The many sides of Foo Fighter Grohl
By Stephen Taylor / Daily Yomiuri Staff Writer
"It's gonna be good." That's what Foo
Fighters' vocalist and guitarist Dave Grohl says about the band's next studio
album, which they are already recording even though their latest release, Skin
and Bones, came out barely 10 days ago in Japan.
Nevertheless, Grohl eventually emerged from the
studio to talk to The Daily Yomiuri by telephone from his home in California's
San Fernando Valley near Los Angeles, and he started with an enthusiastic
account of the group's current activity.
"We've been prolific recently," the
Anyone familiar with the group's previous albums
will know that prolific output is nothing new for Grohl. Before the live
release Skin and Bones, the band's previous studio album, In Your Honour, was a
double album coupling the band's rock side with another disc of acoustic
"There are about 16 new songs for the next
album," Grohl says, revealing that he's always ready, should he ever get
inspiration from his muse. "I keep a small tape recorder by my couch or
next to my bed and...I checked last week and found I'd got quite a lot of tunes
over the past eight months," he adds.
Skin and Bones is the band's first live album and captures them at L.A.'s
Pantages Theatre in August this year. The release is also available as a DVD.
Drawing on the In Your Honour acoustic collection,
as well as old favorites, such as "Big Me" and "Everlong,"
Grohl seems to relish the more intimate surroundings and some of the supposedly
heavier songs, such as "My Hero," are given fresh impetus when
performed in their raw state.
"I like the acoustic shows as I get the
chance to explain the songs to the audience," he says.
But if Skin and Bones gives an insight into the
Foo Fighters and Grohl's live persona, the diverse nature of In Your Honour
reveals more about Grohl's complex musical personality. It's something of a
schizophrenic release, with its heavier side showing the group let rip while
also allowing breathing space for some of Grohl's older songs, such as Friend
of a Friend, written about former roommate and Nirvana lead vocalist Kurt
When you think about it, Grohl's image back in the
day as the dark drummer of Nirvana is very much at odds with his playful Foo
Fighters persona. And this doesn't represent two separate phases because while
he was setting the pace for the Seattle-based band, he was secretly penning and
playing all the music on a collection of pop-rock songs that would form the
basis of the first Foo Fighters album. This tendency has been impossible to
ignore so how does he explain such catholic tastes?
"When I was growing up...I liked Abba and
Gerry Rafferty as much as Bad Brains and Slayer," he says. "I can
listen to all kinds of music."
The contrast in styles between Nirvana and the Foo
Fighters doesn't stop with the music. Grohl's new band embraced the idea of
light-hearted video and produced some unforgettably hilarious images, such as
their send-up of a Mentos mints commercial in the video for "Big Me"
10 years ago. Surprisingly though, Grohl admits to not being completely
enamored by the medium.
"Originally, we didn't want to do a video for
the first single," he says, explaining that while he grew up with MTV, he
always liked his rock visuals to be more direct.
"I always preferred to see a live band than
watch pyrotechnics on a video," he says.
Since forming the Foo Fighters in 1995, the band
has endured a couple of personnel changes though the present lineup of Grohl,
drummer Taylor Hawkins, guitarist Chris Shiflett and bassist Nate Mendel has
been together for about eight years.
After five albums and numerous hit singles, it's
fair to say that Grohl will be remembered by most people as the leader of the
Foo Fighters rather than the ex-drummer with Nirvana. That's no mean feat.
After all, apart from Primal Scream's Bobby Gillespie, how many sticksmen have
succeeded in catapulting themselves from the stool behind the skins to standing
center stage in the spotlight, singing and performing their own material? Well,
there's that cheeky chappie from Genesis...but seriously, Grohl's achievement
is quite astounding.
Yet rock 'n' roll is full of former members of
influential bands trying, and not quite succeeding, with their
"second" groups--ask any diehard Jam fan about Paul Weller's
indulgences with the Style Council and you'll find few, if any, positive
reactions--so which "second" band is best, the Foo Fighters or Wings?
"No doubt about it--Wings. Paul McCartney is
the master," Grohl replies without hesitation.
And like the former Beatle--McCartney's ongoing
marital difficulties notwithstanding--Grohl has developed a reputation as one
of the nice guys in the music business, and in conversation he is an extremely
amiable guy, though he's happy to admit to some rock excesses.
"Last week, I went to a gig and got pretty
drunk, so I wasn't quite the good guy of rock," he admits. "When I
get interviewed, there's usually music going on around me and I love music so
perhaps that's why I get this label," he explains.
This is the band's first visit to Japan since
2003, and though Grohl is enthusiastic about the prospect, he is looking
forward to a lengthier stay next time they cross the Pacific.
"We want to do a proper tour of Japan. The
last time we did that was in 1998, when we went as far north as Sapporo and all
the way down south," he says.
It's only a three-date tour this time with last
night's opening show focusing on the group's acoustic set. Grohl agrees that
those attending the acoustic show were likely to hear him at his most
talkative, although he did express one concern: "I hope that people
With his many sides, though, it seems
understanding Dave Grohl is not just a question of language.
The Foo Fighters will play Dec. 4, at Budokan at 7
p.m (03) 3402-5999 and Dec. 5, 7 p.m. at Osaka-jo Hall in Osaka, (06)