San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

July 22nd, 2008
Hap Mansfield’s Blog: Bang the drum slowly

I was re-reading an interview in ChinMusic Magazine (the only mag I know of that is devoted to rock music and baseball) conducted by The Nephews’ Robb Abramson (not the hip-hop Nephews, the This World Nephews) with San Diego Padres closer Trevor Hoffman.

Abramson was firmly convinced that the shortstop position on a ball team is related to the drummer in a band. Hoffman (and I) disagree. Hoffman said he thought it would be the catcher (here, here!)  ChinMusic staffers have had this rock band/baseball position thing goin’ for many years. It’s fun to think about. You can find the Hoffman interview at

Right after I read the Hoffman piece, I read an article on BBC News about a study done by Dr. Marcus Smith of Chichchester University which revealed that rock drummers need to have a higher fitness and stamina level than soccer players.

The study is done in the hopes of convincing over-weight, couch-potato, small fries become more active and do something besides play video games. Apparently those Guitar Hero and Rock Band games have not made the uncomfortable inroads in England that they have made in the U.S. I say uncomfortable because it is obvious to one and all that if a game participant used a real guitar (or drums or – coming soon! – lighting effects) as much as they played the video-controller counterparts, they would be very good at playing, well, a real, rather than a plastic instrument.

I don’t get it. How can one like the sound of the guitar without liking the actual guitar itself? It’s like licking a picture of a lollypop and calling it candy. (Parenthetically, I once saw Ginger Baker play a stack of packing boxes with a brush and even that was more like real music.)

The Smith study concludes that rock drummers really do get a workout and can burn 400-600 calories per hour just playing the drums. Dr. Smith, it turns out, is a Blondie fan, so he asked their drummer Clem Burke to take part.

The study found that rock drummers, contrary to the stuff we’ve always thought about the “rock lifestyle,” have to be in peak physical condition. While soccer players may play 40 to 50 games per year, Burke was noted to have played 100 sets per year lasting at least 90 minutes.

I have to say that this gives me new respect for the over-rated, much touted Neal Peart (Rush) and explains a lot more about the death of Keith Moon (The Who). Quite frankly, I’ve always thought that the best drummer I’ve ever heard in any rock band (save for the aforementioned Baker) was Adam (Atom) Willard of Rocket From The Crypt. I have a soft spot for Topper Headon (The Clash) and John Tempesta (White Zombie), too.

However, if I were on a ball team, I would not want any of those guys catching for me. Maybe Abramson is right. Maybe they’re shortstops. Can you see A-Rod in Three Doors Down?

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