Mojo, October 2017

Stepping out from Nirvana's shadow, Dave Grohl has craftily emerged as one of the most absorbing American songwriters of the last 20 years. On the eve of Foo Fighters' most accomplished and expansive album, he invites Keith Cameron on a Greek sojourn and embarks on a sonic odyssey.

At 8.30 on a simmering Athens Summer evening, the Foo Fighters are shortly due to begin their first ever live concert in Greece when Dave Grohl is beckoned over by the theatre manager. A grave-looking woman, she explains that her venue has hosted many notable performers, but nothing quite like his band. "Nothing so. . ." She waves her hands, looking for the right word. "Nothing so. . . "
  "Loud?" offers Grohl.
  The theatre manager looks at him, a little doubtfully. "Please take care of our building."
  Situated low on the southern slopes of the Acropolis, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus was built in the classic semi-circular Roman design between 160 and 174AD, by a wealthy Athenean intellectual in honour of his wife. Destroyed by Heruli barbarians in the third century, it lay in ruins until restoration in the 1950s, when it began staging musical and theatrical events.
  Greece takes preservation of heritage monuments very seriously, and so permission to perform at Herodes' Odeon is at the behest of a government body, the Central Archaeological Council (KAS). The criteria is strict. Franco Zeffirelli's 2005 production of the opera Pagliacci was approved only after the KAS vetoed the presence of live animals. Maria Callas, Frank Sinatra, Nana Mouskouri, and Elton John have bestrode the Odeon's marble stage, while Greek new age pianist Yanni achieved international recognition with his televised 1993 concert Live At The Acropolis, but almost without exception - Sting; an acoustic Jethro Tull - rock bands are refused. Understandably: the KAS is tasked with preserving a nation's heavy rocks; it doesn't need heavy rockers reducing its historic buildings to dust.
  So whatever Dave Grohl said, and to whom, must have worked, because on July 9, 2017, under quickly darkening skies, he walks to the edge of the Herodes Atticus Odeon stage and lifts his eyes beyond the theatre's steeply banked terraces, towards the crowning glories of ancient Greece: the Temple of Athena Nike and the Parthenon. "Let me tell you, we've done some crazy things over the last 20 years, but I think this might be the craziest thing the Foo Fighters will ever do," Grohl tells the screaming crowd. "It's an honour to be here. So I think tonight we should play for 20 years. . ."
  Not even Grohl's persuasive powers can stretch to a stunt of that magnitude, but over the next two hours, the Foo Fighters respectfully shake the foundations of the 2000-year-old theatre and ensure that everyone leaves happy. This Acropolis show was a last-minute addendum to the band's European tour - a three-week swing that otherwise comprised arenas or festivals, notably a widely-lauded headline set at Glastonbury - and is being filmed for US television series Landmarks Live In Concert, hosted by Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith. The VIP list includes Greek politicians; the US Ambassador is otherwise engaged but makes an appearance at soundcheck.
  Backstage, facilities at the Herodes Atticus are suitably democratic: more austere than the band have become used to, but no one's grumbling. If some members of the rock elite are to the manor born, this lot spiritually never left the garage. The frontman's 'wardrobe' amounts to the pair of identical black shirts tour manager Gus Brandt tosses him 10 minutes before stage-time. Befitting one who began his odyssey from behind a drum-kit, Dave Grohl defines rock yeomanry, always taking pains to spotlight the collective effort. Twice he cedes lead vocals to drummer Taylor Hawkins, and there's a lengthy band introduction segment where the members play cover versions to showcase their skills: guitarist Chris Shiflett does Bon Jovi's Wanted Dead Or Alive; bassist Nate Mendel essays Queen's Another One Bites The Dust; guitarist Pat Smear The Ramones' Blitzkrieg Bop; keyboardist Rami Jaffee a Yanni-esque synth filigree.
  But Grohl is the ringmaster. He's grown into the role: the Dave Grohl of early Foo Fighters shows, a refugee from the trauma of Nirvana, struggled to look at the audience, let alone speak. And while he receives due credit for his showman abilities, he is less recognised for the skills as a composer, beyond the 11 Grammys and four Brit awards. Like sometime collaborator Paul McCartney, Grohl's consensual appeal has undermined appreciation of his craft, both among the underground community that spawned him and the mainstream audience that's embraced him.
