Classic Rock

For some bands, getting an award might scarcely register - just another hasslesome obligation in a whirlwind of press junkets and promotional stunts. But for Foo Fighters - avid readers of this magazine to a man - being voted Classic Rock's Band Of The Year by the magazine's readers is a major and important honour. To celebrate their award, the band talk us through some of the highlights of what has been a most extraordinary year and a continuation of a quite astounding career.

FEBRUARY 14: Foo Fighters release the White Limo video, starring Lemmy as a deranged chauffeur.
Taylor: "That was another goofy idea from Dave. He was mocking some of his favourite old-school punk-rock videos. Y'know, the ones guys used to make on the cheap back in the early 80s with a couple of hand-held VCR cameras."
Nate: "I've had to do more jack-ass shit on this album than any other. For White Limo I was on roller-blades. I've also been upside- down, hit with sticks by midgets, I've bared my ass, and of course I've dressed in drag - that goes without saying. We're not the coolest band in the world, which works well for usbecause we get to do the jack-ass shit which makes being in the band more fun."
Pat: "Another silly day in the Foo Fighters. Lemmy isn't actually driving. Lemmy doesn't drive, which is probably better for all of us."
Dave: "I had our friend Wiley dress up as Lemmy and drive us around. We took a bunch of friends with us, and we had so many friends in that limo that we might as well have taken a fucking Smart Car!"
Nate: "We've hung out with Lemmy forever. He's a total dude. You just need to make sure you have his Doritos, his Marlboros and his Jack Daniel's, and he'll be there. That's what he sustains himself on. Among other things, I think."

Dave Grohl APRIL 11: Foo Fighters embark on a US tour of contest-winners' garages.
Taylor: "First of all, Dave Grohl is a marketing genius. He never really stops."
Nate: "We'd recorded Wasting Light in Dave's garage, so we thought, we'll go play in other people's garages. Long-time fans of the band won the contest, so they'd invite 50 friends, who they called on the day of the show."
Chris Shiflett: "It was just the way we all did it in high school: you tramp in there and turn it on. We didn't try to stuff an arena stage set into some poor guy's garage."
Pat: "At the first show, the guy was a retired fireman, and his friends were all firemen and cops. The funny thing was, we were kinda worried about being shut down by the cops, but it was like: well, they're all here ... "
Chris: "We played in a barn on an apple farm, we played at a pizzeria ... "
Pat: "I think we should put other rock stars to the test ... "
Chris: "We'll make Lady Gaga play in a garage - see how that goes!"

APRIL 12: Seventh studio album Wasting Light is released, featuring Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic on I Should Have Known.
Taylor: "We'd been listening to the radio and not liking what we heard. Somebody gave me a new record the other day, and I won't name the band, but it was just completely ... modern. You've heard this rant from us a million times: fucking computers are taking the humanity out of everything. Y'know, you used to buy a record and everybody's drum sound was different. Nowadays everybody's got the same computer plug-ins, so everybody's drums sound the same. We worked our asses off to make Wasting Light as good as we could get it without touching a computer. We did that, I think, because we don't like to hear ourselves any other way than what we really sound like: a raw, fucked-up rock'n'roll band."
Dave: "There's poetry in being the band that can sell out Wembley but also makes a record in a garage."
Pat: "It's definitely the best album I've ever been on, and the best Foo Fighters album too. I love it heavy, I love it soft ... "
Taylor: "I think These Days is one the finest songs Dave has ever written. And I still love Rope. I dunno ... It doesn't really sound like us, which is exciting, with Dave and me singing in unison with that strange melody. I remember the first time Nate heard it, he was like: 'It's weird, it's jazzy. I don't know if I like it:"
Nate: "Yeah, Taylor was really self-conscious about that. Rope is cool, I like it, I think it's different, but when I first heard it it sounded a little gimmicky to me."
Pat: "It's always great to see Krist. I only find it emotional at first, then it's just back to fun. I love his playing on I Should Have Known. When he comes in, it just sounds like Nirvana. Nobody has to ask where Krist played."

