I have two pet peeves when I go see a concert. One is the person in front of me holding up their phone or iPad from start to finish, forcing me to watch this live event — that I paid good money to attend — through their screen. The other is an extended drum solo. Without exception, I find them to be self-indulgent and boring. Why, then, would I enjoy a documentary about drummers?
Because for “Count Me In,” director Mark Lo has compiled a stellar lineup of professional drummers to talk about why and how they do what they do. The talent lineup includes Stewart Copeland (The Police), Roger Taylor (Queen), Nick Mason (Pink Floyd), Ian Paice (Deep Purple), Taylor Hawkins (Foo Fighters), Emily Dolan Davies (Bryan Ferry), Nicko McBain (Iron Maiden), Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Nick Headon (The Clash), and Cindy Blackman Santana (who has worked with her husband Carlos as well as Lenny Kravitz). What amused me throughout is that all of them love to imitate the sounds of their drums and cymbals with their mouths, so when they talk about the beat in some song, they recreate it orally.
There’s also a great story from Samantha Maloney (Hole) about when she was invited to fill in for Motley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee for six months. At the beginning of each show, she could see the looks of disbelief on the faces of the mostly-male fan base, shocked to see a woman behind the drum kit. But by the end of the night, they were giving her a standing ovation.
Many of the interviewees talk about the drummers who influenced them, from Charlie Watts to Ringo Starr to Ginger Baker to John Bonham to Keith Moon. Some of them share memories of banging on pots and pans as little kids until the joyful day their parents bought their first drum kits. There’s also a hat tip to some of the great jazz drummers (e.g. Art Blakey, Max Roach, Buddy Rich) and a short segment on the difference in the sound of drum machines and live humans hitting the skins.
Despite ending with the inevitable drum jam session (four solos back-to-back in the same room), I enjoyed the hell out of “Count Me In,” which has the perfect title for a documentary on this subject.
I give it an 8.5 out of 10. Now streaming on Netflix.