We recently published an interview on Brasil’s biggest drum portal batera.com.br, a quite exciting thing for us. Seeing that neither of us is really fluent in Portuguese, we offer you the English version here! It also might answer a lot of your questions about Playmobeat.
Personal information: Name, age, city where you live.
Andi Bühler, 34.
Chris Heiny, 41.
David Pätsch, 42.
We all live in Berlin.
How did you start on Playmobeat? How did the idea of the group come out?
Chris and David have played at Blue Man Group for many years and toured Europe together. Andi and Chris are from the same hometown and coincidentally met at a rehearsal room complex in Berlin after years.
We formed the plan to put together a drum project of any kind, but it was only until some years later that this plan was successfully put into action. The three of us met for a philosophical and profound drummer discussion and we pretty soon discovered that all of our ideas were aiming at one mutual goal: drumming without compromises! Three drumsets and a whole bunch of fresh ideas were our start-up capital.
That was in early 2009, and it instantly got exciting: we got several gig requests pretty soon and the audience was absolutely thrilled. Before we entered a stage together for the first time, we really had no idea at all if anyone could enjoy the stuff we were doing. But reactions were enthusiastic without exception. In autumn 2009, we recorded our first DVD at the legendary Funkhaus Berlin. This year, we’re going even further with an online video project where we publish a new video and related tutorials every month. It’s called “Three drummers hitting the headlines 2013” and has attracted a lot of attention from all over the world already. You can check out our Youtube-Channel to discover the whole Playmobeat Saga here: www.youtube.com/playmobeatdrums
Do you have any other project outsite Playmobeat? If so, Can you tell us?
We all play in different bands: Bosse, Letzte Instanz, Céline Rudolph,….just to name a few. We totally dig different styles and each one of us comes from another scene. This, of course, comes in very handy when looking for a fusion of styles in your songwriting!
Which artists inspire you? Who is your biggest inspiration?
We’re always inspired of by subtle entertainment, whatever the content. There are so many artists, drummers, shows or comedians we like. We want both us and the audience to laugh and scream while doing something that really challenges us and, by all means, has a musical message. We love songs, and that is what we try to create on the drumsets.
Of course, there are some drummers that we like specifically, like Papa Jo Jones or Gene Krupa – guys that played on a really high entertaining and musical level. Our new video for May (release date May 1st!) is a hommage to Gene Krupa! And there are many more to come. Make sure not to miss them!
How do you practice the incredible stick tricks you do? How do you create the movements in the group?
In most cases, one of us has an idea and captures it on video, so each one can check out the moves for himself. It always comes together with a rhythmic idea. Sure, you first need to teach your hands and fingers what to do. The musical context helps and is the most important thing anyway. So lets say after one week we all meet and get the moves together. We record it on video, so we can watch ourselves and see the differences in motion between us. We all use different techniques and that makes every move look slightly different. But that’s ok. We are not into too much perfection anyway. Or to put it this way: our understanding of perfection is to make us and the audience feel good, and if a stick falls down or a move is not synchronized 100%, we don’t worry too much. Which doesn’t mean that we don’t keep working on those details intensely! It’s an ongoing process.
What advice would you give to a drummer who wants to make more stick tricks?
As we are definitely three drummers that never used any stick tricks before Playmobeat, it’s easy to give advice: practice!
Take one little trick and involve it into your daily rudiment-sessions. And be patient! It takes a while to achieve the security you need for that stuff to actually do it on stage, where difficult light and your adrenalin level makes tossing and catching a stick even harder.
A sticktrick is an optical effect, it doesn’t seem to make any musical sense. But think about it: Any move a musician does on stage underlines what is happening acoustically. So it is definitely something to consider on stage. Use these tricks with a musical intention and it will make your stroke stronger, more focused and more special.
A trick that doesn’t fit seems overloaded and makes you think “why?”. But with the right timing, it makes the audience scream and that’s not too bad, is it now? By the way, you can watch some tutorials on the stickings and stick tricks we use in our videos on our website: www.playmobeat.de/wissen – the explanations are in German, but while watching the videos, it should still be rather self-explaining… Share it!
How is the process of composing when three drummers are involved?
Normally, it goes like this: One of has an idea, for example a groove, a rhythm, a sticking, a sound. Then we let inspiration have its way. We often develop our songs as you’d also develop a pop song: groove–harmony–melody–hookline. And then comes the form, of course: intro-verse-chorus-bridge and so on… Seeing that we all play the same instrument, we have to listen closely and experiment a bit what sounds can form the harmony or the melody. Although our songs evolve from improvised jam sessions, they still are 90% fixed in the end. Improvisation is important to us, but to really catch our audience we hold on to ideas that we like.
