You don’t pick up the drums because you think you’re going to be a star. You pick it up because you fucking love it. -Samantha Maloney (Hole, Eagles of Death Metal, Mötley Crüe)
How can you tell if the stage is level?
If drool is coming out of both sides of the drummer’s mouth.
There is a perception that drummers aren’t “real” musicians, hence jokes like the one above. Along comes Count Me In (2021), a documentary that explores the art of drumming and the certified musicians who make the skins sing and the cymbals splash.
The movie, with its runtime of 1 hour and 21 minutes, is an extremely condensed look at the world of drumming, but all in all, does more than enough to capture the love of the world’s greatest percussive instrument. It features interviews from some of the all-time greats: Stewart Copeland (The Police), Roger Taylor (Queen), Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Nicko McBrain (Iron Maiden), Taylor Hawkins (Foo Fighters), Topper Headon (The Clash) – and that’s just to name a few. It also includes in-depth interviews with several female drummers, including Samantha Maloney, Emily Dolan Davies (The Darkness), Cindy Blackman (Lenny Kravitz, Santana), and Jess Bowen (The Summer Set).
Count Me In offers several small segments in which the drummers discuss the history of the instrument, some of the greatest influences (not just in their lives, but in all of drumming), their personal journeys, and the various types of styles and how they are executed. Through all of these interviews, these musicians exude passion and love for the instrument and what they do. Set against these sections are mini-stories in which we see some of these drummers jamming out in a drum circle in a space observatory, Jess Bowen going drum shopping at the Drum Doctor, and a drum battle that includes Smith, Bowen, Blackman, and Stephen Perkins (Jane’s Addiction).
While you can’t help but smile and groove throughout all the segments of the documentary, the presentation itself felt slightly scattershot. For instance, in one segment, the drummers discuss influential drummers like Buddy Rich, Ringo Starr, John Bonham, Ginger Baker, and Keith Moon. A few scenes later, the documentary hones in on the calamitous life of Keith Moon for a brief moment. It felt odd to focus on Moon specifically (since another name on that list, John Bonham, carries its own notoriety) and then move on to happier discussion again. There is also a scene in which drummers briefly discussed the invasion of the drum machine in the ’80s that seemed slightly out of place, but it was nonetheless interesting, especially since we see the machine and how it worked.
The biggest critique I have with this documentary, however, is a glaring omission. Where was Neil Peart?!?! The late, great Rush drummer is regarded by many as the best drummer to have ever taken a throne, and I was a little stunned to see the credits begin to roll with zero mention of this legendary figure. I understand that Peart was notoriously reclusive, and it’s possible that his family and/or his estate requested privacy since his passing is relatively recent, but you’d think that there would be at least some B-roll of historical footage that featured Peart.
Overall, Count Me In does a fantastic job conveying just how much the instrument can change lives, whether you’re doing the smashing behind the kit or the dancing in front. As a drummer myself, it was incredible to hear from some of my influences and to meet new, like-minded individuals. But it’s not just drummers who will enjoy this; any musician or fan of music can learn a lot from this documentary and learn to appreciate the backbone of the band. Young, aspiring drummers can learn a lot from this documentary as well – even if they ultimately counted Peart out.
Catch Count Me In, streaming on Netflix now.
COUNT ME IN
For the Love of Drums10.0/10
Rock, Jazz, and everything between10.0/10
Where was Neil Peart?!?!?1.0/10
- Director: Mark Lo
- Writers: Claire Ferguson, Sarah Jobling, Mark Lo
- Featuring: Stewart Copeland, Roger Taylor, Chad Smith, Cindy Blackman, Nicko McBrain, Samantha Maloney, et al.
- Executive Producer: Simon Burgess
- Music: Andy Gray
- Production: Asylum Giant, Red & Black Films
- Streaming: Netflix