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I was discussing “hook fills” with a student the other day.  The term “hook” refers to a melody or part that really grabs the listener, in a way that the melody/part becomes the song’s identity.  It’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a particular song, and it’s the thing you hum to yourself to remind yourself of the song.  That’s what a hook is… and it’s a big part of the pop music world.  Like I said, hooks are mostly found in the melodic side of things, but a fill can be hooky too.  In fact, it’s not a bad idea to try and be hooky with every fill you play, because it will help you avoid drummer disease.

Anyway, I always immediately think of Dave Grohl when I think about hooky drum parts.  The guy just knows how to grab a listener with a fill (and grooves in general).  Nirvana’s stuff is obviously a great example of this… like the intro fill for “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”  Everybody recognizes that fill, regardless of whether they’re musicians or not.  Another great example in the Nirvana catalog is that tune “In Bloom.”  That’s the example that came to my mind in the lesson the other day, so I quick looked up the song on Youtube so the student and I could listen to the fill in the lesson.  I had never seen the official video for that track, and it’s pretty funny…

Do you hear what I mean about Grohl’s fills being super catchy and “singable”?  So great.  Long live Dave Grohl.


I’m a Nirvana fan, because I have ears, but also because I love Dave Grohl. However, many people don’t know that Nirvana had a different drummer prior to Grohl, a dude named Chad Channing. Channing played most of the tracks on Nirvana’s debut record Bleach, and was fired shortly after… kinda like the Nirvana version of Pete Best or Dave Krusen.

If you’ve ever wondered why you don’t like the drumming on Bleach as much as the later Nirvana recordings, Channing is why.  To quote my good friend Chris Morrissey: “Chad Channing makes Meg White sound like Manu Katche.”

Check out this great BBC audio documentary on the legendary Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, narrated by Dave Grohl.  Seriously… do it.

The John Bonham Story

HT: Dollar Bill Radintz

Oh man. I bought a copy of Nirvana’s Nevermind last week at a thrift store for $1. I haven’t owned this record since junior high. The drum tones are CRAZY awesome. I heart Dave Grohl.

I will say that he possibly overuses the crash cymbal on most of these tracks… but who cares. It’s so rocking. I mean, listen to the fill at 0:47 of “Drain You.” SO HUGE. Is it just me or is he underpinning the 16th snare notes with 8th notes on the kick there?

This week in music news…

– Pink Floyd is suing their label, EMI, for “miscalculated royalty payments.”  Floyd, whose albums Dark Side Of The Moon and The Wall are among the highest selling albums of all time, will likely receive millions in the case.

– Dave Grohl’s wife gave birth to their second child last week, a girl named Harper Willow Grohl.  “Seven and a half lbs, 20 inches long, and loud as hell” was the statement from the family.

– Susan Boyle, the surprise and overnight star of Britain’s Got Talent, is on the way to holding the record for Youtube views, amassing over 100 million views in 9 days.

– David Byrne has a concept album with Fatboy Slim due out soon.  In addition, he’ll be curating a stage at this year’s Bonnaroo Festival as the first artist to ever be invited to do so.

– In the ongoing saga of who will be the new Smashing Pumpkins drummer, Billy Corgan reveals that he’s leaning toward John Dolmayan of System Of A

– Editorial items:  I recently discovered Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, whose music I enjoy very much.  The new Doves record is also awesome.

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