The fun-loving Foo Fighters are not about to get themselves embroiled in a political debate about military policy
Satirizing Mentos commercials in its videos is about as weighty as singer-guitarist Dave Grohl's post-Nirvana musical project likes to get.
That doesn't mean that rivalries and grudges don't sometimes spill out.
"Bon Jovi is such an idiot," drummer Taylor Hawkins declares. "What's with his band, anyway? Did he tell Tico and the rest of the band they all had to get haircuts?"
Hawkins makes the remark after hearing that Jon Bon Jovi had said winning a Grammy this year wasn't important to him.
"No way," Hawkins says. "I remember that little dork Bon Jovi at the MTV Awards a few years back. When he won he must've jumped about 7 feet in the air."
Bon Jovi may not have been leaping at the Grammys, but the Foo Fighters had reason to celebrate. The group -- which includes guitarist Chris Shiflett and bassist Nate Mendel -- earned its third Grammy when All My Life, from the album One By One, won for best hard-rock performance. They beat out System of a Down, P.O.D., Godsmack and Queens of the Stone Age (on whose album Grohl plays drums, just as he did for Nirvana).
Hawkins didn't leap for the rafters of Madison Square Garden when the award was announced. He didn't even wear a tux or a suit to the ceremony, but that doesn't mean he didn't bask in the glory of the victory.
"I think it really excited our parents, but I like winning. Period," Hawkins says. "Music is about artistic freedom, but winning is nice."
The Foo Fighters come to Houston for the first time in nearly three years to play the Reliant Arena on Wednesday.
In addition to becoming one of the most dominant rock bands on post-grunge FM radio, the Foo Fighters also have become the clown princes of rock 'n' roll.
When a tuxedoed Grammy guest followed members of the group onstage to accept their award, even taking a turn at the microphone, Hawkins took it in stride.
"I just thought he was one of Fred Durst's friends," Hawkins joked, taking a jab at Limp Bizkit's extended posse.
Guitar jester is an unlikely role for the 8-year-old band that emerged as a new beginning for Grohl following Kurt Cobain's 1994 suicide and the dissolution of Nirvana.
Grohl was picked up by Cobain and bassist Krist Novoselic from the Washington, D.C., punk band Scream to play drums during the recording of the group's second album. When Grohl joined the then-little-known Nirvana in 1990 he didn't know Nevermind would become the seminal rock album of the '90s, defining the grunge movement and selling 10 million copies.
He also didn't know that the three years of superstar success would end with the death of his lead singer and years of lawsuits with Cobain's widow, rock star / movie star Courtney Love, over Nirvana's music.
The Foo Fighters began as a musical escape for Grohl. Casting his drum kit aside, he reinvented himself as a guitar-playing frontman for a group with more defined chord structure and rock hooks than Nirvana.
"He writes very good riffs. He's very melodic," says Hawkins, who joined the band in time to tour in support of the Foo Fighters' second album, The Colour and the Shape. "After first listening to the Foo Fighters, my older brother said, 'This is the band you need to be in.'
"He was right."
The genesis of the Foo Fighters began when Grohl was still with Nirvana. Right around the time of his arrival in the grunge band, he had also recorded some solo demos, playing all the instruments himself as well as handling vocals. He called the project Pocketwatch.
After Cobain's death Grohl became a drummer-for-hire, backing former Minutemen singer Mike Watt on tour and keeping time for Tom Petty on a Saturday Night Live appearance. When he started thinking about his own projects he returned to the Pocketwatch material and started adding to it.
Dubbing the project Foo Fighters, the original lineup included ex-Germs guitarist Pat Smear (who also toured with Nirvana) and former members of Sunny Day Real Estate, drummer William Goldsmith and Mendel.
The self-titled first album, which featured brash, ragged songs like This Is a Call, was a Grohl project in everything but name. The Color and the Shape was the group's first collaborative effort and resulted in polished power ballads My Hero and Everlong.
It's wasn't until One By One, however, that the lineup learned to work together. After starting on another overly prepared set of songs, the players scrapped the recordings and nearly went their separate ways. But the second take featured free-wheeling, emotional assaults like All My Life and a new single, Times Like These.
"We were at this moment where the band could break up. It's made recording pretty passionate," Hawkins says. "The album we put out has no face-lifts, but it has energy and emotion."
It's hard to tell if Grohl is getting ready to make an escape from his second superstar project. In addition to Queens of the Stone Age, he moonlights with Cat Power and, most recently, Killing Joke. Other members also have side projects, but Hawkins, for one, says the Foo Fighters have never been stronger.
Since the Foo Fighters aren't a band to get involved in political debate, this tour is more about giving people relief from reality.
"(The war in Iraq) is so much more important than what we're talking about," Hawkins says. "I hope that for the hour and a half that people come to the show they can just get away from it all."