  The new Foo Fighters album, Concrete And Gold, suggests Grohl felt he had something to prove to the world and perhaps even to himself. Its two predecessors were somewhat contrived exercises in form and function, grasping for a kind of authenticity eroded on the journey from clubs to arenas to stadiums. 2011's Wasting Light was recorded analog in Grohl's garage; then 2014's Sonic Highways saw each song recorded in a different US city, written on the hoof to fit the narrative of a documentary series. Each album had signature moments, the former especially, but neither concept seemed conducive to sharpening Grohl's artisan's eye for melody - the very thing that delivered the band to a mass audience in the first place.
  "For the longest time we've been placing these restrictions round the band, boundaries," Grohl says. "Not only in the recording process but also in the songs. Thinking, OK, we can't go that far because we'll never be able to reproduce that live, so let's keep it to the simplicity of the five or six guys in the band. And this time, I thought - fuck it. Just fuck it. I said to Pat and Taylor at one point, as we had stacked 32 vocals together, How the fuck are we gonna do this live? And Pat said, 'Just do what Queen did - do the live version.' So we sort of let all of that go."
  To make this leap of faith required a fresh perspective from beyond the band's traditional hinterland. After eight albums made in-house or in collaboration with simpatico rock producers like Butch Vig or Gil Norton, the Foo Fighters leapt into bed with the contemporary pop world's foremost auteur-cum-architect. Greg Kurstin co-wrote, produced and played most of the instruments on Adele's multimillion-selling global hit Hello. He has done likewise on multiple albums by Lily Allen, Kelly Clarkson and Sia. His other credits include Kylie Minogue, Katy Perry, Charlie XCX, Lana Del Rey and Taylor Swift. Kurstin also has serious musical chops, having studied piano at New York's prestigious New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music. His latest assignments include Liam Gallagher and Beck.
  But Grohl knew none of this when he first collared Kurstin in a restaurant in Hawaii - he merely recognised the male half of The Bird & The Bee, the Latin-scented space pop duo Kurstin formed in the mid-'00s with singer Inara George (daughter of Little Feat's Lowell). Later discovering the extent of Kurstin's portfolio, Grohl wondered if this might be his conduit for a new model Foo Fighters album: a record to represent the full spectrum of his songwriting abilities.
  "For years we were just friends," Grohl says, "we sat in the pool and talked about Sabbath and Coltrane and Sgt. Pepper and Mahavishnu. . . Greg has an encyclopaedic knowledge of music. Then when we started looking around to make another record, I thought this might be a perfect match: his sense of melody and understanding of music would complement these heavy riffs I'd been making. My love of Gerry Rafferty and Andrew Gold and 10cc is only rivalled by my love of Motorhead and Sepultura and the Bad Brains, so I imagine there's gotta be a world where those things can exist together. I think it worked."
  First, however, Grohl had to tell his band their next album was going to be produced by the mastermind behind Carly Rae Jepsen's Boy Problems. "Pat goes: 'What else has he done?'" Grohl recalls. "I said, Well he did Adele. . . Pat says, 'What does she sound like?' So I played him Hello - which now we call, Hul-loo! - and Pat said, 'It sounds great, but how does this factor into what we do?' So then I played him a song, I'm A Broken Heart, on the first Bird And The Bee record. It's only second to God Only Knows by The Beach Boys - it's just magical. We couldn't have made this record with anybody else. It has Greg all over it. I mean, Greg actually is all over it - there's synth parts here and there, and the way he's stacked the harmonies. . . We did exactly what I hoped we would do."
  With crushing riffage, aerated vocals and micro-symphonic arrangements woven into an overall production aesthetic that evokes the bittersweet timbres of '70s soft-rock, Concrete And Gold affords the perfect platform from which to trace the musical evolution of this very modern, traditional, songwriter. A few hours before leading the Foo Fighters' assault upon the Acropolis, Dave Grohl points MOJO towards a poolside sun-lounger at his hotel. "I made a list," he smiles, scrolling through a page on his phone. "We will definitely run out of time. There's never enough time. . .

