Party Hard

Kerrang! December 2002

After the most hectic - and successful - year of their careers, Foo Fighters are looking forward to a little seasonal relaxation. Time to pour the wine, serve up the sprouts and talk skeet shooting, Christmas orgies and cold turkey.

Kerrang! December 2002 "HOLY SHIT! What the hell is that?" The four members of Foo Fighters have just bowled into a room backstage at the Newcastle Telewest Arena that's been specially converted in a homely recreation of a Christmas family scene and are familiarising themselves with a full turkey-and-trimmings menu that's lavishly been laid on for them. Drummer Taylor Hawkins curiously picks up a Yorkshire pudding, sniffs it and then replaces it.
  "Dude, what are these? Butter pies?"
  As his high-spirited bandmates - frontman Dave Grohl, bassist Nate Mendel and guitarist Chris Shiflett - circle around the table to enthusiastically prod and poke the food, unwittingly demonstrating some of the major cultural and culinary differences between the UK and the US, the origins, ingredients and rituals involving Christmas pudding and numerous other 'delicacies' are explained to them in great detail. Meanwhile, the hyperactive sticksman pours out a line of salt, chops it into shape with an oversized Christmas card and pretends to hoover it up one nostril. The cad.
  Despite a sub-zero wind blowing in off the Tyne and the absence of any meatloaf, Big Macs and Twinkies on the menu, Foo Fighters are in a characteristically good mood. 'Wacky' seasonal hats are enthusiastically donned, party poppers popped and seasonal anecdotes shared. The band's current UK arena tour has long since sold out, fourth album 'One By One' went straight in at Number One and the band picked up a Lifetime Achievement award at this year's Kerrang! Awards. And let's not forget Grohl's work on the Queens Of The Stone Age and Tenacious D records and the small matter of some renewed interest in previous band Nirvana. It's safe to say that 2002 has been kind to Grohl and his merry charges - although Hawkins' painkiller overdose at the V2001 festival certainly cast a darker shadow over things.
  Clearly there's plenty to talk about. Gentlemen: see off your sherries and please extinguish all cigarettes. Dinner is served.

Everyone ready? Let's talk about Christmas, then.
Taylor: "Rrriiight."
Dave: "Okay."
Chris: "Why don't we just sing Christmas carols instead? And that'll be the interview."

Is Christmas a very exciting time for you?
Chris: "I love walking around. We were in Manchester and we got a little time to check out the city centre. With all the Christmas decorations, it looked like something was going on downtown. That was good."
Dave: "Aaaaah!"
Nate: "I do like Christmas, I'm a fan."
Dave: "Christmas is the biggest holiday in my household, for sure. Every year we have a big party in the house I grew up in. We don't send out any invitations, don't call anybody, and the same 30 to 60 people show up every year and just get fucking hammered until six o'clock in the morning. The first time I ever took mushrooms was at that Christmas party."
Taylor: "In front of your mom!"
Dave "It was in front of my family and all of my friends and theirs. A friend of mine gave me mushrooms as a present and I took them and was running around the party having the time of my life. A friend of my mother's pulled me to the side and said..."
Taylor: "...Are you on cocaine?"
Dave: "Right, 'Are you on cocaine?'. No I'm not! I stayed up all night long trying to figure out..."
Taylor: "... The meanings of Led Zeppelin lyrics?"
Dave: "No, but it was some Led Zeppelin guitar thing... 'Bron-Yr-Aur'! I was like, 'I'm getting it! I'm getting it! I'm really getting it!'. The next day I tried to play it, it was not even fucking close."

Party Hard How long ago was that?
Dave, "Twelve months ago (laughs). No, I guess it was '85, '86."

How upset were you when you found out that Santa isn't real?
Taylor: "I don't remember that revelation."
Dave: "I remember my Mom kind of leaving it open-ended. I finally asked her when I was seven, 'Come on, Santa Claus?'."
Taylor: "That's bullshit, right?"
Chris: "She said, 'I'll tell you what, I did hear something on the roof last Christmas that sounded like reindeer, so I don't know'. It's an issue of faith, really."

