The Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl spills it about rock stars with fake boobs, drummer jokes and that 'N' word ...
So how's the ever changing line-up?
I think probably the one thing we've learned recently, has been that what we have gone through as a band with different band members, isn't really different than what most bands go through before they put out their first record. So if you consider the foundation of the [Foo Fighters] being an album recorded by one person, that wasn't really intended to be a major release - it was almost like a demo tape - then it turned into a record and then it turned into a band. We went through all of this change in public. If it were different, like, "I am going to find a cool group of people and try to make some music and maybe some day make a record," it probably would have taken maybe three years before I felt entirely comfortable enough to be a singer or find the correct combination people or make a record.
So it's like an evolution turned upside down?
Well, yeah, we sort of started before we even started. Each person that left the band has had entirely different scenarios. Like Pat left the band...it wasn't a musical decision at all - it didn't have to do with the band, it had to do with something else.
With my wife actually. And then when William left the band, that was kind of a musical decision, but I think that the pressures of this band might have been too much for him. And then he also knew that we were gonna tour for the rest of our lives too, and I don't think he was willing to do that either. With Franz, it was purely a musical decision. As we were writing the songs for this new record, Taylor and I were doing something that was way far beyond anything we imagined happening. We were really getting it together and Franz had a hard time finding his place in that and it was just a decision we all made. We said: "You know, it's probably best that we go and make the record as three people," just because it would seem more focussed. Franz is a great player and a really great friend - we've known him for years - but this album is really important to us and we felt like we wanted to go in as confident and as focussed as possible, and the three of us had that, so...
So 'there's nothing left to lose'?
[laughs] Not anymore, no more guitar players left to lose, and with Chris we actually had an audition process where we tired 40 different people. We never did that with Pat, we never did that with Franz, we never did that with William, we never did that with anyone, ever. We just sort of grabbed people as friends and said "Come play in the band." Having made this record and realised how important it is that we find someone that really works personally and musically, we tried a lot of people and Chris worked. We know he's a great person, we know he's a great guitar player and we know he sings really well. It seems to be working out pretty good.
So you finally found your dream team?
Got the dream team right now, man.
Are you still friends with Franz and Pat after all?
Not with Pat, the Pat thing was too fucked up. The last time we saw each other we almost got into a fight. I almost...What do you do when you go through a divorce and one of your band members decides to quit the band because he likes your wife better than you? You start thinking, "OK, well, I think I wanna kick your ass." But with Franz there were no hard feelings. Taylor and I have an amazing relationship because Taylor and I are like brothers, the two of us are like best friends. You only find so many best friends in a lifetime. I found one when I was five, and then Taylor and I wound up being separated at birth. Nate is the quiet guy, he's the guy that never reveals his emotions at all, until you have a phone conversation four years later, where he's like, "I really love you man." You know, I don't know too many bands that fucking hug each other and tell each other that they really love each other all the time. So it's a nice feeling and it makes its way into the music. There's some connection that's beyond cheap music, it has more to do with your minds and your hearts I guess.
What about the rougher sounds on the new record?
We did it in our own studio, that we built. We don't really know how to build a studio, so I think that's why it sounds a little...
...back in Virginia?
In Virginia, yeah, in my house.
Are you fed up with Seattle and LA?
Well, I moved to Los Angeles to get out of Seattle. I knew that I wasn't gonna live in Los Angeles for the rest of my life...
Were you getting too caught up in that party life?
Not really, not as much as a lot of people I know. My party life was like having a barbecue in my backyard or maybe once a week go into a bar and drinking a bottle of Tequila. But I haven't done drugs since I was 20 years old. I've never done cocaine in my life, I've never done heroin in my life, I've never done speed in my life, I've never taken a quaalude in my life. I tried smoking a joint about two years ago with Taylor 'cause he was like, "Smoke it!" - "No" - "Smoke it!!" - "No" - "Dude, just come on, just fucking take a hit"...So I smoked a little bit and I was like, "God, I am gonna fucking die."
I saw you at the Hollywood Athletics Club at some party and you didn't look too good. That's why I am asking.
Oh, it was for a magazine. Franz's girl-friend worked at that magazine and...yeah, I was fucking drunk as shit that night. I was drunk as hell. That was great. That was another Tequila night. Getting drunk with Taylor is really fun, because he will drink anything that you hand him - hand him a shot, go "Do it" and he's like "Man, I am too fucked up" - "Do it, man!!!" and he does. And so I gave him this glass of Tequila that was about this high and I said, 'Drink it all now" and he did. Then he ran to the toilet and fucking got sick all over the place and we all thought it was really funny. But that's what we do for a good time, make Taylor sick - that's a good night out for us. I don't think I ever really gave into going out on Hollywood town, like there's a big difference between clubbing the scenes and going to a friend of yours' party and getting really fucked up. If that's the only time you saw me, then you'd think, "Wow, Dave's fucking out of his mind."
