Hot off the band’s eighth time performing on Saturday Night Live and the highly anticipated release of their brand new single “Shame Shame,” Foo Fighters front man Dave Grohl joined RADIO.COM’s Ryan Castle for an exclusive chat about all the good news coming out of the Foo’s camp.
Along with the rest of the music industry, Foo Fighters’ 2020 plans for a 25th anniversary tour and more fell through because of the coronavirus, but Dave tells us “in the last two months the band has started to work again. We went for six months without even seeing each other, which is weird, man.”
“That’s was the weirdest part for me, it wasn’t getting on stage and playing shows because that’s what we were supposed to be doing this entire year… the weirdest part was that I didn’t see Taylor, and Pat, and Nate for six months.”
Sure, he had the option to video chat with his pals, but he says he’s more of an in-person kind of guy. “So, when we finally just got back together in the same room, without instruments, we just talked,” he admits. “We actually like each other, you know. We’re actually friends, for real And then, once we started putting the instruments back on it was like, ‘oh right! This is what we do!’ It felt like home.”
Luckily, they all live within working distance to their studio, which is just down the street from Dave’s house. They’re also getting tested for COVID, as Dave says, “like 25 times a week,” so it looks like we can expect a lot more leading into 2021.
“We just go down there and jam, and rehearse. We’ve been filming stuff, and recording weird things” he says, likely a reference to their recent “FreshPotix” medication parody video and the teases the band posted on social media leading into the latest release. “Just getting ready to put out another record, which feels good.”
Prior to the emergence of the worldwide health crisis, Foo Fighters had already begun the writing and recording process for their next album. In fact, Grohl says it began for him almost two years ago while they were still on the road.
“We weren’t gonna take a break,” says Dave. “It was like, ‘cool, let’s stop touring, go right into the studio. Put that record out and hit the road for another 18 months,’ or whatever it was. We were good to go.” From merch lines to tapes being sent to be pressed to vinyl, he says everything was all lined up.
“We’ve really been sitting on this thing for a while, and that’s what got frustrating to me,” Dave says. “I thought, we’d love to go out and play gigs and we’d love to have people sing along with our songs, but that’s not necessarily why we make the records. We write music so that it can be heard, and we make these records so that people can listen to it whether it’s in a shed outside of town or in their kitchen on a Saturday night getting hammered by themselves.”
After realizing that things would not be returning to “normal” for quite some time, he knew it was time to let it go. “Let’s create a new normal,” was his thought. “Let’s put out the record so people can at least have something to sing along to at home.” Foo Fighters new album Medicine at Midnight is now set to arrive on February 5, 2021.
Fans of the band know that all of their records could soundtrack any party perfectly, but may notice a funkier flavor to their new music. While that term scares Dave in context of the Foos, he admits it’s hard to describe.
“When you look back at all the records we’ve made in the last 25 years,” Dave says, “it’s like ‘OK, we’ve done the noisy punk rock crap... We’ve done the sleepy acoustic stuff… We’ve done the three and a half minute long, fun pop-rock song. Hard rock, heavy stuff…’
Dave thought, “What’s the one thing we haven’t done?”
“I was like, ‘you know we haven’t made our David Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance’ record. We haven’t made the Stones’ ‘Tattoo You’ or like a Power Station record. We haven’t made a rock band record that you could shake you’re a** to.’”
“That’s the music we all grew up listening to,” he says. “So I thought, instead of going backwards let’s do something we haven’t done.”
The songs on the new record are “very groove oriented,” according to the front man. The lead off track “Making A Fire,” he says is “almost like an old Sly and the Family Stone sort of groove. And then ‘Shame Shame’ is like this weird, rolling sort of loop groove that we’ve never attempted before.”
Further breaking down the album’s tracks, he says a song like “Cloudspotter” and it’s groove reminds him of an ‘80s Dazz Band song, which he interestingly attempted to mouth. “I mean, I love disco beats and I always have,” Grohl revealed.
Dave and the band were on hand to headline the National Independent Venue Association’s Save Our Stages three-day online music festival just last month, with the aim of raising funds for venues that are at risk of being shuttered while highlighting the impact these venues have on their local communities. It’s a topic, and a struggle these days that is at the top of the musician’s mind.
“First of all, I think that every city in America should be famous for its music,” says Grohl. “I still believe in the regional relevance of music around the country. There’s a reason why New Orleans… Nashville… Seattle has a sound. I think that’s important for the identity of the country and these places, this is where that identity is discovered, or fostered, or created.”
He continued, “for young musicians, those are the places where you cut your teeth. A lot of these clubs that are in danger of being shut down I’ve played since I was 18-years-old. For 32 years, all of these places, that’s where I cut my teeth. That’s where I learned how to play a show, or learned how to connect with an audience, or learned how to write a set list, or just be a band on stage. That’s how it’s supposed to happen, I think.”
On the other hand, he acknowledges that these types of venues are places where people go to have an “emotional connection” to music. “That communal gathering which isn’t happening right now, but it will someday. That’s important,” he says. “As a human being you need to feel connected to other human beings. There’s an emotional element in that, that these are the little places where that kind of memory can be made.”
“So, I think it’s incredibly important that people consider them more than just watering holes.”
“It’s hard to convince some dude in a three-piece suit on a congressional hearing.” Dave admits, “but here’s the thing… give me one bottle of tequila and one congressman and I’ll convince them. Like, ‘look, I know Barry Manilow is important to you. That’s important, right? Well, we feel the same way about Soundgarden… or the Ramones.’”
The Zoom concert experience “where you’re just playing to your roadies in an empty room,” for Dave, was not something he was looking forward to for the Save Our Stages event, their first performance in months prior to SNL. But the actual experience turned out to be enlightening. “It was just like the best day of my life, just being able to sit with my guys and play a song… and then talk smack in between songs to my roadies.”
With all of the uncertainty in the world these days, whether talking about the physical and economical effects of the virus or the highly contested 2020 election, you can rest assured that Dave, just like you, is just trying to get through.
“I gotta get the kids dressed, I gotta get those pancakes on the plate, you know what I mean? That’s my day… As with everything, I think the most important thing is to keep hopeful, and just make it to the end of every day.”