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Q&A: Dave Grohl

The Foo Fighters frontman on who should play him in a miniseries and the song that changed his life

Dave Grohl

Dave Grohl in 1997.

Martyn Goodacre/Getty Images

Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl entered the media spotlight behind the drum kit of a little Seattle band named Nirvana. Somehow, the Washington, D.C., native managed to keep not only the beat but also his sense of humor while history exploded around him. In the three years since the dissolution of Nirvana, Grohl has ignited his own pyrotechnics as Foo Fighters’ songwriter, guitarist and vocalist. With the always enjoyable Pat Smear (guitar), Nate Mendel (bass) and new addition Taylor Hawkins (drums, formerly of Alanis Morissette’s band), the Foos are currently on the road in support of their latest release, The Colour and the Shape.

It sounds like Foo Fighters are going to be touring forever.
Well, we’ll be on the road until next summer, I’m sure. You have to make the rounds and do America, the festivals in Europe, then Australia and Japan. The reward of going on tour is to be able to get up and play to a bunch of kids who want to jump around and have fun. [Pauses] Kids … what am I talking about? They’re people my age. But I refuse to call myself an adult. There’s just no way I’ll ever be an adult. I think that I’ll just continue to be the Dennis the Menace of rock.

The first single released off The Colour and the Shape was “Monkey Wrench.” Have you ever used a monkey wrench?
Actually, yes. When I was 17 years old, I went to audition for [the hardcore band] Scream, and I borrowed my sister’s car. I drove over to the band’s rehearsal space, and I stayed a little too long. My sister and her then boyfriend were going to a club to see the Meat Men play, and I made [my sister] a little late. When I got back to the house and started to pull my drums out of the car, she said, “Just leave them in there, we’ve gotta go.”

The next morning, I jumped into the car to go buy a pack of cigarettes and noticed that all of my drums had been completely deconstructed, down to the nuts and bolts. Her boyfriend was so mad that I made them late that he decided to take my drums apart, piece by piece, to teach me a lesson. I called him up and begged him to come over so I could kick his ass. He said, “Why don’t you come over here?”

I screamed, “My sister won’t let me use the car!”

What kind of wheels are you driving these days?
I had a ’63 Ford Falcon, then I bought a Corvette because I needed a pimp car —– now I’m selling that. I’ve got a Suburban truck.

Actually, I’ve been looking forward to driving the tour bus. I’m trying to get back to the Elvis thing, where the people in the band get to drive the bus. They’ll only let me parallel park the bus –— I mean, it’s hard enough to park a Suburban –— but I bet you a hundred bucks I could parallel park the bus. It would take about a day and a half, but I could get it there. We’d have to do it on a day off in the back of some Holiday Inn in Kansas City.

Do you remember the song that changed your life?
“Frankenstein,” by the Edgar Winter Group. That was the first record we had in our house. My mom and sister and I went to the Peoples drugstore, saw the record and bought it. It had “Frankenstein” on it! That’s when I decided that I wanted to rock.

Have you had stuff thrown at you onstage while you’re rockin’?
Once, in London, I got hit in the face by a belt. Someone actually took their whole belt off and winged it at my face. I found this kid in the alley with his pants around his ankles, and I kicked his butt –— just kidding. And one time when Nirvana played in Leeds [England], I saw this kid throw a shoe that hit me, and then he ducked down into the crowd. When his head popped up again, I pointed at him and said, “Get up here!” He jumped onstage, and I made him sit on the drum riser, and I backed up about 10 feet, picked up his shoe and threw it at him. He probably went back to his friends and bragged about it. Now when we’re on-stage, I flinch when the strobe lights come on and I see a tiny speck of dust flying through the air, because I think it’s a shoe or a belt.

Maybe it’s time for a career change. If you had your own television variety show, whom would you invite to be on it?
Little Richard, because he’s always a good time. He’s fun to look at, and I’ve never met him, and he’s one of the few people whom I’d really like to meet. We’d need to have Jim Carrey on the show. That would make things easier for me, because he’d do all the talking. I don’t consider myself the conversationalist. The musical guests would have to be Supergrass. They’re going on tour with us in America.

What about when they make the miniseries of your life —– whom would you want to play you?
I’d like Christopher Walken to play me. Since Chris Walken always plays himself, you can just imagine what it would sound like. Me making the call to Taylor to join the band [Grohl executes a passable impression of Walken]: “We need a drummer real bad.”

If you started a rumor about Foo Fighters, what would it be?
That we’re all dorks. Everyone would believe it, too, because it’s true.


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