Blah Blah Blah 1996
The post-grunge, alterna-rock firmament descend on Australia for the first ever Summersault tour.
Foo Fighters drummer William Goldsmith is still nursing a red gash his forehead from "a loaded squirt-gun" dispatched from the Gold Coast mosh pit. "Nailed me really fucking hard, man," he mutters, "It fucking hurt. I didn't even see it
coming. All of a sudden it was like BAM! It really threw me for a loop..."
Goldsmith recalls Foo Fighters' first gig at Seattle's Velvet Elvis club as "really frightening," the weight of expectation hanging over the room like a shroud. "I'm ready to go home to Seattle and get a practice space and sit down and play for a couple of months: he says, attempting to keep the whole rocket ride in perspective. "I'm really looking forward to that to work on new songs, just sit down and fuck around for hours on end, to get back to just playing together for fun."
"We've been anxious to do it since weve been in this band." Mendel agrees. "It was pretty much learn some songs and go on tour for seven months. We've written all our new songs pretty much at soundchecks."
"Most bands get fucked-up because of this bullshit and personal problems or lack of communication or whatever." Goldsmith observes, "I don't see this band breaking up for a long time. Dave says he doesn't want to tour after he's 30 'cause he wants to have a kid. But I'll believe it when I see it."
Smear wanders past and belies his permanently evil countenance by placing an impulsive kiss on Goldsmith's cheek. Somewhere beyond, Sonic Youth are very audibly chiming into 'Bull In The Haather' to the rapture of 7,000 South Australians.
Me, I'm waiting for the relevant forms to be filed and stamped to allow a brief audience with Dave Grohl. All over the complex, mobile phone-toting road managers and publicists are trying to determine the feasibility and desirability of this media intrusion when, in the laissez-faire spint of the festival, the Grohl personage walks aimlessly past.
"Oh sure, lets do it right now," he says amiably, unfazed by my lack of laminated credentials and letters of recommendation, "but not here because I wanna say a few things about Pat." Smear grins but maintains his silence as we head down the corridor to perch on a pile of road cases.
"Rancld is one of the best live bands I've ever seen," Grohl gushes, explaining his whereabouts since the Foo Fighters came off stage an hour earlier "The greatest thing about this festival is you usually have the side stage very close to the main stage so all people have to do is tum their heads to see the next band play."
"We had this discussion after the first show In Melbourne," Grohl continues "OK, so The Amps are sort of in their own league; Pavement is kind of the Velvet Underground of the tour: Rancid is the punk-pop band: Sonic Youth are sort of the foundation of it all; Beastie Boys are the Big Thing so....what are we? We're just some mid-level arena rock band!"
Grohl disputes the fact that the Foo Fighters have become the star attraction.
"I don't buy into that" he winces. "I know a lot of people come to see us play because they've never seen a member of Nirvana before but I would never consider myself a star. I'm the drummer of Nirvana - for the rest of my life, I guess.
"I'm very proud of the fact that I was In Nirvana, and It was a lot of fun,' he hastens to add, "but it's kind of like being the kid that everyone found masturbating in the bathroom at high school, you know?"
From where I was standing an hour earlier, it was more a case of full-blown coitus. The Foos kicked Adelaide's collective butt with a 50-minute set which eased in gracefully enough with a new song, 'Enough Space", but fairly detonated from the first chords of 'This Is A Call'. Breathlng space was amply supplied, most notabiy by the dirgey b-side 'How I Miss You' which Grohl introduces with the heartfelt: "we're gonna play a song that will make you cry, I hope,' and concludes with "hey, you've got a sentimental side. I like that you should read some of my poetry..."
The overall formula, however, is aggressively high-octane. Goldsmith drums with a ferocity befitting Grohl's own legacy and Smear, with all the stage co-ordination of a cut snake, Is an audio-visual treat In bleached yellow dome and flailing electric blue socks.
Grohl climbs onto his amplifier for an eternity of feedback before the exhilarating finale of 'Exhausted', after which both he and Smear are flat on their backs and still kicking.
"A song like 'Exhausted' or 'X-Static'.. thats the only way that I can express grief or happiness," the singer explains. "Well, I'm pretty good at expressing happiness but it takes a lot to pull emotions out of me I'm generally not an emotional person at all and it's very seldom that I'll open up and bare my emotions to someone. Music is the only way I can do that and..." He laughs nervously, realising where the thought Is heading "And then I deny it."
Which is how Dave Grohl spends much of his interview time avoiding probing questions about the past.
"I'm still trying to figure it out myself so it's really hard to try and explain it to anybody," he says, turning his gaze abruptly to the floor "It's all riddles just riddles."
Words:Michael Dwyer Pictures:Sophie Howarth
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