Friday, July 22, 2011

Jet gets technical...

One of the most frequent questions I get asked by drummo’s, is how do you play ‘Genetix’? Without being behind a drum kit, it’s not very easy to explain. However, in an attempt to do just that, many years ago, I came up with the following piece. It was featured in an early edition of ‘Strangled’ magazine in 1982, an astonishing 29 years ago! God, how time flies.

Anyway, at that time, I had been asked to explain the drum track on ‘Genetix’. For those who are interested, here with notation, is the piece from that feature.

'It took me some considerable time to devise a drum pattern to accompany the technically strange ‘Genetix’. No conventional rhythm seemed appropriate, and after much trial and error, I eventually arrived at the arrangement you are questioning. As you will see from the following notation, there are three fundamentally distinctive patterns. The first revolves around the triplet. What makes the rhythm unusual, is not the rhythm per se, but more the way it is deployed around the drums. You may have experienced some difficulty in deciphering the rhythm from listening to the record, for it sounds simple and actually it is, but the comparatively rapid execution of the rhythm tends to conceal it’s chemistry. Pattern 1, calls for polished independent co-ordination. No two drums are ever played at any one moment. So, unless the technique of playing say, a triplet, or paradiddle or ruff, each note on different drums has been mastered, then the accurate execution of the 'Genetix’ rhythm will be impossible. Pattern 2, is a slight variation on pattern 1, and is simply triplets played on drums only. The final pattern, is an easily decipherable rock lilt of conventional nature with the occasional cymbal fill.

Here is the notation, and if you play it absurdly slow until it sinks in, you will soon get it sussed - and that goes for the other patterns too'.

Jet Black/July 2011


  1. This is all very interesting Jet, but I have always wanted to know what went wrong between Do You Wanna" and "Death and Night and Blood” when your drumming corrects it self during the segway. It seems I seem to be the only one who has noticed this correction “on the fly”, surely it’s just not me and I don’t even play the drums? You seem to be playing back to front and then a quick change to front to back. Please explain!

    1. I noticed this 'feature' the first time I heard the recording, in about 1979. Delighted to have a response from the Man himself.

  2. "Went wrong"?! Weird thing to say. IMHO, I don't think anything "went wrong". I take it you don't listen to jazz all that often. I think one flows pretty seamlessly into the other.

  3. hi jet love your drumming tell me what you think of neil peart from rush my second fav band.

  4. Hi Andy. In a way, you've answered the question yourself. The whole thing is what is technically known in professional music circles as a 'fuck-up'! Somehow, although the tempo didn't falter, the beat had become reversed during the segway (segue) section. I remember thinking, 'shit, it's all out of time, what do I do?' There were only two options really, stop, or reverse the beat, the latter not being the easiest of options. I recall sitting there and figuring out how to do it. Then I just did it. Perhaps I should have got a medal for that, but that's life. I don't remember if there was any discussion about it afterwards, perhaps the rest of the band hadn't noticed, or had just put it down to improvisation! You must understand that in those days most records were still being recorded live, and I suppose one has to reach one's own conclusion about whether the progress of modern recording technique has been efficacious or disastrous! You can argue it both ways really, but full marks for spotting it! jb

  5. hi jet,i drum just as a hobby and your my all time favourite drummer. ive tried playing genetix before but it never sounds quite right..ive studied live videos of you and watched you play it live but still no luck..too bad i cant read music..i just play by ear

  6. Thank you Jet. I only ever noticed it when I found it impossible to tap along to against the steering wheel. Sorry for blowing your cover! Best, Andy.

  7. Hi Alan - Thanx 4 the compliment. I'm not like other drummers, in that I don't listen to
    drummers. Sorry to disappoint, but I listen to songs. jb

  8. Hi Jet thanks for your Genetix feature.It really Is an inspired pattern,As I can't read music,I know basics,I have struggled to deciphre the pattern.But a tip for anyone like me who can't read music.Watch the Hammersmith Apollo DVD and put Genetix on slow and you can see what Jet is doing,It really is a pattern of genius on Genetix.I love the way Jet plays for the song instead of hitting every drum in every song,like alot of drummers do.And god I hate drum solos,apart from maybe Buddy Rich.

