Grammys 2022: Dave Grohl on Foo Fighters, Bee Gees cover album
This piece is part of Rolling stone ‘s second annual special edition of Grammy Preview, released before the start of the first ballot. We spoke to some of the year’s biggest artists of albums and singles that could earn them a nomination – or even a statue in January – and took a look at the challenges the Recording Academy faces, offering a view 360 degrees of what to watch in 2022 pricing build.
Artist: Dave Grohl
Have the required qualifications for: Foo Fighters’ Medicine at midnight, “Shame shame”
Before Covid, Dave Grohl had a busy 2020: he had planned to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Foo Fighters with both an album release and a âVan Tourâ that would pay homage to their humble roots. None of this went as planned, but in 2021 Grohl returned to his usual hyperactive gear, releasing his band’s 10th studio LP, Medicine at midnight (plus an LP tribute to the Bee Gees) and the launch of a vast arena tour. He ends the year with a new thesis, The narrator, and his second entry into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, this time with the Foos.
It is therefore understandable that by taking a few minutes to speak with Rolling stone in september it sounded a bit beat. âI remember during the pandemic thinking, ‘You know what? When things open up again I’m going to hit this shit harder than I’ve ever hit, âsays Grohl. âAnd I regret it right now. You can hear it in my voice. I barely have a voice today.
How did the return on stage go?
It was awesome. Honestly, I feel like the band is better now than it has ever been. I have to imagine that a year and a half of absence during the pandemic didn’t make us hungrier and more lively and more in love with music. When we take the stage now, you wake up every day crossing your fingers that the show actually happens, because who knows yet? It is almost like it’s the last show you go to play, and we’re in it. This is fucking crazy.
What was it like releasing a record during Covid?
We had finished the album. It has been mixed and mastered, ready to go. We made a video, film, documentary series and booked a year and a half tour to celebrate our 25th anniversary. I thought the plan was bulletproof. We said to ourselves: “This is going to be the best year of our entire life!” and then everything stopped.
We just waited. A few months would go by and I would call my manager and say, âHey, can we release the record now? He would say, “No, not yet. And then a few more months: âCould we release the record? He’s like, “No, not yet.” Eventually I got to the point where I thought music was meant to be heard, not seen. So why not just release the album so that people have something to listen to, to find escape or happiness in a really difficult time? So we decided to take it out and we basically said, âLook, once the wheels start to move, they’re not going to stop. So, is everyone ready? We all agreed, and it’s been about a year since we started this process now.
You won 16 Grammys, and you are about to be inducted into Rock & Roll Hall of fame. What would young DC punk Dave think of all this?
[Laughs.] When I was young, I didn’t think I knew what a Grammy was, and I didn’t understand the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame either. It was beyond my wavelength. I just wanted to learn to play my instrument and make records with my friends on funny little labels so that we could go do concerts with our other friends. I had posters on my walls – Kiss, Sex Pistols, Rush, Zeppelin – but I never imagined that one day I would be a poster.
What is your first memory of attending the Grammys?
The first time I attended the Grammys was after Nirvana ended. We were nominated for the Disconnected save. I remember braiding my hair and meeting Eddie Money. I don’t think I witnessed the pageantry until then, and there are times when you walk through the lobby of one of those awards show and feel like you’re in a museum of wax.
At the time, Nirvana seemed more at home at VMAs – where, like Dennis Rodman, presented awards to Green Day.
[Laughs.] Yes. Since then, I really enjoy going to the Grammys, because I enjoy meeting other musicians. Honestly, I feel like music is a community of people. I’m not the competitive type; I look at it all like it’s a bunch of like-minded artists all working together, and it goes back to the punk rock scene in Washington, DC. When you’re in a small music scene with maybe a few hundred people, everyone’s in bands with each other, everyone’s recording in everyone’s basements, and you borrow material. …
So even when I walk into the Grammys, to my right is Demi Lovato. To my left is Paul McCartney. To me, it still feels like that sort of extended family. I feel connected to this in a way as far as I’m a musician. But then there’s a part of me that’s like, âMy God, why did they let me in here? “
Some may not remember that in 2003 you presented a Grammy with Lou Reed.
