After inducting Rush into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and rocking with them onstage, Dave Grohl and fellow Foo Fighter Taylor Hawkins reflected on the experience with Rolling Stone backstage at L.A.’s Nokia Theatre.
What was it like to actually play with Rush?
It’s terrifying to play your favorite band’s song in front of your favorite band. It’s one thing to sit in the basement and woodshed 2112, and its another to stand in front of Rush in a fucking kimono and a wig and try to use a wah-wah pedal in your platform shoes. It was amazing. Tonight was one of the most special nights of my life.
Absolutely. When I got 2112 when I was eight years old; it fucking changed the direction of my life. I heard the drums. It made me want to become a drummer. At rehearsals the other day, I had never met Neil Peart before. Alex [Lifeson] and Geddy [Lee] are the nicest people in the world. I was coming to rehearsal and I was meeting Neil for the first time, and this man was as influential as any religion or any hero or any person in someone’s life. He said, “So nice to meet you. Can I make you a coffee?” And he made me a coffee, man. And later on that night, I went to dinner and had a couple glasses of wine and I started fucking crying because my hero made me a fucking coffee. It was unbelievable, man. So that’s kind of how this whole experience has been.
The other day at rehearsal I sat with them having lunch – it was me and the three of them and my buddy Nick [Nick Raskulinecz] – and these guys have known each other for 40-something years, and I’m sitting with them in a little catering room, like sitting with them in the cafeteria in high school. They still look like kids, and so I have to pinch myself.
What did you talk to them about?
Oh, God. Geddy Lee had stories about growing up with Alex and his mother’s advice, and the reason why Neil has his nickname, and you know, just shit that you would never imagine talking to Rush about, simple things. They’re the sweetest people. I honestly think they are the nicest band in the world. There’s no question. They are bound with 40 years of history so they play like they are related to each other. It’s fucking awesome.
Why did you want to dress up?
Well because when we found out we were inducting, typically you have to perform one of the inductee’s songs, and I was terrified. What, am I going to sing Geddy Lee? No way I was going to sing a Rush song, and Taylor’s a great drummer and can play all those Rush songs, but God, the Rush songs are hard. We came up with the idea to do the instrumental intro to 2112 and they would take over. It was our idea – “OK, rather than just do it, we’ll fuckin’ dress in the kimonos they wore on tour.”
[Taylor Hawkins: Because you’re in character.]
One of the reasons they survived as long is they have a great sense of humor. They take their music really seriously, but everything else is kind of lighthearted.
[Hawkins: As you saw from Alex.]
What did you think of his speech?
We were backstage; I couldn’t hear it. I was like, “Wow, he’s killing it.” Then I asked him afterwards, “What’d you say?” And he said, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.”
[Hawkins: Geddy was like (makes sour face)]
Those guys are fuckin’ awesome. I love Rush more now than I did when I was 10 years old. Now I’m going to be obsessed.
At the end you were onstage with John Fogerty, Heart –
It’s like a musical Hollywood Squares. It was too weird.
A lot of people are talking about you for next year.
We’ll be eligible?
Wow. I didn’t even know that. Interesting. Well, hopefully they make us wait as long as Rush did, because did you see all their fucking fans out there tonight?
The mere mention of Toronto made them go nuts.
They didn’t even say the name and the place went fucking crazy. That says it all. Honestly what’s most important is that you survive 45 years of your life playing music. Surely its not the trophy or the plaque, but the fact that Rush finally were . . . I feel like their fans felt liberated. It was pretty awesome tonight to see Jann say, “And from Toronto,” and the fans just went, “FUCK YEAHHH.” Everyone at the tables were just like, Jesus! It was amazing. That’s what it’s all about.
So you had a good time.
I’m still having a good time, man! I’m keeping the kimono!