Rock On!

OK! (USA), January 2021

The Foo Fighters frontman on the band's new record and life during lockdown

Time flies! It's hard to believe it's been 25 years since the Foo Fighters released their self-titled debut album in the summer of 1995. Now, in honor of the milestone anniversary, the legendary rockers are dropping a new record, Medicine at Midnight, on Feb. 5 - a year later than planned due to the pandemic. Here, the band's founder and frontman, Dave Grohl, 51, talks about the new direction the group is taking, how they're flexing their "creative muscles" to connect with fans and the joy of making music in these strange times.

It must be weird to be celebrating your 25th anniversary right now.
Yeah. We started planning for 2020 more than a year-and-a-half ago. We knew we were going to start making a record and tour, and then in March, everything just stopped. But in a way, it was good for us because we hadn't stopped working in 10 years. This is really the first time we've settled down and come back home for a long time. We had to figure out how to do it, and we decided the most important thing is that people get to hear the music. All those other fun plans can wait.

Medicine at Midnight is the most danceable album you've made.
I realized we've done the acoustic thing and the noisy thing, but we've never really made the party record. I thought, OK, well, instead of just retiring into the sunset with a nice sleepy acoustic album, I was like, "Fuck that! Let's make something people will really bounce around to."

It also has political undertones.
When we got back together and started rehearsing the songs, we kind of fell in love with them again. I mean, the lyrics were written in October and November of 2019, long before the pandemic or any of the current political climate. But they still apply today, maybe more so.

Brian Johnson of AC/DC recently said that if you ever run for president, you'd have his vote. Thoughts?
[Laughs.] That is one job I'd never want. I mean, I've worked at pizza places, I've worked at record stores, I've been in a rock band, but I do not want to be the president.

You've also been busy making documentaries.
I finally finished making What Drives Us, about bands touring in vans. I interviewed musicians from Metallica, Guns N' Roses... everybody started in the same place. The movie ended up being about the inspiration and why people throw their lives away and jump in a shitty old van to go share their music with the world.

Speaking of which, what's the plan until you can hit the road again?
We recently did a show at the Troubadour in L.A. with no one there, just our road crew. I remember thinking, "Wow, this is going to feel kind of empty and hollow and strange," but it felt so good just to be with the band and a microphone and perform with our instruments again. We're going to start getting out there soon in ways that other people might not be doing, but the stadiums and arenas, not yet.

What about performing with your daughters [Violet, 14, Harper, 11, and Ophelia, 6]?
Listen, I have one kid that wants to be a musician and two that look at me like I'm a fucking janitor, you know? They're just like, "Oh, that's dad's job, whatever." So maybe one day.

Behind The Music - Dave dishes on what inspired some of his new songs

"When I was young, in the '70s and '80s, I was terrified of dying in a nuclear war with Russia," Dave recalls. "Then [in 2019], things were getting tense with North Korea, and one day my 11-year-old says, 'Dad, are we going to war?' It reminded me of the way I felt when I was her age."

"It started just with the drum beat, but then I figured out this weird hand snapping and clapping rhythm. With acoustic guitar, bass, keyboards and a vocal, it's just four very simple elements," explains the musician. "It's still recognizable as something Foo Fighters would do, but it's got these grooves and tempos you've never heard the band do before."

"It's basically an anthem for the pessimist," shares Dave. "I'm the type of person that says, 'OK, let's figure this out,' if I'm presented with a problem. A cloudspotter is somebody who finds the conflict or difficulty in everything and has no hope. It's kind of a twisted love song for someone with this pessimistic, negative outlook on everything."

An homage to the late, great Motorhead frontman, Lemmy (real name Ian Fraser Kilmister), the song started out with "this country swing to it, but then we decided for something a bit more aggressive, and it turned into these chunky riffs," notes Dave. "I wish Lemmy were alive to hear it, because he would see how much an influence he's been to me."

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