The seven-year-old Dave Grohl's mind is blown on hearing this nine-minute slab of troglodyte synth-prog on the 1976 K-Tel compilation Block Buster.
"The other songs on the record were KC & The Sunshine Band, [Silver Convention]'s Fly Robin Fly... When the needle got to Frankenstein, everything changed. First of all, it was an instrumental where each player seemed to get a moment of solo. This just jumped out of the record player and hit me. It was the riff and the drums, I hadn't heard anything that heavy. Frankenstein is one of the greatest riffs of all time: instantly memorable. The keyboards sounded like voices, and the drum solo in the middle had this energy I hadn't heard from anything else. The fact that it was an instrumental I think says something, because from then on I tried to find music where the instrumentation was as powerful as the lyric. We didn't have a record player - my mother would bring a record player home from school - so we had no record collection. But once I heard Frankenstein we started going record shopping on the weekends. That was the beginning of it."

THE BEATLES - 1962-1966 and 1967-70
Dave teaches himself to play guitar, with a little help from his friend ...
"The two greatest hits records, the early years and the ater years, the red and the blue. That was a gift given to me by my mother, along with the complete Beatles chord book. That's really where I learned to play guitar. I would put an album on, find the page with the song, try to play along according to this simple music sheet, almost like I was in a band in my bedroom trying to follow along with these other players. I'd have to remember an arrangement, and changes and tempo and melody. So those two albums were my music teacher when I was young. The Beatles songs that really got me when I was young were the darker ones, like She's So Heavy - the riff in that is so sinister. It's a beautiful song. I liked a lot of the darker Beatles stuff as time went on, and I still do. I still discover things in all of their records that I haven't really latched onto before."

SCREAM - Freedom Song
In 1985 Dave Grohl heard a track by Washington hardcore heroes Scream. He loved it so much he joined the band.
"IN 1985, before I joined the band, Scream made their second record, called This Side Up. Scream were one of Washington DC's more aggressive hardcore bands, but they would branch off into rock'n'roll and even reggae sometimes. So, when that second record came out we were expecting the same sort of music from them. The first song on that album, Bet You Never Thought, I don't even know what to compare it to - it was the most melodic thing they'd ever done. When one of your favourite bands goes from being this strict hardcore band to pulling off something as beautiful as this song, it's like you feel relieved. So all of a sudden you're free. 'Oh, it's OK to do that now!' It's almost like your older brother letting you touch his record player. It was liberating. Everybody in DC was challenging each other with their music. The local music scene was more inspiring than anything else, because I was watching my friends experience that creative growth or turning into musicians. So when a band like Scream writes a song as beautiful as Bet You Never Thought, it seemed attainable or tangible. That was the thing about the DC scene: people were trying to inspire the next person. I think Bet You Never Thought is the most beautiful song that Dischord Records has ever released."

