Smashing Pumpkins’ Jimmy Chamberlin Explains John Bonham’s Influence On Him

In a new interview with Rick Beato, Smashing Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlin talked about the influence of different drummers on his own style.

During the chat, Beato told him if he played a song like ‘Muzzle’ in a different tempo, he would have to do a different subdivision. After Beato’s comment, the drummer said Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham inspired him to play it the way it currently is:

“Thank you, John Bonham. ‘Dazed And Confused,’ ‘Since I’ve Been Loving You,’ those where we learned to play those triplet phrases that are elongated.”

He also credited Jody Stephens from Big Star and recalled a moment he had with the drummer:

“And I have to credit Jody Stephens from Big Star. I didn’t know how to play alternative rock when I joined the Pumpkins. I had no idea. […] When I heard the Big Star record, ‘Back Of A Car,’ and I heard Jody played those [parts] I was like, ‘That’s what I’ve been looking for!’ And I told him that. I told him one time, he was playing a Big Star gig, and he handed me cymbals. So I gave him my set, my cymbals. I said, ‘Here, this is for you.’ I said, ‘In payment!’ He was like ‘What?!’ I said, ‘Yeah man, come on.’ He had to know, right?”

The drummer didn’t just have a chat with Stephens. As it appears, Stephen taught him some fills that Billy Corgan was later really surprised by:

“It’s like Buddy said, ‘The best musicians are thieves that never get caught.’ It wasn’t a straight rip but that was the impetus for that song. I’m not going to deny it. I so loved that song and I so loved that number one record in Radio City because it taught me so much about the drummer I wanted to be within the context of my band. I didn’t know before that. So I had been playing that song completely differently and when I heard that song I came back to practice and I started to incorporate all those Jody fills and Corgan was like, ‘Oh my God this is so f*cking genius.’ So as we say you have to be available for the download and you have to know what the download means.”

Chamberlin’s Non-Rock Influences

Chamberlin was part of the Pumpkins’ lineup for their first three albums. The rocker left the band before the release of their fourth album, and rejoined for their fifth album, ‘Machina/The Machines of God.’ It wasn’t only Bonham and Stephens who inspired him to play alternative rock. In fact, the rocker was mostly influenced by jazz drummers. In an earlier interview, he named some jazz players he took inspiration from:

“Even though I’m a rock drummer, I think I’m different for having been influenced by Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, and other great masters of the ’40s and ’50s. I tend to be more of a tom-tom drummer than most rock players because of the influence of guys like Gene Krupa. I tend to avoid the kick/hat/snare thing as much as possible in favor of grooving on the toms.”

You can watch the interview below.