The band I play with generally wants a simple 8-beat rhythm but I can find it a bit boring to play! So I'm looking for suggestions/tips/sheet music/video on how to develop a standard 8-beat drum pattern to make it more interesting/challenging to play whilst still keeping true to the 8-beat framework.
Subdivide the 8 beats in unorthodox ways. For example: Coldplay's "Clocks" subdivides 8 beats into a 3-3-2 rhythm. Not exactly groundbreaking, but a bit different from the usual. You can take that idea and run wild with it. Here are some ideas:
- Re-arrange the more familiar 3-3-2 subdivision into 3-2-3, which is a bit more unusual.
- 3-5. Play a beat in three followed by a beat in five.
- 5-3. Same idea, but play the five-beat rhythm first.
- Combine two 8-beat measures into a double-long 16-beat measure, and subdivide like crazy. 3-3-4-3-3 comes to mind, or 3-3-3-3-4. Or 3-4-5-4, or etc. etc. So long as the subdivisions add up to 16, you can do whatever you want.
Listen! Listen to the music what it needs and listen to other drummers playing the same styles and you'll learn a lot.
For a rock band, you usually want to keep a strong backbeat on 2 and 4, so you don't have much choice on the snare drum except for adding some ghost notes here and there. Variations on the bass drum and on the hi-hat pattern are possible of course and you can create nice effects by just omitting some of the hi-hat beats. But be aware that many musical styles don't tolarate too heavy variations in the groove (AC/DC).
If your music has some funky elements, you have more choice of rhythmic variations and you can try to find interesting subdivisions of your 8 beats. Rhythmic Illusions is a nice book about all kind of strange stuff you can do by moving around the beats. Listen to some recordings of the Dave Matthews Band for example, this could give you some ideas as well.
For me personally, playing a straight four-on-the-floor 8-beat (hi-hat 8th, bass drum on 1,2,3,4, snare on 2 and 4) without any extras is the most challenging groove! You really need to practise this to get a solid groove and to have an exact feeling of where the backbeat is placed. Listen carefully to the relation between hi-hat, bass drum and snare and try how it suddenly feels when you delay the snare a few microseconds or put the hi-hat beats a little in front of the others. The variations are subtle and you can't write them down with notes, but make a huge difference!
An 8-beat rock rhythm?? Sounds like you need to look at Boogie-Woogie, AKA Eight-to-the-bar. There's a piano book (I'm sure there are others) called Boogie Woogie Hanon that's full of great rhythms for the piano left-hand. To make it rock, change all the original accents to secondary accents and add a powerful 2 and 4 accent over the top.
Adding the eighth-notes gives a Rock-rhythm a more relaxed feel.