‘The standard is unbelievably high’: Picking Carl Palmer’s brain on the best modern drummer

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Don’t ask Carl Palmer to name his favorite modern drummer. Not because they are none better, despite his lengthy resume of success with the likes of Emerson Lake and Palmer, and Asia. Instead, Palmer says it’s impossible to choose because the standards have risen across the board since he started out.

“To tell you the truth, there are so many great musicians in the world — there are so many great drummers,” Palmer tells WBGG. “The standard today is incredibly high, due to the way the kids are taught.”

Palmer has tipped to his hat to that new generation by stocking his muscular and exciting solo band, Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy, with youngsters Paul Bielatowicz and Simon Fitzpatrick on guitar and bass, respectively. They’re from later generations who, Palmer said, have a multiplicity of options for learning that simply weren’t available to kids interested in music back in the 1960s.

“Today, you’ve got DVDs and CDs and books,” Palmer adds. “You’ve got institutes and academies. You’ve got so many places to learn. … We never had that before. So, the standard today, apart from what has already gone down all these years before and all of this literature on the shelf, the standard is unbelievably high. So, to say somebody’s the best is really difficult. When I pick up the charts, I go yeah — but you could put another 20 guys in that No. 1 place who are equally as good. There’s no doubt about that.”

Besides, that’s not a standard that Palmer — who wrapped up a series of North American tour dates last night — has ever aspired to, anyway: “What I want to be,” he says, “is unique — different. Originality, you can’t beat.”

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