David’s Drum Off: #3 – Chris Pennie

As we near the end of my list of the best my favorite drummers let us do a little recap of what’s gone down so far (for those of you who’ve been following along).

I’ve mentioned some of the fastest and most brutal drummers alive, some of the most innovative and creative who appreciate the “less is more” ideal, and a few groundbreakers, the ones who have paved the way for a new generation of drummers and musicians alike.  Together they all personify what, to me, are the best values and talents a drummer can have nowadays.

My number 3 pick embodies all of those qualities and then some.  Chris Pennie of the famed experimental rock group Coheed and Cambria is the epitome of talent, virtuosity, and creativity.  I have to be honest, I can’t get into Coheed and Cambria.  I’ve tried many times and while I will admit they are very talented musicians and songwriters, something about their music just doesn’t resonate with me.  For this reason I’m not too familiar with Chris’ work with that band, but I am very familiar with his work as a founding member of one of the most groundbreaking and controversial bands extreme music has ever seen, Dillinger Escape Plan.

Due in no small part to Pennie’s unbelievable skill, DEP revolutionized heavy music with their first two albums Under the Running Board and Calculating Infinity back in the late ’90s.  The sound they cultivated then, and have been constantly refocusing and expanding on over the years, is almost indescribable.  It’s a bastion of odd time signatures, breakneck tempo changes, little to no “traditional flow”, all out noise, and picture perfect genre melding.  While a lot of people have trouble wrapping their heads around it and consequently write it off as incoherent noise, there is certainly a method to their madness and the combined talent of each of the members is mind boggling.

Pennie’s mind works like a rhythm calculator, shifting from one time signature to the next with ease while incorporating some of the most difficult and subtle rudiments and accents into his playing.  When you break it all down, he is a jazz drummer encapsulated in the world of extreme music.  He is constantly pushing the limits of what is considered “music” and takes everything to the furthest degree possible before pulling you back into more recognizable territory.  He is an absolute machine behind the kit and should never be taken lightly.

Even if none of this sounds appealing to you, I implore you to watch the video below.  While it may be more amazing to someone with a general understanding of drumming, it can certainly be appreciated by anyone who is a fan of music in any of its forms.

As you will notice, he is doing a cover of the classic Aphex Twin song “Come To Daddy”, which (the original electronic beat) is one of the most complex and insanely convoluted “beats” ever written and he plays it flawlessly.  It may not look all that hard, but trust me, it is.

If that tickles your funny bone as it does mine he’s got plenty of other videos (instructional and otherwise) on YouTube, so go check them out if you’re in the mood to be flipped upside down and shaken until your brain is nothing but mush.

Chris’ most recent work is available on Coheed and Cambria‘s 2010 album Year of the Black Rainbow.

The Top Ten:
#10. John Longstreth (Origin, Dim Mak, Gorguts)
#9. Kenneth Schalk (Candiria)
#8. John Merryman (Cephalic Carnage)
#7. Mario Duplantier (Gojira)
#6 – Flo Mournier (Cryptopsy)
#5. Danny Walker (Intronaut, Exhumed, Murder Construct)
#4. Gavin Harrison (Porcupine Tree, King Crimson)

Related Posts