There is this song, "Stacked Actors" where you're picking up on the Hollywood scene?
Well, the song can be related to a lot of things, it can be related to people. If you say: "Line up the bastards, all I want is the truth," you're basically talking about people that aren't real, or people that are fake, or people that want to be something other than they are or whatever......meaning Hollywood, so having lived in Hollywood for a year and a half, I got tired of that mentality. Also, I got really upset with Hollywood's influence on rock & roll in the last four years; how the glamour and the image started taking precedent over the music, like these fucking rock stars who look like cartoon characters or supermodels - you know, fake tits and fucking make-up and image and glamour...like, "I am gonna save rock 'n' roll, it's a fucking pile of shit right now and I am here to save it, 'cause what rock & roll needs is a fucking rock star." And they'd make these albums and it sucked. There was a few people that came out, one after another, that claimed they were here to save rock & roll 'cause it had been destroyed by a sea of mediocre bands, and they kind of missed the point. Rather than saving rock & roll with good rock & roll music, they were saving rock & roll by just being a rock star. It just didn't make any fucking sense. You know, singing about California and the beauty and the wondrous mystery that is Hollywood and the drugs and the life - it's just such fucking bullshit. OK, I can listen to the fucking Doors, I hate the Doors, but I can see how the Doors could sing about the Sunset Strip in 1969 or 1970 when it was this freaky scene that was new and crazy. And people were trying to re-live this Fleetwood Mac era mentality. That was 1974 or '76 - you can't go back and re-live that and expect to save rock & roll by basing your whole...I don't know, it just made me sick. So it has a lot to do with that too.
How come you put it the other way around this time, you start with the aggressive songs and then get moody?
Well, I don't know. Whenever you're making a record you don't think about the sequence of songs until you're finished with it, and when you're making a record, you don't really know what you have until you're done. So, say you have 18 songs that you're going to try and record, or you have 18 songs that you've recorded. The kind of album that you put out is sort of defined by which songs you put on the record, so if you have that many songs, you could release an 11 song album of all the hardest stuff or you could go the other way to all the softer stuff. But I think the idea is to just put the best songs on the record, whether they're done with acoustic guitars, whether they're done with electric guitars tuned down. As we were making the record, it was like song by song by song and after we were done with all the songs, we kind of looked back and said, "God, there's a lot less screaming." You don't realise that when you're in the middle of recording it, but after you're done you're like, "Wow".
At least you're putting out the poppiest song as a single, 'Learn to Fly'
That's true but that was a weird choice too, because it wasn't necessarily our choice to pick that song, it's kind of stupid. These people wanted to use the song for this event - kinda like X-Games, you know what that is? They wanted to use "Learn to Fly" as the theme song for these new kind of X-Games and we were like, "OK, yeah I guess, go ahead, whatever, play it, that's fine". And I think that then people started catching onto the song and people thought, "That should be your first single." We were thinking, "Well, wait a second, we don't really want anyone to think that that song represents the whole record, because it kind of doesn't." The whole record doesn't sound like mid-tempo guitar pop, the record goes in a couple of different directions. Then we were thinking of another song to release as a single, but then we kinda realised there is not one song that represents the whole album, really. "Stacked Actors" doesn't sound anything like "Headwires," which doesn't sound anything like "Ain't it the Life" and that doesn't sound like "Breakout"...So I think the idea is to try and find a song that represents the general idea of the album, but we couldn't find one. So we said, "OK, 'Learn to Fly' then, fuck it".
You've done quite a few soundtracks over the last couple of years...
...yeah, we did a few, three.
Which weren't always the best choices, were they?
Actually in some cases...like with The X-Files - we had a long standing relationship with The X-Files, we had been on their first record and we're fans. They asked us if we could do something and Chris Carter, the producer is a nice guy and so we thought, "OK, we'll do that." And then Godzilla comes and says, "Hey, what about you guys?" and we're like, "Wow, a Godzilla movie! Fuck, that's kinda cool." It's also kind of a good excuse to go in the studio and record a new song, so we though, "Yeah, sure". And then we saw the movie and we were like, "Oh, my god." But also, like in Godzilla for example, the song is not even in the fucking movie. We went to go see the movie and sat through that whole, boring fucking movie, waiting to hear our music and we didn't even hear it and then we're like, "Fuck, they didn't even play our song." But then we thought, "You know what? That movie sucked so bad that I am glad they didn't fucking play our song in it." So, you know, whatever. They gave us a lot of money. But that was the first time we'd ever recorded the four of us actually, and it was a cool song. I like that song a lot - "A320."
Now that your Foo Fighters' output equals that of Nirvana's, is it easier to talk about the past?
