by Kimberly Bright
YouTube videos of cover versions of well-known songs seemed to multiple geometrically last year during the COVID lockdown. Nandi Bushell, then a 10-year-old self-described “British and Zulu drummer girl” in England, was already well-known internationally for her amazing, spot-on, skillful rock drum cover versions on YouTube.
She acquired some very famous friends through her videos: she was sent guitars from Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello and Muse’s Matt Bellamy and custom drum kits from The Roots’ Questlove and Lenny Kravitz. She even covered Nirvana’s “In Bloom,” which Nirvana producer Butch Vig brought to Nirvana drummer / Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl’s attention.
Then in August of 2020 Nandi challenged Dave Grohl to a drum-off of the Foo Fighters song “Everlong.”
From Grohl’s description of the experience, he didn’t take the challenge too seriously at first and soon learned his lesson: “There is this person. One day I pick up my phone and my friends are all texting me like, ‘Have you seen this shit?’ And I click on a link and I look at it and I see that someone is challenging me to a drum-off. So I’m like, ‘Well, isn’t that nice.’ I kind of brush it off, I’m like, ‘Ah, that’s kind of funny.’ All my friends start telling me, ‘No, dude. You have to step up. This is the real deal. This is a drum challenge. This is a drum-off.’ So I respond. I’m like, ‘Alright, I’ll play nice, I’ll put on a little thing.’ And then she comes back. And she flips my fucking ass in front of the entire planet.”
The first song in the challenge was “Dead End Friends” by Grohl’s supergroup Them Crooked Vultures — which Bushell won. For round two Grohl wrote a theme song for Bushell: “Number one supergirl / Best drummer in the world/ Always right on time.” She responded with a song for Grohl, “Rock and Grohl, The EPIC Battle.” Like Grohl, she sang and played all instruments on the song.
Nandi’s response – “Oh it’s on!”
Dave Grohl VS Nandi Bushell EPIC Drum Battle – Dead End Friends – Them Crooked Vultures – Checkmate!
Nandi Bushell | Official Theme Song
Rock and Grohl — The EPIC Battle
Just a year after the challenge was issued, on August 26th she joined The Foo Fighters onstage at the Forum in Los Angeles for their encore, playing “Everlong.” Never one to restrain his enthusiasm, Grohl introduced her to the crowd in glowing terms, explaining how they met:
“Tonight was the first night that we met and I came face to face with my arch nemesis. But of course, this person inspired me last year so much, and I’ll tell you why. Because in a time where you would pick up your phone or turn on a computer and all you had was bad news, for that one day, you could pick up your phone and see this connection between two people that have never met making music together and spreading joy and love all across the world. So ladies and gentlemen, would you please welcome the most badass drummer in the world, my new friend, Nandi! … We’ve had the honor to jam with some pretty amazing people over the years. Maybe some Beatles, maybe some Stones, maybe some Pink Floyds. But let me tell you something. This one right now, takes the cake, that we get to jam with Nandi right now.”
Foo Fighters with Nandi — The Forum, LA 8-26-21