Foo Fighters Frontman Dave Grohl Says The Worst Thing You Can Do Is To Stand Still
Evolution through music is something Dave Grohl has practiced for decades. From the dark days of grunge and the dashed ambition that came out of Nirvana, to reinvention into uplifting, edgy and, at times, comedy-laced music with Foo Fighters, Grohl's own progression from drummer to vocalist has carried him through into a modern era of sound that’s very different from the Seattle founding chords he was strumming, over three decades ago.
With the industry often labeled as tired and staid, what it needed is one of the world’s leading rock acts to go disco… probably.
Few expected the Foo Fighters to don Seventies clothing and begin strumming away as high-pitched exemplars of the Bee Gees, but in the cleverly titled Dee Gees (as in Dave Grohl’s initials), the six-piece have ripped up the songbook. As Dave Grohl tells RSNG in this interview, the worst thing you can do is stand still..
RSNG You go about music with a smile on your face yet come from a place, a band, that ended so badly? DAVE GROHL, FOO FIGHTERS FRONTMAN “People always think Nirvana was this solemn, maudlin band, but actually there was a lot of fun on the road. We all know how it ended, and that’s in some way the legacy that extends on beyond anything else, and that’s kind of unfair.”
“I tend not to talk about those days now because they really were a lifetime ago, but being in a band and making music is about creative expression and wanting to put ideas and sounds in people’s heads. When you do that it makes you smile, it makes you feel as though you’re achieving something.”
RSNG You are a musician yet in many ways you want to turn the tables don’t you? DAVE GROHL “Of course. You have to be inward looking, you have to be outward looking. One of my favorite things to do is interview other musicians. I think there’s this weird feeling of some musicians thinking they’re too good to do that, or that they might be exposing a bit of their armory. I don’t buy into that at all.”
“Being in this industry should mean exploring what we can collectively pool, and what I’ve always found when I’ve interviewed other musicians and songwriters is that I end up on this really spacy, wonderful voyage of discovery and knowledge.”
“At the end of the day, how can you extend who you are and what you represent in music if you don’t fill your crazy head with new ideas and inspirations.”
RSNG You’ve spoken about your vices over the years. Which is your most profound right now? DAVE GROHL “Disco, baby! The Dee Gees are coming to a flared pair of pants near you. It’s been a cool ride reinventing some of the Bee Gees classics and we’ve had a lot of fun, but from something at the start that was mostly a few guys taking the piss, it’s actually turned into a pretty serious project. I mean, it can’t not be. If you’re making music, you’re making music.”
“I’ve been thrilled at the way it’s exploded and everyone seems to be going along with it.”
RSNG And the dance moves? DAVE GROHL “They come naturally. No practicing required!”
RSNG Are you worried people may feel you’re losing your edge? DAVE GROHL “No, it’s the opposite. To answer that question you’ve got to understand why bands move out of their comfort zones. Usually it’s because they’re searching for ideas, and searching for ways to keep pushing forward.”
“The worst thing you can do is stand still and there have been periods of the Foo Fighters where the fear of that has really fucking taken me to a strange place – one of those places that you only ever visit at three o’clock in the morning.”
RSNG But as a musician you’ve always found new ways of putting out rock tracks? DAVE GROHL “I’m glad you think so, but nothing to this extent, and that’s the point. If you can go to point B on the map then go there; but if someone shows you point C and you can’t think of a good reason not to go there, then you probably should.”
“It’s what being a real musician is about. And yeah, sure, this is meant to be a lot of fun, which it is, but it's also us saying ‘we’re not going to sit back and we’re not going to take ourselves too seriously’.”
“There is certainly an arrogance in doing the same thing over and over again and still expecting people to come to you with open arms.”
RSNG Is that a consequence of having so much choice in music nowadays? DAVE GROHL “No it’s just about having respect for your fanbase. It’s about giving them the credit and the diversity that they deserve.”
RSNG But you could excuse yourself based on the fact you’ve been doing this for so long? Everyone needs a break... DAVE GROHL “No, man. What the last years or so has taught us with lockdown is we respect each and every fan, and if we hear the people want us to come somewhere then we will try to do that.”
“I’ve said it before but if I had my drivers and I had the energy I would play every single night of my life in every single city on Earth. How could I not do that? You only have to look at our gigs and the energy we put into them to know what it means to us and how much we want to give back what we get.”
“I mean, I see some bands coming on doing this tight hour-and-a-half set, and I’m thinking ‘what the fuck? – you guys have only just warmed up and you’re leaving? What happened there? You’ve seen Foo Fighters sets and if we are anything less than three hours I’m starting to feel a bit guilty, man. I’m starting to wonder if fans are going to be turning around asking for refunds.”
“That’s our commitment to everyone – we’re desperate to play, and we’ve got quite a few songs to get through every time. Too many songs, man haha!”
RSNG Music has been your greatest vice over the years, right? DAVE GROHL :Yeah it’s one I’ve been thrilled to have though. It’s torturous sometimes but mostly it’s a breath-taking way to live life. It’s full of energy all of the time.”
RSNG How do you maintain energy though? DAVE GROHL “Coffee! I’ve always had a big problem with the stuff. I need to take on board a lot of fluids anyway – that’s the type of guy I am, and I did get in pretty deep at one point, to the extent that I took myself off to hospital because I thought I was having a heart attack!”
“The doctor looked at me suspecting I’d been on something harder, and when I explained I’d had four jugs of heavy coffee that day, and would do most days, he just looked at me and laughed.”
“He actually recommended I go back to drinking red wine, which isn’t something you would usually hear from a doc, but he could see what it was doing to my insides… and my brain, more to the point.”
“I do still love a coffee though – I’m not sure that will ever change.”
RSNG Any others? DAVE GROHL “Well cigarettes used to be a big thing. I stopped smoking a long time ago now but it was the routine and the boredom. I think that’s why a lot of people take up or carry on smoking – if you have a lot of free time you need to fill it with something.”
“But when my children came along and when my voice started bottoming out I decided I needed to do something about it. You need to look at the bigger picture and realize there is more to life than little vices.”
RSNG Speaking of children – you have three girls? DAVE GROHL “Yeah, isn’t that crazy. Gods is punishing me now – I don’t know what happened but that’s some heavy fucking karma coming my way. I don't know what I did but thanks, God. Haha!”
RSNG Finally, you seem happy? DAVE GROHL “Ah sure, yeah… life is good – I don’t have too many complaints.”
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