AC/DC - Let There Be Rock
Wherein Grohl gets his first taste of animalistic proto-punk energy, at a cinema in Washington DC
"I saw that movie when I was 10 or 11 years old. It was a midnight movie that my friend Larry Hinkle and I went to see. His father dropped us off at the theatre, near the zoo. I had no idea what to expect, I had never heard AC/DC before - maybe an older brother of one of my friends had Highway To Hell. But I had never seen a performance like that. So the energy and the simplicity totally blew my mind. It was the first time I'd ever listened to music that made me want to smash windows. Then I bought the record...
  The energy that the Foo Fighters try to give off is rooted in the night I saw that movie. Live performance should be all about that scene where Angus Young is off-stage sucking an oxygen tank, soaking wet, basically in his underwear... Every single one of them had something I loved. Bon Scott had that outlaw twinkle in his eye, like he could give a shit. Angus, of course, was really the front man - they had such a perfect relationship on-stage. One thing a lot of people don't realise is the way Phil Rudd plays drums - he's pushing. He pushes back as he plays, so it creates this swing on his hi-hat that nobody has ever reproduced. But if I could be any other musician in the world, it would have been Malcolm Young in AC/DC - laying it down on the Gretsch, standing in the back, only moving up to the mike when it was time to do the back-up vocals with Cliff [Williams] and then going straight back. It's like a football play! Incredible. And then of course, you've got Cliff's hair... Anyway - that was a big one for me."

DEVO - Uncontrollable Urge
Ohio's nerd-punk superstars retune 10-year-old DG's brain to middle-America's bizarro netherworld.
"I discovered Devo from a family friend in rural Ohio. Up until then I'd been listening to classic rock and AM radio but Devo was my ntroduction to the flip-side. It made sense that band came from such a placid wholesome American state. I just loved the angular, rhythmic sharp edges. Lyrically they seemed to have an intellect and wit that even at 10 years old I recognised. They seemed to be making fun of pop, which was pretty much what I'd been listening to until that point. They'd taken such a different path.
  On Uncontrollable Urge, the guitars are just as percussive as the drums. The arrangement in the middle is almost mathematical. I can't read music so I see arrangements and patterns in my head when I listen. Almost like building blocks. I sometimes wonder if it started with that song because when I listened to it all the patterns fell into a Tetris-like shape. Pat Smear still says Devo was without a doubt the best band he's ever seen - at the Whisky in 1977. Of course, later on, Nirvana covered Turnaround. And 'Devo' would be the nickname that you'd have shouted at you from pick-up trucks full of rednecks: 'Fuck you, Devo!' You can't get much more iconic than that!"

BAD BRAINS - Rock For Light

Teen Grohl is awoken to the revolution on his own doorstep by a Rastafarian punk band playing at ultra-velocity .
"Musically Bad Brains were far superior to most hardcore bands. HR was singing, whereas most other guys were screaming or yelping. You could tell that the bass player, Darryl, was just as percussive as the drum-set, and it's that album I learned more drumming from than anywhere else. The energy and the production - by Ric Ocasek - raised the bar for everything else. My trip to Chicago when I was 13, when I discovered punk rock, I came back with the Dead Kennedys record, a compilation called Let Them Eat Jellybeans, and Rock For Light. And Rock For Light was the one I just couldn't get out of my mind. Nobody could touch them live. They had this huge sense of confidence. HR once told Ian MacKaye: 'Don't waste that time on-stage, don't waste it with bullshit...' That definitely helped the music scene in DC - after that it was like, 'Fuck, we have to make the Bad Brains proud.' They were huge."

TEARS FOR FEARS - Head Over Heels
How a mordant pop duo from Bath eased Dave through the agonies of adolescence
"By 12 or 13, I had shelved my classic rock record collection and started building this new punk rock collection. I mowed lawns all week long to make enough money to go to the record store downtown. So, I was going in the direction of faster, louder, darker... as my sister, Lisa, three years older, was getting seriously into new wave territory. We'd meet in the middle sometimes with Bowie and Siouxsie And The Banshees, but I would hardly ever dig into her record collection for fear I would find some terrible John Hughes soundtrack.
  But my sister had The Hurting and Songs From The Big Chair and I secretly fell in love with Tears For Fears. That melancholic sense of melody really encapsulated that specific place and time in my life - when you're 13 years old, your nuts are dropping, your voice is changing, you're breaking through puberty, so listening to Tears For Fears somehow soothes the burn. When Songs From The Big Chair came out and they broke into the mainstream, they were inescapable in America. I still listen to those records often."

