What do you do if you were in Nirvana and made enough cash to retire at 25? If you're Dave Grohl, you form the Foo Fighters - and become a gigantic rock star all over again.
Grohl, dubbed the 'nicest man in rock' by all who meet him, says the UK is like a second home. He also prefers the politics - the only man that really seems to upset the otherwise affable Grohl is George W Bush.
The Foo Fighters actually signed up as the warm-up act on John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign after George W Bush started using their song Times Like These at rallies.
'In America everybody's scared,' he says. 'And that's how the government likes it. Really, I don't know who's scarier - the terrorists or us. All I know is that I remember a time when I didn'tlive every day in a state of fear, and it was pretty great. Of course we live in a different world now but after 9/11 the US Government introduced this terror alert system - a colour-coded warning that was at the bottom of your TV screen 24 hours a day. It was ridiculous, Orwellian Big Brother shit. The fear was so amplified that you had people in tiny towns afraid that the bogeyman was comin' to get 'em.'
'I think it's sad we live in a world of fear instead of hope and I refuse to live that way.' He slumps back into the sofa. 'I just think that if I'm going to jump on an aeroplane and fly to England whatever happens is going to happen. And I made it. Nothing happened. Woo-hoo!
It's rare and refreshing to find someone as successful and famous who utterly content with life. Even drained and exhausted after a long flight from America he exudes an enthusiasm says he's having a ball, life is good he couldn't ask for more, But Grohl doesn't conform to any of cliches of fame and fortune.
He's never had any class-A habits to feed, cigarettes and the odd whisky his only current vices. And there's no revolving door on his hotel room - he's happily married to second wife Jordyn, a former MTV producer, with whom he recently had a daughter, Violet Maye. Grohl doesn't do red carpets or awards unless he's nominated or performing. He doesn't hang out in 'celebrity' bars and restaurants and his only famous friends are Queens Of The Stone Age ('the greatest band in the world') and actor Jack Black. 'I just don't get off on being a celebrity,' he says. 'I get off on being a musician.'
The absence of rock-star behaviour and celebrity leanings as well as his contentment Grohl attributes to two things: low expectations and complete freedom from ambition. 'Everything that has happened has been an accident,' he says, 'from playing in bands as a teenager to the success of the Foo Fighters. You know, playing hardcore punk in the Eighties in Springfield, Virginia, there was absolutely no career ambition - because there could be no career in making two-minute-long, 200-beats-per-minute hardcore punk rock songs. We just did it for fun. Starting the band, practising in a basement, pressing our own singles, making our own fanzines, going out on the road, booking our own tours... it wasn't a career option. You were lucky if you got your $7-a-day living allowance.'
'So when success eventually falls into your lap like it did with Nirvana you just kind of chuckle and go, "What the fuck? That's insane." I was able to make my way through that whole situation by sort of holding it at arm's length and thinking, "Now isn't that strange?"
'Our attitude was shaped by the underground punk rock scene we all came from. There were no stars in our scene. We had heroes - but everyone was considered a human being and entirely approachable. And that's never changed.'
As if to emphasise his unpretentiousness Grohl slumps back into the sofa and ends up near-horizontal, with his chin resting on his chest. 'That attitude's had a lot to do with the band's success,' he says. 'The Foo Fighters started with a demo tape that I did down the street from my house. I didn't even expect it to be a band at first - it was just a bit of fun. Not aiming for world domination has kept the focus on what's real, which is making music. It doesn't matter how many people come to our shows, it's still purely for personal satisfaction.'
'I get kids coming up to me and saying, "Hey Dave, got any advice for someone trying to make it?" and I say, "Don't. Don't try to make it. If you love making music, just make music. And if it's great music people will listen."
'It's not rocket science. All this success is just like the cherry on the cake. I mean, had this never happened to me I'd probably still be happy. I can't imagine I'd be disappointed, because I still don't feel like I deserve it and I sure as hell don't expect any of it. I never did.'
Words: Dan Gennoe
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