Dave Grohl lets NME into his LA home studio for the full rundown on Foo Fighters' "heaviest album yet"
When Dave Grohl decided to reunite Foo Fighters to record new material in his garage, he was pretty stoked.
Butch Vig, the producer who worked with Nirvana on 'Nevermind', had agreed to record it and they were going to do it on tape, just like records used to be made. And for Dave to have his beloved wife and kids around him at all times - this seemed like a pretty cool situation. Bar a bit of familial sabotage.
"Yesterday, when we were recording," he explains, sitting in that home studio in the suburbs of Los Angeles, "we see the door come open. It's my daughter Violet and she's taped all of the doorknobs in the room together into this massive spiderweb. But it wasn't cheap masking tape, it was splicing tape that you use to edit the actual reel. We only had two little rolls because they don't make it any more, it's impossible to find. Ha ha ha!"
But it's still a joy for the band to have young life around, because this record has been like opening a time capsule for Dave, who says that he's always stayed in touch with Butch, and that having worked on 'Nevermind', "that changed all our lives so profoundly, forever", their bond was unbreakable. But perhaps he wasn't ready to revisit it musically until 20 years down the line.
"When we were demoing we were coming up with all this heavy shit so I said in an interview, 'This is gonna be our heaviest record yet.' Butch read it and he came back and said, 'Well, now it has to be 'cos you've already told everybody!' So I'd approach him with a new song idea and he'd say, This doesn't rock enough, no. Next.' I'd have to show him another one." They're only halfway through working on it but already it's an album full of songs that they want to play "at night, live, in front of 70,000 people. It's a festival album. 'Cos it just fucking rocks."
And so they will play huge gigs in the UK in summer 2011 , plus festivals. Dave says he's glad it took them 10 years to arrive at vast stadiums. "I see new bands that pop up and sell a bazillion records and start playing arenas overnight. And I think, oh my god, that's just gonna destroy your band. And then I remember that's what happened to me, when I was a kid [in Nirvana]. But that's what fucks people up."
Basically, 2011 is the year when the Foos plan to take over everything. And as for that festival vibe, where can we find them this summer? Any truth to those T In The Park rumours? He smiles enigmatically, says something about playing "big ones. I'd love to tell you everything. But I can't."
Back to the album, with a further echo to the past, Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic has been in to play on one song. "To be in the same room as Krist and Butch for the first time in so long was... a little weird," says Dave. "But it was cool that we survived. As he was leaving here, I said (adopts cute voice), 'I love you, Krist,' and he said, (adopts cuter voice), 'I love you, too'."
Just don't mistake this vibe for nostalgia - in a way, it's the opposite. "Lyrically, the record is about time, but questioning whether it matters at all. There's so much focus on the before that people forget there's an after." And it's not all deep and meaningful either. "At one point Nate [Mendel, bassist] sent me an email and said, 'I really like it when you write songs that are silly and mean nothing, too. You don't have to try' to write 'Imagine' every time you sit down with a pen and paper.'"
Dave says it has been intentionally bittersweet to finally revisit his past like this, but he's in Los Angeles not trying to relive it. "It's more about coming to terms with it as an adult. It's been strange but it's been therapeutic and yes, bittersweet. Every band wants to have that one album that comes later in their lifeline, their career, but somehow defines their identity.
"And I mean," he grins that million-dollar Dave Grohl grin, "it's good because it sounds huge. It fucking slams."
First half of 2011
'Miss The Misery'
'A Matter Of Time'
Dave Grohl's home studio
Words: Sophie Heawood
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