It’s Christmas Eve, and William Goldsmith is talking to us on his cellular phone while driving home from some unspecified location. The Foo Fighters 23-year ­old drummer was born and raised in Seattle and will be home for only a matter of days before the band jets off to Asia.

Last year was a big one for Goldsmith, who has seen his share of ups and downs, even at so young an age. In late 1994, his former band, Sunny Day Real Estate, was in its death throes. They decided to do one final tour opening for Shudder To Think and played their last two shows in Seattle. Dave Grohl showed up both nights. “I was nervous,” Goldsmith admits. “I was a huge fan [of Grohl’s]. He was one of my favorite drummers. He’d known Nale [Mendel], our bass player. They’d gone bowling together.”

Not long after, Goldsmith found himself in Washington D.C., where he was surprised to get a call from Grohl, visiting his family in Virginia. Goldsmith remembers, “Dave said, ‘Well, do you want to join a band?’ And I said, ‘What would I do?’ And he said, ‘Play drums!’ I was like, ‘Uh, yeah. That would be cool.”’ The two met at a Washington D.C. dub called the Black Cal and discussed the idea, agreeing to meet back in Seattle.

In early ’95, Grohl, Goldsmith, and Mendel began jamming in Grohl’s basement, learning songs from the unreleased Foo Fighters album. During rehearsals, Grohl encouraged Goldsmith to experiment with the arrangements however he wished. “I don’t play anything verbatim from the album,” he says. “I added my own feel and interpretation to everything. But at the same time, the parts that were there were so appropriate and well­written. I thought they were great as they were and stuck with those grooves for the most part.”

Due to Grohl’s experience as a drummer, Goldsmith especially likes playing along with Grohl’s rhythm guitar parts. “He plays guitar like he plays drums,” Goldsmith says. “He’s got a great sense of rhythm on the guitar, plus he’s very physical. You can see his whole body moving with the rhythm of the song. He does this foot­stomping thing, and it comes down on the kick drum. It’s really fun.”

Goldsmith spent most of the last year on the road, and while the schedule was physically grueling, he learned a few valuable lessons about his drumming style. “I found that I can play harder if I start relaxed and just sort of let my sticks float in my hands,” he says. “I don’t hurt myself as much. I held the sticks tight and hit like I was trying to crack the Earth in half. I don’t know what the hell I was thinking. I can swing more when I allow myself to relax. I’m also working on breathing while I play. I didn’t use to do that. I used to hold my breath and hyperventilate.”

Though he couldn’t be happier with how everything worked out, Goldsmith admits that he felt rather gun shy when he first began playing with Foo Fighters. “My self­esteem wasn’t exactly the greatest at that particular point,” he says. “It was kind of hard because the band I was in before got so dysfunctional and so messed up. But, Dave just gave me a whole new fresh outlook. It’s nice to be in a band where everyone communicates openly, and everyone is looking out for each other.”

This article originally appeared as a sidebar in an interview with Dave Grohl in the March 1996 issue of Drum! Magazine.