'FOR A LOSER REDNECK FROM VIRGINIA, I'M STINKING RICH!'
Melody Maker 2000
Dave Grohl fesses up about drink-driving, cross-dressing, big-spending, star-fucking and touring till your hair goes grey.
DAVE GROHL: MAN, MYTH, RECOVERING DRUMMER. HOW YA BEEN?
"I've been suffering from insomnia pretty much for the last three months, just because we're moving around so much your internal alarm clock. Now I've graduated to the next level, which is being so exhausted you can't sleep and having the mental block that means, eyes closed, completely exhausted, thinking for four hours. Last night I swear to god was the first time I've ever counted sheep. And it fucking worked. I'm not on US time, I'm not on the time here, I'm in Cairo or somewhere."
YOU'VE BEEN TOURING CONSTANTLY SINCE AUGUST 99 DO YOU MISS HOME?
"It does feel like we never come off the road. It's funny because every time we release a record we promise ourselves that we won't tour as hard as we did the last time, and it actually gets worse every time. We have plans all the way up to January, we're heading down to Brazil. So it doesn't look as though we'll stop touring till spring 2001."
SPOT DIAGNOSIS: YOU'RE A RAMPANT WORKAHOLIC.
"I don't know if I'm a workaholic by nature or I'm forced to be. I like the ethic we've maintained over the last five years, but I'm really looking forward to a life that's more stationary. But having been around the country for the first time on the arena tour, we've gotten one step closer to the Queen we wanted to be. We're much more comfortable now playing in front of big audiences, be it a festival or an enclosed arena. And I'm getting older - I started finding grey hairs two weeks ago. I blame it on our touring schedule."
DID THAT WORRY YOU?
"A little, because I'll find a grey hair and everyone will say, 'When did your father go grey?' and I say 'He didn't go grey til he was about 50' and they'll go 'Hmmmm, that's odd.' Then I'm like 'Oh my god! I'm killing myself on the road!'"
YOU'RE NOW RELEASING BREAKOUT, A SINGLE FROM AN ALBUM THAT'S ALMOST A YEAR OLD. SUGGESTS THE MUSE MAY BE RUNNING DRY, DO YOU THINK?
"I know the industry has a tendancy to fucking milk things for what they're worth. I think our management was really freaked out, everyone was afraid we'd go and make some 'White Album' or some freaky Einsturzende Nuebauten record or something and I was talking to my manager on the phone and he goes, 'You know what I need Dave? I need 12 singles.' Put the fucking pressure on man! But we tried! So we'll be milking this one for a few more years!"
BREAKOUT SOUNDS QUITE COMEDIC.
"Breakout started off almost as a joke, just a play on the word and taking the piss out of your typical tourtured romance love story. It's supposed to seem kinda ridiculous because I can't imagine anyone wanting to break off a relationship just because they have acne, y'know? It didn't really make much sense. Pretty much everything we do and have always done has been relatively self-depreciating. We try to make fun of radio or pop music or video just because it seems like such a circus. So, yeah, if we have the chance to make fun of love songs in general, then we will."
YOU SEEM TO HAVE BEEN DRESSING UP AS A LADY QUITE A LOT RECENTLY. ARE YOU BECOMING THE EDDIE IZZARD OF ROCK?
"It's been over the last two years, but I kinda gave it up. I quit it. I felt a little pigeonholed. There's a comedy company from Canada called 'Kids In The Hall' and they were the inspiration behind all of our cross-dressing videos, because they're kinda a 'Saturday Night Live' show but it was five or six guys, there were no women in the cast at all, so they had to cross-dress to get female characters in their skits and it was fucking hilarious. It made it twice as funny. But wether it was this band or Nirvana or the band before, we've always been adamant that we want to detract the homophobic element. It was important to Nirvan, it was important to us, it's important to me. The people who are threatened by cross-dressing or think it's strange harbour a bit of that homophobic element. There's this comedian who had a skit where there's a big redneck beating up a gay guy going 'You faggot! I'm gonna fucking kick your ass! I'm gonna fucking kill you! I really wanna kiss you, but you're a faggot! I really would like to have sex with you, but you're a faggot! So I'm gonna kick your ass!' It takes a big man to wear a dress."
YOU WERE ON THE FRONT LINE OF THE LAST US ROCK INVASION. HOW DOES THE CURRENT ONE COMPARE?
"The crossover of hip-hop into rock music definately made a big impact on everybody. We just played in Germany with Limp Bizkit. It seems kinda logical. Hip-hop becomes huge and there's kids who miss heavy metal, so what the fuck, put the two together. It's quite compelling to stand onstage and see 30,000 people lose their fucking minds to Limp Bizkit. That's something else. But there's a lot of negative energy there. Things move in cycles and what's happening now is a response to Grunge,. It kinda got boring after a whil. Another group of people who look like you went to college with them making good music, but hating it or something. What happened at the end of what you call 'grunge' is that people started coming out saying, 'Rock'n'roll has become so boring and what it needs is a rock star to save it.' So Marylin Manson becomes hugely popular because it's more than just a band it's a whole package, a show, a circus, and people are excited. And then another person comes along and says 'Now that's got so boring, what the world needs is another superhero cartoon character to fix it,' when really all it needed was good music. Now everyone who came out and said rock was dead is now basically regretting it. Rap metal is quite a noise. It really is a big noise and everyone who loves rhythm, from drum'n'bass to Slayer, there's something about rhythm that compels people to freak out. It sounds pretty crazy. It's the noise and the image now."
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF NAPSTER?
