2000 February Rhythm Chad Smith

An edition devoted to the Rhythm NMS/ The National Music Show at Wembley. England. Chad Smith was one of the drummers to perform at the three day event- only pages featuring him have been scanned and included and likewise only relevant text has been transcribed.


Rhythm’s Drum Weekend at the National Music Show came to a satisfying conclusion when co-headliners Chad Smith and Steve White were both presented with hugely prestigious Rhythm Awards by legendary drummer Kenney Jones. The duo had just finished a sensational closing performance when the immaculately-tailored former Who/Small Faces sticksman appeared, as if by magic, with Rhythm’s 1998 awards for Best Pop Drummer (Steve White) and Best Funk Drummer (Chad Smith). “It was a fantastic surprise,” commented a clearly-delighted Steve. “Although I’d seen Kenney walk in. I had no idea that he was there to present the award. He’s one of my favourite drummers, and it just put the cap on a fantastic weekend.”


Chad joins Foos

National Music Show star Chad Smith was just one of the celebrity guests who enlivened the Foo Fighters’ Brixton Academy show at the end of November. The Foos delivered a typically fiery set to a capacity crowd but an unexpected highlight came when Queen guitar legend Brian May joined the band for an electrifying rendition of his former outfit’s ’70s classic ‘Now I’m Here’. Queen drummer Roger Taylor even made a brief appearance to the clear delight of both the crowd and the Foo Fighters themselves. However, the night descended into mayhem when Red Hot Chili Peppers’ drummer Chad invaded the stage during the show’s final moments. At first, Chad was content merely with crashing Foos drummer Taylor Hawkins’ cymbals, but suddenly he hoisted Hawkins out of his seat and flung him bodily through his own drumkit. In the drum-destruction that ensued, Hawkins’ snare struck Foos frontman Dave Groh! (world-renowned former drummer with Nirvana), who retaliated by flinging his guitar into what remained of the kit. There were no encores after that. Chad commented later: “Being the joiner-inner that I am, when he started to trash the drums off the riser I was just helping: Then when everything was gone, the only thing left was him, so he had to go too — then everything was nice and tidy. I’m sure he’ll get me back when we play in Oz together. Lucky I’m bigger than him.”


CHAD SMITH Even among the illustrious company he’s keeping over the weekend, there’s palpable excitement surrounding Chad’s appearance this afternoon. For all the Chilis’ antics and controversy-courting, he’s undoubtedly one of the most important drummers of his generation, and the Seminar Room is rammed for his first UK clinic performance since Drums In The Bush back in ’95.

What we expect is some larger-than-life kidding around, bare feet, and hugely powerful funky drumming. What we get is all of the above and a damn sight more. For starters, mad, bad Chad works the room like a pro, thanks us for showing up, goofs around, makes fun of the guitar players in the audience and gets us all on side. The man’s a star and he would be if he worked in a bank — the fact that he’s a drummer is just our very good fortune.

When he finally takes a seat behind his kit, it doesn’t take long for Chad to start laying waste to it. His solo bristles with manic energy, the like of which won’t be seen again all weekend, but he also displays a technical edge that comes as something of a surprise. It’s obvious that beneath the bluster there lies a very serious musician and seeing Chad in full flow today is something of a revelation.

His first love is big, fat grooves, though, and when Chad brings out bass player Ernie McKone, he gets a chance to demonstrate just how he helps create the biggest rhythm section sound around. They’ll be better and tighter tomorrow, but watching the pair playing off each other today is entertaining enough. Above all it’s a lesson in relative restraint and the importance of listening in making things feel good. And these two can certainly do that.

In his intro spiel, Chad paid tribute to the English drummers that inspired him when he started — Ian Paice, John Bonham, Keith Moon — all massively influential drummers in staggeringly successful bands. As he wraps up, to huge applause, there’s little doubt that Chad is continuing in their great tradition.



ERNIE MCKONE ON PLAYING WITH CHAD “It was a bit weird playing with Chad, seeing as he normally looks out and sees Flea playing bass, but it was a brilliant experience. When we got together during the week we just jammed around and it clicked really easily. He’s such a sweet guy. What made it easier for me was that Chad’s obviously listened to a lot of the same old funk stuff as I have, so we both come from a similar place. It was really, really fantastic; I wouldn’t have missed it for the world!”




