Drumeo’s ‘…Hears it for the First Time’ series — where a famous drummer is presented with a song they’ve never heard before and their attempt to play along is recorded — has become a hugely popular regular on the online drum lesson platform’s social media channels. This time, it’s the turn of Red Hot Chili Pepper, Chad Smith, who found the gauntlet of 30 Seconds to Mars’ 2006 monster hit, The Kill, at his feet. What’s more, is perhaps predictably, he absolutely destroyed it.
In case you’ve never watched the format, a drummer is played a drumless version of a piece of music they’ve never heard before from Drumeo’s collection. They can listen to the song to grasp the feel, then record a few takes to get it right.
Chad Smith claims to have never heard The Kill by 30 Seconds to Mars (despite knowing Jared Leto and his brother, 30STM drummer, Shannon Leto), and we certainly believe him based on his reaction to hearing the song on camera.
After listening to the song’s intro/verse, and exclaiming “Oh, it’s in three?”, Chad joins in on the second bar of the first chorus, and from this point onwards pretty much has it nailed. Throughout his first and only take, he picks up on some of the song’s key arrangement and compositional cues instantly, including the full-band stabs during the song’s breakdown, and he even hits the two-bar stop before exploding back in for the outro.
At one point, Smith — who’s playing so hard he looks like he’s going to smash his fists through his CS Dots — breaks a stick, and seamlessly retrieves another one without dropping a beat.
Towards the end, he goes off-piste playing a 4/4 beat against the song’s 6/8 pulse before deciding he’s had enough. When offered the chance to do another take, Smith says, “No. No, I fucking nailed it!”
Next up is the reveal, where he gets to hear how close he was to the original. “What the fuck was that?! Was that like, My Chemical Romance or something?”. Drumeo’s Brandon Toews tells him the name of the band and song, and Chad realises it’s Jared Leto’s band, later adding “I’m gonna call Jared and say, ‘If your brother gets sick, man…”.
Reflecting on his approach, he adds. “It was fun, I love improvising and jamming to new music. It’s not my normal wheelhouse, this kind of thing. Just trying to listen to what I think the arrangement’s going to be… It had a lot of energy in that song so I just decided to inappropriately overplay, which is kinda fun. But you know, let’s get back to shit that I know!”