Count Me In
In this documentary from music supervisor Mark Lo, the subject matter is on the beating heart of music, the drums, and more particularly on the people who make that heart beat. From jazz, to death metal, Count Me In is an exploration of where drumming came from, how it has changed, and why the people who do it today found themselves falling in love with this musical form at once vital to just about every genre, and unique in its own thrilling way.
I’ve always loved drums, which is ironic considering that I have absolutely no complex rhythmic ability to speak of myself. There’s a simple exercise posited in this film, a four beat thing with a different motion on the first and third beat, and I found myself completely unable to follow it. But maybe that’s why I love it: it’s something easily understood, but always that little bit out of reach. I have made myself content listening to the likes of Dave Grohl, Satnam Ramgotra, Travis Barker and others. There’s something about the drums: the ability for variation tied to the necessity of clockwork timekeeping, the primal mixed with the rigid, that just makes them fascinating.
A documentary that explores the instrument is one that will always pique my interest, and Count Me In has a lot to recommend it. The myriad of interview subjects is diverse and impressive, and I appreciated the time and space given to female drummers like Hole’s Samantha Maloney to talk about their time in a very male dominated industry. The loose history of drumming, from jazzy origins, through pop, rock, punk, electronica (this aseptically interesting, how computer generated beats altered everything about the craft) is well captured here too, providing a larger outline of how they went from back-ups to the main event. And an entire chapter of the thing is dictated to the person I consider the master, The Who’s Keith Moon, a man who balanced the most self-destructive kind of lifestyle with a genius level understanding of what the drums could accomplish, something that Count Me In is able to get across both emotionally and analytically: drummers discussing the ebbs and flows of Moon’s performance on “Who Are You?” is something to see.
The film perhaps shouldn’t be considered too revelatory in terms of the craft: most of those interviewed offer similar stories of childhood obsession transitioning into adult rocking, and some of the more philosophical musings on the community of drummers are a bit of a reach. The scenes where we visit a drummer’s shop also feel unnecessary, and this is in a documentary that is already healthily under the 90 minute mark. But Count Me In makes up for these flaws with some of its cinematography when portraying its subjects just playing, such as an extended jam session towards the conclusion. I suspect that in the sub-genre of musical documentaries this one may not last too long in the memory, but it is a worthy project all the same, one that I think any person who feels any appreciation for drums will enjoy. Recommended.
(All images are copyright of Netflix).