Metal Hammer 1997
"Fuck, man, it sucked!" groans Dave
wearily down an equally ill sounding
phone line. "I went out on a friend's
birthday and we tried to go to this
particular restaurant, but it was closed,
so my friend decides to go and get a
couple of slices of pilla at this little
pizza place, but I end up with the two
slices that have been stuck on the counter for a week
and my friend gets the fresh pie!
"Seven o'clock the next day, my stomach hurts! I just thought it was weird, because I've never had food poisoning before and I also haven't vomited since I was 14 years old! I can't fucking vomit - even if I'm blind drunk, spinning in my bed, I cannot vomit Yesterday, I was fuckin' puking everywhere and it was so weird, because I couldn't even remember what it was like to puke, so I'm trying to hold it back, but I can't, so I'm like, 'Okay, I'm just going to relax my stomach', but before I could even finish thinking about it, it was just like BLEEUURRRGGGG!"
Luckily, even a severe dose of food poisoning can't stop the Foo Fighters frontman talking at his customary high speed. Dave Grohl is not your typical, self-obsessed, ex-grunge rock star. Far too nice to take himself that seriously, with the release of a new album 'The Colour And The Shape' just around the corner, he has every reason to be happy. The fact that literally hours ago, he was throwing up his stomach lining, and that he has spent the two months previous to that doing the same with his vocal chords, has not phased him in the slightest.
"From nine in the morning to 11 at night, I've just been talking about our album!" he says. "It's fuckin' crazy. We also went to Japan and we did 60 interviews in three days. Now I just wantto play to as many people as I've been talking to!"
Inbetween the talking, there's also been the small matter of replacing recently departed Foo Fighters' drummer William Goldsmith with Taylor Hawkins, formerly of Alanis Morissette's band.
"He's so awesome, man," claims Dave, enthusiasm gushing down the phone receiver. "We met him on the festival circuit in Europe and we just got to know Taylor, he sort of latched onto our band, so we immediately bonded and became friends.
"When William left the band, I thought I should call Taylor and see if he knew of anybody, and he said that he was interested, which I couldn't believe, but the thing is, he can be any kind of drummer he wants to be! I did wonder whether he would be compatible with our band, but when we got into rehearsal, he just powered through three or four songs straight! It was hard to be in the same room as him, he hits the drums so hard!"
Coming from one of the world's notoriously powerful drummers, this Taylor guy must be quite something! "He's the best drummer I have ever had anything to do with in my life," claims Dave, obviously meaning every word.
So, with a new drummer in place within five days,
Dave was saved the hassle of having to
audition potential drummers. And the potential
drummers were saved from having to be auditioned
by Dave Grohl. My own conclusions as to why
William left are not shared by Dave. Think about it
Would you like to play drums in a band with Dave
Grohl? You'd have a constant feeling of "Shit,
whatever I do, he can better." Let's not forget that
part of the reason Nirvana rocked so hard was
Dave's incendiary drumming.
"I think William wanted to play with other people," says Grohl. "He wasn't into all of the touring and he also had a hard time when we were in the studio." You can tell Dave's run through that diplomatic answer many times. Whatever, something led to William leaving and when you consider that Dave plays drums on all but two of the new album's songs, I think you'll be able to form a pretty clear picture of what it was.
However, it's always the prospect of a fresh start that keeps a band at work. Not at all fazed by the months of touring that lie ahead of them as they prepare to launch the album, Dave still claims that, "There's nothing I'd rather do."
Last year, it was a different story. At the end of 18 months touring their debut album, the band played at the Phoenix Festival and gave considerably less than their all.
"Well, fuck, it had been a year and a half'" defends Dave. "Of course we were burnt! You know what's so funny? We thought, 'Okay, so this Phoenix show is the last show- after this, we can go home! Yeah, it's gonna be so great!' and we stepped out on stage and there was two ways it could have gone. It could have been the most energetic, out-of-control performance we've ever put on, or we could have just stood there and enjoyed the huge audience. We just stood there!"
Considering also that the material they were playing was lifted from an album that was basically Dave Grohl's solo record (he plays every instrument on it!), the Foo Fighters' spirits will no doubt lift now that they have a whole new set of songs written by the band as a whole.
"I know that everyone else is way more enthusiastic, because the whole band has put something of themselves into the new songs," he says. "Everybody has their own two cents thrown into this one."
Whilst most of the band's fans will connect
with the album, some may find it a little light,
preferring the heavier, more (dare I say it?!)
Nirvana-esque material. You couldn't exactly call the
album a sell-out, but there are songs on there that
allow the band to relax!
"I think it was important for us to do something that was unexpected, we had to grow and mature. There is a song called 'The Colour And The Shape' that we were going to put on the record that was almost like another Weenie Beanie' sort of song, just another screaming, fast, hardcore song, but we decided not to put it on, because it was a step backwards, we've done that already'"
Did the band start writing new material as soon as you started touring? Are you one of those bands that can do that?
"Yeah, sometimes," he replies. "A lot of the songs come from soundchecks from the last year and a half of touring. When you're doing long soundchecks every day, you don't want to be playing 'I'll Stick Around' again, you start working on new things, so that you feel fresh and alive and you can keep those creative juices flowing."
Or you just fuck around, playing goofy covers, right?
"Oh yeah, we always have a couple of those," laughs Dave. "'Carry On My Wayward Son' by Kansas is always a favourite! I think that's going to become a staple of our setlist."
You can probably also bank on a couple of old punk covers making it into the set Playing the Angry Samoans' 'Gas Chamber' last year, Dave's love of hard core punk has never been a secret Starting his drumming career in a Washington DC band called Scream (they, along with Minor Threat, were one of the early Dischord Label signings before they became known as Wool), he first toured Europe around ten years ago, playing his debut show in London with British hard core legends the Stupids. A couple of years ago, Dave undertook a two week reunion tour with Scream across America.
"The reunion tour we did was really great Going on tour with Scream was always amazing, because we had so many friends in every city," he reminisces. "It was like this whole family throughout the country and a lot of people I hadn't seen came out for those gigs. The first time Scream came to Europe, England was the only place where we could play in clubs; in Europe, it was all squats, because that was the only places that would have us. When I go back to Europe now, a lot of the squats have gone and things are so different now."
Do you miss being in band that doesn't have the added complications of fame?
"Oh my God, totally," he sighs. "There's things that I miss and there's things that I feel fortunate for now, but it really proved your love of making music back then. That's really what it was all about, because you were making music for real people and for real reasons. There was no other reason to do it Money certainly didn't come into it. There wasn't any."
With Pat Smear (former guitarist of the Germs) in the band, at least half of the Foo Fighters have had a taste of what it's like to play in hardcore bands -the kind that would make most of today's positively melt! "It's weird, because I love the Germs, but I never ask Pat about it." muses Dave.
I wouldn't be able to resist!
"Oh, it's hard sometimes, but I don't want him to feel uncomfortable, so I figure if he's got any good stories, he'll tell them. I bet he's got some great ones! It was quite a scene back then!"
While you may never be able to re-create the energy of the early '80s American hardcore scene, I you can rest easy knowing that there is at least one! band who doing their best to create a whole new gush of energy.
Punk rock is in safe and creative hands.
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