Benny Greb – why talent doesn’t make the difference, but comfort does
Benny Greb: Drummer, composer, teacher
"I didn't know any other drummer from Bavaria who had an international career, so I thought, 'Why should that work for me in particular?'" And now here he sits: Benny Greb from Bavaria, one of the most distinguished drummers in the world. We've probably all heard him play, for example for Mark Forster or Thomas D., but it's his self-penned works (e.g. the music of his solo albums "Grebfruit" or "Grebfruit 2" as well as his live band Moving Parts) where he lets out all his creativity and his curiosity for the unexplored. Not only has the Echo Jazz winner earned himself a worldwide fan base that stretches from Japan to the USA and Brazil: he has also developed his own teaching system with which anyone who wants to can learn the "Benny Way of Drumming" – whether live at his drum clinics and workshops, or with videos and books. If you're really up for it now and want to learn from Benny Greb how to practice more efficiently, deal with frustration and simply get better at your instrument, you can do just that with Benny's new book "Effective Practicing for Musicians", which has just been released. We certainly recommend it!
Talent & Discipline or: Knowing what you want
He started early, at the age of six, but how did the boy from Bavaria make it to the top? Even for someone like Benny Greb, it wasn't a foregone conclusion, and he quotes the British drummer Simon Phillips, who was asked what it takes to play drums at world-class level: "Everything."
Not only did Benny subordinate his entire daily routine to his goal, it also demanded (and still demands) a lot from him mentally and physically: this includes getting rid of limiting beliefs, but also – and this where it get almost banal – getting his hands and feet to do exactly what you want them to do. "That's when you actually have to stretch and keep going."
Did he have any extraordinary talent? "I don't know if I was talented. Drums were always special and the coolest instrument to me, and I always spent a lot of time on them. But what makes a big difference is self-discipline. What do I want to do? And then I do what it takes to achieve that, every step of the way. Then, bit by bit, that has an effect that you can use for yourself. If you know yourself why you are doing something, then it works. In that sense, discipline has a PR problem: If we understood the word for what it really is, then we would look at it in a more gentle way." Just do it, then!
Can art be perfect?
With over 30 years of experience on the drums, Benny Greb has seen and experienced a lot, and he's not afraid to regularly reflect and question his own dogmas. Perfection in art? That can only go wrong, really. "Perfection leads you down the wrong path. Perfection is a lot about right or wrong. But who decides that? Those two poles don't exist in art and communication." This realization has also been a journey for Benny: "I used to be proud to call myself a perfectionist. But really, that was more of an excuse not to give it your all when everything wasn't going perfectly."
Today he sees it differently: "My new mantra is: I do the best I can, with what I have right now. And that always works: if the sound isn't good, if the car is broken, if your kid doesn't want to go to bed ..."
He himself has realized, "I used to want to be the best drummer in the world. Today I just want to be the best Benny Greb I can be. I have enough to do with that already."
Comfortable, stylish menswear – a contradiction in terms?
How relevant is the right outfit for someone who is as at peace with himself as Benny Greb? Part of his job involves being constantly on the road, to drum clinics, concerts and gigs all over the world – and even on the drums, he's far from just sitting comfortably on his stool. "Honestly, for the longest time, I just made sure it was comfortable. And especially when playing drums, when you're moving around a lot and working up a sweat, it's just annoying to feel restricted. I used to think that what I find in SHAPING NEW TOMORROW is a contradiction: I can move around in it and play my instrument beautifully, and it still looks stylish." Possibly he simply underestimated the effect of a good look? "When you wear clothes that you look good in, something changes. How you present yourself, the whole attitude. And it's great when you feel good in your skin – and in your second and third skin, your clothes."
His conclusion after an extensive SHAPING NEW TOMORROW test: "It may sound unspectacular, but I really like the T-shirts. They are simply a finer version of a classic T-shirt and always feel like freshly ironed. I like that a lot. I find the Essential Pants incredibly comfortable and very pleasant. The material is very stretchy, but still stays in shape and looks very chic. These are the perfect all-around pants for me when traveling and for playing drums.”