04/06/21

Pete Thomas The Songwriting Drummer

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When it comes to greatness in drumming, it takes more than just knowing how to hit drums. It even goes beyond the talent and mastery of many drumming approaches.

And this is where Pete Thomas comes in as a real example of greatness. He was a selfless drummer who believed in helping anyone who came through his path.

One good example is his work with Elvis Costello. When Costello shifted from wiry pub-rock witnessed in “My Aim it True” to a more vibrant punk frenzy in “This Year’s Model,” he was not sure to make it were it not for Pete Thomas.  It was perhaps Mitch Mitchell’s perception of the drummer that made him believe in the tactics Thomas brought on board.

pete thomas
pete thomas

Thomas was not just interested in making a name for himself. He has a certain personality that pulled everyone around him closer, pushing them to their limits until they were successful. This is the same energy he applied in the earliest Attraction records.

His playing techniques made the sound like it was really built for the beats and had been sharpened over a long period.  Thomas played in the same manner that Elvis sang, making the vocal and the instruments travel together in perfect harmony. He uses a pent-up-then-spurted anger method, combined with a hesitant stutter on the kick or the snare.

This would always suggest a failed attempt to refrain an inevitable outburst. It takes a lot of energy and talent to pull off such a move. Many drummers have lost the singer’s voice within the explosions for failing to attain such a level of precision.

And when the performance was over, Elvis says he would always feel as fresh as he began singing without any strain on his voice. That was just the kind of drummer Thomas was.

pete thomas with elvis costello
pete thomas with elvis costello

The best example of this technique appears in the intro of (I Don’t Want to Go to) Chelsea. The incredible combination of clear voices and instrumentals that comes out will leave you satisfied with the quality. As if that is not enough, every emotion is defined with the setup, making it sound new every time you listen to it.

Thomas was an innovative drummer who never relied on the same style but always improved on what was seen as normal.

Costello’s songwriting skills took another turn, getting him onto a large platform of demand. All along, Thomas remained his more trusted rhythmic partner, defining every song that came up, hence building a long-term partnership.

A few years ago, Costello posted on his tweet, saying that Pete is a rock and roll drummer of his generation by a huge distance. The way he handled rhythm and kept time was like nothing any other drummer would have done. His personality is another reason he has remained iconic across generations.

If you want to know everything about the best drumming methods, this is one of the drummers you can learn from. He takes what is already there, but possibly boring, and turns it into something new.

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