Time Keeping with Keith Carlock

Keith Carlock (Steely Dan Session Drummer)

Keith Carlock plays with Steely Dan and keeps himself as busy as possible when he is not touring, playing or recording. Keith started off playing the drum kit at the tender age of ten. He played with musicians much older than him and Keith says that those guys taught me how to lock in my time with the bass guitarist as part of the rhythm section. Keith says that he has been fortunate enough to work with players with strong time and this has challenged me and made me focus more on the time keeping.

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Eventually the goal is to not think about the time keeping of any song that you are playing, but to develop the confidence so to get your time keeping strong. Everything I have recorded with Steely Dan has been done with a click track. When I play live gigs with the band I only use the click to count off the tempo's. This helps to keep things fairly consistent from night to night.

When I was asked to tour with Sting a while back, I knew the other drummers that Sting had worked with and as he is a superb bass player I wanted to keep my time keeping rock solid. We had various time references, some tunes I would use a click all of the way through and other occasions I would use the click to count off the time. Other times through the set Sting would count off the songs. Funny thing that Sting gives you a free reign so to speak, he likes you to put your own stamp on the songs and the tempo would change from the original playing on the recording. My point I would like to get across is that please get hold of a metronome and work with it as much as possible, as this will help you to improve your time keeping and help to make you a better player.