Well, at first it was difficult to even talk about the good times that Nirvana had. When I first started doing interviews for the Foo Fighters, it was hard to talk about how much fun it was because it had only been a year or a year and a half, and I still really missed it. It's easier now to talk about it - like how much fun it was - 'cause contrary to popular belief we weren't always dark, depressed, fucked up, brooding people. We had a lot of fun a lot of the times and it could be very light-hearted and very simple, but there are just some things that the reader or the listener has to understand. Isn't there some things that you just don't wanna talk about to anybody else, other than the ones that you really love or you really know? I don't wanna break down crying in front of a fucking journalist. I don't wanna tell people how ruined my life was because it's really nobody's fucking business. We all...you know, Krist and I both are still amazed and flattered that the band received so much attention.
For the first two albums the press gave you that Nirvana-comparison shit, but now you seem to have outgrown that thing...
Well, if a journalist asks me a question that's disrespectful, I haven't outgrown the feeling that I'll tell you to your face that you're a fucking asshole for being so rude. But I have outgrown the feeling that...well, the reason why we didn't do interviews when we first started playing was because there wasn't anything to talk about when we first joined as a band. People wanted to do interviews right away - like within the first month - and it's like, "Well, we haven't even played a fucking show yet, we don't have anything to talk about. We could talk about practice or whatever." It was pretty obvious that the only reason people wanted to do interviews was because I was in Nirvana and I can understand that. It makes perfect sense and I can totally understand it, but we needed to experience the Foo Fighters a little while before we started doing press. The first record we actually did do a lot of press. After the first six or eight months, we started doing an interview here and an interview there, and by the end of that record, it was just like, "blahblahblah," because we had done so many fucking interviews that it was nuts. And then with 'The Colour and the Shape' it backed off a little bit and now it is really not that often that people ask. Usually they ask the same question, like, "Do people not ask about Nirvana so much anymore?" That's the one question I get.
What about your famous quote - "Drums are for idiots, I am an idiot, I am wonderful with that..."
[laughs] I am totally comfortable with that. I think that the drummer should be the most humble people in the fucking band anyway, 'cause usually a band is only as good as its drummer - absolutely fucking true, man. Can you imagine what The Who would sound like if Keith Moon didn't play? I'll tell you what The Who would have sounded like if Keith Moon didn't play - Kenny Jones joined the band and it just didn't sound like The Who anymore, you know.
What about your famous drummer jokes, got a new one?
"How can you tell when a drummer is knocking at the door? When the knock speeds up and he's wearing a Domino's Pizza Uniform." [laughs like a madman]. I haven't heard drummer jokes in a long time, it's been a while.
But you used to know them all.
I know, 'cause I got so much shit for being a fucking drummer who was trying to be a guitar player.
Have you checked out all your crazy homepages for once?
Well, we have our own foofighters.com, which is kind of cool because these kids were doing this on their own and I wrote them and said, "Hey man, thank you so much, this is a fucking awesome website." It had so much stuff on it - all these MP3s of like, the one time that we played 'Carry on my Wayward Sun' by Kansas - the one time we played it someone recorded it and put it on a website. Or like, the one time we played 'Purple Rain' or something crazy. They get the best and weirdest stuff, there's just archives of information, so much shit, it's a big website. So I started writing them saying, "I can't believe you guys are doing this, it's crazy, it's great and thank you very much." So then I started giving them updates and information and we kind of joined, and now we have our official website.
Chris: I found a great one the other day that this girl had set up, just dedicated to her love for Taylor Hawkins, it was awesome.
Did you see the one by this 21-year-old Canadian girl who pretended to have an affair with you?
Dave: The girl, yeah, I saw that too. I think it's pretty funny, you know, because it's almost like making collages or drawing pictures when you're a kid, of imaginary things. I mean, it's kind of twisted, but that is my sense of humour. So when I see something like that, I just fucking laugh my head off.
Chris: On the official website there's these great drawings, where people just send those in...
Dave: Yeah, people will draw Taylor and then scan it and send it in and it'd be like the most fucking distorted picture you've ever seen...
Chris: ...but you can tell what photo it's based on, so that's OK.
Will you ever release the Pocketwatch demos?
I don't know, we've been talking about it. The cool thing about that was that it wasn't supposed to ever be a record. This friend of mine had her own small label and I was recording a song one day at my friend's studio. She came by and said, "Oh, that is really cool. Can I have a copy of it?" and I said "Sure". So I gave her a copy and she said, "Have you ever recorded anything else?" and I said, "Yeah." It was like 1990 or something. So I gave her a tape of all the stuff that I've recorded and she said, "Hey, can I release this just on a cassette-only release?" and I said yeah. So she was making copies of it in her bedroom with the copy that I gave her, which was a copy of my copy, so it was like third generation home stereo making these tapes, you know. Then after the Foo Fighters started, a bunch of people started wanting it and she said, "Hey, do you wanna make a CD?" I said, "Well, not really, because a) it doesn't really sound that good, and b) the coolest thing about it was that it was just a cassette release." So yeah, someday - like in two years or something - probably. It's been bootlegged a lot and the bootleg sounds pretty good, so you could find it - if it doesn't cost 30 dollars, you know, bootleggers rip you off.
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