Dave Grohl spoke about the one and only time he ever took drum lessons as a child in his book The Storyteller. It was with a jazz drummer who frequented the Washington, D.C., region, making it possible for Dave Grohl to convince him to visit his mother’s house in Northern Virginia as a teenager. Grohl quickly came to the realization that he would never be able to endure instruction after a brief struggle with his grasp on the sticks.
Instead, Grohl turned to his record collection to get all the information he need. Grohl revealed which band was the original mentor who taught him how to play the drums when he met down with Sam Jones for his YouTube series Off Camera.
Dave Grohl explained, “I never took lessons to play the drums. I learned how to do it on my bed, listening to f****** Rush record. Punk rock. I took one drum lesson. He’s like, ‘How do you hold your sticks? Yeah, you know that’s not how you’re supposed to hold them.’ I’m like, ‘Okay, I don’t have $30 an hour to sit there and re-learn everything that I’ve learned.”
He added, “The same with guitar: I took a couple of guitar lessons and then I wound up playing, and I play guitar the way I do it. I don’t know what any of the chords really are. I know the basic chords. But the way I look at a guitar is like a drum set. I look at the lower strings like they’re kicks and snares and I look at these [high strings] like they’re cymbals.”
By dissecting the key-chord structure of Foo Fighters’ “Skin and Bones” and playing the riff to “Everlong,” Grohl exemplifies his rhythmic approach to playing the guitar. He also compared his method of learning to how he assembles furniture.
He said, “You know, if I go to IKEA and buy a shitty f****** chair that I need to put together, I don’t really want to read the instruction. I kind of just want to figure it out. Because at the end of the day, when I’m sitting there in my shitty IKEA chair, I feel proud that IKEA didn’t tell me how to put it together.”
Watch Dave talk about music down below.