APRIL 16: Foos release their vinyl covers album Medium Rare for Record Store Day.
Nate: "For us, physical music is what we grew up with. I appreciate digital. It's awesome that you can hear something, buy it on your phone and listen to it. That's great. But going into a record store is something I think would really be missed."
Pat: "Recently, I needed a copy of Led Zeppelin III and I couldn't find anywhere in my neighbourhood to get it, which was a bummer. I'm so used to having 'the thing'. It was hard enough moving from records to CDs. It's like, well, I'm not moving to just. .. air! With digital there's nothing there. It's not as fun. Over here, record stores have pretty much have died out."
Chris: "There were a couple of local record stores where I grew up and you'd know the people that worked there and you'd go in and they'd tell you what the new releases were and what was cool, and 'You gotta check this out'. I think it's really sad that's gone. I still have my old vinyl from when I was a kid, in boxes in my garage. So maybe that's my 2012 New Year's resolution: to get a turntable.
Dave: "I grew up discovering music that changed my life in record stores like Fingerprints [in Long Beach], and I will always do everything I can to keep that experience alive for generations to come."
Taylor: "Cover versions are always fun. We play Tie Your Mother Down every once in a while, we've been playing In The Flesh by Pink Floyd, we play Breakdown by Tom Petty ... We know about 10 covers all the way through."
Nate: "Baker Street is my favourite. Even though it's a classic rock staple, it's not like Stainvay To Heaven or something, that you don't really need to hear again."

JULY 2/3: Foo Fighters play Milton Keynes Bowl, with appearances from guests Alice Cooper and Roger Taylor.
Nate: "It's a weird thing to say, having grown up playing punk-rock shows in people's basements, but I really like the arena shows now."
Pat: "These two nights were my favourite shows of the tour. First of all it was at Milton Keynes Bowl, which was famous for the Queen concert [in 1982]. Then, when we got there, our tour manager had set up this medieval village for a backstage area, with an old-style British pub and a double- decker bus. It was like: 'Wow, you've just ruined all future backstage areas for us."
Chris: "It was definitely not cocaine in bowls. It was pints for the adults and lots of candy and toys for the kids."
Taylor: "How did we end up playing School's Out? Well, Dave had this school function for his kids, and of course he was told he was musical director, so he roped me in. We thought School's Out would be funny for that."
Pat: "Alice was filming a movie or something, so we didn't even see him until we went off stage for the encore. While the crowd was cheering for more, we had a chat with him at the side: 'You wanna do School's Out and I'm Eighteen?' Foo Fighters is the only band I've ever been in that'll learn a song at soundcheck and play it that night in front of 55,000 people."
Nate: "Alice came out on stage with his horse whip and kicked ass, then he left. He's a sober golfer now. Roger Taylor is cool, man. He's obviously an older guy, but he's got a young man's spirit. He likes to hang out, and he's not afraid to talk about Queen, which is great because we're all super-fans."
Dave: "Ask the 130,000 people who bought a ticket to Milton Keynes if they think rock is dead."

AUGUST 7: The Foos' headline set at Lollapalooza is marred/made by a torrential downpour.
Pat: "That was the first time in my life that I've actually been scared of weather! I've never seen or been in rain like that. I can't even say it was like standing in a shower, because it was so much harder than that. The rain was huge and hard, and I didn't think about how dangerous it was until afterwards. I do remember at one point all our guitar techs came running out with coverage bags and taped them over the pedals and monitors. That's when we thought: 'Wow, this is bad."
Nate: "We got all-the-way wet. Even Taylor got wet - that's how sideways and intense the rain was."

AUGUST 30: Foo Fighters announce US tour dates via the Hot Buns viral video, with the band cast as gay truckers who share a shower.
Taylor: "We were at a truck-stop in the Midwest somewhere, about 10 years ago, and Dave was sitting there watching all these big, burly truckers getting tickets to go take a shower. They happened to be playing Queen's Body Language. which was hilarious. It's one of those things that stuck in Dave's head."
Dave: "I didn't realise that truck stops had showers! There was this lady calling numbers, like 'Number 421' and a huge fat guy with a ZZ Top face would go take a shower."
Nate: "We had all kinds of reactions to that. One of our wives didn't get it: 'Why are you doing this? It's embarrassing. You're grown men and nobody should be looking at your 40-year-old ass!"
Pat: "I was like: 'I'm not getting naked for a video. Not gonna happen, dude. You'll have to write another character for me. So I was the cleaner. Were the other guys naked in the shower? Oh yeah. Awkward."
Taylor: "It wasn't that awkward. People think we were just standing all day in that shower naked, but it wasn't like that. The 'buns-reveal', if you will, was the last thing we shot. It was like: 'Okay, guys, drop 'em: Then we all pulled our pants back up. We weren't standing there looking at each other's wang-bangs all day."
Chris: "Dave directed that whole thing, so he was just out of shot going: 'Okay, now pretend to pee in the shower! Now lather your tits!'"

