Kerrang! December 1997

The Three Wise Men

Kerrang! December 1997

We are gathered here today with rock's sharpest minds - Foo Fighter's mainman Dave Grohl, Placebo's Brian Molko and Ash's Tim Wheeler - to debate the biggest issues of '97. Who really killed Princess Di, was Louise Woodward guilty, and are the Spice Girls actually worth a wank? ...

The streets are jammed with homicidal shoppers office photocopiers are groaning under the weight of drunken party couplings and the turkey population of Britain is saying its last farewells. Yes, Yuletide is upon us again. And as 1997 draws to a close, we decided to round up three wise men to mull over some of the year's biggest talking points.
Tragically, no wise men were available, so we had to rope in three of our top rock chums instead.
Suited and booted in a West London photo studio, Foo Fighters mainman Dave Grohl, Ash's Tim Wheeler and Placebo's Brian Molko are happily catching up on developments in each other's lives. Tim and Brian are pleased to have a chance to get out of the recording studio for a couple of hours, since both are beavering away writing songs for their bands second albums. Dave is pumped up in preparation for the Foos' pre-Christmas shows.
In the next two hours, Dave, Tim and Brian will debate such things as the death of Diana, Princess Of Wales, the verdict in the Louise Woodward trial and the sexual habits of Posh Spice...

On August 31st, Diana, Princess of Wales, was killed when she and her boyfriend Dodi Al-Fayed were travelling crashed in Paris whilst attempting to flee from paparazzi. The following weeks were marked by remarkable national grieving.

Dave Grohl "I don't understand the concept of monarchy, but I do understand being pestered to the point of tragedy when surrounded by paparazzi and media. That the pressure they put on led directly or indirectly, to the death of Princess Diana is a fucking shame. That was the general consensus in America; no one was too bothered that she was a royal, she was just some pretty girl whose life got fucked over by a bunch of photographers and tabloid reporters."
Brian Molko "It brought a lot of dodgy conspiracy theories out of the woodwork. And Diana has been elevated to such martyr status that you can only take so much. I was shocked initially when I woke up on that Sunday morning, but it certainly hasn't changed my life. Although I wouldn't go so far as to say she got what she deserved, like some anti-royalists."
Tim Wheeler "Diana was probably the best of the royals, but I wasn't too bothered."

18 year old English au pair Louise Woodward came to trial in November in Boston, USA, accused of murdering baby Matthew Eappen. Whilst the English media vociferously argued her innocence, the Massachussetts jury found her guilty. Further drama followed when the judge over-turned the original life sentence in favour of a verdict of manslaughter and a sentence of 279 days.

Brian "Louise Woodward is an incredibly lucky woman - lucky not to be black or working class. And lucky to be English, because if she had been American she'd have gone down straight away."
Tim "The re-trial basically found her guilty as fuck but there was nothing they could do."
Brian "For that sentence to go down to 267 days is ridiculous."
Dave "I'm embarrassed to be American when I look at our legal system. It's just ridiculous.
Tim "I heard that Louise Woodward might be managing the Spice Girls next. She's going to shake them up a bit and then drop Baby Spice."

Kerrang! December 1997

A landslide election victory saw Labour Party leader Tony Blair installed as Britian's Prime Minister, following 17 years of Conservative rule. The honeymoon period which followed - coupled with England's resurgance in form on the football pitch and the high profile of British music, movies and fashion - led to the media hailing the return of the 'feel-good factor'

Brian "It seems to me that the Labour government have inherited so many problems from the Conservatives that they're doomed from the start. Labour and the Conservatives now are two sides of the one coin."
Tim "I agree. I'm not really that interested in politics, but Blair getting in just seemed like more of the same old shit."
Dave: "Tony Blair is that guy who hangs out with Oasis, isn't he?"
Brian "Blair is trying to be the rock 'n' roll PM in the way Bill Clinton tries to be the rock 'n' roll President."
Dave Blair's campaign mirrored the Clinton campaign so much. I saw Blair's adverts and they were fucking awesome, totally hilarious. The Presidency in America is basically an image. You're under the impression that this handsome, middle-class white man is running the country, when in reality he has very little to do with the day-to-day machinery of the nation."
Brian "The feel-good stuff is stupid. People might have been a bit nicer to each other for a couple of hours on the morning of May 1, but that soon wore off. The 'feel-good factor' is as much of an invention of London media as the 'shared grief' we were all supposed to feel when Diana died."