It was amazing because I had never met him, and we were standing at the side of the stage waiting to go upstairs to read the prize. And he said to the woman, âWhere is the envelope? I want to see who is the winner. And she said, “Well, you’re not supposed to do that before you get on the podium.” And he said to me, “I don’t have my fucking glasses, give me the envelope!” [Laughs.] It was pretty cool.
You’ve had such a busy year, but still found the time to do something as wacky and awesome as release a Bee Gees tribute album. How did it happen?
Look, we’re not good at vacations. We were in our studio recording live versions of songs for different radio stations. And in the corner of the room, there were two people talking about the Bee Gees documentary, which everyone had seen at this point except me. And so I was like, âWhat’s going on with this fucking movie? You know what? Let’s record a Bee Gees song. Let’s do “You should dance.” “
It’s the most fun I’ve ever had to record a song, and it could quite possibly be the best thing we’ve ever done. We arrive the next day … I said, “Damn, let’s do another Bee Gees song.” So basically we made this record in a week, and for no other reason than just for fun. The best part was when I started reading bad reviews about it. It was really just to make us smile. Hope other people too.
The Foo Fighters have such a solid catalog that you don’t even have to release new records. What drives you to keep creating?
Longer set lists. I know it sounds silly. I am not joking. I want more songs that people will sing to. And in order to do this, you need to write a melody and lyrics that everyone will connect with. And I hope it ends up in their speakers, because then when they meet at your concert, they’ll sing with all their hearts. The last time we played for two hours and 45 minutes, something like that. This is a great demand for all audiences. The only way to keep them upright is to have them sing songs that are meaningful to them. And it is our responsibility. Honestly, we’ve already started talking about the next album.
“The only way to keep [people] on their feet is to make them sing songs that mean something to them. And it is our responsibility.
As the years have passed and rock bands have started to fade from the scene, Foo Fighters is truly the go-to band of the genre. Are you proud to display this flag?
We are so blissfully oblivious to so many things. We live in our own little bubble; we have for so long. We just go to our studio and record and write and work on our projects, then go out and play the shows. I remember a long time ago, in 2002, we played [the] MTV [Europe Music] Awards in Spain. I think Puff Daddy was the host, and it was like Kylie Minogue, Madonna, Coldplay, and us. And it seemed pretty clear at the time that they were thinking, âAh, we need a rock band. Who should we get? Just get the Foo Fighters. It’s a rock band. It’s been like this for a very long time, but I love being a rock & roll band.
We are not the only ones. There are so many fucking great bands that will hopefully start to get more attention, because I think the dial is starting to go back to guitar based music. And for me, it’s really exciting. My love of music is really diverse – I love everything from jazz to K-pop. I am downstairs ; I’m in. But when I see young artists taking guitars and putting them together, it kinda shines in me. That makes me happy.
The dial turns definitively. Knowing that you’ve inspired young women like Nandi Bushell – who recently appeared on stage with the Foo Fighters – has to be better than any of those awards you’ve received this year.
If you want to see the true meaning of rock & roll, watch Nandi play the drums. It’s as inspiring as any Beatles record, any Zeppelin record, any AC / DC record, any Stones record. Watching her play the drums and see her passion and belief in this musicâ¦ if that doesn’t inspire you, I don’t know what will. So the fact that we got to share a moment with her on stage is worth it. And the funny thing is, after jamming with Nandi, “Everlong” returned to the charts.
Have you seen Olivia Rodrigo singing “Everlong” at the VMAs?
My daughter told me. She was like, “Oh, my God. Olivia Rodrigo was singing your song! It’s very cool and it’s very flattering for sure.