Dale Crover ( & Coady Willis )

A relatively uncommon name, but to all in the know, a highly respected and ferocious drummer and percussionist. Dale Crover is truly a beast of a drummer. Strength, speed, volume and just general brutality sum up his style pretty accurately, though in order to exude these traits, a drummer must also have a good musical ear and impeccable timing. Crover definitely has these.

Noted for his manic drumming with American rock band The Melvins, Dale, along with frontman Buzz Osbourne, were long-time acquaintances of a young Kurt Cobain. It is written that Cobain started out as a roadie for The Melvins and through their friendship, Crover has recorded the drum parts for around 10 Nirvana tracks, including Floyd The Barber, Downer and Aero Zeppelin.

Dale Crover

For all the (extremely valid) arguments about control, technique and musical technicality, I can always listen to Dale Crover’s drumming and feel the need to let loose on my drums as hard and loud as possible. Undoubtedly it also has something to do with the sheer heavy sound of The Melvins music, but in turn Crover’s drum parts push it to that next level, for me. Fitting in with the band’s often weird effects and lyrics, Crover has played some unconventional drum sizes throughout the years – again I like this as it is showing non-conformity to anything that may be deemed ‘normal’.

More recently, The Melvins have started to perform with two drummers, Dale Crover (as if he wasn’t enough!) and Coady Willis – possibly one of the best young drummers out there. The first time I saw Willis play, to say the least, I was impressed. Willis’ band Big Business, are a new find of mine, and I have lot of time for them.

Coady Willis


Matt Sorum

If pressed, I’d have to say that hand on heart; Appetite for Destruction is my favourite Guns n Roses album. However Matt Sorum’s contributions to not only GnR’s Use Your Illusion 1 & 2, but with super group Velvet Revolver, as well as his days with The Cult, have made him one of my favourite drummers.

Matt Sorum

He has collaborated with the likes of Glenn Hughes, John Taylor, and Neurotic Outsiders, and unlike some drummers, has mastered his own trademark fills. I can instantly recognise a Sorum drum fill – I have stolen many of them, and used others to form parts of my own fill. Matt is a solid all-round performer, making it easy to learn from listening to him. He’s a big personality within a band and does not shy away from speaking his mind; Matt was the first member of Guns n Roses to openly confront the infamous Axl Rose, pulling him up on his selfish antics and difficult behaviour. Matt has belittled this in interviews, claiming anyone would have done the same – cue the modesty!

Sorum often adapts his live drum solos using the same basic grooves and patterns. Some drum fanatics have criticised this, claiming his playing is too one-dimensional. Anyone can only play to their own abilities, and I find Sorum’s drumming and drum solos entertaining, musically interesting and complimentary to the songs being performed. His showmanship is good too; he brandishes a wicked smile, coupled with the occasional scream and drum stick spin. He likes to initiate audience participation.

Steven Adler (ex GnR drummer) admittedly gave Appetite for Destruction something unique; another drummer couldn’t ever emulate a vibe identical to this. With this in mind, the 30 tracks that make up Use Your Illusion 1 & 2 have Matt Sorum’s stamp on them. There are some inarguably great songs to be heard, to name but a few; Double Talkin’ Jive, Don’t Cry, November Rain, and You Could Be Mine – soundtrack to the film Terminator 2 (1991).

Later with Velvet Revolver, Sorum was a part of some great hard rock tunes. VR’s debut album Contraband was a big hit in the US and UK, some popular tracks being Fall To Pieces, Dirty Little Thing, and Slither.

Joey Castillo

Joey is one of the best examples of a drummer who lets his playing do the majority of the talking. Quietly spoken, his intimidating ‘Mexican outlaw’ appearance is misleading. Muscles aplenty twinned with a canvas of tattoos, he is one of the last remaining musicians with an old-school DIY Punk ethic. To Joey, there is no right or wrong way of playing the drums. It’s an individual experience where you can express yourself freely. I have ultimate respect for him for this. I am not the biggest fan of institutionalisation, on any scale; music is about freedom to me.