'The Independent' newspaper launched a campaign lobbying for the decriminalisation of cannabis, spurred on by a British Medical Association paper testifying to the benefits of the drug for many medical ailments.

Brian "I’ve stopped talking about taking drugs, because it's taken away from any attention being paid to our music. But so much money is spent on what is in effect prohibition, it's ridiculous. This country in particular tries to criminalise anything that's fun."
Dave "I haven't got high for about eight years and the extent of my drug use was acid, mushrooms and pot. There is absolutely nothing wrong with smoking marijuana at all; I smoked it for years and it didn't seem to ruin my life. In America, if you were to legalise marijuana and tax it, you'd clear the national debt in one sweep."
Tim "I think decriminalising cannabis should be done as soon as possible. There's no logical argument in keeping it illegal while alcohol and tobacco are legal."
Brian "The casualty wards in hospitals at the weekend aren't filled with people who smoke pot they're filled with drinkers who crash cars or get into fights."
Would you like to see all drugs decriminalised?
Dave "I've never done cocaine or heroin. But I've spent a lot of time around people who did a lot of heroin, and everyone who gets wrapped up in it becomes a miserable piece of shit. Put it this way, I don't know many people who would steal for a joint, but I know people who would slit my throat for a bag of heroin. I've seen people kill themselves with cocaine and just dissolve into nothing with heroin, so I think if these drugs were legal people wouldn't be dropping like flies.
Tim "I think the decriminalisation of cannabis will happen in the next five years, but it might not be wise to decriminalise everything. Because obviously, cocaine and heroin are a hell of a lot more dangerous."
Brian "Unlike Dave, by now I've done every drug, and I've discovered that prolonged use of any of them other than pot will drain you of your essential spark. But drug use is widespread through all levels of society, and decriminalising cannabis is where the whole thing is going to have to start."

This year a NASA space probe landed on the planet to collect samples of rock to determine whether or not life exists there.

Dave "I was excited when I heard the news. But the funniest thing was the incredible excitement among the scientists - all these nerdy guys running about pointing at their overhead projectors. It threw everyone into a tail-spin for a few days because it demolished the Bible's theory of creation. People are so convinced that aliens are going to be bouncing, green humanoids, when they could be an intelligent gas or liquid. You should read Michael Crichton's book 'The Andromedia Strain', which opens up the options about life on other planets."
Brian "The notion of little gieen men is a kick-back to the Christian idea that we're all made in God's image. People are scared because it opens up questions about Man's place in the universe. It's unbelievably arrogant of Man to believe that he's the centre of the universe.
Tim "I really like the idea of something else being out there, and it's cool that we seem to be getting closer to the truth. Personally, I can't wait until the aliens arrive!"

With all of 1997's big budget blockbusters - 'Batman & Robin', 'Speed 2', 'The Lost World', etc - proving spectacularly disappointing, and next years movies being re-makes of cult TV shows, it'd seem the LA dream factories and fast running out of ideas.

Dave "Hollywood has been shit for years, and the coolest movies have always been low budget productions or foreign films. It's like the difference between seeing Bad Brains in a club or U2 in a stadium; sometimes you want the huge spectacle, other times you want something a little more emotional and real."
Brian "How can anyone get worked up about Hollywood? It's like complaining about McDonalds making cheap burgers. All the big movies I saw this year were pretty poor."
Tim A Life Less Ordinary (for which Ash wrote the title song) was fun. But it was also a bit disappointing, because with all those cool British people going to America you hoped it might be better. I generally prefer smaller, more interesting films than the standard Hollywood blockbuster."
Brian "I'm very nervous about the film I'm in, "Velvet Goldmine', because it'll either make or break my acting career. But it's probably too gay for huge mainstream success."

This summer's Ozzfest tour eclipsed Lollapalooza, so is 'alternative' rock on the wane and are we due to witness the comeback of 'proper' heavy metal?

