Drummer as Frontman

Quick, think of a band where the drummer is the frontman. Go ahead, I will give you a few minutes to mull it over. Why are you still struggling? It was a trick question of course. It is simply not possible for a drummer to be a frontman for any band. Drummers are sitting down; kicking and hitting resonant membranes with their feet and sticks. A frontman is standing up; running around; playing guitar or bass or at least air guitar at the appropriate moments; performing go jumps and scissor kicks. And singing (shouting, growling, wailing, etc.) A drummer cannot be a frontman because a drummer is sitting down.

Yes, there are bands where the drummer is singing. There are bands where the drummer not only sings well, but he or she also plays the drums well. Some of these bands are cool and sound pretty great. There are even bands where the stage arrangement has the full drum kit right up front, as silly as that might be to picture in your non-drummer, normal person head. But even in these benefit-of-the-doubt scenarios, one simply cannot successfully defend the silly idea that the drummer is a frontman.


Frontman and singer are not interchangeable words. They do not mean the same thing. Let’s start with the reasonable assumption that most bands have a singer. Not all of these bands have a front man. Depending on the context, a band with a singer but not a frontman is perfectly fine. However, if you have a drummer who is the singer, your band has no frontman, even when your drummer makes such nonsensical, outlandish claims to the contrary.

Avoiding the word “most”, I will state that many drummers harbor usually not-so-secret desires to be the frontman. I played with a drummer who was so eager for that frontman adulation that his very first question about any gig at a new venue was, “Is there a drum riser?” Sad indeed. This very same extremely skilled drummer would often play different beats and very different fills during our previously well-rehearsed live set so as to accentuate his mad skillz and stick twirls. Mostly stick twirls. Despite this self-described “sick stage presence, bro”, he was still just a drummer. Not a frontman.


One day we were kicking around the idea of covering Baby Got Back by Sir Mix A lot. Not an outstanding song, but recognizable and could be fun by adding punk rock guitars to the whole deal. Our rapper did not think this was a good idea. Our drummer immediately jumped up and sort of rapped his way through the first verse. Not good; but respectable enthusiasm paired with terrible flow. At our next gig, I stopped the show and invited Mr. Drummer out front to deliver the Baby Got Back rap. While he fake protested that he could not possibly do it (while taking out his in-ears and stepping out from the drums), he came up to the mic. Our rapper supplied the beatbox and then…nothing. A drummer like a deer in headlights.

Not a frontman.