Todd Sucherman is Styx’s drumming powerhouse, and his original parts propel their songs to another level. His chops are undeniable, but his musicality is equally impressive. Here are some examples of his stellar playing from the past and the present, focusing on how he uses his skills musically.

‘Hanging,’ The Falling Wallendas

Sucherman cut his teeth in The Falling Wallendas 20 years ago. For this interlude, he gives us a brief clinic in tasty hi-hat playing. A funky bass drum pattern sits beneath alternating snare and cymbal hits accenting beat 4. His rolling hi-hat embellishments make this breakdown something special.

‘Overture (The Mission),’  Styx

This chop has an unusual sticking and it employs a stepped hi-hat note that’s integral to this very quick and challenging lick. This pattern uses the RLLHLRRLK sticking, played with the first right-hand note moving between his gong bass (or floor toms) and his snare. Because this pattern is based on a nine-note idea played in a sextuplet rhythm, it emphasizes the dotted quarter-note and flows over the barline, creating a metric modulation with the tempo slowing down.

‘Lion On The Lamb,’ The Falling Wallendas

Sucherman is a master of using bass drums in his fills. This example uses a common sticking pattern (RLRLKK). But when played insanely fast, this catchy tom and snare melody sounds like something else, creating something unique.

‘The Outpost’ Oklahoma City, June 2018, Styx Live Video

For this next one Sucherman employs a lick Steve Gadd made famous. It is based on ratamacue sticking (RLLRLR) played around his toms, before substituting a kick for the first note (KLLRLR), resulting in a pattern I call a “Gadd-a-macue.” This one ends with a mixed series of blindingly fast sextuplets (RLRLKK) and triplets (RKK) moving around his massive kit.