Joey Castillo

Joey Castillo (with Josh Homme)

Castillo’s style is unconventional and in many ways primal, he beats furiously on the skins, able to maintain obscure time signatures at spectacular speeds. In addition, he can tone it down to add a slick and solid backbeat. This is displayed on a great version of Make it Wit Chu, by Desert Sessions.

I love Joey’s drumming as it’s like mine in so many ways. He is largely self-taught, as am I, is a massively hard hitter and clearly just loves the drums. I definitely aspire to play like him. When I saw Queens of The Stone Age at Hammersmith Apollo I was right up on the highest deck. We were pretty central and had a great view of Joey. He walked on stage and just devoured his kit. From basically the back of the room, the raw power he was emitting really struck a chord with me, I was blown away. It was no nonsense, unadulterated rock n roll.

To have fill Dave Grohl’s shoes in Queens is a big ask of anyone, Joey slipped comfortably in and made the tunes his own. I remember reading about when Joey auditioned for the band; it took less than half of the song Avon for front-man Josh Homme to make a decision.

Before Queens, he has played with many great punk rock bands, including Wasted Youth, Sugartooth and Danzig. He stays true to his roots, never trying to emulate anyone else and striving to have a good time.

Chad Smith

Chad Smith’s drumming is as excitable as his personality. He may well posses a mischievous grin and a keen sense of humour, Chad is, very seriously, one of the most if not under-rated then overlooked drumming talents in the modern day. His ferocious, power-fuelled funk style has blistered American rock band, Red Hot Chili Peppers, through nine studio albums,  two live albums, three compilation albums, one EP, two box sets, four video albums, forty-two singles, and thirty-five music videos.

Chad Smith (with Flea)

The ability to crank out one hit drum groove after another is an exceptionally difficult thing to do. Not only has Chad done this, his solo abilities on a drum kit are explosive, musically exciting and show signs of his fun-loving sensibilities.

A classic Chili’s tune like My Lovely Man – definitely a favourite of mine, shows how Chad can serve a song brilliantly, but still inflict his own funky frills when required. When you have Michael (Flea) Balzary playing bass guitar in your band, you better be up to the test, or he will take you for a ride and quickly make you look sub-standard. In fact, it’s said in Scar Tissue (Anthony Keidis’ autobiography) that when Chad initially auditioned for the band, it was he who took command of the jam, with Flea and the rest of the band finding it hilarious – and knowing that they had found their drummer!

Chad Smith is a constant reminder to me, to always practice my rudiments and single-stroke drum rolls. Having seen many of his solo clips he is forever proving his versatility and individual sense of feeling the beat. Chad is not afraid to showcase his showmanship skills too – even at the risk of dropping a drum stick! He never misses a beat. A true entertainer.


Jonathan “Sugarfoot” Moffett

I first noticed Jonathan Moffett’s insane drum skills whilst watching a Michael Jackson concert, around seven years ago. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a big MJ fan, and through researching Moffett’s playing career, he started touring with The Jacksons in 1979. If the Jackson Family et al rate Moffett’s chops, who is anyone to argue?!

Well, for any argumentative souls out there, he has also performed with major stars such as Madonna, Lionel Richie, Diana Ross, George Michael, Janet Jackson and Elton John. If this is still not enough, Moffett has appeared on numerous television shows, like ‘Saturday Night Live’ as well as being called upon for TV and radio jingles.

Jonathan Moffett, with his Michael Jackson 'HIStory Tour' drum kit.

Moffett is a powerful drummer, who seems to know himself very well. He speaks with a spiritual tone and allows his mood to compliment and couple the particular groove he is thinking of – be it staggeringly simple, or technical enough to make you tired after eight bars. His attributes would make for a long list but in my view, I see his strengths in speed, a massive dynamic range, and a genuine ability to make his drums convey a song’s emotion or message.

Jonathan’s CV is undeniably impressive. In addition to drumming, he is an accomplished and well-respected songwriter and producer. He has been known to contribute the odd backing vocal here and there too. Yet he remains humble. His main aim remains to entertain people to his highest level of professionalism, by sharing his talents and gifts.

