One Wise Man

Kerrang! December 1997

Foo Fighter's mainman Dave Grohl debates the biggest issues of '97. Who killed Princess Di, was Louise Woodward guilty, and are the Spice Girls actually worth a wank?

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.

"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."

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.

"I'm embarrased to be American when I look at our legal system. It's just ridiculous."

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'

"Tony Blair is the guy who hangs out with Oasis, isn't he? 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."

'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.

"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."
Would you like to see all drugs decriminalised?
"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.

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

"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."

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.

"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."

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?

"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.
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...
"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.

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.

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'?
"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?"

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

"Oh, whatever... So there were no bisexuals around in '96? Jesus is this what people in Britain are talking about this year?"

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?

"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?

"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."

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?

"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'!"