HUSKER DU - Zen Arcade
A Minnesota trio destroy the hardcore rulebook and show noisenik Grohl a new direction
"My favourite guitarists, whether it's Jimmy Page or Bob Mould, or Alex Lifeson, or Mike Hampton of Faith, another DC punk rock band, there's similarities in all of them. Something I Learned Today by Husker Du is not too different from something Alex Lifeson would play in Rush. And the droning note on In The Light by Led Zeppelin is not too different from something you would hear on a Rites Of Spring record. I don't think the genre matters, it's the emotion you get when you hear it. Husker Du is a perfect example. Zen Arcade was the first Husker Du record I bought. A quote-unquote hardcore band making a double album seemed odd. Then having the songs go from straight-up Yardbirds on meth to Current 93/Psychic TV noise, to tight, perfect almost Ramones-like punk rock songs... everything that I needed was on that album. Pink Turns To Blue - that's like a Mamas & The Papas song, but the guitar tone is so brutal, the drums are so great. That was the first meeting of my love of '70s melody and the energy of '80s hardcore. I love a good hook, whether it's a Britney Spears song or a Husker Du song. And Husker Du wrote hooks, man. Grant Hart and Bob Mould - they had two awesome songwriters. I had gone from studying the songbooks of The Beatles to hunting for absolute noise, and Zen Arcade was my coming back around again, and then looking for both."

LED ZEPPELIN - The Song Remains The Same
Dave inhales deeply and reappraises the definitive '70s rock classic rock band.
"Barrett Jones was my first friend to get a CD player, and the first CD he bought was Houses Of The Holy. This was '86. I was now getting into weird industrial music and post-punk, Mission Of Burma, Television... nowhere near any classic rock. Barrett puts in this CD. The clarity of it, so much that you could hear the kick drum pedal squeak, mixed with generous amounts of marijuana... we became obsessed. I realised there were elements of all these different bands that I loved in Led Zeppelin. The sense of musicality that Edgar Winter thing had, where each player was a virtuoso on their own, that sense of composition that The Beatles had, the reckless distortion of punk rock bands - Led Zeppelin had all of that. The Song Remains The Same blew my mind. That's when I really became a drummer: listening to that album and realising how poor a drummer I actually was. I'd been learning to play drums on pillows, listening to the Bad Brains and Minor Threat. When I heard the power and the clarity of John Bonham on that CD, I thought, I've got a lot of work to do."

SONIC YOUTH - Death Valley '69
NYC art-punks plus Lydia Lunch hymn the death of the '60s dream; on a California beach, 17-year-old Grohl gets chills.
"I listened to Sonic Youth for the first time on a Scream tour when we were staying with some hippies in Santa Cruz. Death Valley '69 just takes you by storm. It was nice to be near the ocean, near gigantic waves, while I was listening to this music. The epic swells in that sinister breakdown section, to me that was the Dazed & Confused of CBGB's. That was something no one else did or could do. Having toured with them with Nirvana, to watch them do it every night differently was pretty amazing. It gave me the chills every time. You realise it has little to do with their equipment, it's mostly just dynamic and their hands on the wood and strings. Sonic Youth were masters at that beautiful dissonance.
When we perform live we have songs that have sections that are open to interpreation. Taylor and I focus in on each other, creating a dynamic, and the other guys follow along. That definitely comes from Sonic Youth. Nirvana did the same thing with songs like Endless Nameless and Aneurysm. We learned it from the best!"

