The Foo Fighters song inspired by a Led Zeppelin classic

Despite being inactive for over 40 years, Led Zeppelin’s presence still lingers over rock music. Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl is an unashamed super fan of the legendary English group, and their music still provides him with occasional shots of inspiration whenever he needs it most.

“You have no idea how much he influenced me,” Grohl once said of Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham. “I spent years in my bedroom – literally fucking years – listening to Bonham’s drums and trying to emulate his swing or his behind-the-beat swagger or his speed or power. Not just memorising what he did on those albums but getting myself into a place where I would have the same instinctual direction as he had.”

Furthermore, at age 15, Grohl got a tattoo in homage to Bonham and Led Zeppelin. While most teenage ink later becomes a source of regret, the Foo Fighters frontman still wears his tribute to the late drummer as a badge of honour.

Throughout his career, Bonham ushered in pioneering drumming techniques. Take ‘When The Levee Breaks’ from Led Zeppelin IV as an example; he used the acoustics in Headley Grange to his advantage by placing his drums in the stairwell of the Grade II listed building.

Guitarist Jimmy Page later recalled: “Bonzo had ordered a new drum kit. His tech, his road manager, had set it up in the hall, and when Bonzo came out, he started playing it in this thing. It was this huge expanse. You’re getting the drums reflecting off of the walls. [There was] this wonderful ambience to the drums.”

Therefore, when Foo Fighters recorded their 2021 album Medicine at Midnight, drummer Taylor Hawkins decided to showcase his inner Bonham on ‘Shame Shame’. “The drum pattern is really simple,” Grohl told Howard Stern during an appearance on his SiriusXM show before instructing Taylor Hawkins to play the loop. The Foo Fighters frontman then asked Hawkins to play the song again, but this time with the “snapping”, which he duly did.

“We recorded this record in this funky old house, so it wasn’t a studio. We put a kick drum and a snare at the top of this stairwell because the reverb was cool,” Grohl recalled. Hawkins then interjected by saying: “Much like ‘When The Levee Breaks’.”

Stern then probed the band on their drum placement and the benefits they gained from moving the piece of equipment, to which Hawkins replied: “It’s a simple beat. It’s got a lot of space, so we wanted to get the ‘When The Levee Breaks’ kind of drum sound. We didn’t use a lot of mics on the drums, not to get too technical. It was really all about that stairwell sound.”

When Bonham moved his drum kit to the stairwell in Headley Grange, those around him perceived the act as a moment of madness. However, his innovative move proved traditional studio settings aren’t always the perfect place to make music, and decades later, he influenced Foo Fighters during the making of ‘Shame Shame’.

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