Get In The Van

Metal Hammer 1998

Tales of road fever, tour mayhem and love on the run with the extremely well traveled Dave Grohl. Dan Silver's left holding the baby.

Tell us about your first ever tour...
"The first tour I ever did was in America with Scream in 1987. I'd never been past Chicago before, I was like 18 - it was awesome, man! I'd dropped out of high school to play in this band and I wasn't old enough to play in a lot of the bars we were booked in. The per diem was five or six dollars a day; five people were in the van, one roadie and that was it, that was the deal. It lasted about two months."

What's your most vivid memory of that tour?
"One night Jimmy (Scream/Foo Fighters roadie) and I were driving. You have to understand Jimmy and I were about 18 years old and the other guys in the band were five to ten years older - seasoned touring veterans. There were times when we were left to do the driving, and when everyone's asleep in the back of the van and you're driving, you have to pay attention to where the fuck you're going!   One night, Jimmy and I were riding around and someone had given us this enormous bag of pot and we were smoking it out of this pipe called an Easy Rider Aqua Pipe. It's portable and doesn't spill - very nice! I started putting my mouth over the bowl and blowing down so that the smoke would come out of the stem and I was filling up the inside of the van with smoke. The two of us were laughing so hysterically cos we could hardly see each other - I remember looking at Jimmy's face cos he was looking at mine with two big bloodshot eyes, when all of a sudden the van starts rumbling cos we were way the fuck off the road, going about 70 miles per hour and the van's just quaking! Everybody wakes up from their sleeping bags in this cloud of smoke and we weren't allowed to drive again..."

Would you like to tour like that again?
"We often do. Whenever we have shows that are around our hometown, we still have a van. I can sleep better when I'm in a van, it's hard for me to sleep on buses; the bunks feel like little coffins. Also when you have a van, there's no problem when somebody wants to pull over and have a piss, or you come to a gig and want to drive back to a bottle shop or go to a friend's house after the show."

Where's the strangest place you've ever played?
"When Scream were coming up we wouldn't get gig in clubs, we'd just play squats - still to this day in Italy - you can get more people than you would in the clubs."

Have you been on a tour and thought you weren't going to make it home?
"Probably every one of them! By the second or third day you're looking at an itinerary that lasts two months and you think, 'How on earth am I gonna make it?' Every day on tour I count the days down until I get home. I have a blast and I love playing, but Foo Fighters tour harder than any band I've ever been in in my life. This tour has only been a month long but it seems like it's been an eternity."

What's the most guelling tour you've done?
"Scream did a tour of Europe in 1990 where we did 23 shows in a row; we didn't have a fucking day off. I got the 'flu so bad it was amazing!"

What's the weirdest crowd you've ever played to?
"Recently Foo Fighters played at a festival in Milwaukee and we played on the Harley Davidson stage. The audience was very Mid-Western - it was scary! I thought, 'Oh my God, we're gonna get fucking killed, they're gonna hate us!' and it was one of the best shows we've ever played! We were pulling out all the hits man, fucking 'Carry On Wayward Son' by Kansas - it was great!"

Who's the most selfish headline act you've supported?
"The Rolling Stones. They didn't give us a guest list, they reserved a hundred tickets that we could buy for $64 a piece. So if I wanted my sister or my girlfriend to come, I had to buy a fucking ticket. And they didn't give us a dressing room in the venue, we had to sit in the trailer out in the parking lot. That was fucked up, that was bullshit."

Which of your many bandmates has had the strangest road habits?
"Who's been the weirdest? Skeeter, the bass player of Scream, he was the craziest person I've ever known in my life. We shot through an airport to fly to Europe for a tour with all of our luggage, and he'd have all his shit in a big brown plastic bag which he'd check in. Strange is a relative term though, cos you gotta do what you gotta do. There are some people that do things differently."

Which band was most fun to tour with: Scream, Nirvana or the Foos?
"I would say Scream just because it was the first time I'd ever toured and it was a more basic, grass roots level. Then again there were times when I wanted to go home, cos there was nothing to eat and I only had one drumstick!"

Is touring with your girlfriend's band a good or bad idea?
"Depends on who your girlfriend is! I've had girlfriends in bands, cos a lot of times if you tour with a band with a girl in it, you spend every day together for months and it just happens. A lot of the time it's the most romantic thing - you get together with a girl, your two bands go on tour, you get to see the world together, you get to celebrate each other's band every night and that's cool."

Have you ever watched a groupie hit on your girlfriend while on tour?
"Yeah, sometimes, but what are you gonna do? If a guy touches your girlfriend you beat the shit out of him. If he gets a little too into it then you step in and say, 'Hey, hey, hey - wait a second, motherfucker...' Its kind of funny in a way."

Would you ever consider taking future kids of yours out on the road with you?
"No. I'm not having children until I stop playing. This is not an environment in which to raise a child. In its formative years it needs to know the security and foundation of a home, and that's not a bus or dressing room, and home cooking is not catering. I don't agree with it at all. People have done it and done it well and have great kids, but it's not for me. I come from a very, very close family and I wouldn't want to jeapardise that, it's selfish. The one person that should be taken into consideration is the child above everything else. I wanna have children so badly, I really do, and I'm just waiting till all this subsides."

Surely that'll be a long wait?
"Not really. I'd give up music to have kids - fuck yeah, totally! What's more important in life, rock music or having a family?"

What's the most money you've ever been paid for a single show?
"A quarter of a million dollars for playing the Reading Festival in 1992."

Is there anything special on your rider?
"We're not really too big on deli meats. We like Kinder Eggs - we end up just making the toys and throwing away the chocolate. Cigarettes are probably the weirdest thing I insist on. I have friends who work at clubs, and they keep the riders that bands send and tack them on the fuckin' wall so I see the most ridiculous riders - fifteen boxes of Kleenex, a box of rubbers, some clean white socks, some underwear... buy your own fucking socks, man!"

What was your maddest groupie experience?
"There are people that stalk the band, but where we come from the groupie thing isn't happening. When I was in Scream there were no such thing as groupies. You'd go to a party and it was like a party. People didn't give a fuck if you were in Scream because people didn't know who the fuck Scream were. With Nirvana we were against that kind of shit so it just didn't happen. We told everybody that we're not into that kind of thing so we never really got that kind of shit. The Foo Fighters is sort of the same thing. I can't imagine being in a situation like an excerpt from 'Hammer Of The Gods' or some crazy Sabbath stories. I'm sure that there's still today that do that kind of stuff, and if you're into it, then go for it."

What's the strangest thing you've been asked to sign at a gig?
"Someone brought this weird skull or something in Dallas, with all these teeth on it and they wanted to hang it on their wall. I have no idea why..."