Kenny Aronoff on Chickenfoot, Chad and John Fogerty



© Sayre Berman/Corbis

As we wander through a plush London hotel in search of Kenny Aronoff we stumble upon a confusing sight. We spy what appears to be two Kennys huddled, deep in thought.

All becomes a little clearer as we draw closer to the chrome-domed Chickenfoot man, and lo-and-behold we haven't been staring at a cloned session supremo (although he must wish he did have a double given his never-ending ream of gigging and studio commitments), instead it's Kenny and Chickenfoot guitarist Joe Satriani - they could have been separated at birth, right down to the ever-present shades.

The cause of their mirth it transpires is Kenny's malfunctioning iPhone, a lost signal having left him incommunicado for the best part of 24 hours.

A few button presses from his guitar master buddy and all is well again, and a quick-fire rattle of incoming message alerts fill the air. "This thing will be going off all day now," Kenny laughs.

As we head up to Kenny's hotel room to chat about his time depping for Chad Smith in the Sammy Hagar-fronted Chickenfoot, it strikes us that this scene is not only a beautiful encapsulation of 21st Century touring life and its high-tech rigours, but also of Kenny's life as one of the most in-demand session drummers out there.

You see, not only does he have his regular gig with John Fogerty, but he also has live and studio gigs coming left, right and centre.

His latest dep spot is filling in for Chad Smith, a role he's played before.

"I subbed for him in the Bombastic Meatbats," Kenny explains. "I've never done that before, subbing for the same time in two bands. Maybe if Anthony hadn't broken his foot and Chad had maybe Chad would be saying, 'Man can you do the Chili Peppers!' That would have been a world record!"

Kenny's fit with his Chickenfoot band mates has been as smooth as it has instantaneous, helped along by a hefty dollop of shared musical beliefs.

"What I love about this band is that we have a setlist and we have a certain structure to the songs, but there is a lot of room for improvising and everybody knows when to do that and how to do that.

"That's because we all come from a background of improvising and interacting with musicians. It's the opposite of programming music. It's a real creative art form. The audience feel like they're part of something that's really happening right now. They're part of the experience happening that night and it's unique to them."

And it's not just his band mates that have welcomed Kenny with open arms.

"The audience in Manchester was really receptive to me," he beams. "When Sammy introduced me it could have been the loudest cheer. Plus the whole thing has been handled so well. Chad recommended me and we're good friends. It's his gig and I'm just subbing."

But, don't get thinking that Kenny is about to become Chad mark II.

"I can't be Chad," Kenny admits. "Chad has his own thing. I haven't thrown floor toms at lead singers and hit them in the head!"

One thing he does seem certain of though is that this January run of Chickenfoot dates won't be the last we see of the band in 2012.

"We definitely want to do more stuff. The US and European tour is called the road test to see what people want, and everything is sold out."

Rich Chamberlain

Rich is a teacher, one time Rhythm staff writer and experienced freelance journalist who has interviewed countless revered musicians, engineers, producers and stars for the our world-leading music making portfolio, including such titles as Rhythm, Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, and MusicRadar. His victims include such luminaries as Ice T, Mark Guilani and Jamie Oliver (the drumming one).