Foo Fighters main man Dave Grohl makes a convert out of Lancelot 2020 with tales of tinnitus, recording, but mostly with charm.
"My ears are fine," says Dave Grohl. "But they do funny things once in a
while. Like if I bend over, my right ear stops working. Sometimes if I'm
running up stairs, I'll feel like someone has put two tea cups over my ears
and it's like, twenty seconds before I can hear again. Oh, I don't know,
I'll probably have a stroke before I'm 33. I figure I'm not getting any
blood to my brain. My brain's working overtime ... it needs it's gasoline."
Don't you wear plugs? You were kind of a thumper in your days as a drummer.
"Actually, I was opposed to wearing ear plugs because I was a stupid fuckin'
punk-rock purist. I was like, 'Fuck ear plugs man! That's not what it's all
about!' - or whatever. So finally I went and got these custom ear plugs
made, where they shoot foam in your ear and take a perfect mould of your
inner ear, and they make these really nice ear plugs where you can put
different size filters in."
I start to say something, but Dave is just taking a breath.
"So anyway, I remember going in there - to the hearing clinic - where
everyone had enormous ears first of all. All the old people had ears that
looked far too big for their fucking head - and everyone was screaming at
each other. I remember the receptionist going, "MR WILLIAMS! YOUR
APPOINTMENT IS AT FIVE THRITY!' So I go in, and before they stick the shit
in your ear, they look in there to make sure nothings wrong. The old man
says 'Okay, let me take a look in there' and he looks in my ear and goes
'Holy shit!', and he looks in my other ear and goes 'Well you've already got
There is a pause. A perfectly placed pause for dramatic effect, filled only
by the loud ringing in my own ears. He says the next sentence slowly and
"I had a solid wall of wax over each ear! I was losing like, 10 decibels of
hearing. I had to have the wax removed and it was one of the most painful,
disgusting ... it looked like 2 grams of hash had been pulled out of my
Wow! What a story. He even did the voices, like the punk-rock dude and the
old man. It was great.
Well Dave, I guess you can kiss the hunky rock star image goodbye after that
"Yeah! Like I'm really concerned. That's the last thing I'm ever concerned
about. When I start being concerned about being a rock star, then I'm giving
you license to run up and punch me in the fucking face."
Hey cool, I guess you won't mind if I bootleg this taped version of your new
single that I got sent.
"You got one? Aren't you fortunate. Yeah, bootleg it for sure man! Use it in
bars to pick up chicks."
It is new album time for the Foos - 'There is Nothing Left to Lose'. There's
been a bunch of negotiating with new labels and all that boring kind of
stuff that Gav King will tell you about, which Dave sums up accuratley -
"Blah, blah blah". The first single is 'Learn to Fly', a jangly romp which
Dave says is "One of the more middle of the road songs on the record. If you
were to take any one song from this album and make it a single, it would not
be an accurate representation of the rest of the record."
Now usually such talk makes me cringe, but the metamor-Foo-sis had begun and
such talk all of a sudden became rotting vegetables for my hungry mandibles.
The guy had won me over with his wild tales, and suddenly I was a fan. I
even went so far as to talk about the recording of the album.
"We built a studio in my house in Virginia, which was good because there was
no clock ticking on the wall. Rather than booking ourselves into some big
corporate studio and running everything through computers and making a nice
pristine 90's pop rock record, we decided 'fuck it, let's just buy a bunch
of nice old gear, put it in the house and spend 4 or 5 months recording in
the house', and that's what we did."
"A lot of the stuff was written in the studio, which is something we would
never dare to do had we been somewhere we had to pay for. Having a studio in
your house gives you the freedom of changing things at the last minute, and
re-recording and lets you spend time arranging. It gives you much more
Sure. You could sleep in. Record in your bath robe.
"We were so comfortable and relaxed, we didn't feel like there were any
boundaries or anywhere we shouldn't go."
I kind of giggle a little bit, but Dave beats me to the punchline.
"We just recorded nude. As such, the album has a very organic feel."
One thing that occurs to me, is that the Foo Fighters never really had time
to find their own sound before they became world famous. They kind of just
stumbled arse backwords into their own vibe. I'd never thought about it
before because, obviously, I was a little different yesterday than I am
"It's weird," Dave agrees, "when you suddenly start to recognise that in
your own music. Oh! That sounds like us."
It is equally as strange for me. My mother won't talk to me anymore, and I'm
telling people how the new Foo Fighters stuff is their best yet.
back to the features index