's surprise, Thuggish Kanji gets stuck with the drums.
- Averted in Kira-Kira, as Chie is one of the most rational and calm members of the band.
- In the Homestar Runner universe, The Cheat plays drums for the band Cool Tapes. He also DJs and plays keyboards. Actually arguably a subversion, depending on how you look at it: The Cheat is the literal animal of the band, but Strong Mad (who plays bass guitar) is the Big Guy and the most primal one.
- Tailsteak's comic Band is about a band named Band who, after losing their drummer, find a squid-like being in one of their houses, name it Tyler, find it has a perfect rhythm sense, and put it in their band. Of course, it's probably more complicated than that.
- Taz MaDara from Dominic Deegan is a pretty good example.
- Subverted with Hannelore from Questionable Content. She's quite sweet, and likes drumming because it appeals to her OCD. To quote her, it's "like counting with your whole body".
- Complicated Ness Every living being is an animal in the world of Complicated Ness.
- SpongeBob SquarePants' band, SpongeBob and the Hi-Seas, has the village-idiot character Patrick as its drummer.
- Jabberjaw is the drummer in the Neptunes.
- In the Scooby-Doo movie Legend of the Vampire, the gang decides to go undercover as the band "The Meddling Kids". Out of five mostly human candidates, it's the dog that drums.
- Subverted in Metalocalypse, where Pickles the drummer is the only member of Dethklok to be even close to totally civilized and marginally intelligent. Of course, he's also been a singer and a guitarist in his time. Ironically, he came closest to living out this trope back during his stint as lead singer for Snakes 'N Barrels.
- Darkwing Duck features a very short-term attempt at a "rock" band from Gosalyn, a rambunctious Tomboy on vocals; Honker, her nerdy best friend on guitar (whose music teacher considered form superior to function); and Honker's bigger Jerkass brother Tank on drums. Gosalyn's justification? "You were born to hit stuff!"
- Foxxy's musical number in Drawn Together featured Ling-Ling, a Pokémon-expy, on drums.
- An episode of Family Guy had the family play as a band for a little while. Brian, the dog, was the drummer. Something of a subversion, as Brian is one of the calmest and most sensible characters on the show. During THAT time period, anyway...
- Generation O!'s drummer was a kangaroo.
- The Bremen Avenue Experience stars a Garage Band made of Funny Animals. The drummer is a rooster named Tanner.
- Subverted like hell in the Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers episode "Battle of the Bandits", where the crew had to infiltrate a galactic rock show (it was The Eighties, that's the only excuse that can be given). It's Zachary that gets shoved on drums.
- Also subverted on The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan; the band's drummer is the mature, responsible Henry and in one episode the mild-mannered Tom had a short turn at the drums.
- An episode of Viva Piñata, "On a Sour Note", had the gang and their band become popular due to the addition of an uncontrollable and feral sour pinata. Eventually the sour literally breaks out of its shell and becomes a mild-mannered, cultured ordinary pinata, rendering the band unpopular.
- Buford, The Bully of Phineas and Ferb, is usually the drummer when the characters play as a band, although it should be noted that he's a Card-Carrying Villain.
- Subverted, though, by Swampy from Love Handel. When he wasn't in the band, he was a librarian.
- Subverted in Regular Show when the audience finds out that the man behind Heir to the Throne's famous drum solo was none other than BENSON, Mordecai's and Rigby's boss.
- Whenever Animaniacs requires a character to play drums, it's always the aptly-named Wakko. (Fridge Brilliance in that his voice is a Ringo Starr impersonation.)