Former GUNS N’ ROSES drummer Matt Sorum has defended his performance in the classic GN’R track “November Rain”, insisting that “drumming isn’t all about fancy drum fills and splash cymbals.”
Ex-DREAM THEATER and current ADRENALINE MOB drummer Mike Portnoy, who normally doesn’t shy away from his two cents on any music-related discussion, took to his Twitter account on August 4 to pose the question: “‘November Rain’ is an all-time classic song… but why on Earth did Matt Sorum play the SAME EXACT fill every 4 bars? (23 times, to be exact!)”
Two days later, Sorum finally replied to Portnoy, writing on Twitter, “That fill was Axl‘s [Rose, GUNS N’ ROSES singer] idea as a musical phrase that carried on through the trilogy, ‘Don’t Cry’ and ‘Estranged’. Those albums, ‘Use Your Illusion’ [parts] 1 and 2 have sold 20 million combined.”
He added, “Remember, kids, drumming isn’t all about fancy drum fills and splash cymbals. Ask Charlie Watts, Ringo [Starr] and Phil Rudd.”
In a 2009 interview with Music Radar, Sorum spoke in more detail about his drumming approach on “November Rain”, explaining, “The track I get the most amount of grief for, from drummers, is ‘November Rain’. The reason I did that tom fill so many times is I felt it was a musical part. A lot of drummers were like, ‘Why’d you play the same fill so much?!’
“Me and Axl were sitting in the studio late one night, having a couple of drinks and listening to Elton John, a song called ‘Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me’.
“Axl goes, ‘Do you hear that?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, I love Nigel Olson, man’. He says, ‘Do that on the song we’re going to record tomorrow!’ We’d rehearsed it but I didn’t have all the fills and stuff, it was just a groove. In the end of ‘November Rain’, I get into that whole marching band trip.”