The end of Nirvana was just the beginning of Dave Grohl’s career.
Evolving from behind the drum-kit to main singer, songwriter and guitarist in a new band was at the time a brave move. It was however, a decision to launched Foo Fighters into one of the top shelf rocks acts of the second half of the 90’s.
The first Foo Fighters album hung onto the essence of Seattle rock, but then “The Colour and the Shape” followed by the latest album “There Is Nothing Left To Lose” has molded the band its own unique style.
Just prior to the release of the new album, Dave Grohl, Chris Shiflett and Taylor Hawkins spoke with Paul Cashmere.
PC> I should start by asking you guys, you’ve got a pretty special guy over here, somebody who was in the X-Files.
DG> Have you ever seen the episode?
PC> Tell me about it…
DG> There’s nothing to say! I walked past the camera, I was just there. They said “hey, you want to walk past the camera?” I said “sure” so I walked past the camera. I WAS ON THE X-FILES!
TH> They cut the sex scene with Gillian Anderson
DG> That’s the thing, in America we don’t have nudity and we can’t show real hot, steamy sex scenes, so the whole thing, Gillian and I, we worked for like two days on that thing.
TH> They had little classes together…
DG> To show how to… it was this little tantric thing…
TH> You guys had sex for like seven hours didn’t you?
DG> In preparation for the two days.
PC> Let’s change the subject a little. ‘There’s Nothing Left To Lose’, now that’s a very profound title.
DG> It’s relevant to where we were as a band going in to make the record and I just felt like that last night, as I was so exhausted I wanted to fucking die, and before going on stage, I just thought you know what? I don’t care anymore about much except for just getting by.
PC> Is there such a thing as third album syndrome?
DG> Not for us.
TH> More for the outside world than us or whatever. I don’t think this album is a difficult third album or whatever. It’s different, some people say it’s more commercial or something than the other one’s, I don’t know.
DG> It’s like every album after your first turns into like the second album, that’s the difficult one.
TH> Ahh it’s the fourth one!
DG> The third album, that’s really the weird one.
TH> Wait ’till the fourth one.
DG> The fourth one, that’s when it starts getting tough.
PC> The way you cheat the difficult forth album is you put out a live album or a best of, and you’ve got around it.
DG> It’s like buildings that don’t have thirteenth floors.
PC> “I’m looking for the sky to save me, I’m looking for a sign of life”… what are we saying there?
DG> Just looking for something to make me feel alive I guess.
PC> It’s probably where the difficult third album question is coming from, is that a hint to the difficult third album?
DG> I think that you get to the point where the first album was exciting and new and kind of a fluke and wild, and the second album was more of…
C> The prove yourself album
DG> Yeah, to let everyone know that it’s not a project, it’s a band and we’re going to make records and be around for a while, and the third album nobody cares. It didn’t matter anymore, and we built the studio in my house and just did it on our own, so we just do whatever we want to do.
PC> Stacked Actor is getting a bit of a run in the live set at the moment. Is that one of the songs that you’ve got earmarked for a big thing somewhere down the track?
TH> I think so
DG> Taylor’s a big fan of that song.
TH> I think it’s the best song on that album.
DG> I’m starting to come to your senses.
TH> I think it should be the next single. I think people should hear that song, just because musically it’s so cool and so… you know… judging from the outside, the lyrics can be kind of seen as wicked or whatever. But they’re good honest truthful lyrics and just the dynamics. I’d love to hear something like that on the radio right now. Everybody is just like… I can’t hear that on the radio.
DG> Have people said that?
TH> Oh yeah like Gus (the tour manager), and that’s the good thing, could you hear Paranoid Android on the radio? No, but they put that out as their first fucking single. Everybody said don’t release Bohemian Rhapsody, not that it’s a Bohemian Rhapsody, and these are different times, but I know it’s different now, and I’d cut all the shit out of it or whatever, but it’s one of the most intense, raw, good songs on the album. There’s no holds barred on that song, lyrically and everything, it should be heard and it will be.
DG> How many songs have you had a chance to actually get out there and road test to date?
DG> I guess like five or six maybe.
PC> So they’re all basically like…
DG> Well we haven’t even had time to rehearse man. We did like five days of rehearsal with Chris before our first show and then from there it was promo tours and do shows and…
TH> Scattered soundchecks and we’re usually so bushed by the time we get to the soundcheck, but we can’t really fix anything by the time we get to the soundcheck, we’re just like…
TH> Oh well, we’ll try that again next time.
DG> We hadn’t even done any real shows until we got down here.
TH> True, these are our first real shows on our own.
DG> We’re so tired. I think we’ve pulled it off. We’ve been doing good shows, but thank God for that kid last night.
PC> Have you got a new member of the band?
DG> He did good too.
TH> He did, he fucking played really well. I was talking to Craig, our sound guy afterwards and he’s like, he put on the headphones and listened and he’s like damn! That kid can play man! and it was real sweet ’cause he didn’t know the chords at the end, and instead of playing all the weird inverted chords, he played the real simple chords. I was just trying to be helpful. I don’t know if he needed it or not though.
TH> The helping hand of rock.
PC> Just to backtrack a little for the listeners here, this kid was just somebody who you dragged out of the crowd.
DG> I saw him all night. He was right up against the barrier and every time I’d sing something he’d like just go “YEAH!” and he got right into it and just wanted to hear every song and he was so excited when we started anything, and we’d do a new song and he’d look at me like “yeah! that was fucking’ good!”
TH> That’s so nice, it’s so nice to see someone who like has that kind of connection at a show.
DG> And he had the old school t-shirt on too.
TH> Yeah, so it was like fuck, pull that guy up on stage!
PC> Is that like a reminder to you about what it was like when you first started off in a band.
DG> Yeah, or what it was like watching your favourite band, at the front.
TH> I don’t care how much you were into like Pink Floyd, nobody ever got pulled up on stage.
DG> As a kid it was probably your secret fantasy where you’d be at the show of your favourite band and something would happen to like the drummer and they’d go “Does anybody know our songs?” and you’d go “I do!”
C> I had that fantasy millions of times.
PC> You’ve said that Pink Floyd may never pull you up on stage, but you’ve pulled a Pink Floyd song out of the hat anyway.
TH> Oh you heard that, did you hear it?
PC> I’ve heard thirty seconds of it so far…
TH> Oh, Have A Cigar. Yeah we did that for just a goof. It was funny. We started playing it first. We were going to cover it and we just started playing it first, and we just played it like they play it like a swamp rock version. So then we started doing this weird Janes Addiction, Jesus Lizard version of it and we’d listen to the music of it, and I’d go into the control room and I’d keep singing it over and over again and Dave’s like, “You sing it! You fucking asshole, I don’t want to learn the fucking lyrics, you sing it!”
PC> Is there a copy in the mail to Roger Waters?
TH> Oh he’d love it I’m sure!
DG> I wonder…
C> Are they cool about people covering their songs?
TH> I think they’d be cool about that, I bet you they would. I mean who gives a fuck? It’s good that a young virile band wants to cover their old man songs. I know I’m virile!
DG> Was that a Roger Waters song?
TH> Yeah, that was Roger Waters, definitely. Any angry Pink Floyd song is a Roger Waters song. It’s a fucking cool song, the lyrics and everything, and it totally fit in a sort of silly way. We just signed a great crazy record deal and we’re getting ready to go out on the road for two years and the whole machine is starting to turn, which is fine, we’re not complaining, so in a half mock comedy way it kind of fit, but any band can do that, say it totally fit but it was cool.
PC> Have you had a lot of feedback from people you’ve covered. I remember talking to Gary Numan who was absolutely over the moon with your version of Down In The Park.
DG> Was he really!?!? Weird! That’s weird! That makes me feel good. Not really [referring to feedback], we did a Killing Joke cover, and the Gary Numan cover and the Kansas cover and what else…
TH> The Obsessed…
DG> Oh The Obsessed, they were pretty stoked.
TH> We did the Gerry Rafferty cover, we never talked to him…
C> We did an Andrew Gold cover too, remember him? Thank you for being a friend!
DH> Did he really write the Golden Girls thing? Poor Andrew…, the things you do for money…
PC> It was actually one of his old songs that they used.
DG> “Walking in the rain…”(The Things We Do For Love). Who did that? Did he do that?
TH> No, that’s 10CC.
DG> You know I got this early 10CC record that I bought in London. It’s fucking weird dude!
TH> What’s it like?
DG> The Beach Boys!
TH> Does it have I’m Not In Love on it?
DG> No! It’s really weird, like the Beach Boys.
PC> They were a pop band before that.
DG> I don’t really like it.
TH> No, I don’t think you would.
PC> Now do we have a battle of the drummers that goes on here?
DG> We did on the last tour, when we had the two drummers.
TH> We’re thinking maybe of doing the Floyd song live and letting Dave go back there and have a bash and letting me go up there and be a ham.
DG> I think that’d be more interesting than having two drum sets, we could just do the full swap.
TH> The thing is it’s funny because we did this whole double drum thing, thinking people would be so mesmerized by it and think it was so like really hard to pull of, but if you listen to the tapes, we were WAY off. Basically you just have one guy sitting there going “tss tss tss tss” and the other guy is going “badoom badoom badoom badoom!”. It was no Phil and Jester. It was fucking Amos and Andy, Dumb and Dumber.
PC> With the two drummers thing, that’d be like Foo Fighters doing the Glitter band. Remember Gary Glitter with the two drummers?
DG> Oh yeah I was there.
