The Gospel Of Grohl

Red Bulletin

So, Dave Grohl, whats the state of rock 'n' roll in the 21st century? And what time is whiskey time? The Foo frontman opines on these subjects and many more, including the perversity of the music industry, Barack Obama's soul and how to woo with Foo

Dave Grohl The scene: Chiemsee Rocks Festival, Germany. The air-conditioned prefab room behind the open-air stage is small and feels crammed with only a fridge and a couch. Dave Grohl is due here any moment. From 1990-Ď94 he swung sticks for grunge icons Nirvana and the following year moved to front of stage with new band Foo Fighters. Now 42, Grohl is touring for ďWasting Light,Ē the seventh Foo Fighters album. Itís a long way from the rancid punk clubs of Washington D.C., where he began his career 25 years ago. The door flies open. In comes a full-bearded man with a long black mane. ďHi, whatís up? They say thereís a damn storm approaching, but itís going to be all right, I think.Ē Great. There are questions to be answered. Grohl says, ďLetís go!Ē

Dave, what is rock íní roll?
Rock íní roll is a reckless rebel spirit that comes from within. Rock íní roll is not something you can wear like fashion. I know a lot of people who have rock íní roll attitudes and donít even like to play music.

When did you first get infected with the rock bug?
The first time I really fell in love with rock music was when I was about seven or eight. I heard the song Frankenstein by The Edgar Winter Group. After that I learned to play guitar. My first real rock íní roll moment happened when I was 12 years old. I saw the AC/DC movie ďLet There Be RockĒ in a cinema and listened to some of their music live. That was the first time I just wanted to explode!

You once said that you can tell in two seconds whether or not a person is a rocker. Last year you played for President Barack Obama at the White House. Important question: is the most powerful man on the planet a rocker?
[Laughs] I donít know if heís a rocker, but he definitely has soul. When he looks you in the eyes and shakes your hand, he just means it. Iíve met him a few times now, and every time I see him, he comes over and says, ďHey man, how are you doing?Ē Heís very informal and sincere.

If he asks, will you support him in his 2012 re-election bid?
Absolutely. Heís got the toughest job on earth. I would hate to hand the administration over to another party that is just focused on corporation, greed and money. You know, Iím a fun, peace-loving guy, but sometimes the right wing gets a little too selfish.

The current Foo Fighters album, "Wasting Light," is a big success. Why are Foo Fighters thriving in a music industry that is apparently collapsing?
I donít know. Ask the president of our record company.

Dave, why are Foo--
Okay, I am the president of our record company [laughs]. I think it might be because we donít really think about it too much. Business is not really our number one priority.

Do you fear the point, which comes in every band's life, when audiences at your gigs want the old stuff rather than the new?
Absolutely. It's a tough balance. The hardcore fans only wanna hear stuff we never play. But if you play to 60 or 80,000 people it's my intention to make everybody feel involved and playing obscure b-sides all night long isn't really gonna engage the audience. When we were making the new records that really was a motivation I wanted to make it so good that the people didn't only want the old songs when we now play songs like Walk, These Days or Rope the reaction is strong.

Which Foo Fighters song should I play in my car to impress the lady in the passenger seat?
Ah. Do you wanna get laid?

Walking After You.

Dave Grohl What's the most important Foo Fighters drinking rule when you're on tour?
I only start drinking one hour before the show so that means [looks at watch] in about 45 minutes. If I'm in a crazy kind of mood I drink a lot of whiskey, if not I just have a couple of beers. It depends really.

Last year Foo Fighters played gigs in tiny clubs while you play drums on the posthumous Michael Jackson album. What makes you decide to get involved with a musical project?
It has to be something that I've never done before whether it's playing with someone I've never played with before or in a band or playing a type of music that I've never played before. It just has to be a worthwhile project.

Such as drumming along with Michael Jackson's voice from the grave?
That was messed up actually Lenny Kravitz - who I met once - called and asked if I want to play drums on a track. I said "sure" play drums on it and never hear from them again. On the sleevenotes it says 'Michael Jackson featuring Lenny Kravitz and Dave Grohl' but they didn't use any of my recordings. Dude that's not cool!