This is it. The big one. Clown Prince Chad and a couple of special guests (and a surprise appearance by Someone Very Famous) to finish what’s been the greatest weekend of drumming ever. The Main Hall fizzes with excitement as Whitey introduces Chad and when the big man bounds on the place explodes.

He’s in his element, of course, and with an assembled crowd of drummers. Chills fans and the just plain curious, Smith launches into his customary pre-performance banter. He does a very bad Cockernee arksent, tries to sound knowledgeable about football and then removes his shoes and throws himself into another gob-smackingly powerful solo spot. He funks it up, rocks out and holds nothing back. One of the highlights of Chad’s Drums In The Bush appearance was seeing him blast through the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Give It Away’ and ‘Suck My Kiss’ and it’s with great delight that we witness him doing the same here. They’re both examples of great playing underpinning brilliant songs, and the chance to see Chad go through his moves up close is a joy.

But it’s nothing compared to what comes next. Chad doesn’t hide the fact that he’s beside himself as he brings on Brian May for an impromptu jam and the two of them tear into ‘We Will Rock You’ and a ‘Seven Seas Of Rhye’-style riff with abandon. There’s been no Imo chance to work anything out, so everything’s off the cuff and occasionally ragged round the edges, but the pair of them are having such a good time it’s impossible not to be drawn in. As Brian leaves, it’s clear that jamming with his childhood hero has left Chad vibed up and hungry for more, and he promptly brings on Steve White and Ernie McKone to help him wrap up a set which is already beginning to feel somewhat legendary.

The trio have had an opportunity to sketch a few ideas out earlier in the week and as they ease themselves into a fat, slow funk groove the preparation pays off. The two drummers trade licks while the excellent Ernie holds it all together, the three of them locked tight until one spirals off for a few bars of stretching out. There’s an amazing lack of self-indulgence, though, and there’s little of the drum battle atmosphere some might have expected.

The heat’s cranked right up in the final jam, though, as Chad leaves his kit, runs to the back of Steve’s and proceeds to play his second snare, his ride and his cowbell. Steve’s backbeat is unwavering as Chad piles on insane percussion and Ernie grooves like a madman. It’s a dazzling conclusion to an incredible weekend for British (and international) drumming. Way to go, guys.




How did you feel playing with Steve and Ernie? Was it hard work or did it come naturally?

“We just fell right in. Steve and I have very similar influences in drumming. We’re groove players and we love a load of the older British guys. That was our starting point. When you play with another guy I don’t think it should ever turn into some kind of drumming gymnastics masturbation thing. Just play — it’s a powerful feeling when you can get two drummers together just playing a groove. And playing with Ernie was great, he was so solid and smooth. He just played really nice, melodic lines and was a good listener. That’s what being a musician’s all about’

And you got to play ‘We Will Rack You’ with the great Brian May.

“Brian May is probably the nicest, most sincere, coolest musician that I’ve ever met. If I can be one-tenth as cool as him when I’m his age then I’ll be a happy man. He said ‘When are you doing your thing?’ and I said ‘I’m going on here right after you… would you like to come and play?’ He said, ‘Yeah, okay. I was hoping you were gonna ask’. That’s him — his sound, that homemade guitar that he plays with that coin and the echo boxes. That’s the Queen sound, and not many people have such a strong personality on their instrument. Just to play with him — and I’m not exaggerating is one of the musical highlights for me. I was totally going for it, I had no idea what I was doing and I was totally levitating off the drums:

What did you think of the show generally?

“It was a blast, really, really fun. And that’s the way it should be. Everyone was so laid back and cool. Drummers are always into sharing. I met a lot of people that I haven’t met before like Andy (Gangadeen), Steve, Kieran (Pepper). I feel like I made a bunch of new friends. The tabla player, Pete (Lockett) — that was a highlight for me, seeing those guys play together. Andy’s such a tasteful player. Rehearsing with Steve and Ernie was really great, just sitting around bullshitting, drinking tea and talking about music and drums. We probably played for ten minutes and bullshitted for about two hours. It’s a fraternity with the drummers, like a little club, and that’s really nice”

What are we going to be seeing and hearing from you in 2000?

“Lots of touring, actually, starting in Japan. We’re playing three nights at the Budokan, a famous venue in Tokyo. We’re going to record that. And we’re going to Australia to play the Big Day Out festival with Nine Inch Nails, Foo Fighters and Blink 182. Then we’re playing in the states with Foo Fighters in March. Hopefully we’ll do some festivals in Europe in the summer. But I wanna come back to the UK, just to hang out.” Pat Reid

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