Eugene McBride - Guitar Center's 21st Annual Drum-Off Finalist (2009)





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Published on Mar 3, 2010

Drum-Off finalist, Eugene McBride - check out his drum solo performance at our 21st Annual Drum-Off Finals (2009) - Jan 8, 2010 at the Wiltern in Los Angeles. For more information on Guitar Center or Drum-Off visit www.guitarcenter.com

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Comments • 237

Ga N
at one point, you have to decide if you want to be a drummer or a class clown ..
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This is more a dance routine than a drum solo.
Chuck Heppner
http://youtu.be/22RfmA1y7W4 Guitar Center Drum-Off finalist, Eugene McBride's performance from the GC Drum-Off Grand FInals - Jan 8th, 2009 at the Wiltern in Los Angeles. For more information on Guitar Center or Drum-Off visit www.guitarcenter.com Other than the discounts, one of the perks of working a music retail job is getting to meet some phenomenal musicians. Amongst our tight-knit drummer crew in the store, I had heard several people speak highly of a young, drumming prodigy named Eugene McBride. Keep in mind, we’re in the recession-stricken “Most Violent City In America.” Flint, MI has some things to be proud of and we really cling to them when we see something shining through the dark haze. In 2009, Eugene placed second in the Guitar Center Drum Off and got on people’s radars for a bit. He’s a relatively quiet guy, but when he gets on the drums, it speaks volumes about the type of person he really is. You can tell he’s disciplined and constantly trying to perfect his craft. I know I’m a touring vet working part time at a retail store with some jealousy issues, but why the hell isn’t this kid playing for some huge artist?! I had to dig a little deeper and after telling him I was interested in learning more, he invited me to my first “shed” session.  I was familiar with the whole gospel drumming scene from watching the infamous “Gospel Chops” videos on YouTube. From what I saw in the videos, at least two drummers set up in a room together with a crowd surrounding them, usually with accompaniment from a bass player or additional instrumentation of some kind. The drummers play a groove in unison until they’re locked in then one person takes control and goes wild on the drums. It was usually a battle, with one person trying to show up the next with either speedy, articulate or strange off-time fills until the crash cymbal is hit and the next solo begins. Some notable shredders like Aaron Spiers and Tony Royster Jr. come from different backgrounds, but ended up playing for some big names like Jay-Z, Usher and anyone else worthy.  Watching videos is one thing, but experiencing it in real life is a completely different beast. I honestly never thought I’d be invited to one of these get-togethers. Eugene would always have a few friends show up when he was in our store and they’d talk about the next time they’d jam, when they’re meeting up for church or just sit down at the electronic kits and tear it up. I never really understood the religious affiliation with these types of drummers, but I wasn’t about to question it with how great they were. I knew they either grew up together or met in church and started out playing for the church band. The part that still boggled me was how extreme a style of drumming it was for something as subdued as a gospel band. Boy, was I naive. I pulled up to a small, empty church building off of a random street in what I’m told is the northern part of Flint after work and I could already hear the roaring of organs and drums from outside. I followed the sound until I walked into a large room full of empty pews which had three drum kits, a synth, and an organ set up on the stage. I saw several of the drummers who competed in the Drum Off! this year and a lot of the regulars I see from work. As I walked in, the three drummers, including Eugene, were already in their alternating solo mode. Each guy would wail in their own, ridiculous way while guys on a synth and organ made a groove to keep time. Sometimes the drumming would be too outrageous and a cowbell was handed to an observer to keep time. I slowly realized everyone watching from the pews were also drummers when Eugene signaled at me to hop on the drums. I graciously declined then the guy playing synth traded spots with him and started shredding on the drums. It went to the next level when I realized that every drummer also knew how to play piano strangely well. It was a self-sustaining, never-ending drummer’s heaven. No dead weight in the room… until I got involved. After my friend Caleb was done jamming, I figured it couldn’t be that hard to improvise like these guys do. Well, it was. Not only was I intimidated to play with such great strangers, but having to whip some new, crazy fill out of my ass every thirty seconds seemed almost impossible. Even though the funk/fusion style is my favorite to mess around with, I had to come to terms that I’m very rock-oriented. Being put on the spot was a nice humbling experience when I found myself playing a variation of the same, half-assed fill every time it was my turn to shine. I shined alright, like a polished turd at best. After a few strange looks from the guys I felt the need to drop out early and observe a bit more. One thing that struck me was the incredible chemistry these guys had with each other. At first, each guy would solo for X amount of measures and it was a straight-forward pattern. After a while, some liberties were taken and there wasn’t a formula anymore. Logic and timing was thrown out the window and primitive feel took over. I also realized it wasn’t as much of a competition as it was a way to show each other some badass tricks without having to talk about it. I died laughing when I saw one guy hand a stick to a toddler walking by, do a one-handed solo, then grab the stick back to finish it before the next one began. There were kids walking around with drum sticks banging on tambourines and bobbing their heads and I knew I was looking at the future of gospel drumming. After two hours and wanting to rethink my profession, I figured it was time to call it a night. I got outside, slipped on ice and fell on my ass, tucked my tail between my legs and got in my car. There’s something beautiful about musicians getting together to better themselves and each other without egos or jealousy getting in the way. The fact that in our small, frowned upon town of Flint, MI there’s this hidden gem of a drumming community, I can’t even fathom what it must be like everywhere else. If you can’t find a group of musicians already doing it, you can easily start something like this yourself! Call up some friends and find a storage space, or a friend’s basement, or a business after hours and start jamming! Bouncing ideas off of each other and getting criticism from your friends are two simple and effective ways to becoming a better player. These guys let me in with open arms when I’m clearly a novice outsider so there’s nothing to be afraid of. Go out of your comfort zone and take the next step to perfecting your craft. 
Chris Bonneau
So...when does the drum solo start?
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David Suggs
Man... drumming solos have evolved away from tasteful new rhythms and towards showmanship... its not bad.... but the actually drumming lacked creativeness for me. He is very technically talented, but i saw very little true creativeness here. Too much show and not enough chops. That will change as he plays though i think, he will turn out really good.
Idk how so many people are hating. This is easily one of the most entertaining Guitar Center Drum Off solos I've ever seen. So much showsmanship, but on top of that, bro can seriously drum with ease.
Brock Halter
Like the old saying goes, if you can't say anything nice, SHUT UP !!!! This guy clearly has skills and showmanship. Sure he was young back then. But his sure rips. I would take his skills. Clearly those commenting in here are not in the finals, just chiming in behind the keyboard. Just for you dolts that thought he sucks...here's another RAD solo by Eugene McBride. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-YJejoTJDjI
Rainbow Sam
oh man the kick so boomy. Was that recorded by guys is the business?
Anna Vorontsov
a lot of people writing here against him are being lame. if you haven't noticed, the guitar center judges care less about skill and more about show. why do you think he put on such a show? he's a phenomenal drummer, and better than all of us.
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Ben Blackburn
he's got chops and his hand work is pristine but he lagged in several spots where he could have just gone in 
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