SEPTEMBER 16: The band respond to picketing by hate group/religious nut jobs westboro Baptist Church in Kansas by playing the pro-gay song Keep It Clean on a float outside the venue.
Pat Smear Pat: "We knew Hot Buns would get attention. but it suddenly got this attention we didn't expect. A week before our show in Kansas, someone emailed and told us it was on Westboro's official protest schedule. They're pretty big over here."
Taylor: "The freaky church people? Fuck 'em. The float was another of Dave's ideas. We were all a little bit nervous about it at first. At the last minute we were like: 'Maybe it's a bit dangerous: You never know: if they're that deranged and have such insane theories about religion and soldiers and homosexuality ... Their entire MO is insane."
Nate: 'They're not a real organisation, they're just attention-seekers. It's not like there's any actual ideology behind it. They're just a bunch of shit- bags, actually, but it gave us a great opportunity to do that counter-protest, which is one of the funniest things we've ever done. So good on them for providing the foil."
Dave: "It was a proud moment for the band, to be honest. It seemed like the right way to deal with them. I didn't want to ignore them, but I also didn't want to take it too seriously."
Pat: "It was so much fun that afterwards.I asked the band if we could take them on tour with us, just to protest outside our shows so we can do that again. They did a response, too: a parody of Keep It Clean."

SEPTEMBER 27: For an appearance on The Jimmy Fallon Show the Foos are joined by Roger Waters for a version of In The Flesh.
Taylor: "I love Roger Waters. I think he's brilliant. I think lyrically he's right along the lines of a Lennon or a Dylan. Maybe that's too far for some people, but that's how I feel. Animals and The Wall and Wish You Were Here and Dark Side Of The Moon, all those records. But is he a 'huggy and kissy' kinda guy? No. Not at all."
Nate: "Y'know, Roger is a gentleman, and he was very cordial, but he is Roger Waters and he has a certain curmudgeonly presence."
Taylor: "He showed up and he's like: 'Okay, so how are you guys doing this?' I started explaining: 'Well, we do the live version off the 1981 live album.' And he goes: 'Oh, just fucking play it.' And I went: 'Er, okay.' It's good for us, because we're used to people being so nice and cool and getting our butts kissed. And Roger Waters had no intention of doing that whatsoever. He lives up to the myth of being this sort of pissed-off dude. Which is kinda great. It's kinda like getting punched in the face by Mike Tyson. You say: 'Yeah, I got punched in the face by Mike Tyson. Isn't that cool?"

NOVEMBER 9: Foo Fighters pick up the Best Band 2011 at the Classic Rock Roll Of Honour in London.
Pat: "I just love that it's a Classic Rock award. I still listen to the same music I did when I was a teenager. I'm all about classic rock. Taylor is the same way. We all read the magazine and we love it, so this actually means something to us."
Taylor: "Every year we can go out and make a living, and have people respond is a good year. It's always a good year when we're still going and people like us. Even Rolling Stone gave us a pretty damn good review for Wasting Light, and they've always been fucking mean as shit, pointing out that we're just a bland alternative rock band, whatever the fuck that means. All we are is a rock'n'roll band, man. It's simple as that. We don't claim to be anything more."
Chris: "I'm gonna set it there next to my Grammys and my children's baseball and soccer trophies. I think it's been an exceptional year."
Nate: "It's been an incredible year. We've just gotten to be a better band, I think. which is a pretty cool accomplishment. Sometimes, bands have a lot of fire when they start off, and that sorta dwindles over time."
Taylor: "I keep my awards in storage. But maybe one day I will display this one, when I'm like 65, so all my grandkids can see how truly lucky Grandpa was."

Words: Henry Yates

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