Foo Fighters Put Their Dancing Shoes On

Q, July 2020

Isolating with his family in LA, Dave Grohl opens up about his band's Bowie-influenced 10th album.

Every night before Dave Grohl falls asleep, he thinks of all the things he's looking forward to. During lockdown, it's been away of reminding himself what's waiting on the other side. "It's easy to turn on the news and feel this claustrophobic sense of doom but I still have hope," says the Foo Fighters frontman, at home in Encino, California. "There's still so many things I look forward to doing, it's just a different mindset."
  The coronavirus has meant that Foo Fighters, like everyone else on the planet, have had to put their plans on hold. It's left Grohl at a loose end just as he was meant to be marking his band's 25th anniversary and 10th studio album with a victory lap of live shows. "I think we were supposed to start touring this week and I was so fucking excited to hit the road, so excited to play these new songs, but all of that took a backseat to what's going on." The as-yet-untitled new record is finished, but now Grohl isn't sure what's happening with the release date. "We've kind of shelved it for now to figure out exactly when it's going to happen."
  Instead of being out there honing his rock ringmaster routine, Grohl is currently living a very different sort of existence, trying to get his head around online virtual schooling. "Being a high-school dropout, I'm really not fond of the whole process," he confesses. "But I actually just walked out of the room where my 11-year-old Harper is teaching my five-and-a-half-year-old Ophelia how to write and teaching her about earthquakes and volcanoes. My 11-year-old is turning into the teacher. It's amazing."
  The pandemic has forced Grohl to clock off for the first time in a decade. He doesn't have a guitar in the house, he says, and even if he did he's not sure he'd want to pick it up. He spent almost a year writing the new Foo Fighters album and after being deeply involved in every aspect of its recording, mixing and mastering, he felt exhausted. "By the time we finish and I'm satisfied, it's such a release that I'm really not anxious to jump back into it."
  Grohl wanted the new record to be a celebration. It was a chance to show that, despite reaching their quarter-century as a band, Foo Fighters could still veer outside their comfort zone. "The last thing you want to do when you've been in a band for 25 years is a fucking brooding, sleepy acoustic record, it's a fucking death rattle," he laughs. "I wanted to go in the opposite direction and make it an album filled with life."
  When Grohl first outlined his vision for the record to producer Greg Kurstin, he declared that he wanted the album to channel the spirit of Bowie's Let's Dance. "I said to him, really want to make an album that's fun, that's up and dark but hopeful and incredibly melodic."'
  He says the record introduces different influences to Foo Fighters' sound, explaining that a track titled Love Dies Young is the closest they will ever get to ABBA-style pop. The minimalist rock of Shame Shame, where it's nothing more than two A chords, a drumbeat and a vocal, is something he's had in his head for years. "There are a lot of things we'd keep from doing before and this time we let them all go," he says. "Simplicity in music is much more difficult than complexity, I think."
  With no music to work on in lockdown, instead Grohl has been indulging his inner writer, posting stories on a blog titled Dave's True Stories. "I've always loved writing but I've really never had an avenue or any outlet to do it," he says. "So now, rather than share some contrived pictorial Instagram page of life in quarantine, I thought, Why don't I give something that will maybe make people smile or make people laugh or make people listen to music?'"
  He started making a list of all the ridiculous things that have happened to him in his life, ending up with 80 or so potential anecdotes to recount. "It's a long list of people I've jammed with, or times I've been thrown in jail, or profound moments in my life or things from my childhood or music career. Most people who know me know that I'm never short for words. Whether it was the DNA handed down from my parents or just me being a fucking jackass, I can't keep my mouth shut and I love to see people smile."
  Grohl says he had to do something productive, that he can't just sit and watch TV. There will be plenty to get on with when he finally gets to live out all the things he thinks about before he dozes off. Until then, though, he's always got his 11-year-old's geology classes to occupy him.

Words: Niall Doherty    

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