Last year, drummers Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Taylor Hawkins of the Foo Fighters appeared on BottleRock’s Williams Sonoma Culinary Stage alongside chef Michael Voltaggio in a demo called “Drummers from Another Mother.”
When Smith and Hawkins arrived on stage they were surprised to find custom replicas of their own drum kits—created entirely out of pots and pans. They immediately recognized their places on stage, sat down, and began an epic cookware “drum off.” The crowd went wild as the two legendary drummers played and, eventually, as they threw and kicked their drumsets around stage in a rockstar-worthy grand finale.
But while the rest of the Culinary Stage crowed cheered them on, two other men looked on, cringing: Ben Mahoney and Nate Rippey, the Napa locals who spent weeks testing, building and tuning the drum kits watched in horror as their work was strewn across the stage. “It was kind of heart-wrenching to watch,” admits Mahoney. “Then we realized that the entire set was made out of really durable pots and pans, so we just picked everything back up—only a few scratches to show for it.”
Mahoney and Rippey had never built a drum kit before they set out to build the BottleRock version, which mixed Williams Sonoma kitchenware like pots, pans, chargers and even cutting boards with a legit percussion arrangement. “The Williams Sonoma and BottleRock teams had the idea to make a drum set out of pots and pans for the culinary stage, but no one really knew how it would work, so it was about to get abandoned,” says Mahoney. “That’s when I caught wind of it and said that Nate and I would do it.”
“I was confident we could pull it off,” says Rippey, who plays drums and guitar and has a background in the wine and restaurant industry. “But I don’t think we realized how great it was ultimately going to be.”
With about two weeks until showtime, Mahoney and Rippey dug up the drum plots for Hawkins and Smith online so they could mimic the setup and tonal patterns the musicians were used to. Then they got to work choosing the right cookware.
“I have a friend who works at Williams Sonoma so I called him up and said ‘Can we come in after you close and bang around on stuff?” says Rippey. “We knew we couldn’t just look at the pots and pans. We had to actually hear the sound it made when you hit it.” It was during these after-hours “jam sessions” in the store that they made some of their best discoveries: that copper chargers make great cymbals, or that the All-Clad All-in-One pan was the perfect replacement for a snare drum head.
When it finally came together on the culinary stage it proved to be an irresistible attraction, with everyone from Green Day’s Tré Cool to the Jeffery brothers of Atlas Genius taking a turn on the set. When Hawkins and Smith finally sat down, “I had an ear-to-ear smile the whole time,” says Rippey. “I was blown away.”
And now? The drum kits live with drummers Hawkins and Smith. Chef Voltaggio has a replica in his house as well. And right now, Rippey and Mahoney are hard at work on another drum kit for this year’s BottleRock, this time as the mastermind behind their new venture, Noisy Kitchen Customs.
Follow @noisykitchencustoms and @williamssonoma on Instagram this weekend to see the culinary drum kits (and another secret music x food fusion instrument!) come to life on this year’s Williams Sonoma Culinary Stage. Here’s a sneak preview: