After beginning his musical career in late-'80s D.C. punk outfit Scream, Dave Grohl shot to stardom as the drummer for Nirvana, who were simultaneously the ultimate '90s "alternative rock" supergroup and the poster boys for the dubious rewards of fame. Come to think of it, he still sounds pretty ambivalent. After recording a small cassette-only indie release while playing with Nirvana, Grohl formed Foo Fighters after Kurt Cobain's suicide, recruiting punk icon Pat Smear on guitar, along with the rhythm section from emo legends Sunny Day Real Estate. It's been ten years since he became an icon, and there may be a price to pay for fame, but Grohl seems to have one of those 0% APR deals going on.
HOW DID YOUR LIFE CHANGE AFTER JOINING NIRVANA?
"Well. when I first joined it didn't change that much It was still about the 99-cent corn dogs from the 7-11 and TV dinners. Seattle was new to me. I lived my whole life in a suburb of Washington D.C., so Seattle was a bit of a culture shock. I loved it, though. Things didn't really change until after Nevermind was released. Then the only difference was that every time I went to get my corn dogs, I got recognised."
HOW WAS IT STEPPING INTO THE SEATTLE SCENE AS AN OUTSIDER? DID THE CONSTANT RAIN MAKE YOU FEEL SAD INSIDE?
"It was a bit weird at first. I knew absolutely nobody. The rain was definite issue. Actually, the first six or seven months I lived in Olympia, which is about an hour south of Seattle. It's a small town comprised of loggers, Evergreen students, hippy punks. Very interesting place to get a drink on a Friday night. The punk scene was very cool. And most people from Olympia looked up to the D.C. punk so I spent most of my time telling stories about my first Bad Brains show or how good Rites Of Spring were live."
WHAT WAS IT LIKE AFTER NIRVANA GOT BIG! WAS IT RIDICULOUS?
"Yeah, initially, all the attention and hype was a bit weird. I mean, we never imagined any of that stuff happening to a band like ours or people like us. It was a free for all. The word 'grunge' became a household term, and fashion runways were filled with flannel shirts and long underwear. Oh, how we laughed... Every now and then when I'm feeling a little nostalgic, I put on my 'grunge tuxedo' - flannel shirt, long shorts with long underwear underneath them, and a pair of Doc Martens - and dance around the house to Tad records."
DID NIRVANA CHANGE MUSIC OR JUST THE MUSIC INDUSTRY?
"I dunno... Ask one of those fancy-pants musicologists on VH1."
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF 'ALTERNATIVE'?
"When I was a teenager, we used to call it 'College Music.' Every lawn had a college radio station, and the biggest bands on those stations were usually REM, Husker Du, Sonic Youth, Pixies, etc. etc. It wasn't until much later that the term 'Alternative' became popular. And by that time, that word didn't apply to most of the bands in that category. My decision to lose the pony tail and turtlenecks was in direct protest to the Saturday Night Live skit 'Sprockets,' I felt it trivialized the German intellectual look I was going for. Plus, I looked like a total retard."
WHAT WAS IT LIKE TRYING TO START FOO FIGHTERS RIGHT AFTER NIRVANA ENDED? WERE PEOPLE RECEPTIVE?
"It was a bit scary at first. I had never been the lead singer in a band, had never stood out front before, didn't know what to say in between songs, But that's why I wanted to do it so bad. I didn't want to be 'that guy' for the rest of my life - you know, the drummer who was in that band that fell apart, but who rears his ugly head every time someone needs a stand in, I wanted to start over from scratch. It all started with a demo tape that I recorded down the street from my house. I spent 10 days in the studio, played all the instruments myself, made a few cassettes and gave them out to friends. I called it Foo Fighters because I wanted people to think that it was more than one person playing the instruments, It all kind of fell into place from there. I met Nate and Will. Pat was interested. It was never meant to be some sort of career move - it was all just for fun, It's funny to look back at it all now, eight years later. I can't believe it's come this far."
WHAT DO YOU RECALL WITH THE MOST FONDNESS FROM THE LAST TEN YEARS?
"Foo Fighters headlining the Reading Festival in 2002."
WHAT DO YOU RECALL WITH THE LEAST FONDNESS FROM THE LAST TEN YEARS?
HOW WOULD YOU SUM UP THE '90s?
"Triple Grande Mocha, long and sweet."
DID YOU EVER GO TO A RAVE?
"I had my rave phase. '91-'92. Never took ecstasy, though. Didn't have a pacifier either. But, shit, did I ever love nitrous."
DID THE '90S SEEM LIKE A MORE HOPEFUL OR IDEALISTIC TIME?
"There seemed to be a return to reality and sincerity for most of the '90s, It was okay to be a little dirty. It was okay to be a little sensitive, to show a little compassion, Youth culture was on the upswing. Creativity and idealism, Activism, It was exciting. Still is."
WHATS UP WITH CURRENT ROCK? THERE ARE A LOT OF COMPARISONS TO '90/'91, WITH THINGS SEEMING STAGNANT. DO YOU SEE THERE BEING ANOTHER BOOM?
"I believe that everything works in cycles, People were excited about music in '91 because most popular music had become so stale. So fake. You had these hair metal bands singing songs about fast cars, strippers, partying, money etc.,Nobody will relate to that, except for the guys who were writing that bullshit music. It was refreshing to hear music that meant something, made by people that meant it. No more costumes and posing, just music. But, then that becomes a bit boring, and people want some sort of escape, They want something larger than life. It kind of feels like we're back to square one nowadays songs about fast cars, strippers, partying and money. Most rap music is so similar to the hair metal of the 80s. Listen to it! I think that people are craving a return to reality. Something human. No more superheroes, no more rock stars, no more centerfolds."
IS IRONY DEAD? YOU WERE PRETTY BIG WITH THAT MENTOS VIDEO AND ALL.
"Irony. What's that?"
WHATS UP WITH FOO FIGHTERS' VIDEOS IN GENERAL?
"We make videos because we like too, not because we have to. If you hand us a wad of cash and a camera, you're gonna get something ridiculous. I mean, some of them we take pretty seriously, but for the most part, all videos are like Mentos commercials to me. Candy-ass advertisements. Buy, buy, buy. Let me take off my shirt and give you one more reason to buy my CD, Let me strip down to my drawers and give you another reason to come to my concert. Image should be secondary, as far as I'm concerned. I play music. I'm not a model. Turn on MTV and close your eyes. How long will it take before you turn it off?"
HOW DO YOU SEE YOUR MUSIC CHANGING OVER THE YEARS?
"I dunno, I guess we'll have to wait and see, It's a day to day thing. Some days I want to join Slayer. Other days I want to be Neil Young. That's what makes it so fun or so free."
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO PAT SMEAR?
"Pat Smear is currently residing in Los Angeles. He is the same and will never change."