San Jose, Calif., -- It’s almost too apropos as DRUM! Magazine celebrates its 20th Anniversary, that Chad Smith is featured on the August cover, speaking about the soon-to-be released Chili Pepper record and other aspects of his career. Why? Smith is the most covered drummer in the history of the magazine and even “Guest Edited” the 1997 Tabloid Issue of the magazine.
“Chad is a well-rounded, diverse drummer, whose career has taken many paths,” said Phil Hood, publisher and co-founder of Enter Music Publishing, publishers of hip, drum/percussion magazines. “We’re doing everything we can to make this our greatest year. Chad was with us at the start and here he is again, 20 years later with a new story to tell. He is, arguably, one of the most musical drummers in the industry.”
As noted in the opening of Patrick Flanary’s story, “Chad Smith’s Red Hot Return,” DRUM! gave Smith his first cover 20 years ago. So, “It would be DRUM! that would get the first listen to the first Chili Peppers album in five years,” Smith said.
And, what a story it is…Flanary is extremely successful in documenting Smith’s drumming history with the Peppers and in numerous other situations. What’s made so percussively clear in the story is that virtually everybody, from Flea to Josh Klinghoffer, the new guitarist for the Peppers, is that Chad, in any situation, plays musically, always keeping in mind that his ears are just as important as his rock solid chops.
“Everything Chad does is in service of the music,” commented Cliff Martinez, who drummed with the Peppers from 1983 to 1986. “That’s what great drummers do.”
Well said, and Chad backs this cogent comment throughout. During a discussion of one of the new tunes, “Ethiopia,” Chad made the track come alive with his 7/8 groove that he said was inspired by Pearl Jam’s Matt Cameron and Vinnie Colaiuta. This track, according to Flanary, is the proof that the Peppers, despite their challenges, “still have got something to say.”
Percussive, Musical Past
While the story goes into great detail about the new record and the Peppers new guitarist, it also features some pretty interesting facts about Smith. For instance, his first kit while growing up outside Detroit, was made up of discarded Baskin-Robbins containers, which his father had thrown away. During his early years, it can be argued, that his greatest influence was his brother, Brad, who introduced Chad to the drumming of Keith Moon, Ginger Baker and many other legends. Additionally, Chad was playing with a number of bands in clubs around Detroit.
Around the same time while playing with a number of local bands, Chad was strongly impacted by the musicianship of percussionist, Larry Fratangelo, who had worked with Parliament Funkadelic. Chad even emphasizes the importance of this well-respected percussionist. “I think up until then, I was a drummer,” he remembered. “Once I studied with Larry, I turned into a musician.”
Again the point of musicianship is paramount to understanding Smith. Whether he is playing with the Peppers with a sock on his “special parts” or conducting a master clinic at The Drummers Collective, he always discusses the difference between just being a drummer and a musician, who is constantly interacting through the beautiful language that we know as music.
And, as the article discusses, Chad is committed to spreading the drumming/musician message. As he approaches his 50th birthday in October, his approach remains the same as when he first joined the Peppers. Percussion, passion, playing and always learning a new way to forward the drumming arts. And, his youthful energy continues.
The article includes, of course, great transcriptions of the drum parts on the new Chili Peppers record, including the 7/8 groove of “Ethiopia.” Additionally, there is a comprehensive Smith Discography. This issue of DRUM! is available now.
About Enter Music Publishing
Founded in San Jose, CA in 1992, Enter Music Publishing, Inc. is a leading publisher of hip, drum/percussion magazines, with distribution in 40 countries. DRUM! is the flagship publication of Enter Music Publishing, Inc. and continues to set the industry standard for editorial quality and innovation. Enter Music Publishing, Inc. also publishes great content on its website, drummagazine.com. Over the company’s history, Enter Music Publishing has pressed other well-respected publications, such as How To Play Drums, and TRAPS magazine. The company’s mission is to be the best source of drumming news and info on this planet and others as they become populated. The company’s founders, Phil Hood and Andy Doerschuk, are well-respected drum industry veterans with more than 50 years of experience in the field.