Dave Grohl: “If the song dedicated to your ass comes first, this is a clear problem”
After nearly thirty years of rock and roll, Dave Grohl is still playing real rock, making films and television shows, and trying, according to him, “not to seem like a boring old fart.” This exclusive interview proves: he succeeds.
Dave Grohl became famous throughout the world in the 1990s as the drummer of the Nirvana band, and has since remained a star. He soloists with Foo Fighters (eight albums, 11 million copies sold, many awards and spectacular world tours), and works on musical projects, including with David Bowie, Paul McCartney, Nine Inch Nails and Queens Of The Stone Age. Last year, he released his first film, “Sound City,” a documentary about a music studio of the same name in Los Angeles.
Now he has launched “Sonic Highways”: an ambitious project to merge the eighth album, released in November, Foo Fighters, with an eight-part television series. In it, Grohl shows how the group recorded the album in studios across America and talks with musicians associated with these studios, including Dolly Parton, Joe Walsh, Chuck D, Willy Nelson and Rick Rubin. He also has a little conversation with Barack Obama. In a recent conversation with The Red Bulletin, the 45-year-old musician does not ask questions, but answers them.
How many security officers stood behind the camera when you interviewed the president of the United States of America?
Here’s the trick: The White House is a truly laid-back and comfortable place, because until you become famous for something, you won’t get there. Therefore, since you are inside, it is not in vain; nobody bothers you, there is nothing to worry about. The President expressed some truly amazing thoughts about our country and about some musicians. I wanted to talk with him not only about the history of American music, but also about America as a country where there is an opportunity to do something great. I mean, I know well that in America there is a lot of disgusting, but there is still the opportunity to become someone like Buddy Guy.
Guy was successful in music, although he had neither education nor money. Does this echo the story of Dave Grohl?
Buddy is the most outstanding musician of all, as far as I can tell. He made his first guitar from wood and fishing line, which he pulled from a window net. I’m a dropout from Springfield High School, Virginia. I never managed to finish school, and I never had enough money for higher education. I did physical work and played rattling punk rock. Now I’m in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and I have the opportunity to sit and chat with the president about music. I’m not talking about how cool I am, after all, I just want everyone to realize that such stories are possible.
So, what qualities are needed to succeed in America, and maybe all over the world?
I think you should be focused, purposeful and sufficiently passionate about your work. Do not try to adapt to someone else’s expectations, just do everything as you see fit. Why imitate others?
Does it really help you?
Still would. For example, I didn’t have the slightest idea how to put films and TV shows, I just do it as I see fit. With the same attitude, I play drums and write songs. I’m sure, by the standards of some people, what I’m doing is complete bullshit, and to hell with them. This is how you achieve excellent results. This is the best way.
Did you share this advice with President Obama?
I think he has the worst job in the world. On the day I spoke with him, he gave a press conference in which he announced that additional troops would have to be sent to Iraq. Then he awarded the Congress of Honor with a soldier who was seriously injured while rescuing another soldier. Here he has an economy, there is an international conflict, and then he sits next to me to talk about Stevie Wonder and The Rolling Stones.
It turns out that there can be no question of President Grohl?
Ha ha ha I could never go even the first step to become a politician. During my life I have done a lot of different stupid things. Who will vote for me?
But the glasses that you started wearing recently give you a very serious look.
Oh yes, what can you do – age. I am deaf, dumb and blind.
So, the White House is not forever, but this year you were included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Nirvana group. Why were you only female musicians accompanying you at the ceremony?
Because Kurt [Cobain] was a supporter of women’s equality. And someone suggested Joan Jett. What am I doing – Joan Jett was the first woman to rock and roll. There is no other. Then it was like this: “What about Kim Gordon?” He and Kurt were great friends, they were delighted with each other, and Sonic Youth were our idols. “Well yes, let’s take Kim.”
And there was Lorde from New Zealand.
I myself decided to invite Lorde. The song “Royals” is her own little revolution in the vast sea of musical shit.