Lunchtime Social
October 1999

This was the first of three interviews for BBC radio recorded in the same day.

Learn To Fly plays

Dave Grohl (in best radio announcer voice) Hey, that was 'Learn To Fly' the new single from the Foo Fighters album 'There Is Nothing Left To Lose'.
Jo Whiley Is it any good?
DG (still in voice) Yes, it's a wonderful diverse collection of the greatest American rock band in the last..(trails off to laughter)
JW If you had to rate it out of all the best albums ever recorded where would it rate? In the top ten?
DG WHAT?
JW Where would it rate in the all time top ten?
DG What? Our record? It wouldn't be in the top ten. Of all time?
JW 98?
DG It should be up in the four hundreds or something, probably.
JW It's Radio One and I'm joined today by Dave Grohl from the Foo Fighters.
DG Hi.
JW Welcome, how are you?
DG Well.
JW Good, lots of energy today?
DG You know what? I woke up this morning in my hotel room, lit a cigarette before I'd even turned the light on, and I had my walkman right next to me and I had a Motörhead live record in there and I just put the headphones on. The first thing I heard this morning was 'Iron Fist' and 'Stay Clean' and I listened to it once and then I turned on the light and hit rewind and listened to it again and within fifteen minutes I was alone in my room at 7:00 in the morning playing air drums madly to Motörhead, so it totally got me going.
JW I'm thinking that's normal behaviour.
DG Instead of tea or coffee I'll just have Motörhead in the morning.
JW We played Motörhead on Friday we should have saved it for you.
DG Did you really?
JW Yeah, 'Ace Of Spades' we played.
DG You know what? They just released this new live record.
JW Have they?
DG It's awesome man it's a double CD it's really really good.
JW It was over a year ago since I last saw you, you were really tired then I think.
DG You know what I'm always kinda tired I can' help it..
JW No your not, your on form at the moment.
DG Actually that's true right now I don't feel so tired, but was that a press thing too? Because if were not touring doing press then were touring, and the only hour and fifteen minutes that your actually awake is when you're so incredible frightened of getting up on stage that you wake up...
JW You don't get nervous before you get on stage.
DG You know what? It's a problem how nervous I get I swear to you.
JW Is it?
DG Oh my God. I just want to faint or something, all the time since like 1991 every show I've ever played I've just been so horrified it's not even funny. So much so that I question what the hell I'm doing with my life all I'm doing is burning ulcers into my stomach and all for some perverse...
JW So do you wake up in the morning feeling sick to your stomach?
DG Yeah, like the other day somebody said your playing Saturday Night Live and immediately my stomach started turning and that's like a month and a half away and already I'm totally horrified.
JW Wow. You've made a good record though, a very good record indeed.
DG Thank you mam.
JW How do you feel about it.
DG I love it. I built a studio in my house, I moved to Virginia were I grew up, to a place like a mile from the high school I used to go to, and just bought this house and built a studio and we spent like four months recording anything and everything we wanted to with our friend Adam from Seattle.
JW So what is the studio like? Describe it to us, take us there.
DG Well you walk in through my front door, down...
JW What colour is your front door?
DG Green. The house is a cedar shake roof A-frame trip, it looks kinda hippyish.
JW (laughing) I thought it might be.
DG Did you really?
JW Yeah, go on.
DG And so we just knocked out the whole basement and put in hardwood floors and soundproofed it and bought some old equipment, didn't use any of this computer business...
JW Didn't you?
DG No! We're a rock band man, I don't believe in any of that funny business, and then we got some old mic's and just went for it man. It was so laid back.
JW Did you have a fridge down there.
DG No the fridge is upstairs. Okay so here's a day in the studio, wake up, come downstairs there's cigarettes and pizza boxes everywhere spend an hour cleaning it up to make the house look presentable, because it does look kinda homey it's not like 'Animal House' or anything like that. One by one everybody starts waking up, may be we do some juicing, I have a juicer..
JW (laughing) Do you?
DG ..maybe make some pear and carrot juice, which I call parrot juice, then we'll drink that and maybe take a motorcycle ride or have coffee and go down and listen to what we recorded the night before. Spend the next couple of hours fixing that up, then go down the street to the deli and have lunch, then come back and do some more stuff and start the barbecue and put some asparagus...
JW So there is quite a lot of socialising.
DG Well it was like a family. Which sounds so stupid but it's true, because it was Nate, Taylor and I, oh and Adam and my best friend Jimmy Swanson who I've know since I was five, he lives with me. So every day we'd do the studio thing or shoot skeet, I joined a skeet shooting league.
JW (laughing) Are you good?
DG (laughing) Yeah. I did it when I was a kid, and I got back into it so that...
JW So do you do it competitively?
DG (laughing) Yeah.
JW What does it actually involve doing?
DG Just blowing those little clay dishes out of the sky man, Well there's two, there's skeet shooting and there is sporting clays. Skeet shooting is from right to left and you have seven or eight different stations to shoot from, but sporting clays you walk around a course and they come out in different configurations every time. Sporting clays is really hard. I was actually on a sporting clays league, skeet shooting was for practice.
JW They must get really annoyed then when you go off on tour and let them down.
DG I know. I let my team down, once we started recording I had to go...
JW Shame on you.
DG But it was nice.
JW We'll play some music and talk in a sec.
DG OK.