If I stole your mobile how many Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Famers could I call?
Let me see. [takes his Blackberry and starts going through his long list of contacts]

Someone from Queen?
[still scrolling] In the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame... at least 10.

Is President Obama in there?
No, Obama isn't in there.

How come the best networker in rock 'n' roll rarely uses twitter or Facebook?
Because I'm too old! You know my mom told me about twitter my 75-year-old mother! She said [imitates shaky old woman's voice] 'Dave you know what twitter is?' Every once in a while when we have a special project now, I'll say a little something, but I don't wanna do Facebook or stuff like that.

Your favourite hobby is skeet shooting what's so special about it?
There are certain things that are kind of relaxing and meditating like driving playing golf or painting than me at skeet and its loud but I'm deaf anyway.

Would you recommend pump gun or a double barrel for a beginner skeet shooter?
I would probably go for the double barrel.

Does it actually mean anything to you personally that 2011 is the 20th anniversary of Nirvana's album Nevermind or is that a different Dave Grohl from a different life?
It means a lot to me personally. It's more than a musical anniversary. That album, those 12 songs, completely change my life forever. I still look at my life pre-and post Nevermind. That day September 24 is a huge anniversary for me.

What was the first thing you learned about the major rock business when you join Nirvana in 1990?
The first thing that happened to me was I got sued, because when I was in a punk rock band I'd signed a contract with somebody. A long time later when I joined Nirvana that person, I'm not allowed to see the name, called me and said 'Hey I got you under contract.' So my introduction into the music industry was getting sued: by a punk rock person [laughs].

Is the general public perception of Kurt Cobain close to what he was really like?
Most people think he was always depressed but he wasn't he was really funny and a really friendly sweet guy.

You have seen friends die and people overdosing on drugs how did you manage to stay clean and healthy?
Dave Grohl I stopped doing drugs when I was about 20 I never did coke, I never did heroin and I never did speed. I did a lot of weed and took a lot of acid but I stopped doing it before I joined Nirvana so the whole time I was in that band I was clean. The were times when it was so crazy that all you wanna do was just drop out, but if you did hard drugs, you'd get troubles.

It must be difficult to make rules for your daughters because there's so much crazy stuff in your youth.
They are still pretty young. Harper is two and Violet is five. The most important thing to me is that my children feel loved and that they know they're the most important things in my life. We have a really great relationship and when I come home from being on tour all I do spend time with my kids. We only do really short tours now because we all have kids.

Would you allow your teenage daughter to go out with a 16 year old version of Dave Grohl?
You know, I was pretty good teenager. I wasn't that bad. I did stupid stuff - I vandalised, played crazy punk rock music, stole my mothers car at night, but that's it. So I'd probably say yes.

But you did give yourself of tattoo of Black Flag at the age of 13?
I learned from the German movie Christiane F.

What's your three step guide to DIY tattooing?
I've got a needle and wrapped a thread around the end of it, then dipped it in ink, so that the string soaked up the ink. And then you'd just do, 'tic, tic, tic' [mimes pricking his arm with a needle].

If parents find their kids listening to techno music do you think they should counter with some rock 'n' roll?
My kids already do and they listen to Katy Perry! It breaks my heart. I played them Bob Marley and I've played The Zombies and Led Zepplin and The Beatles. A lot of that they loved but they still want to hear that 'whip my hair back and forth' girl.

Looking back at your life and rock 'n' roll what's the biggest difference for young bands nowadays?
You know when I was playing drums in Scream there really wasn't any music industry - at least not for us because we played punk rock music. We didn't have any career aspirations. A lot of times we didn't get paid, we were sleeping on the floor and borrowed money to get to the next gig. Music as a business that didn't work. If your musician and you love playing music, playing gigs should be the reward. And I think that everyone has to do it for that reason.

Can musicians be successful nowadays just by writing and playing good songs?
Absolutely. There are so many talented people out there but it's hard to break into the mainstream because the mainstream is so used to... mechanical... meaningless... things. You know why Adele's record is really popular? She is really talented and she wrote some great songs. She doesn't even go on tour! People love it because it's good music. That's hard to find these days. And that's the problem with the music industry.

Who will play Dave Grohl in the movie of your life?
You know who I always wanted to do it? Shelley Duvall. You know that horror movie The Shining? Shelley Duvall played the wife. I want her for this role.