TH> With the Grateful Dead.
C> Or The Allman Brothers.
DG> I think it’d be so much more fun to just swap, because we had one song that we never finished and now I wish we would or should, where we were recording stuff in the studio and I just recorded this demo thing. Just as a bit of a goof and I thought how cool it would be to have Taylor sing the song and to start out the set with lights out and when the song broke in. The lights would come up and I’d be on the drumset and Taylor would be on guitar for the first song.
PC> Chris tell me about the education you’ve had to go through to join these guys. Has there been a crash course in learning every Foo Fighters song ever written?
C> Well, when I was getting ready for the audition I learnt a lot of the stuff, but I think a lot of the stuff I haven’t actually played yet, but it was like maybe five or six songs off the first record that I didn’t learn, and pretty much every one of those I’ve had to learn.
TH> Which is fine. It takes him fucking twenty minutes to learn.
PC> And what’s happened to your side bands in the meantime?
C> Only one side band, that’s Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies. But that’s because everyone involved in that, it’s their side band, but I quit No Use For A Name.
PC> Dave, you’ve relocated recently, you’ve moved back to Virginia? What was the idea behind that?
DG> The idea behind that was that it’s a nice place to live and when I moved away from there to Seattle, I kind of wound up in Seattle by chance, I wasn’t really planning on moving away, from DC or Virginia. So I lived in Seattle for six years and then I moved down to California for a year and a half just to live closer to everybody else and at one point I had entertained the idea of moving to New York city, but I feel most comfortable there and it’s where my family is and all my friends, and when you tour so much and travel a lot, it’s not really so important that you live somewhere so exciting, because you’re usually in exciting places for a year and a half at a time, and when you get off the road you just want to be somewhere quiet and normal, safe and that’s Virginia.
TH> The way I see it is that we all need to have pads and cool places so when we get off tour we’ve got somewhere, because I live in Santa Monica now, which is kind of LA.
PC> Baywatch area!
TH> Exactly, boobwatch.
DG> How’s the water down there, good or bad?
TH> Nah it’s gross. It tricks you though, because they’ve cleaned it up a lot so it looks nice.
PC> Where abouts are you Chris?
C> I live in San Francisco.
PC> Wow, so you’re all over the place.
DG> We all can go to Seattle
TH> It’s like we can all just go “Hey! Let’s go to LA!”
PC> Do you rehearse via conference call?
DG> We usually get together, if we’re going to record stuff, we just go to my house in Virginia. If we’re going to rehearse, we usually just rehearse in LA. That’s kind of our home away from home.
PC> I believe Butch Vig is in town at the moment, are you going to be catching up?
DG> Is Butch in town?
TH> Is he staying here?
PC> I believe they may be. Butch got a bit of a career, thanks to you guys.
DG> Well, I think Butch was doing fine on his own. Before he did the Nirvana record he did the Smashing Pumpkins first album and he’s a good producer. He knows how to get good sounds and he’s good at writing songs.
TH> Totally nice guy too.
DG> A great guy to work with, I don’t think he needed Nirvana to help his career.
TH> But it didn’t hurt.
DG> It did not hurt, not at all.
TH> A little album called Nevermind did not hurt anybody, but he’s really really great at what he does.
PC> As everyone is putting together their albums of the nineties, Nevermind is definitely up there as one of THE albums of the nineties. Do you feel it made such a strong contribution to this decade?
DG> It’s a totally different feeling for me than anyone else because I was in the band. So it’s probably the most important album of the nineties for me because I had never experienced anything that like in my life. The thing that’s weird is that when people come up with those lists or polls or whatever, the best albums of the nineties, the top albums of the nineties, I don’t think it was the best album of the nineties. I don’t think it was the top album of the nineties. There were things that led up to that that were just as influential as Nevermind itself, things like Janes Addiction or The Pixies, or Husker Du and stuff like that, or Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr, opened up to what we were doing, so those people are just as responsible for music of the nineties as Nirvana was. So whatever, people have to think of things in terms of the one thing that means the most to them and to me it meant the most because it changed my life.
PC> Well, you’re doing some work with Puff Daddy, or you’ve done some work with Puff Daddy?
DG> I did a remix with Puff Daddy because he wanted to get some funk music, so he called the whitest guy in the world. He asked me to do a rock remix for him, which was fun.
PC> Did you go to New York to do that with him?
DG> Yeah, I went to the studio and just put down real drums and guitars and bass and then they chopped it up and put it into this thing, it was fun. I’ll do anything once, and now I’m down with his posse, so when I go to New York it’s…
TH> Bullshit you didn’t even get into his birthday party!
DG> I know I didn’t get into his birthday party. I don’t even think I ever got paid. I don’t know if I got paid or not, probably not, those guys are like…
PC> It’s a royalty deal.
DG> No it’s not actually, I wish it were!
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