You can view footage of the performance, part of Grohl’s annual Hanukkah Sessions series, below.
Grohl, who is not Jewish, first launched the series in 2020 with his collaborator and producer Kurstin, who is Jewish. They’ve been releasing eight cover songs by Jewish artists, one for each day of the holiday. But as they pointed out in this instance: “Leave it to us to get the only non-Jewish member of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs to Hanukkah-ize one of their signature songs.”
Earlier this month, Grohl and a company of musical guests (including O, Pink, Beck, Tenacious D and more) performed a secret show in Los Angeles, the first time Grohl has done the series for an in-person audience. Nine songs were recorded, including Blood, Sweat & Tears‘ “Spinning Wheel,” Rush‘s “The Spirit of Radio” and 10cc’s “The Things We Do for Love,” among others.
O’s Yeah Yeah Yeahs bandmate Brian Chase was raised in a Reform Jewish household. He often heard traditional Jewish music growing up, but was interested in a variety of genres and bands – including Grohl’s. “When I was kid, I would be playing Nirvana covers at night and the next day be part of a jazz recital,” Chase told The Jerusalem Post in 2009. “I was into many different worlds.”
Chase met fellow student O in the late ’90s at Oberlin College in Ohio, where Chase was studying jazz at the school’s conservatory. Later, when O transferred to New York University, she met guitarist Nick Zinner at a local bar, and the trio eventually formed the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Their self-titled debut EP arrived in 2001.
Eight years later, “Heads Will Roll” was released as the second single from their third studio album, It’s Blitz! The album debuted at No. 32 on the Billboard 200 and was nominated for Best Alternative Music Album at the 2010 Grammy Awards. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ most recent album, September’s Cool It Down, also earned a Grammy nomination for Best Alternative Music Album.
“During the pandemic, I was struck by the fear that I may never get on stage again or be on the road with my band – who in many ways are my family,” O told Haaretz in June, as the Yeah Yeah Yeahs launched a new tour. “But we’re back playing. … I’m grateful for it at the deepest possible level.”
Kurstin x Grohl with Karen O – ‘Heads Will Roll’
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