Have any of you ever been in a nativity play?
Taylor: "What the hell is that?"

Performing the story of the birth of Jesus as a play.
Taylor:"Oh, right. No."
Dave: "I have."
Chris: "What was your role in that? Baby G?"
Dave: "No, I wasn't Baby G. I think I was one of the wise men."
Taylor: "Were you beating Jesus on the way to the cross? (Laughs.)"

Is the religious side of Christmas important to you?
Taylor: "Definitely. We're all Christians. No, not really."
Dave: "Not at all."
Chris: "My girlfriend's half-Jewish so I've been learning about the Jewish traditions the last couple of years."
Taylor: "The eight days of Christmas?"
Dave: "I'm going to get Chris a dradel this year."

Festive Foo What did you get each other last year?
Dave: "Probably a whole lot of nothing."
Chris: "A sack of rocks."
Taylor: "One year I got him (Dave) a scooter."

What, a proper one, like a Vespa?
Taylor: "Yeah. Then Nate got me one for my birthday."

Did you write him a thank you letter?
Nate: "If I had e-mail he'd probably send me an e-mail"

It's not the same, though.
Taylor: "No, it's not really is it?"

What have you got each other this year?
Nate: "We don't really celebrate Christmas as a band. It's sort of a private, family thing. Maybe we should, though."
Taylor: "That'd be fun! A soiree."
Chris: "In my family we stooped having Christmas about 10 years ago with the agreement that we're not supposed to give anyone in the family presents anymore."
Dave: "What a stick in the mud."
Chris: "Once everybody finally left the house my mom decided we're not going to ce1ebrate Christmas, and for years she tried to get everybody to donate to a charity of their choice in the family name. I just did it last year for the first time."
Taylor: "Because you had money for the first time!"
Chris: "I donated to the ASPCA"

What's that?
Taylor: "The kitty thing. It's for animals."

Do you get a lot of music presents for Christmas?
Nate: "People get on themes, like, 'All I know about him is he's into boating'. So I get a lot of shitty boating stuff."
Dave: "It's hard to buy for someone who has one specific hobby."

Do you get guns, Dave?
Dave: "No! Actually, one year I got a skeet-shooting trap-puller, and some clays which actually broke in shipping."
Taylor: "I got golf clubs one year. It's a hard game, but fun on a sunny day with your bros. That's nice."

What about you, Chris? Do you get surf kit?
Chris: "I got some UGG boots last year."

What, those furry thermal things?
Chris: "Yeah."
Dave: "I got those one year. Actually, you got some of those for me once, too."
Taylor: "We just give gifts to each other all the time!"
Dave: "Today I bought Taylor a Can record."
Taylor: "Yeah he bought me a Can CD and I bought him a new pressing...actually an old pressing...or some special pressing..."
Chris: "It was a pressing."
Taylor: "It was a pressing and it is quite impressing."
Chris: "This is getting depressing."
Taylor: " ... Some pressing or another of 'The Song Remains The Same'. Apparently it sounds better."

So how will you be spending Christmas Day?
Taylor: "Last year we cancelled Christmas because my brother's kid was sick. It was my idea to cancel it and my mom heard my idea and didn't talk to me for two months. So that was my Christmas last year."

Festive Foo Is it a generally harmonious time, or a time for argument?
Dave: "I think it's generally harmonious, sure. I'm doing the fucking bi-coastal Christmas this year. Christmas Eve I'm in LA, Christmas Day I'm in Virginia."
Chris: "My girlfriend's got me much more into holidays because I was never much of a holiday person. She celebrates every holiday with incredible enthusiasm so I'm forced to join in."
Dave: "This year I was trying to schedule how I was going to work the Christmas thing, splitting it between two families and..."
Taylor: "Well, it's kinda three because you've got to see your dad too, right?"
Dave: "Yeah, but it's basically East Coast/West Coast."
Taylor: "Yo!"
Dave: "So I'm looking at the schedule and I'm thinking, 'How the fuck is that going to work, man?'. We only have nine days to squeeze everything in and I got really bummed out about it because basically something like Christmas is one of the only things that represents any sort of normalcy in your life. So if that's taken away from you and turned into a huge stressful fucking..."
Taylor: "Affair?"
Dave: "Affair. Then you're fucked, so you make it a priority to make it a good time."

