Broken leg be damned! The Foo Fighters leader opens up about the group’s celebratory tour, why his onstage accident in June has led to some of their favorite shows ever, and the future of the band. (Hint: They’ll stick around.)
When you broke your leg in Sweden
last month, you still finished the show.
How bad was the pain?
When it happened I didn’t feel a thing. I tried to get up and walk and my ankle collapsed under my weight. The band didn’t know what was happening, so they kept playing. It didn’t hurt until I wound up on my couch in my hotel room, with a beer in my hand. They gave me some really strong painkillers—I never take pills, but within half an hour I was like, “Get me the f---ing Oxys right now, man!”
You celebrated the band’s 20th with
a huge show in Washington, D.C., on
July 4. How was it?
I’m from there and I grew up going to see the fireworks down on the Mall as a kid. The 20th anniversary of our first album was the Fourth of July so I thought, “This is the perfect opportunity for us to play a stadium in America,” which we had never done. We thought this was a great way to celebrate American music with all of these American heroes—Joan Jett, Buddy Guy, LL Cool J, Trombone Shorty, Heart—and then to celebrate our 20th anniversary as well. It was a dream come true. Afterwards [promoter Seth Hurwitz and I] looked at each other and said, “We’ve gotta do this every f---ing year.”
So, Foos on the Mall in 2016?
Well, a broken leg’s not going to stop me, so... [Laughs] Every year Willie Nelson has his Fourth of July picnic in Texas, and it’s become an institution. It’s somewhere you can go and have a beer, have a joint, watch good music. We gave people somewhere to see fireworks and hear music and share it together.
How will you top the insanity of that
show with the rest of your summer tour?
The spontaneity of this situation we’re in right now brings out a smile in everyone. The idea of the throne is f---ing ridiculous, especially for a band that has never relied on any kind of production. We usually just put the amps on the stage, turn on the lights, and play. Now we’ve got this throne that shoots lights and smoke out of it and looks like a UFO with guitar necks stuck in it. When it first rolls out on stage, people light up. I’m restricted to this chair and there’s a seat belt on that thing so I don’t fall off, that’s how hard I’m rocking out!
You told the D.C. crowd you were “high
as a f---ing kite” when you designed it.
After surgery I thought, “We’re going to do that Fourth of July show and I can’t just sit on a stool like Paul Simon.” I picked up the hotel stationery and made this primitive drawing that had arrows and descriptions, had the Foo Fighters logo, and it said “lasers and s---.” I wanted it to pick up and fly, but [my lighting guy] said, “Look, man, you already have one broken leg. Let’s not fly it around yet.”
With such a landmark year for the band,
do you want to keep going?
The band is more than a musical group. It’s a family and it’s become a way of life with us. We love each other. When Foo Fighters show up to the airport and there’s four SUVs waiting to drive us away, we all get in one SUV, still, to this day. It’s how we roll. As long as we can do whatever we want, we’ll do it until we die. I love my job. We’re not breaking up anytime soon — that would be like your grandparents getting a divorce. Too weird. And these shows are some of our favorite shows we’ve ever done.
Any plans to bring your HBO
show Sonic Highways back
for a second season?
We’ve been talking about doing it again. I’m sure we will. One of the great things about the show’s concept is that it doesn’t always have to be Foo Fighters and it doesn’t always have to be in America.
Which Foo Fighters song is
most meaningful to you?
Oh, God—that’s a lot of f---ing songs. We have our staples, the ones that make the place go bananas. For me, there was a song off [2011’s Wasting Light] called “These Days” that’s one of the most meaningful songs I’ve ever written. Every night I sing it I still get choked up.