The Grohl Truth

GQ [Australia] - 2009


"And so I went, 'FUCK YOU ALL!' and wound up with a back-pack, hiking up this mountain road to get to the house, and I've got these dogs chasing me, and I'm running through brush ksch, ksch, ksch, ksch and I finally get home and my grandmother's there, but she's been dead for years, so... really insane stuff.." Dave Grohl's account of a recent nightmare, told at five-syllables-per-second to Foo Fighters bassist Nate Mendel, hits GQ like a tsunami as we enter the hotel room. He's like an AK47, his rounds of quickfire monologue broken up only by occasional tobacco inhalation and the related peels of hoarse laughter.
  The key to the Foos' successful brand of sledgehammer, whupass rock his relentless nervous energy maybe, but that doesn't stop Grohl from wanting to calm down a little, "I went to a yoga class the night after Motorhead's 30th anniversary party," he says. "I turned up so devastatedly hungover, and sat there stretching thinking; 'Be cool, don't throw up in front of everyone,' and I had to do some down-dog pose, put my head upside down and the whole world spun like a top. I sat on the kerb later, pouring water over my face for 45 minutes. It was awful."

"Name a drink that they bring to your table on fire... No hang on, what about a fine wine? Actually, I'm just going to go with Jagermeister. No, no that doesn't fit too fucking gnarly. Hey what about this: I'm going with Brennivin."
  Never let it be said that Dave Grohl takes his alcohol analogies lightly. When double album In Your Honor was released in 2005 he dubbed the visceral rock disc his "Jack-and-Coke record", it's acoustic counterpart his "Sapphire-and-Martini-with-Kylie record".
  So why, when it comes to the Foo Fighters' sixth studio album, Echoes, Silence, Patience And Grace, has he gone for a fiery Icelandic schnapps? "when you first taste it," he explains, "it's one of the most unusual things you've ever put in your mouth - depending on the individual, of course. Really fucking weird. But after two or three, it's the most delicious thing in the world, and you end up smashing windows and chucking up out of cars." One for the grans, then, Dave?

Grohl met his second wife (he was married to photographer Jennifer Youngblood for four years in the mid-Nineties), former MTV producer Jordyn Blum, in 2001. "Taylor and I were hanging out at the Sunset Marquis whisky bar," as he told it to the UK's Q magazine. was just out of a Tenacious D session. Some bombshell comes up and starts talking to Taylor. I've got Vans trainers on, no socks, dirty shorts and T-shirt, surrounded by beautiful Hollywood. She waves her friend Jordyn over over I'm like, 'Oh my God, not a chance.' By the end of the night I was pissed and staring at her going, 'You're my future ex-wife.' So she gave me her number."

Groh's groggy charms weren't lost on Jordan and the couple welcomed their first child, Violet Maye into the world in April last year. But suggest that a home life knee-deep in green faeces and primary-coloured plastics is a left turn off the rock n roll highway, and Dave's likely to screw up his face like hes just hoovered up a line of NapiSan. "Fatherhood and what I do you are absolutely compatible," He says. "I dont bring the baby to the bar, man." So no excruciatingly un-rock n roll moments in his time as a father? The facial contortion tightens. "Yes. My wife goes this class called Mommy and Me, and I went and was the only father there. They have this thing called 'Dance Time' where you pick up your baby and dance around to songs, and since Jordyn was holding Violet, I had to dance by myself to 'Puff The Magic Dragon'. With 12 mothers going, 'Isn't that the guy from the Foo Fighters? That might be the most embarrassing thing I've ever done."

Right in the emiddle of Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace comes a moment of pulsating light relief from the albums dark core - a track named Cheer Up Boys (Your Make-Up Is Running). Surely a thinly disguised swipe at the new emo movement, the latest mutation of the emotional hardcore punk subgenre that originated in Grohl's native Washington DC in the Eighties?
  "Its not so much a swipe as... well, if you were to spend 24 hours with this band, you'd realise we rouse at each other, pick on each other, and it's just the way we are. We make fun of the people we love most - and that'd have to be dudes with eyeliner." Meaning The Bright Eyed Fall Out Boys, all catching the same Death Cab as Cutie? "Nooo - just dudes with make-up." The wry smile. "In bands. Who play sad music. With black hair." A common Dave Grohl interview scenario breaks out where all present break into chuckles while he drags ponderously on a cigarette and smiles wryly, eyebrows arched, cueing in your next question.

Grohl had been thumping the tubs with Nirvana for almost four years when, in 1994, frontman Kurt Cobain was found dead. Twelve years later, as Jordyn was giving bith to Violet, with Grohl present, a CD - lullaby versions of Beatles songs - played in the background. "The first song was In My Life," Grohl told Q, "which we played at Kurt's memorial. Oh Jeez, I just felt it coming and I'm like, 'You can't break down right now, man. I've got to keep it together for my wife.' What a song and what a memory.

Shortly before Cobain's actual death, Grohl was at his former home to Seattle when a call came through from Rome. Cobain, apparently after slipping into a drug-induced coma, had died. Ten minutes passed before a second phone call revealed it to be a false alarm. Then, in 2001, Taylor Hawkins flatlined after an OD incident in London.
  It's no wonder that Foo Fighters these days is a drug-free unit. "each to his own" as Grohl puts it, "but there's some things you've got to be really careful with. I was never into hard drugs I just did a bunch of acid and smoked a tonne of weed, but I never touched heroin or coke. You've got to watch your ass with those two drugs."

For Australian listeners, by far the most eye-catching title on Echoes, Silence, Patience And Grace's track list is Ballad of the Beaconsfield Miners', an instrumental composed during the bands three night acoustic session at the Sydney Opera house last October. Grohl was moved to tears when he heard that Brant Webb, survivor of the mining disaster in Tasmania, had listened to the Foo Fighters while trapped to lift his spirits and distract him from the drilling.
  " "I don't think anybody. has ever made me feel better about what I do than those guys requesting an iPod with our shit on it," he says. "You realise your music reaches places and effects people you never realised it had. It made me feel legitimate about what I do - you know, this isnt all about fucking free beer and PA stacks - it has something more to it.

Early next year Dave Grohl will enter the last year of his 40s. In the course of writing this article the baby on the front of Nevermind celebrate his 18th birthday - up there, as ageing rights of passage go, with the realisation you could feasibly have sired an Arctic Monkey.
  A personification of rock n roll Americana, with all its Jack-and-tatts aesthetics and youthful, good time tenets, Dave Grohl may be. But will he go on and on? Will he one day enrole at the Mick and Keef School of Geriatric Denial? "I can't imagine playing our songs when I'm 65 years old," he says. "I don't think I could physically do it. We might just come over and sit right down there [points to the hotel gardens through the window] and play cellos and harmonicas, but I won't be bouncing around the stage screaming my ass off drunk."

Words: Nick Scott     Pics: Steve Baccon

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