John Henry “Bonzo” Bonham

The measure by which I judge all rock drummers would ultimately be, to compare them to this man; John Henry Bonham, the late drummer and percussionist of arguably the world’s biggest rock band; Led Zeppelin.

In my view, no one matches up to Bonham’s power, control, virtuosity, improvisational genius, feel, and sense of rhythm. He really had it all. I am hardly the only one who feels this way, and whilst the looming shadow of his accidental death in 1980 taints his legacy, I truly believe he would have gone on to only further demonstrate his monstrous abilities.

Known to his friends as a shy, quiet man, who channelled his furious energy and pent up aggression through his drumming, this is something I can openly relate to. Drums for me are the channel for my energy and frustrations, my release.  Whilst I may be expressing myself on the same instrument as John, if only I had the dexterity, natural ability and the almost nonchalant confidence to pull off his astounding skills. I’ll stick to walking-pace 4/4 beats, but I’ll get my kicks all the same!

Some may say argue that there are contemporary session drummers who can run rings around  “Bonzo” – admittedly, there are some phenomenal players around who simply astound me when I watch or hear them, but Bonham was an innovator. A first of his kind. Along perhaps with wildcard, the late Keith Moon (The Who), he paved the way for drummers to really let loose and show physicality in their playing. Before this, drummers were largely still, stiff-postured figures, with only their wrists moving.

One of a kind: "Bonzo"

John’s drum sound is also instantly recognisable.  He was truly an individual. Outside of drumming he was not adverse to a healthy does of manual labour, he was a strong man, definitely working hard and playing harder!  Along with a gruelling set with Zep, his infamous “Moby Dick” solo could last upwards of half an hour.

There simply are no words to describe how much admiration for this man. I (along with Dave Grohl, in fact) have Bonham’s Led Zeppelin symbol tattooed on my upper arm, immortalising my respect for him.


Dave Grohl; the drummer

Forget the genius workings of Foo Fighters. Ignore collaborations with the likes of Paul McCartney and David Bowie. To me, Dave Grohl will always be a drummer first, a multi-talented musician and all-round ‘nice guy’ second.

His early percussive poundings with D.C Hardcore band Scream preceded his rise to rock n roll fame with legendary Seattle band, Nirvana. When I bought Nirvana’s Incesticide album at the tenderly naïve age of twelve, the impact on me shaped my musical tastes, values and ideas to this day.

I now am an avid follower of Queens of the Stone Age and Them Crooked Vultures, two simply amazing bands in which Grohl has played an integral part. It is mesmerizing to watch him let loose on his drums, pure self-expression. A whirlwind of hair, muscles, tattoos and sweat, he has no inhibitions, playing every song as if it’s his last. To know of his multi-instrumental talents only serves to prove how much of a musical drummer he is.

Undoubtedly one of the most powerful contemporary sticksmen, he displays perfect metronome timing and on many Them Crooked Vultures live clips, sandbags can be seen stationed around his drums and cymbal stands, one presumes, to keep them from either jumping forwards or taking off.

Dave Grohl, performing with Them Crookd Vultures at Rock en Seine 2009

Band mate and personal friend Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age, Them Crooked Vultures, Eagles of Death Metal) has described Grohl as a master of the drums and I couldn’t agree more. He may not be the most technical player – though he can throw in a drum fill that will baffle me for weeks – his power, balance, delivery and a brilliant musical ear ensures he serves every song perfectly.

Grohl’s colourful career has seen him play various roles within a band. Certainly though, what was once a shy and quiet 21 year-old with Kurt Cobain and company,  is not the same man who led his band through an energetic set in front of 86,000 fans at Wembley stadium. He has grown, matured, into an enigmatic, commanding musician, seemingly braver and more daring to play that more technical drumbeat, rhythm or fill. Visibly, he’s enjoying himself just as much as he ever did.

Through listening to Dave for the best part of ten years, I’d like to think I could recognise his playing on any given track – not that I’ve tested this, maybe I should!

Without a doubt, Dave Grohl is my foremost inspirational drummer; I will never tire of listening to him.