Brazil's metal kings provide DG with an unsurpassable benchmark for heaviness.
"When I was young, my best friend was Jimmy. We were discovering music together, but we split paths around the time I discovered Devo and he discovered Loverboy. That's not exactly a two-way street. So as I was buying my GBH singles, Jimmy ordered a record by Metallica. Three weeks later I get the phone call: 'Dude, get the fuck up here right now.' He had just got the cassette of Kill 'Em All. That's where Jimmy and I met in the middle. At one point he discovered Sepultura - Arise was the first one he got. I loved them. The first time they played Seattle, they were just ferocious. It wasn't that groomed heavy metal aesthetic, there were dreadlocks everywhere and the guitars were tuned down to Z. [Krist] Novoselic started getting into them too, and at one point we entertained the idea of having them open up for Nirvana. It never happened... Then Roots came out, produced by Ross Robinson and mixed by Andy Wallace: sonically the most powerful album I had ever heard. Made everything else sound like a flea-fart. That record became the gauge for every studio album Foo Fighters did for 10 years. 'That sounds pretty good, but see how it stands up to that Sepultura record...' There's no way we ever got anywhere close. But it gave you perspective - this is heavy. What you're doing? It's OK, but this is heavy."

MARK LANEGAN - The Winding Sheet
Nirvana's new drummer meets Seattle's solitary man and enters his kingdom of rain.
"When I moved up to Seattle to join Nirvana, I lived with Krist Novoselic in his Tacoma apartment. Krist is six foot eight, iving with his wife in this tiny attic space, and after three weeks they asked me very politely: 'Do you wanna live with Kurt [Cobain] in Olympia...?'
  After a few weeks, Kurt said, 'Let's go up to Seattle for the night, a band is playing and we can stay at my friend Dylan's house.'
  I woke up in the morning on this couch, and there was someone sitting in a chair, smoking and staring at me.
  I said, Hey.
  And he said, 'Who the fuck are you?'
  I said, I'm Kurt's new drummer, Dave. And he said, 'Oh.' It was Mark Lanegan.
  I didn't know anything about the Screaming Trees, I didn't know anything about his music at all, but we talked for a while. He's a great guy - intimidating, some would say, but it was a nice way to get to know him.
  The record collection we had in Kurt's tiny apartment was a Devo record, a Divine single, The Winding Sheet ... and that was it. So I put on The Winding Sheet - and I still listen to that album on a monthly basis. That cold, hard, rainy winter that I spent in Olympia just as I joined Nirvana couldn't have been complemented better. His voice, the arrangements, the songs, his lyrics... It's such a beautiful record. I hold it to the same standard as Tom Waits or Nick Cave. Mark Lanegan is one of America's greatest music heroes. Unsung, for sure. But he's still prolific and still makes great records. That album changed the way that I listened to music. He's one of the greats.
  Nirvana's arrangement of Where Did You Sleep Last Night comes from The Winding Sheet. There's another song on there that Kurt and Krist play on, with Mark Pickerel on drums, Down In The Dark. Hearing Kurt's backup vocals on that, it was so different from Bleach, it made me wonder what was coming next for the three of us. It was exciting to imagine the possibilities of what we could come up with together.

10cc - I'm Not In Love
The sweet melancholy of '70s soft-rock has new resonance for the older Grohl.
"In the '70s my mother would always have the radio on in the car, so I was brainwashed with 10cc and Helen Reddy, Phoebe Snow, Andrew Gold, Gerry Rafferty... I loved that music, it's part of my foundation. I can still close my eyes and see it, in the back seat of my mom's Ford Maverick, with my arm out of the window on a summer day, and 10cc's I'm Not In Love is on the radio as we're coming back from swimming at the lake. That music became the soundtrack to my childhood. Maybe because when I was a kid I felt alone in this little world I had created - and I always liked being alone - that songs would become imaginary friends. If I felt a certain way I would listen to a certain song, just so I had something or someone to be with. And a lot of that '70s sense of melody is melancholy. In the '80s I lost that to the noise, then I came back to it in the '90s. It seemed that sound made its return in bands like Dinosaur Jr and My Bloody Valentine - Only Shallow on Loveless made me feel the same as I did as a kid listening to 10cc."

