No, I don't. The band had a life of its own before I joined them. The forty-two months or so I was in the band seems like a fucking tornado. The memories are scattered and blurry and out of sync, and I'm sure some are suppressed. When I think of Nirvana, I think of Bleach. I think of how much I listened to the record before I was asked to join the band. The week leading up to my audition, I listened to it religiously. It got me off. Once I joined the band, I ruined that feeling for myself. I thought they were great before I joined them. Being in the band ruined it.
I'm not sure if you've ever spoken about this, but where were you when you learned that Kurt had shot himself?
I don't ever get specific. The thing was — I don't know if I've ever told anyone this — somebody had actually told me that Kurt had died before he died. They told me he had died in Rome, so I started grieving when he had his OD in Rome. They called at five or six in the morning. He'd OD'd many times before that that I probably don't know about.
He'd OD and no one would know, right?
Someone would eventually tell me. So they called and said he'd passed in Rome, and I fucking freaked out. I just lost my mind and started wailing. As disconnected as our relationship had become, you just can't imagine real tragedy in your life. Twenty minutes later someone called me and said, "Actually, no, he's not dead, he's awake." How weird. That could have been the happiest moment of my life. When he came home, I talked to him on the phone. We tried to avoid the subject — we were talking about buying minibikes or something, and I told him, "Look, man, I was really scared." He said, "I know. I'm really sorry. It was just an accident." I was trying to reach out to him and tell him that I really cared about him, but it wasn't enough. The time leading up to his death was really strange. He disappeared. He just seemed like he wanted to get away. He bailed. I honestly did not think he was going to kill himself. I just thought he was on someone's floor in Olympia, listening to albums. Or something.
Before you'd developed the concept for "In Your Honor," you had thoughts of recording a solo album. There's also the fact that you took off the summer of 2002 to tour and record with Queens of the Stone Age. How did that affect the dynamics within the Foo Fighters?
Everybody feels similar in that it's nice to get outside and experience music with other people. But what I share with these three guys in my band is so different from my other experiences. Playing with Nine Inch Nails is an honor, to get in the studio with someone as talented as Trent [Reznor] and to contribute to something as great as their last record is amazing. Playing drums in Queens was like ESP — we barely talked about music, we just made it. It was like the perfect fuck — like fucking the hottest fucking porn star — something that memories and legends are made of. That precise musical connection is something you search for your whole life, and I got it. But then there's people you connect with with your heart, like Taylor, Nate and Chris.
Do you find yourself reassuring them, in the ways that you weren't reassured during your stint in Nirvana?
Kind of. This band is as healthy as it is as a result of all the dysfunction that we've experienced in every other band we've been in. But when you're in a band with your best friend, like I am with Taylor.... I mean, I sat over that guy in the hospital for twelve days [after Hawkins' painkiller overdose in 2001] praying for him to come out of it. Not because I wanted to play music with him but because I love the guy.
There has to be some tension in the band, though.
It depends. You want your work to be great. And at various points through the process, things get heated. There's always a meltdown, because it's such a delicate balance. If we didn't love each other as a band, then it would fall apart. But the idea that the whole Some Kind of Monster tension and conflict produces results is a load of crap. You know what that produces? Fuckin' lawyers and bitching about publishing. It's a crock of shit. Like, I don't think the Oasis brothers hate each other. They only make good music because they love each other.
You spent so much time in your garage writing "In Your Honor," and this was just after you married Jordyn. Was that hard for her?
She doesn't have much to complain about [laughs]. I don't smoke in the house, so my garage is my garage. There's a drum stool with a boombox on top, a wicker basket with loose CDs, a pile of cigarette butts about three inches high. It smells like lawn treatment and Parliaments, and I just sit there and listen to CDs and smoke. It's so ghetto, like a little homeless corner. But that's where I discovered the Futureheads and High on Fire and the new Kings of Leon record. I'll sit there at 3 A.M. listening to my favorite new records and go to sleep at night with those in my head. It's cool.
When you have time off, what do you and the wife like to do?
Tomorrow's Friday, and that's pool day. We've made a date. We're big on dates. I'm big on taking the lady out to dinner. We have some candlelight romance every now and then. And our whole family is within a six-mile radius. It's disgustingly domestic. I'm big on Costco.
I've seen you drink Crown Royal and Jagermeister. Do they do different things to you?
Yes. Crown gives you the shits [laughs]. Jager ain't for sippin', it's a binge drink, so you might as well go for it. You become someone else — a better version of you. It knocks me straight into fucking party-land. And we have a band prayer every night, which is a shot of Crown. We don't really say a prayer or do any "hoorah, team" shit. Band prayer is a little nip of Crown. Warms up the belly. Have you ever tried Brennivin?
It's like a clear schnapps from Iceland — like a vodka that's been sowed with car away seeds. It gives you this euphoric feeling, like you've done acid and you can't stop laughing. Like you can't feel your feet. I want to be America's distributor of Brennivin.
What would your ad be?
A hand-held video of some metal dude — high-tops, tight black jeans, leather jacket and long hair — walking down a city street, picking up a trash can and throwing it through a window. Then it would say [in a TV announcer voice], "Brennivin! Release the Inner Viking!"
Nice! "In Your Honor" debuted at Number Two, edged out by Coldplay. What do you want to say to Chris Martin?
[Laughs] I'll let him have it this time. Been there, done that. I don't need any more Number One records — I've had a few of those.
You've never sold so many albums in one week, though.
There are some moments where you just feel so proud. Like being nominated for a Grammy for an album you made in your basement in Virginia with some friends over a keg. Going to the ceremony and seeing diamonds and money and limos and fucking icons of the industry, and walking away with Best Rock Album that you made for free in your basement. How much cooler does it get? I never thought that this band could be the biggest band in the world, but to see progression and growth, I feel like a proud parent. To fucking see your child grow up right, rather than becoming a crack whore, it's pretty great.
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