Your playing with Nirvana defined a generation of drummers and continues to inspire new players today ... Looking back now which recording, or live performance, are you yourself most proud of and why?
"I think the one thing I am most proud of is the raw simplicity of Nevermind. Our intention was to do something so straightforward that it was almost childlike; simple rhythms and simple patterns- the most direct songwriting. It's bare bones, simple drumming and I rhink the fact that it is so stripped down and so easy to nod your head to is why people still listen to it.
"My goal in Nirvana was to make air drummers out of a generation of people that had no idea how to 'play the drums. The idea was to get people swinging along to those flams, and cranking it up and playing along in their cars - having never held a pair of drum sticks in their lives. The albums that turned me on to drumming as a kid had basic rhythms you know, like The Beatles or AC/DC, or even the drums on disco records. I could hear the kick and I could hear the snare, and it was so simple it made me want to pick up sticks because I thought I could do it. Then of course I turned into a metalhead and it was all about how fast I could play! But at first, it was that simple rhythm that gor me. All the drumming that I've done since Nevermind, I don't think that I've gone in that direction again, and I'm really proud of having been a simple drummer."
You obviously still love playing and being creative on the drumset, and in addition to your own metal project, Probot. have provided drumming services for bands including Queens Of The Stone Age, Killing Joke and Garbage. How do you think your playing has developed as a result of working with such a variety of different musicians?
"I just love playing music and, whether I have a guitar strapped around my neck or drum sticks in my hands, I just love to record, create and jam with other people - it's really fun. When you go in to record drums with anorher band it's really all abour the song; you are there to service the song and not to focus so much on your drum tracks. I've nevet really done that - the composition of what I do in the studio is always more connected to the song. I believe in verse/chorus/verse/bridge section songs that are instantly recognisable just by the drum pattern whether it's 'When The Levee Breaks', 'Sunday Bloody Sunday' or 'Taxman'... You hear a drum beat, and the drums can be the signature of a song because drumming is songwriting. When I go into the studio - whether it's with Queens Of The Stone Age, Killing Joke or Probot - I'm there to make the song sound good. A song like 'Song For The Dead' by Queens deserves as much power as you can give it, and something like 'The Death & Resurrection, Show' by Killing Joke deserves something cacophonous like a marching band. The challenge is finding exactly what the song needs or deserves; that's the biggest deal."
And does still playing drums help your creativity on guitar?
"When I play the guitar I look at it like a drumset - still. The lower strings are kicks and snares, and the higher strings cymbals. Sometimes a guitar riff can be a kick and snare pattern - the lead riff in 'Everlong' is like playing the drums and then you've got a chorus with strings ringing out over everything else, like washing on cymbals. I approach everything that way - even lyrics and vocals are a lot like playing the drums."
What has been pumpin' on your stereo in 2005?
"The Futureheads record - that album is wicked. I discovered them when we were in England doing festivals this year and I've worn that record out. I love the drumming - it's really inventive - and their arrangements are completely chaotic and nuts, Watching the band live makes you love that record even more."
You'll be pleased to hear that Kenny Aronoff has chosen In Your Honour as his favourite record of 2005...
"Kenny Aronoffis a legend, and I'm totally flattered to hear that he chose our record, It makes you feel really good when the accomplished dudes out there tell you that you're doing ok."
What has been your musical highlight of 2005?
"I think just completing this double album In Your Honour - building an enormous recording studio, going in with this hair brain scheme of doing a half acoustic/half rock album, writing 40 songs and choosing the best 20 for the record. I am so proud that we pulled it of and that it has led to the biggest tours, the biggest shows and the biggest singalongs we have ever had."