Listening through recordings of my drumming from 5+ years ago, I sometimes feel a little pang like, "I don't know if I can still write stuff like that." On one hand, it's cool that I can look back at older stuff I wrote and not be utterly embarrassed by it. On the other, it does make me wonder if somehow I lost some chops between here and there.
It's kind of a weird thing to think. I haven't taken any significant time off of playing. My musical tastes and listening habits are at least as broad, if not more so, as they were years ago. I'm playing longer and more frequent live sets than I did at that point in time. What's the deal, why do I feel like I lost some technicality?
I was thinking about this and the part of Almost Famous (2000) where Billy Crudup's character is talking with the young reporter kid about what rock and roll is. His take is that rock and roll is about what you leave out of it, referencing a single "woo" in a Marvin Gaye song and how there was only the one.
At the risk of sounding overly self-aggrandizing, that's where I've grown and matured as a musician over the past several years. I'm not trying as hard to fit as many notes into a lick as I can, rather I try to find only the ones that NEED to be there.
Part of that is heavily influenced by what I'm listening to as well. The past 4 years or so have been led by my exploration of The Dear Hunter. Nick Crescenzo, drummer for The Dear Hunter, is incredibly adept at fitting in only the notes that belong. Learning his stuff gives me fits because his grooves are so open and interestingly accented. He weaves intricate accents and technical drumming into so few notes, that when he does throw in a really packed-in fill, it's that much more frustrating to try and learn! See "Waves" and "A Night On The Town" off of "Act IV - Rebirth In Reprise" and "1878" from "Act I - The Lake South, The River North" for great examples of this diversity.
I still listen to a lot of the really tech stuff, like Protest The Hero (holy smokes, Chris Adler's work on Volition) and Between The Buried And Me, that I used to, but I'm not often writing tech metal parts so I'm striving for an approach that better suits the music I'm playing.