By Nate Jackson
What would music be without a beat, a rhythm or a backbone? Though they qualify as the first instruments ever created, the drums are probably the last thing most music fans can live without. And while we worship plenty of drummers in modern music, there are some Gods of Thunder who might actually deserve to be struck by lightning. It’s only natural that having the biggest instrument in the band will lead to some smug attitudes, inflated egos and dumbass behavior. But when it comes to narrowing down the douchiest drummers of all time, there’s a handful of them that definitely stick out. Here is our list of the 10 Douchiest Drummers of All Time.
See also: Top 10 Douchiest Guitarists of All Time
10) Terry Bozzio
Terry Bozzio doesn’t necessarily come across as the biggest egomaniac in interviews or even during his concerts. It’s more or less his monstrous drum kit that is the real douchebag in this situation. Why someone would EVER need 30 toms and two dozen cymbals to play the drums in ANY genre is beyond us. And why does every solo begin with this obligatory need to tap every fucking gong and wind chime he owns? We’re willing to concede that anyone good enough to play drums for Frank Zappa deserves a little extra room to stretch out. That doesn’t mean create a kit that looks like something you could strap wheels on and drive around on the set of Mad Max.
9. Meg White
Most drummers are familiar with the term “ride cymbal.” In the case of Meg White from the White Stripes, it always seemed to feel as though she was playing a free ride more than anything else. Someone tell us, does this woman even qualify as a drummer? At times, watching her try to keep a beat behind Jack White’s furious blues guitar was like throwing a cat in the pool and watching it try to swim. It was painful. Sure, the White Stripes always prided themselves on keeping things simple. But really? That simple? There are literally thousands of women who could have made the White Stripes more formidable in the rhythm department. Does that mean add a bunch of crazy drum solos, bells and whistles? No. But if you’re gonna play virtually the same beat for every song, play it well.
8. Travis Barker
For the past couple of decades, Travis Barker’s status as the official bro dog of the drum world has gone unsurpassed. His road to becoming a douchebag drummer really started to take off after he left the Aquabats in 1997. Whether he was mercilessly trying to cram hip-hop drum solos into Blink-182’s pop-punk sound during live shows, fulfilling his quenchless desire for tattoos and Cadillacs (and still can’t get a hood pass), or starting his clothing line Famous Stars and Straps–worn by bros the world over–Barker has been on a full-time mission to become the embodiment of all things 909. Siiiiick.
7. The Mad Drummer
Ever seen someone so ridiculously flashy it actually hurts your eyes to watch them play? Say hello to this guy, Steven Moore (a/k/a the Mad Drummer). After becoming a viral YouTube sensation in 2010 with the above video, he went from being an anonymous stick man in a glittery yellow jacket to the cover boy of Modern Drummer, Drummer World and plenty of other publications. It was a Cinderella story for a struggling musician from West Virginia, until we realized he might have to keep this shtick going for the rest of his career in order to stay relevant. And even though all the chops and samurai stick twirls are awesome, it feels about as organic and natural as watching a seal balance a ball on its nose.
6. Patrick Carney
In a lot of ways, we’re happy for Patrick Carney of the Black Keys. It’s not often that the drummer who seems to barely speak for the bulk of his career in the spotlight gets as much shine as he’s gotten from the media in the past year and a half. Most of it, aside from all success at the Grammys, has been negative. And while we’ve definitely talked our fair share of shit about the likes of Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga and Nickelback, it seems funny that he’s doing it at a time when the Black Keys have been the newly crowned kings of FM stadium rock. They’re basically all in the same league, but he refuses to realize it. And we can’t help but feel as though Carney’s following in the footsteps of Lars Ulrich with his verbal stance against Spotify; lashing out at its creator, Sean Farmer; and refusing to put the band’s music on the site. Wonder how long that’s gonna last. Mostly we just wish he’d save some of of that attitude and energy for the next record. As rudimentary as his style is, he can’t really afford to waste any of it.
5. Phil Collins
With respect to drummers who make the transition to the front of the stage, no one really did it with as much panache as Phil Collins. But for every stone-cold Genesis jam he produced (“Tonight, Tonight, Tonight” ), there were some incredibly douchey synth drum fuckeries à la “Sussudio” that became shorthand for ’80s cheesiness (unless you’re Patrick Bateman). We realize we should probably have a lot more respect for the guy who created the Lion King Tarzan theme song and has sold more than 100 million records worldwide. And the drum solo for “In the Air Tonight” is the most immortal thing he’s ever written. But we don’t feel bad about saying that the bulk of his solo catalog after Genesis should only be listened to on a Carnival Cruise that’s setting sail to 1985.
4. Steven Adler
Rarely does the desire for rehab warrant the title of douchebag. After all, trying to remedy a drug addition is tough enough when you’re a normal person, let alone a rock star from the ’80s (seriously, they don’t even make addicts like that anymore). But when it comes to airing all of your skeletons in public for the sake of a reality TV show, no one does it better than Steven Adler. In the past several years, we’ve watched former Guns N’ Roses drummer and recent Rock & Roll Hall of Famer fall off the wagon for two seasons of Dr. Drew’s Celebrity Rehab, as well as the VH1 spinoff Sober House. There’s an honest attempt at sobriety for you. At a certain point, we wondered if being a career junkie was paying more bills than being a drummer. One ’80s addiction we’re glad he didn’t give up is that sweet feathered hairdo.
3. Animal from the Muppets
Sheesh, could you think of anyone who’s more of a scene stealer? Exhibit A: This video.
2. Tommy Lee
Of all the hair-metal rockers who went on to do incredibly underwhelming things after the ’80s, no one has tried to hang on to youth quite as hard as Tommy Lee. He has always had a strong desire to be down with the kids. Rap rock? He was all over that shit in the ’90s. The chance to go back to college as part of a NBC reality TV show? He did that, too. Now, he’s busy riding the EDM bandwagon in a little group called Electronic Mayhem and ingratiating himself with DJs including the likes of Sharam and Deadmau5. Seriously, is there anything this guy won’t do to distract from the fact that he’s now 50 years old and hopelessly pretending to be 25?
Of course, young behavior was often intermingled with some downright nastiness (i.e., spousal abuse, punching out photographers, etc.), which is why he deserves to actually be on this list. But every time we hear about some new head-scratching Tommy Lee venture, we can’t help wishing he’d chill the fuck out and just enjoy being remembered as the guy who revolutionized the rotating drum cage and homemade celebrity sex tapes.
1. Lars Ulrich
Who can deny that Lars Ulrich is the goddamn archetype of drummer douchebaggery? We’re not even talking about his legendary dust-up with Napster (after all, stealing pennies from a billionaire is still stealing, right?). Now, when it comes to Ulrich’s place on the list, it boils down to simple formula: the loudest mouth = the weakest link. James Hetfield has a voice that just about changed the face of metal; Kirk Hammett and the late Cliff Burton are solidified as two of the finest axemen to ever shred on the guitar and the bass. What can we really say about Ulrich’s drumming other than the fact it manages to not get in the way that much?
But look at any interview they’ve done as a group, from their long-haired hessian days until now, and you will see this pompous windbag address almost every question with enough ego to fill a stadium. Add that to the long list of evidence that includes basically the band’s entire 2004 documentary, Some Kind of Monster; a 2011 lawsuit filed against him by an assistant seeking thousands in unpaid overtime; and the fact that he requires his roadies to put his socks on for him before his gigs. Now that’s what you call a Grade-A douchebag.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 13, 2013