Do you still get a stocking?
Dave: "Yeah, not much has changed."

Aren't you a bit old for that?
Dave: No! I still give one to my Mom and she's 65."
Taylor: "Your Mom's 65! She doesn't seem 65."
Dave: "She doesn't act 65."

What's been the greatest present you ever got?
Dave: "Last year my Mother gave me a photo album that went from my great-grandfather up to today. That was kind of cool. There were photos I'd never seen before from 120 years ago. That was a good one."
Nate: "Probably a football or something."
Chris: "I got a catcher's mitt once. I was pretty psyched about that."
Taylor: "Drums are expensive, so I'd get one cymbal for Christmas that cost two hundred bucks. Everyone else got three outfits, a record player and some other stuff. I got a cymbal"

Have you ever behaved badly at a Christmas party?
Taylor: "I'm sure I have."
Dave: "I'm sure you have, too."
Taylor: "Well, you're the one that took mushrooms at your fucking Christmas party! I wouldn't call that angelic behaviour."

What about taking the whole under-the-mistletoe thing a bit too far?
Taylor: "Oh, you mean have I ever gotten laid on Christmas?"

Perhaps with someone you shouldn't have?
Taylor: "What, like your Cousin or something? I shouldn't have done that, but she was 13! (Laughs.) No, nothing like that."

What about somebody else's wife?
Taylor: "No. That wouldn't be nice."

Have you ever had office jobs and experienced the office Christmas party?
Chris: "Yeah, I had an office job. I was a book-keeper for years and years."

How was that?
Chris: "Terrible, I hated it. When I turned 18 my Mom made me go get a job. She was a probation officer so I got a job there in the records room."
Taylor: "When I worked at this music store we had a Christmas party and I got fucking hammered, ran up the alcohol bill and the owner of the store got really pissed off. I did end up going to some club or something and scamming on one of the chicks who worked in the office. I guess that was getting with someone I wasn't supposed to get with."
Dave: "Dipping the pen in the company ink, there!"

Festive Foo You don't have Boxing Day, do you?
Dave: "No."
Taylor: "What is Boxing Day? When is that?"

December 26.
Taylor: "Isn't that Christmas?"

No, that's December 25.
Taylor: "Right."

Boxing Day is a big sport day here.
Taylor: "We have two weeks off. Everyone goes shopping right after Christmas, it's so unbelievably fucked after this orgy - women love it."
Dave: "Thanksgiving's the big football day in America. That's on the third Thursday of every November."
Taylor: "That's football not soccer."

Does Thanksgiving steal the thunder of Christmas a bit?
Dave: "Nooo, never. Christmas is the day."
Taylor: "Christmas was really fun when I was a kid. As I get older it's like you've got to go here and there and do this and do that."
Dave: "You see, as you get older the joy is in the giving."
Taylor: "I don't mind giving, I don't mind buying presents for people. That's fun."

How do you fill that difficult period after Christmas dinner?
Dave:"Kind of take a nap before the party."
Taylor: "My Sister would always be pissed because me and my Brother would sneak out and buy a 12-pack or smoke a couple of joints and go get thrashed somewhere, then walk in all fucking tweaked for the rest of Christmas Day. That's what we'd usually do."

Not this year, though?
Taylor: "No, not anymore."

After your drug mishap last year do you think there'll be any 'cold turkey' jokes?
Taylor: "Ha! Ha! Ha!"

Do you have a Christmas message for the readers?
Dave: "Go out and buy King Diamond's 'No Presents For Christmas'."
Chris: "God bless."
Nate: "Don't buy people clothes. They won't like them."

Taylor: "Darn, no. I don't have any Christmas message - other than have a nice Christmas!"

Words: Ben Mitchell     Pics: Ross Halfin

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