There is no bandleader. There’s an action leader at best. Whenever one of us has spent more time thinking about an idea or a task, he will take the lead in this moment. There have been moments when all three of us wanted to give the cue and everything ended in chaos. As a drummer, you’re simply used to showing the band which way to go – with Playmobeat, we have to take turns and split the leading role evenly. Each of us is allowed to sound the attack, in turns.
What are the biggest difficulties that you find in the format of presentations for Playmobeat?
One of the rather challenging things for us is that we depend on hearing each other really good. At every gig, there is a slightly different time feel in our songs. We need to be flexible and react to each other – that makes it necessary to listen closely.
Sometimes, there is no time for a proper soundcheck, leaving us with no chance of getting to know the stage and the circumstances. This concerns both sound and light – it’s crucial for us to not be blinded on stage when doing a stick trick, for example. We had to live through some rather crucifying moments in the past – though we never dropped a stick, it still feels like walking on thin ice all the time…
What musical influences do you incorporate on Playmobeat? Is there any influence you would like to add (or maybe have plans to add) in the next creations?
We try to act out all of our influences – these hugely differ in some cases – and merge them into something new that will thrill and carry our audience. Whether it’s Jazz, Metal, Rock, Latin or African music – the foundation is always the rhythm and thus the drums.
We just recorded a song about Gene Krupa who definitely is a big influence for us. There are quite a few drummers from that era who we really like, for example Papa Jo Jones. Back then, drumming wasn’t about being the loudest but about entertaining the crowd – while wearing an awesome suit.
Basically, we constantly challenge each other with both new music and new surroundings. Whether it’s sitting on a bike while giving an interview (like we just did not long ago), or recording a video in a kitchen (like we’re currently planning) – change is always an inspiration.
Does Playmobeat transcribe the musical scores from your presentations? How is this process?
We never write anything down – that would narrow our options. Of course, this means that we have to play our stuff lots of times to memorize it. But we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Playmobeat offers us new discoveries about our own instruments and of course, our compositions open entirely new horizons of practice homework for each of us. Every drummer that has jammed with a colleague once should know how much fun it is to groove together. And when you’re having fun, the excitement will also spread to the audience. Our songs are compositions that emerged from a lot of trying and experimenting. No musical scores needed.
What drum sets are you currently using? What is different in your three drum sets?
We’re endorsed by Yamaha Drums and Paiste Cymbals. You could think that we all play the same sets – but there’s a huge range of sounds and sizes, of course. We try to sound as different as possible from each other. This can only be achieved by the way of playing and tuning. On top of that, each of us prefers his own overall tuning.
Do you have any weird or funny story that happened recently when you were “on the road” for your presentations?
The whole video project is a funny experience for us. We are three drummers. What we HAVE to be on the other hand, is: three composers, dramaturgs, directors, stylists, film cutters, sound engineers, critics, roadies, … And probably the hardest thing of all: three brilliant actors.
A really weird thing for us was when we played a gig in Slovenia in January – we had been on the road for 15 hours due to a snow storm. Although neither of us had been to that country before, we were received like superstars – that was surprising but felt really good. We’re still not used to being recognized by people outside Germany. I guess, this interview is just another example… Thank you!
Playmobeat is all about music, creativity and interaction.
Playmobeat is the fusion of three different grooves and three different characters to a huge drum-spectacle and a whole new world of entertainment: stand-up drumedy!
The band was founded in 2009 and instantly appeared all over Germany’s drum scene due to their unique concept of combining humour and cutting-edge drumming. The story of their success soon led to the release of their first DVD “Transit” in 2010. Inspired both by rhythms and percussion techniques from around the world and by individual experiences from numerous projects, Andi Bühler, Chris Heiny and David Pätsch have compiled hugely creative, often funny, repeatedly surprising arrangements.
Playmobeat is a well-timed concept work of three creative drummers, who with discipline and high-end technique make the essence of playing the drums blossom formidably, discharging a tremendous magic in the process.
The three drummers have been performing at Adam’s Drum World (Netherlands), Dresdner Drumfestival (Germany), BUMfest (Slovenia), International Percussion Festival Luxemburg, Musik Produktiv Trade Fair (Switzerland) and featured all kind of events at their homebase Berlin and all around Germany.
With their hugely creative show, Playmobeat managed to target a large audience, going far beyond “strictly for drummers” horizons.
Their video production “Standup Drumedy” got more than 430,000 views on Youtube so far.
In January 2013, the new project “Three Drummers hit the Headlines 2013” was launched, presenting freshly produced movies of their latest projects and related tutorial videos on their website. A new video will be released every month, turning the year 2013 into the official year of Playmobeat!
See for yourself!