Brian "If by metal you mean stupid shit like Motley Crue, I hope it never comes back. Our bassist Steffan used to love metal, but I never liked it. For me, 'heavy metal' is a derogatory term."
Dave "What the hell is Heavy Metal anyway? Are the Foo Fighters heavy metal? No, we're a fucking rock band, just like Nirvana were a rock band and the Prodigy, Pantera and AC/DC are rock bands. As long as people are writing good songs who cares if it's metal, ska or jazz? But when I think of heavy metal, I think of Poison, Dokken and Motley Crue - really shit bands."
Tim think there'll alwavs be a place for dark disturbing and distorted music."
Dave I love Sepultura and Metallica. I used to love Slayer - they played one of the greatest shows I ever saw when I was about sixteen. I saw Metallica last week and they were fucking awesome."
Nirvana were the band that killed Heavy Metal. Discuss...
Dave "We didn't kill Black Sabbath or AC/DC, did we? But if you're giving us the credit for killing off those big haired bands, then thank you very much, I hated them."

Kerrang! December 1997

As 1997 draws to a close, and civilisation creeps towards the new millenium. The government is determined to mark the event by spending millions on millenium monuments.

Tim "I think the millennium is going to be like any New Year's Eve. It'll be a bit of an anti climax. But there should be something to mark it."
Brian "I heard a statistic which disturbed me saying that the £460 million it'll cost to erect a structure (the controversial Millennium Dome in Greenwich, London) that'll stay up 25 years could be used to house every old person that will die of cold this winter."
Are you going to follow the example of Prince, pop's own Nostradamus, who sang: '2000 party over, out of time / So tonight we're gonna party like it's 1999'?
Dave "Pop's own Nostradamus? You're odd... The world isn't going to end in 1999 anyway. Shouldn't it be 2112, as Rush predicted?" Brian "Don't talk to me about Rush. If Placebo get that comparison once more, I'm going to hit someone."

Lifestyle magazines seem convinced that in 1997 bisexuality is the choice of a new generation.

Dave "Oh, whatever... So there were no bisexuals around in '96? Jesus is this what people in Britain are talking about this year?" Brian "I don't like to put Post-It notes on people to pigeonhole their sexuality. I always say that sexuality is fluid and I don't believe that there are only three sexual options open to people."
Tim "I agree with Brian. People should be free to do whatever they went without being labelled straight, homosexual or bisexual."
You haven't been tempted into having any bisexual relations yourself this year?
Tim "Not this year, no."

1997 saw Earth turn into Spice World Inc, as Geri, Victoria, Emma and the two Mels were used to sell everything from cameras to crisps to chocolate. Girl Power in action, or a middle-aged marketing man's wet dream?

Brian All I have to say about them is that I really hope Posh Spice does take it up the arse."
Tim "I find it hard to talk about the Spice Girls because of my involvement with Baby Spice and Sporty Spice, which I've just made up. But its weird the way the tabloids have turned on them. The Girl Power stuff is bollocks, it's just good marketing, but I think they're fun and girls get as much out of them as guys."
Dave "The Spice Girls for me are like a certain type of detergent - they're just a product. But the world needs things like The Spice Girls; life would be boring if it was just indie rock stars bitching about credibility. And if I get offered $10 million, you might see Foos crisps out there!"

He continued to make headlines and stir up controversy wherever he went this year. But is old Mazza for real?

Dave "He's a fake fiend, I love him. That band is shaking spice on the boring after-lunch snack that is rock 'n' roll. I'd rather go see them play than see my band. Their theatrical presentation is great."
Tim "He's a bit of both. He's doing the whole Alice Cooper and Ozzy Osbourne rock madman thing, and there's always room for one of those long as they have a lot of character, which he obviously does. He's got good songs, too - The Beautiful People' is top."
Brian "He's neither fiend nor fake, but funny."
Tim "He looked like a miserable bastard at the Kerrang! Awards, so I wasn't arsed about going up to meet him."
Brian "We took Pogo and Zim Zum down to (London fetish club) the Torture Garden after The Kerrang! Awards, but it was so boring that we left after about 20 minutes. The other guys had better things to do, and better people to do it with."

The Prodigy hit the charts across the world with 'The Fat Of The Land's incendiary blend of thumping beats, metallic guitars and punk-as-fuck attitude. Are Liam Howlett's crew the future of music, or the Spinal Tap of dance music?

Brian "They're more punk than every punk band - and if thev're not necessarily the future of music, they re definitely a vision of it."
Tim "I don't think their album delivered all everyone hoped, but Firestarter and Breathe rocked harder than any rock band. They' re amazing live too, so I don't know how anyone could say ther're just a hype."
Dave "I love 'em and I have done for years. Liam's use of percussion and sequencing is so much more clever than anyone else. And I was most pleased to hear something that resembled a Nirvana sample on 'Music For The Jilted Generation'!"

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