REM's 'Nightswimming' plays

JW Do you wanna back announce this one as well?
DG Umm Ok. This is my band were called the Foo Fighters and this...
JW No, no I meant back announce R.E.M...
DG THAT WAS R.E.M.! (laughing) yeah this is my band R.E.M and me and Michael wrote that song when we were swimming and uh...
JW You wrote it when you were lovers.
DG When we were lovers exactly.
JW That was R.E.M with 'Nightswimming'..
DG I blew it, God I blew it, I could never be a DJ. I used to do morning announcements at my high school though.
JW Did you really?
DG Yeah. did just as good a job I'm sure.
JW (laughing) I don't know where to begin now, did we finish off a day at your studio? How does a day end?
DG We'd get drunk and go to sleep (laughs).
JW If you were all like one big family was it difficult to be objective? Is there one person who plays the bad guy? I'd imagine that was you.
DG (fakes shock) What are you trying to say? What's that supposed to mean?
JW Well when I said...
DG You imagine me being the bad guy. (laughs) No, well I mean...
JW I've heard things.
DG WHAT! So as we were recording, Adam was the perfect sort of producer because he's very laid back and he lets you go and do whatever you wanna do, and if you get to far away from the original concept he'll reel you back in and say 'I don't really think you wanna do that'. So it was nice, I'd come up with a basic idea for a song, we'd work out an arrangement, Taylor would put the drums down, I'd put down the guitar parts and Nate would come do the bass thing. I never sing out loud as we're writing songs so those guys have no idea what the vocal melodies gonna be, they don't even know what the chorus or verse is, so they trust me to do it.
JW Why don't you?
DG Because I don't like to sing out loud, I just feel weird about it.
JW You just feel embarrassed?
DG Well yeah. Wouldn't you?
JW Yeah.
DG You see then?
JW The thing about this album, I think, is it's a bunch of songs and there are lots of melodies and it's really easy to listen to and really enjoyable. Don't stare at me.
DG (laughing)
JW And I've read interviews where you said you felt really freed up this time, stop staring!
DG (laughing) Ok.
JW Is that true?
DG Well you know what was good about it? And it sounds so stupid and irrelevant. We left the record company we were on, and then made the album, and then started talking to other labels about releasing it. So we made the record in my basement for as long as we needed to, we had no deadline, we didn't have anybody telling us what to do, so it was great because we could do things like 'Stacked Actors' or 'Aurora' or we could do something like 'Ain't It The Life' things we wouldn't have done for the last album and we just didn't care about anything outside of the studio. So it was nice and we didn't produce it so much this time.
JW It's just a stack of different flavours isn't it?
DG (muttering) A stack of different flavours?
JW If it were an animal, what animal would it be?
DG A lynx.
JW What colour would it be?
DG Well lynx's are usually the same colour, kinda golden, stripy cuties with maybe some white paws. (laughing) Ok it'd be a big ugly ape.
JW If it were a child you'd just given birth to, what would it's character be?
DG I think it'd be schizophrenic.
JW Really?
DG Yeah it would be happy and sad and vomiting and...
JW All those things, a pukey bawling baby.
DG Exactly.
JW We'll play a track from it now. We're just kinda debating which one to play because there are so many different sounds to it. Maybe 'Breakout' or do you want to play 'Aurora'...?
DG You know what? (laughing) It's a stack of different flavours.
JW (laughing) Well what flavour do you feel like today? Vanilla?
DG Mmm 'Breakout' sounds like that'd taste good.

'Breakout' plays

DG That was 'Breakout' by the Foo Fighters.
JW That was Dave's band the Foo Fighters. Now I wish we had played 'Aurora' because it's kind of like the flipside, kind of like a tender love song.
DG Well play it! What are you worried about? Don't rush into that Whitney Houston crap, c'mon play 'Aurora'!
JW We might do. Can we talk a bit first? Is 'Aurora' a love song?
DG Yes. It's actually about when I lived in Seattle I lived right off of this street called Aurora Avenue, and I miss it.
JW Right.
DG I miss it. I miss everything about my life I had in Seattle.
JW But you could never go back there?
DG No. Well I could never live there again, no.
JW What have you got planned for the rest of the year? When are we going to hear some gigs.
DG Oh we're coming in the middle to end of November.
JW We'll try and fix up some skeet shooting for you when you...
DG That's gonna be our new stage production, I'm just gonna shoot skeet over the crowd so we'll have little dishes flying from side to side and I'll stand in the middle and pop them outta the sky.
JW Do you have any new tattoos?
DG I got the one on the back of my neck.
JW We've seen that one.
DG I have two at the top of my legs, that go around my buttocks and sort of hold me like two warm hands in the night.
JW (laughing) I need to get some of those.
DG You should check those out.
JW And you're off to Australia tomorrow?
DG Yes mam.
JW In your own jet?
DG (laughing) No we're flying Quantas.
JW (laughing) Oh bugger. Where is the jet?
DG We're taking the space shuttle actually, we'll be there in fifteen minutes. I'm looking forward to it, I love Australia.
JW Thank you for coming in and talking to us.
DG Thanks Jo.
JW And we'll play 'Aurora' sometime...maybe tomorrow, can we do that?
DG (feigns disgust) Yeah '...we'll play that when you leave, see you Dave', thanks a lot!
JW And now a great new song by Whitney Houston, she'll be a star don't you think?.
DG Ppprrrffff!