With all of the projects Dave Grohl has been involved in throughout his career, the Foo Fighters frontman has provided the music world with countless drum tracks, many of them earning “classic” status in Rock history. Having been a full time drummer in multiple world-renowned bands, Grohl has also filled in as a studio drummer on an unending barrage of projects.
He’s been a punk drummer, a funk drummer, a grunge drummer and even a metal drummer, all adding to his evolving sound and style. While there are probably songs that are more famous, intricate, or special to some of you out there, these ten were chosen to showcase the evolution of Dave Grohl’s drumming while serving ample evidence of just how damn good he is.
10. Drag Queen – Dain Bramage
Drag Queen, recorded when Dave Grohl was just about sixteen years old, is not necessarily the most exciting track in Grohl’s repertoire, but it holds so many of his classic moves. The funky tune comes from his second band, which struggled to be taken seriously by other punk bands in the scene at the time, only succeeding as their drummer gained attention. Looking back on Dain Bramage, it’s clear to see why Grohl stood out against the other simple, speed-hungry drummers in his local DC punk scene. His signature form took shape at a young age and is able to shine on this song.
9. Fucked Without A Kiss – Scream
The evolving nature of Dave Grohl’s drumming is on full display here. Mastering his speed, the drummer really found his stride in Scream. This particular track showcases his metronomic abilities more than any other song from this band, never overshadowing his dynamic fills.
8. Throwing Needles – Late!
With all parts recorded by Grohl during a lull in Nirvana’s career, the Pocketwatch cassette was anonymously released through the Simple Machines label in 1992. Unfortunately, the album is still unknown to much of the mass public, but it holds some true gems, a few of which have been released under the Nirvana and Foo Fighters names.
7. Aneurysm – Nirvana
I can hear the “What about Scentless Apprentice?!” cries now, and I can explain… The drum riff on Scentless Apprentice is catchy and definitely a classic, but that’s all it is…a repeated riff. But the drums on Aneurysm hold their own. You could listen to an isolated drum track from this song and know exactly where you are. In addition, Grohl’s rolling fills and powerful cymbal hits are almost overwhelmingly pleasing to the ear. You don’t even have to get me started on the intro. Listen for yourself.
6. Dictatorsaurus – Probot
As Grohl’s career shifted out of the 90s, he seemed to gain a lot more confidence in his playing which is noticeable throughout his metal project, Probot. You could pull just about any song from the album and find an incredible drum track, but Dictatorsaurus definitely stands out. It’s almost unbelievable how anyone can keep time so well while adding their own flair throughout the alterations. The heart of the song is fairly simple, but every change-up is so signature that they can’t be overlooked. The first thirty seconds alone solidify the entire drum track.
5. Getting Smaller – Nine Inch Nails
Initially set on adding You Know What You Are? to this list, a refresher listen to all of Grohl’s tracks on NIN’s With Teeth made it impossible to ignore the wild time signatures in Getting Smaller. With the fills and tempo changes, the song pushed its way into the foreground and onto the top five.
4. Implant – Killing Joke
Much like the Probot album, you could take any song from 2003’s Killing Joke and hear some insane drums, but Implant excels if only for the hi-hat work and speed. One of the best features in Dave Grohl’s drum style is his control of the hi-hat. You could likely pick him out of a lineup based solely on that sound. But of course, there is more than just good cymbal work in this song – there are tempo changes and lively fills to blow your mind as well.
3. Run With the Wolves – Prodigy
If you’re too lazy to listen to the whole thing, start at 0:40 and take note, even if only for a short while. You’ll understand.
2. Elephants – Them Crooked Vultures
What TCV song couldn’t be on this list? They’re all amazing. But Elephants is arguably Grohl’s best Vultures track. He hits hard. He hits fast. He even hits slow. He does it all. And there’s that hi-hat again, accompanied by the most insane line-up of cymbals you can imagine. With a growing kit and growing experience, Grohl stepped up his game to play alongside one of his heroes – John Paul Jones – in a new band we can’t wait to hear more from.
1. A Song for the Dead – Queens of the Stone Age
Maybe there is magic in the air when Josh Homme and Dave Grohl share studio space because the results always feel a little enchanting. In the case of A Song for the Dead, the two men and the rest of QOTSA churned up a classic tune. The intro paves way for a loose feeling, hard hitting drum track. The song feels like a powerhouse jam that just happened to come together perfectly. This, of course, wasn’t the case. The band put effort into achieving such a clean sound, having Grohl track with rubber pads in place of cymbals to avoid washing out the drums. He came back in later and filled the empty space, creating a deep, dominating sound. Legendary.