The origins of the drum kit date back over 100 years and they’ve always been the backbone of rock music. These 5 bands chose to forego tradition and instead use technology to their advantage.
When Chvrches started writing music their studio was so small there wasn’t room for big amps or a drum kit. They naturally gravitated towards synthesizers and drum machines because those are the instruments that fit.
Le Tigre’s use of a drum machine was born out of their DIY, punk rock attitude. Joanna Fateman calls a drum machine in the video below liberating because it’s self-sufficient.
Big Black famously never had a drummer and it became a huge part of their sound. They often choose not imitate the generic beats a drummer would make on a drum kit, and instead exploit what a drum machine could do. “Roland” would often be credited as the drummer on their songs after the brand of drum machine they used (Roland TR-606).
The Kills don’t have a drummer…kind of. Jamie Hince is credited as playing the drums or drum machine on all their albums and when they play live they often play with multiple percussionists accompanying a drum machine. When they started writing music it was with a drum machine.
Phoenix have a live drummer named Thomas Hedlund but their singer Thomas Mars, who was originally a drummer, writes most of their drum parts on a keyboard. Watch them explain the process in the video below.