The verse drum beat from the song Change (In The House Of Flies) by the Deftones is possibly one of the coolest and slinkiest drum grooves ever recorded. I still get goose bumps every time I hear it. It makes me want to run to my drum kit every time also!
Abe Cunningham is one of rocks greatest drummers. He has this very unique approach to the drums where his bass drum does most of the talking during songs. His snare drum patterns are usually very straight and simple (Beats 2 and 4)a, leaving the bass drum to support the music. This is not true of all Deftones tunes but certainly the majority.
He’s also capable of playing with great finesse and grace, mixing power with delicate ghost notes and drags. This song is a classic example of how Abe achieves this. Lets take a look at the groove now…
“Change (In The House Of Flies)” Famous Verse Drum Beat (Occurs 0:37)
The bars of verse groove that are played before and after this two bar sequence (which occurs at about 0:37 into the album version) are all pretty much the same, except for a few bass drum, drag notes and hi-hat differences. The two bar drum beat that occurs at 0:37 has been chosen because it includes all of the cool little ideas from previous bars as well as the awesome Tom-Tom note before the Snare Drum on Beat 4, which is explained later.
Abe is playing sixteenth notes with his right hand on the Hi-Hat throughout. The only time the sixteenths are interrupted are to play a thirty second note Snare Drum drag and some open Hi-Hats in the second bar. Later in the song (and earlier too) Abe plays Eighth Notes on the Hi-Hat and fills in the spaces (the ‘e’ and ‘a’ of each beat) with left handed Snare Drum ghost notes. This is very subtle and hard to hear precisely.
The Snare Drum backbeat is supplied on Beats 2 and 4 of both bars. The thirty second note Snare Drum drag is performed by the left hand on the ‘a’ of Beat 2. The right hand stops for a single sixteenth note and the left hand fills in that space with two quick and quiet Snare Drum ghost notes. This is a wonderfully subtle and slinky touch, especially when the drums are so high in the mix, as they are on this track!
Two Bass Drum notes are played on Beat 3 and the ‘e’ of Beat 3, at the same time as the right hand plays the Hi-Hat.
The left hand moves up to the Hi-Hat on the ‘a’ of Beat 4 to play an extra Hi-Hat note in between the right hand on the ‘a’ of Beat 4 and Beat 1 of the second bar. Effectively, this means that a quick RLR is played on the Hi-hat, starting on the ‘a’ of Beat 4 and ending on Beat 1 of the next bar.
Next, Abe breaks up the right hand sixteenth notes to open the Hi-Hats on the + of Beat 1, 2 and Beat 3. The left hand moves to the High Tom on the ‘a’ of Beat 3 to play a sixteenth note in between the the Hi-Hat opening on the + of Beat 3 and closing with the Snare Drum on Beat 4. This High Tom note is played just before the Snare Drum which is struck on Beat 4 with the right hand. This is a very cool sounding idea indeed!
A final Hi-Hat is opened on + of Beat 4 before moving into the first chorus of the song.
This is such a cool and slinky groove. I know you are going to have a lot of fun with this!