Dave Grohl's Greatest Festival Hits


Dave In his various guises as a full-time Foo Fighter, occasional Queen Of The Stone Age and drummer in some band called Nirvana, Dave Grohl has laid waste to just about every British festival site going - sometimes literally so.
  "I remember one V when we destroyed all the furniture backstage," he says ahead of Foo Fighters' return to Stafford and Chelmsford this summer as V Festival headliners. "I don't remember the year - '98 maybe? - but I do remember I paid for the furniture. They fucking sent me the bill! I was surrounded by a team of yellow jackets, fucking rugby players who wanted to kill me, and they pulled me out of the golf cart which I was using as a battering ram ...
  That's certainly one way to have a good festival, but we haven't turned to Grohl solely for tips on demolishing patio furniture. with Foo Fighters about to embark on their third consecutive summer playing the UK's wide-open spaces, it's safe to say that no-one else in the world knows how to rock a field full of fans like he does.
  "A good festival set is one that everyone can sing along to. First you've got to get them bouncing, then you give them a break, and then you get them bouncing again. I'm big on crowd participation, and I'm big on getting to know the crowd. I don't think I've ever jumped on a festival stage without feeling like I was at the starting line of a marathon. I don't jump out of aeroplanes and I don't go bungee jumping or any of that shit. 1 just play fucking huge festivals and I'd imagine it's the same feeling."
  And as with running a marathon, proper preparation is vital - although here the months have been spent in the studios rather than pounding the streets. The Foos will be using this year's V Festival appearance to showcase tracks from their as-yet unnamed forthcoming album, expected in September.
"The idea is to give the new music to the people at the festivals so that they'll be the first ones to hear it," explains Grohl. As reported in last week's NME (May 19) there's also the possibility of some 'secret' on-site sets. As Dave himself hints: "I know we're playing the big stages but you might want to keep an eye on those side stages too..."
  And how best to prepare for these mammoth headlining sets? By stuffing your face with barbecue food of course.
  "There was one festival tour where we travelled with our own Brazilian chef, and we'd stink out a quarter of a mile radius with the most amazing Brazilian barbecue," Grohl says. "There's something about food cooking on a grill before you go onstage. You smell charcoal, lighter fluid, and good food and that makes it feel more like a party."
And if you're in the party mood, you might just be able to pull off a set as good as these ones...

with Foo Fighters
"On that tour we were opening with 'In Your Honor', and there's something about walking on to the stage and looking at the audience and having them scream those words back to me, it's such a beautiful feeling. At T In The Park people go fucking berserk. That's not a mellow festival, that's a festival where people go to get fucked up and jump around, and that's my scene. So of all the T In The Parks we've played, that's probably my favourite, it was kind of a triumphant moment. Although, believe me, I'm suffering now. A year and a half of opening shows like that and then coming in to make a record, it's like, 'Ooh jeez, I guess I'm just gonna sound like Lemmy for the rest of my life: Then again, nothing wrong with that..."

with Queens Of The Stone Age
"You know what? I just saw some footage of that online and - wow! we fucking smoked that place, man. That was a good show. When I was playing with Troy [Van Leeuwen, guitar], Josh [Homme, vocals/guitar] Nick [Oliveri, bass] and Mark [Lanegan, vocals], I was never nervous to walk on stage. Never! We strutted onstage and were like, 'OK, watch this!' and we'd fucking do it. I was never scared, we could jam out a song in like three or four minutes and some sections we'd never played before. We'd just invent stuff onstage that we'd never played before, which just relied on this ESP we had between us. It was nice too because that was the first time I'd come back to England and played a festival as a drummer in a long time. I love being behind a drumkit man, it's a nice way to watch a show."

with Nirvana
"I've had a lor of spedal moments at Reading. It was one of the first festivals I ever played with Nirvana, when we came over in '91 just before 'Nevermind' came out. I was talking about playing shows with the Mudhoney guys when they first came back from the Reading Festival, and I was like, 'What's the biggest show you've ever played?' Danny the drummer said, 'You know, 35,000-40,000 people.' and I was like, 'What the fuck? You're Mudhoney, where the fuck was that?' And he's like, 'Reading Festival.' When I heard that we were playing the Reading Festival I had butterflies in my stomach for at least a week before pulling into that gig. I was so horrified, thinking, 'Oh my god, I'm gonna play drums in front of that many people: In the end it just went by so quickly, but I remember looking out at this sea of people bouncing around to songs they hadn't even heard yet. That was a special moment and from then on, Reading was my first love. Any festival I play now I compare to Reading, because that seemed like the bad ass rock festival."

with Nirvana
"When Nirvana came back in '92 there were rumours we weren't going to make it to the gig. Even on the day people were surprised to see us. We hadn't rehearsed at all, and it was a weird time for the band. Things had changed so much in that year that I remember as we were walking onstage, Krist was jokingly saying, 'This is the most important show of our career' and it did not help my nerves. We went out and it was as if we had never stopped playing. Hearing everyone sing along to 'Lithium' was huge. My family was on the side of the stage, and it really made me realise that we were good, because there were times we really weren't. So the fact that we could perform in the face of all that speculation and pressure, that we could actually burn down a stage, was really special."

with Foo Fighters
-The first time Foo Fighters played Reading, we wanted to play in the side tent, headlining it. It was our first real show in England and it got a lot crowded in there! There were so many in the tent that the promoters were like, 'You should just go on after Bjork on the big stage: I was like, 'We don't want to go on after Bjork. She's famous. That's insane. We can't just come over and headline Reading right off the bat, it's a bad idea.' Five or six songs in people were passing out because it was so hot, and the promoter was like, 'You gotta stop.' I turned to the mic and said, 'Hey everybody, this guy just told me we have to stop' and they went, 'Boooooool', so we kept on playing. People were climbing the tent poles. It was scary, but it turned out alright."

with Foo Fighters
"The first time Foo Fighters headlined Reading was a big moment for me. When you take something you record on a demo tape just down the road from your house to two years later headlining the first love of your life and having your family on the side of the stage, that was amazing. Reading would be the bar mitzvah and Hyde Park would be the graduation."

with Foo Fighters
"Hyde Park was really weird. Usually at festivals you run around from trailer to trailer saying hello and doing shots with bands you've never met before. I turn into the party ambassador of alcohol backstage, just walking up to strangers in bands and saying, 'Fucking have a drink.' That's kind of my pre-show ritual. The Hyde Park line-up was handpicked by the band. From Motorhead to Queens Of The Stone Age to Juliette And The Licks, they're all friends of ours. It honestly was like a barbecue I'd have at home, except there were 85,000 people to let in and I had to entertain everyone! It was one of the biggest shows we've ever played and it was uncomfortable because we've always enjoyed the intimacy ofthe theatres - even the intimacy of a festival half that size. But 85,000 people? So we walked offstage and looked at each other and were like, 'Was that any good? I can't tell.' It was surreal, kind of like a dream ... But man, I'd do it again in a heartbeat."