Q&A: Dave Grohl

On the Foos' Grammy-nomination domination, missing Kurt Cobain and his new rock documentary

Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters performs on stage at the Lanxess-Arena on August 23rd, 2011 in Cologne, Germany. Credit: Peter Wafzig/Getty

The Foo Fighters were thousands of miles from home on tour when they heard that their super-heavy seventh LP, Wasting Light, got nominated for six Grammys. "That has to be the highlight of the year for us," says front man Dave Grohl, checking in from Australia between shows. "Believe me, we were blown away when we found out." Once he returns to the States, Grohl will get back to work on the documentary he's directing about legendary L.A. studio Sound City. "It's exciting," he says of the film. "The vision is incredibly clear — you'll see."

Congratulations on the Grammy nominations! Are you stoked?
It's fucking crazy. I mean, for an album we made in my garage, totally analog to tape, without any computers at all, to be nominated for Album of the Year? It's kind of inspiring. Like, it's OK to sound like human beings.

Deadmau5 was also nominated for his house remix of the Foos song "Rope." Are you a fan?
That guy fucking rocks! My daughter and I used to blow up this inflatable air mattress, turn on the satellite dance station and bounce around like maniacs for hours. That's how I discovered him: a song called "I Remember" — fucking beautiful.

What have been your favorite parts of this tour?
Playing "Bad Reputation" with Joan Jett at Madison Square Garden was incredible. Then there was Alice Cooper at Milton Keynes Bowl in England — he came out for the encore and did "School's Out" and "I'm Eighteen" with us in front of 65,000 people. Stole the show. But the greatest honor for me was jamming with Bob Mould at his tribute concert in L.A. I owe so much to that guy.

What's the idea behind the documentary you're making?
When Sound City closed last year, it was a very sad day. That place was like a church. The list of people that recorded there reads like a virtual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Neil Young, Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty, Cheap Trick, Slayer, Rage Against the Machine. Weezer, Metallica — and Nirvana. We recorded Nevermind there back in 1991. That funky old place had the best drum room in the world. The drum sound at the beginning of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" — That's Sound City. I decided to make a film about that feeling you get when you put five guys in a room, hit "record," and the hair on the back of your neck stands up. Expect some epic jam sessions.

What did the 20th anniversary of Nevermind this past fall mean to you?
The anniversary was a trip, but not in any musical way. It was much more personal. My life is split in two by that one event: pre-Nevermind and post-Nevermind. And those are two very different worlds! To look back on it all made me feel like it wasn't that long ago, really. It made me feel like I have so much more to do. And it made me miss Kurt.

What do you think of all the Nineties nostalgia lately?
I don't really see anything that I consider Nineties nostalgia. Loud-ass guitars and drummers who trash their kits — when did that ever go away? I love that a band like Soundgarden can still fucking slay, but I wouldn't consider it nostalgic. It's not like guitars and drums and people who make honest records died off and are being resurrected in some Jurassic Park laboratory. That shit still exists. It's just suffocating under a pile of trash.

But these are tough times for rock radio, aren't they?
It's obvious that rock radio has been suffering from some kind of formulaic-playlist syndrome over the past 10 years. The feeling that you had the first time you heard "Bohemian Rhapsody" or "Roxanne" or "Smells Like Teen Spirit" — that's what radio is for. Radio should not be warm milk. It should be moonshine. But for the last fucking time: Rock & roll doesn't need to be saved. Its alive and well, thank you very much.