"I think it's a good idea because it's people trading music for the sake of hearing music. It has nothing to do with industry or finance, it's just people that want music and there's nothing wrong with that. It's the same as someone turning on the fucking radio, it's the same as someone putting a cassette in a cassette deck when the BBC plays a special radio session. I don't think it's a crime, it's been going on for years. It's the same as people making tapes for each other. The industry is more threatened by it because it's the worldwide web and it's a broader scope of trading, but I don't think it's such a fucking horrible thing. The first thing we should do is get all the fucking millionaires to shut their mouths, stop bitching about the 25 cents a time they're losing."
HAS ALL THE RECENT SHOCKATEERING NOT ENCOURAGED YOU TO THROW OFF THE ALBATROSS OF 'NICEST BLOKE IN ROCK' AND GET YOURSELF A RIP-SNORTING, BOOZE-GUZZLING, OOPS-I-SEEM-TO-BE-UP-IN-COURT-ON-DRINK-DRIVING-CHARGES BAD BOY IMAGE?
"Nah, we're fortunate enough that we can go out and make albums for the sake of making records. We have our own studio, we're in control of everything that happens, we control our videos, so the only obligation we have is for ourselves. We take pride in being the normal people who play in a band and don't wind up in hospital with ODs or wind up in jail on assault charges or wind up having those little tit'n'tat sessions with other rock bands. We just do our own thing and step out."
BUT YOU WERE NABBED FOR DRINK-DRIVING IN AUSTRALIA A LITTLE WHILE BACK!
"Yeah but it was on a fucking scooter, so it's not really a crime! That's the extent of our rock'n'roll right there! Being busted for drinking on a fucking scooter! I was in Australia and we had these scooters to get from the festival to our hotel which was about two miles away. After we were done playing we watched the Hellacopters play, watched Primal Scream play. Then we got on the scooters and headed back to the hotel and there was a police checkpoint and I just barely registered over the limit, but they said, 'Sorry, but we're gonna have to take you to jail.' I went, 'C'mon, dude! I'm on a fucking scooter and my hotel is a mile away! I could park it here and walk!' They said 'Nope, sorry!' So they put me in jail for three hours, I paid a $400 fine and that was it."
ARE YOU IN ANY WAY REPENTANT FOR YOUR CRIME?
"I dont think people should take drunk driving as any sort of a joke. I think people should be careful. I think, even when your three beers into the night and you step on a scooter your putting yourself at some kind of risk. But it's a little bit ridiculous that people consider a scooter a motor vehicle. You've got to laugh."
HOW DID YOU REACT TO COURTNEY SAYING THAT KURT NEVER LIKED YOU?
"By not talking about it with anyone I didn't know, basically. It's the kind of thing that I talked about with all my good friends and if I'm angry I usually let them know or if I feel I've been jabbed one to many times I talk to them. It's such a weird waste of time. I dropped out of high school to get away from that kind of shit y'know?"
YOU'VE BEEN SPOTTED ON THE ARMS OF A FAIR FEW YOUNG STARLETS OVER THE YEARS. WHO'S THE CURRENT SQUEEZE?
"Oh, well you'll just have to go to some Internet gossipy trash site to find that out, because you ain't gonna get it from me."
WE HAVE. THEY RECON IT'S MELISSA OUT OF SMASHING PUMPKINS.
"That's another thing I usually just talk about with my friends! Ever since we started doing interviews we were always very guarded. I love my band and I love my records, but early on I decided there's a line I draw. It's like the people that ask me about Kurt's death when before every interview they were briefed not to talk about it. Most of them were respectable people, but you'd get that rouge motherfucker who'd come in and try to get the scoop. I'd always say 'Say something like that happened to you and someone came up to you who you didn't know and asked you deeply and personally how you felt about it and then they turned around and told everybody - doesn't that seem kinda shitty?' So I always drew the line that my personal life isn't anybody's buisness. I hate reading all that stuff about who's snogging who at the Met Bar. It's so boring and it's that kinda thing that makes people lose the point. I'm lucky that I've been in a couple of bands that have done really well, but the last thing I wanna become is a fucking celebrity. So who I'm dating doesn't really matter, what I think of Courtney doesn't really matter, not to the people who buy the records. I'll probably go to a celebrity magazine with the whole story in 10 years when I'm outta money."
OH C'MON, WHO'S THE MOST FAMOUS PERSON YOU'VE EVER DATED?
"Probably Sandy Moran in the 8th grade. She was the hottest chick in the whole school and I dated her for two weeks. She was beautiful, the best looking girl in the whole school. She dropped me like a hot potato too. Actually, the night she dumped me I went home and had a dream that I was onstage in a fucking arena playing guitar, the audience was going nuts like they were loving me, and I looked down and she was in the front row, crying. I think that was my initial motivation to become the hugest fucking rock star in the world, and look at me now."
WHEN YOU WERE LAST ON THE COVER OF MELODY MAKER THE READERS POINTED OUT A DUBIOUS CLOT OF UNKNOWN SUBSTANCE IN ONE OF YOUR NOSTRILS. SNOT OR SNOW?
"Oh yeah that day I was just doing lines and lines of cocaine! I actually woke up with a bag of cocaine in my face and I snore while I sleep so I had a wonderful high all night long. Actually it was PCP and I still haven't come down. All my friends call me Scarface."
EXACTLY HOW RICH ARE YOU: FAIRLY, VERY OR STINKING?
"I'm stinking rich. For a loser redneck from Virginia, I'm stinking rich! I can pretty much buy anything I want, let's put it like that."
WHAT'S THE MOST EXPENSIVE THING YOU'VE EVER BOUGHT?
back to the features index