Dave Grohl: A Foo For Love

Rage 1997

In 1991, rock 'n' roll changed forever. Prior to Nirvana's Nevermind, the likes of Richard Marx were considered trendsetters and cheese-metal bands like Warrant and Poison sold millions of records. By 1992, Nirvana had finished off most of the hairsprayed hordes and helped jumpstart the careers of the alternative/grunge groups that rule the charts today. Then in April 1994, Nirvana came to a sudden and tragic end with the suicide of Kurt Cobain. Many thought we'd never hear from the band's surviving members again. But drummer Dave Grohl pulled through his grief. After a successful tour as the drummer for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Grohl, who'd started out with the Washington, D.C., punk outfit Scream, began circulating songs and demos he'd done over the years to friends in the business. Before he knew it, record company weasels were besieging him with offers. But instead of signing with some huge multinational music factory, the self-proclaimed UFO nut formed his own label, naming it Roswell after the famed New Mexico crash site. He then set about recruiting a band --- with himself on guitar and vocals. First on board were Seattle rockers Will Goldsmith and Nate Mendel (drums and bass, respectively). Then, in an unexpected development, former Nirvana guitarist Pat Smear asked to join in. Enter the Foo Fighters.
With amazing speed, the Foo Fighters' eponymous first album met with both critical acclaim and platinum sales. (A hysterically funny video for the third single off the album, "Big Me," lampooned those dopey Mentos commercials and became an MTV fave.) Grohl, 28, had clearly come out of Cobain's shadow and into his own. We caught up with Grohl before he headed into the studio to begin work on the Foo Fighters' second album. In person, he's affable and candid. However, there is one taboo: Kurt Cobain's suicide. Which is why we began with a question about his second-biggest passion.

RAGE: When did you first realize that UFOs were real?

Dave Grohl: Even as a child, I just couldn't understand why anyone would be so close-minded as to think there was no life anywhere else but our tiny, ignorant planet.
RAGE: You've presumably never been abducted by aliens, but if you could pick someone you'd like to be abducted, who would that be?
Grohl: If I could pick someone? Well, there are different tales of abduction. There are horrific tales of abduction and...
RAGE: C'mon.
Grohl: No. Really.
RAGE: It makes for good copy.
Grohl: I'll pick fights in person. But I don't wanna talk crap about someone who's not standing in front of me. Except Rush Limbaugh.
RAGE: Okay, what are your plans for the Roswell label?
Grohl: Right now it's pretty much just the Foo Fighters' venue. It's our way of controlling everything we do. We call the shots all the way from advertising to marketing. Capitol Records distributes the album, but when it comes to doing a budget for marketing the album we have to approve everything. Someday, hopefully, we'll be able to use it to expose younger, newer bands to a little more attention than they might get elsewhere.
RAGE: You've said that many of your lyrics are meaningless. Are they?
Grohl: A lot of them are, but as years go by maybe I'll find some meaning in something I wrote. I don't think about them too much, but a lot of the time those lyrics are the most revealing. Sort of like throwing out whatever is on your mind.
RAGE: What's the most meaningless lyric on Foo Fighters?
Grohl: "This is a Call" is pretty absolutely meaningless. I mean, I talk about fingernails, cysts, acne medicine and hyperactive medicine. Mynicin is an acne medicine and I know some people that have to take it. So I decided to sing about it.
RAGE: All hot-button topics, actually.
Grohl: Yeah! Pretty soon we're gonna have a booth at every show for people who suffer from acne and backne. Because backne can be even more embarrassing. You know, spring break and you go to the beach!
RAGE: Have you ever considered a corporate sponsorship with Stridex?
Grohl: No, not yet. Because people would throw Stridex at us when we're up on stage instead of Mentos.
RAGE: You get pelted with Mentos?
Grohl: Every night.
RAGE: Which is better than having shoes thrown at you, I guess.
Grohl: No, not really. Mentos really hurt like shit. They're like coins.
RAGE: It's probably a good thing they don't chew them first.
Grohl: I would actually rather have them chew 'em first.
RAGE: Didn't you bring this upon yourself?
Grohl: Oh, definitely. We made the video. We made our bed. We have to lie in it.
RAGE: Getting back to UFOs, didn't you visit the X Files set while you were playing in Vancouver?
Grohl: Actually, I was an extra on X Files.
RAGE: You were an extra?
Grohl: Correct. But I didn't get to see their big warehouse where they keep all of their UFOs and stuff.
RAGE: As a former punk rocker, any opinion on the Sex Pistols reunion tour?
Grohl: Uh, yeah.
RAGE: Would you like to share it with us?
Grohl: Yeah. It's kind of stupid. I think it's ridiculous.
RAGE: Even though they're saying upfront that it's for the money?
Grohl: They're trying to be the same snotty kids they were 38 years ago or whatever, and they come out and say, "We're coming back to show everybody, to show all the imitators, what it's really about, to give 'em a piece of genuine..." Dude, you're doing Taco Bell commercials. Give me a break. Get over it. No shit, they're doing it for the money. It just makes no sense at all. "Anarchy in the UK"? It's 1996 already. What, are they gonna go scream that at some 12 year old kid? It's like taking an eraser to everything they had to do with in the first place. It's absolutely ridiculous. I was pissed when I heard the Clash was going to do it, too. "Clash Headlining Lollapalooza." Everyone is joking, "Yeah, Rock the Cashbox."

Words:Dominic Griffin

back to the features index