"IT'S LIKE BEING KNIGHTED"
We don't usually jump on other people's tours because we're out doing our own thing. But being asked by Bob Dylan to go on the road with him is like being knighted or something. How could we say no? We were asked by the man who turned rock 'n' roll from boogie-woogie into bad-ass. Respect and honour, and for us it was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
The fascinating thing is that at first he wanted us to do a full-on rock show. He may have heard Foo Fighters on the radio and listened to a single or two. But I thought 'Oh my God, does he really know what he's getting into here?' We'd been doing an acoustic tour for the previous five or six months and so we made a call back and suggested that it might make more sense sonically to have us do that than fuckin' running around and screaming murder like we usually do.
In the end they decided to go with the acoustic thing - but the fact that Dylan wanted the rock show proves what a bad motherfucker he still is. I was totally blown away by that. If he's prepared to have a band like us or The Raconteurs or whoever, go out and fuckin' rock the house before he goes on, then that guy's more rock 'n' roll than anyone I know.
I just started reading 'Chronicles' before we hit the road with him, and it's an amazing read. As for his records, I find you go through phases with Dylan. I remember hearing him on the radio as a kid and my Mother had 'Blonde On Blonde' when I was growing up. Then as a teenager you start getting into stuff like black and white photography and acid and politics and you start listening to Dylan as a part of that. Then a little later in life, when you've come to apprciate the simple beauty of a lyric, you get into his poetry and music on a different level.
Dylan floats in and out of our lives and it's funny because that's the way it's gone with most people I know. You don't listen to one album every single fuckin' day for a year. He makes his way on to your stereo in a more subtle way. He's there and around, and there're nights when you sit down with a glass of wine and really listen hard.
The guy who plays keyboards with us in the acoustic set-up is Rami Jaffe, from Jakob Dylan's band, The Wallflowers, so he knows Bob. We all spent weeks asking him, "How's Bob? What's he like, man?" He said: "Bob's the coolest guy in the world. He's totally fuckin' chilled. But here's the deal, though. If he's got the hoodie on with the sunglasses, don't even fuckin' think of talking to him. If the hoodie is down and the sunglasses are off, it's fair game to go and say hello." That's the best advice anybody has given me all year!
The way that he tours is legendary. He doesn't like fancy hotels. You'd imagine Bob Dylan would stay in the penthouse suite of the fuckin' U2 hotel. But I think he prefers the Motel Sixes and the Holiday Inns out of town where the door opens onto the street. That's his
vibe. You listen to the guy's lyrics and you look at his history and you know he's the real deal. He walks it like he talks it. He's not a fuckin' pretentious rock star. He's always had that blue collar respect for the work ethic and a love of everything that's real and true and none of that fuckin' facade that goes along with being an icon. That's what the so-called Never Ending Tour is all about. The fact that he tours so hard just means that he loves music - to this day, it's still the one thing that's most important to him.
In the '60s Dylan was called "the voice of a generation" and then, 30 years later, I was in a band that a lot of people tried to give the same tag to. He hated that and so did we. Show me a musician who celebrates being called the voice of their generation and I'll show you a fuckin' pompous asshole. Having someone hang that round your neck is like having a lead ball on a chain that you have to carry around and it drags you down. Since I was a kid I always wanted to be in a band and all i was ever interested in was the music. Then I was part of three guys called Nirvana and to me when people tagged that label on us it meant nothing. I was just having a lot of fun playing the fuckin' drums. I'm sure if you asked anybody who's been in the same predicament, including Dylan, they'd say the same thing. That guy's been around the block a few times an dwe look up to him in every way - as a lyricist, a musician, a role model and a punk. He's a bad motherfucker, y'know?