KYUSS - Blues For The Red Sun
In Seattle, as Nirvana are exploding, Grohl finds the future Queens Of The Stone Age.
"After Scream was over, my friend Pete Stahl stayed in Los Angeles and started a band called Wool. This was back in the days when we would write each other letters, and Pete said, 'You've got to hear this band Kyuss, they're from the desert and it's the heaviest groove I've ever heard.' I went to the Off Ramp in Seattle to see them perform - this is 1992. You were lucky if you found a punk rock band with a drummer that could actually swing - usually it was just full-on aggression. Kyuss had groove in spades. I bought Blues For The Red Sun, and the production is so perfectly natural, by Chris Goss, and recorded at Sound City. I bought at least 50 copies and gave it to people. And I didn't know them at all - I'd just seen them play. They're musical bullies in the best way: if you don't have what it takes to jump up on-stage then don't do it. Josh [Homme] and Nick [Oliveri], they're the sweetest people in the world, but you don't wanna cross that line. I think growing up in the desert made them the way they are. I remember playing the album for Kurt, saying, We should have this guy produce the next record. And Kurt looking at me: 'Really?! You really think so?' And of course I backed down, started thinking, God, maybe's it's too noisy... And then we make a record with Albini...(laughs) But Kyuss were a force to be reckoned with."

THE BIRD AND THE BEE - Again And Again And Again And Again
Endless space-age summer from a serious jazz dude and the daughter of '70s rock royalty give DG the key to a new chapter.
"I was in my car istening to some satellite radio station, and a song called Again & Again came on. From the intro I was immediately sucked in, it had this sense of almost jazz melody mixed with '70s AM gold, but modernised into electro dreampop. Inara George, her voice is smooth and beautiful, but the chords were unconventional in my simple rock world. You could tell there was some deeper musicality. I became obsessed - listening to it three times a day, trying to pick apart the five-, six-part harmonies, trying to figure out why he would modulate from this key to that and then back and then to a higher key... it was way above my head. I think I was trying to find someone that could help me uncover a lot of that '70s pop aesthetic. Within the band, we all love that genre... but it's hard to find it. A lot of musicians from that era were heavy studio cats. And I think Greg Kurstin's one of the only people that could figure that out."

GROHL HAS ANOTHER PAGE OF names on his phone screen, but as he predicted at the outset, there is never enough time. He needs to shower before joining the band's motorcade to the Acropolis, where the Foo Fighters' show has a strict curfew. The Central Archaeological Council's rules for performances at the Acropolis also stipulate no high heels and no alcohol. The Foo Fighters are duly respectful of the first, but a bottle of Jaegermeister is soothing some dressing-room nerves as they prepare to reintroduce the Herodes Atticus Odeon to the notion of barbarianism. With a capacity of 4,000, the ancient venue is the smallest Foo Fighters will play in 2017; intimate compared to Glastonbury's 150,000 or the 60,000 who will attend Cal Jam, the band's self-curated festival cum- album-release party in San Bernardino on October 7.
  Grohl says they approach every show the same way, but admits Glastonbury was different. Taylor Hawkins, in particular, felt especially nervous. Then, five minutes before stage-time, Liam Gallagher appeared in the dressing-room, marched directly over to Hawkins and complemented him on the opening song on the drummer's 2016 solo album. "Liam goes to Taylor, 'Man, your song Range Rover Bitch, I fucking love that!'" Grohl laughs. "Taylor is like, 'Wha-?!' Then, Liam starts singing it to him! Then he turns to me, goes, 'Yeah, y'know, your stuff 's OK, but man, Range Rover Bitch...' Liam coming in and singing that to Taylor relieved any anxiety or tension. I love Liam..."
  Gallagher will perform at Cal Jam, as will likes of Bob Mould and Queens Of The Stone Age, taking his place among the pantheon of Grohl's musical heroes, the people who shaped his musical DNA and made him who he is. "A lot of what I do is go with my gut feeling and let things happen." Easy for him to say - but even if you're Dave Grohl not everything goes to plan. "There was a song on the new record that I thought would be amazing if Roland Orzabal sang on or helped produce. I emailed him - and never heard back. It would have been a dream come true, to get together with the singer from Tears For Fears." He smiles. "There's always next time."

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