  9. Darren, ShrewsburyJuly 26, 2011 at 2:13 PM

    Black and White was the first Stranglers album
    I bought back in 1980.
    I really love the way 'Do You Wanna' morphs
    into 'Death and Night and Blood'.
    It works so well and I for one have
    never noticed any mistake.
    It sounds great.
    I do not know of any other band that recorded
    anything like that.

    Quite original....

  10. "I really love the way 'Do You Wanna' morphs
    into 'Death and Night and Blood'.
    It works so well and I for one have
    never noticed any mistake."

    What about the fluffed bass run that joins the two! Burnel plays two runs in order to join the two tracks. His plectrum catches on one of the strings during the first; hence there is a slight 'break' in the run that doesn't occur in the second. Or would that be simply an improvised anomaly!?

    Apologies for this not being a drum related comment!


  11. Hi Kev, I have never noticed the bass mistake. I need to have listen for that. The drum thing starts to go back to front close to when the singing starts and is corrected when JJ sings "When I saw that Sparta" and is under the word "saw". The correction is brilliant. I love hearing stuff like that. Cheers Andy

  12. Darren, ShrewsburyJuly 27, 2011 at 9:10 PM

    "What about the fluffed bass run that joins the two....."

    JJ probably meant it to sound like that.
    I guess he was involved with the production
    and the mixing of B&W at Bear Shank.

    The instruments do sound a little
    out of sync.
    Makes it all the more interesting.

  13. "JJ probably meant it to sound like that."

    Hi Darren; I doubt it. It sounds like one of those minor errors that occurs during recording (since these were mostly recorded live) that one hopes an audience won't notice!
    Definitely a slip of the plectrum...listen to the live version on X-cert and it's a straight bass run.

    Having said that in light of Andy's original point, I will re-listen to the drum track...

    Great band - great songs!


  14. Hello Kev

    I'm no expert, but when musicians are
    recording a studio album and are not happy with with a take, then they would simply
    record another one and use that.
    So I consider it safe to assume
    they were all happy with that section,
    given The Stranglers policy on
    decision making.

    With live albums like X cert it is a different matter of course, although I suppose those too can be engineered.

    It is down to a matter of opinion
    whether there is a mistake in the
    section between the two tracks.

    I like it the way it is so
    so we will have to agree to differ.

    Anyway thanks for an interesting


  15. Black and White must be an album for interesting instrumentation 'features'...

    As a drummer, the omission of an open hi-hat at the end of the first bar of Outside Tokyo jumps out at me. Always wondered if that was intentional or just something that 'occurred' during the recording.

    Perhaps it's like the rug makers in the middle east who always weave an imperfection into their pattern as a nod to the big guy up top...

  16. I'm pretty sure there is a tiny Drum error in Sleazy. Two snare beats where there were previously one and a cymbal crash that leads to the chorus arrives a bit early. I don't have the track available so can't yet quote a time. Only a drummer would notice - I doubt a producer would - and I say error rather than mistake as it in noway distracts from the the finished track. There are a few similar ones by Ringo in the peak of that groups recording career. Even established groups were pressured at recording time. Genetix I find easy to play along to but sleazy and peasant are tricky - not to play as beats per se but to get and stay accurate with the what else is going on.
    Wonder what happened to the old Gretsch kit?

  17. Going back to Andy's original post, the drumming on 'Do You Wanna' is pretty odd in itself, almost freestyle(?). I also re-listend to the drum piece that joins the two songs and I agree; it too is quite strange to listen to.

    As for the bass part, I think we'll have to leave that to individual interpretation - or perhaps ask the man himself!
    I suspect though (being an ex-player of 15 years experience) a slip of the plectrum!

    All the best..


  18. Further to my above comment:
    It's at 1.59 - the end of the Synth wig out. No Crash cymbal but two beats as if it leads to the bridge. Given the the Reggae time signature it kind of works. Sleazy Dub! There's a thought.

  19. God.I thought I was over the top.All these comments about mistakes etc.Does it matter?It would be boring if music was perfect.

  20. I can't really explain the exact circumstances, but there's a
    TON of times where you wind up playing paradiddles without even
    realizing it. for instance, when you're playing 8ths on the hats
    and you want to hit the snare on the last 4 16ths (4 e & a).. on
    the 4, your right hand will hit the hats as normal as your left
    hand hits the snare.

    paradiddle book
    paradiddle exercises