Dave Grohl: Hardcore, Nirvana And… Tears For Fears?

THE BEATLES, HÜSKER DÜ, AC/DC, 10cc, Sepultura, Bad Brains – the range of artists that have shaped Dave Grohl’s sonic imagination is extraordinary, but even we were surprised by one item on the menu when we sat down for an in-depth interview for the latest MOJO magazine.

Dave Grohl on the cover of MOJO 287.
Dave Grohl on the cover of MOJO 287.

“By 12 or 13, I was going in the direction of faster, louder, darker…” Grohl tells MOJO’s Keith Cameron of his fan history, “while my sister, Lisa, three years older, was getting seriously into new wave territory. We’d meet in the middle sometimes with Bowie and Siouxsie And The Banshees, but I would hardly ever dig into her record collection for fear I would find some terrible John Hughes soundtrack…

“But my sister had The Hurting and Songs From The Big Chair and I secretly fell in love with Tears For Fears. That melancholic sense of melody really encapsulated that specific place and time in my life – when you’re 13 years old, your nuts are dropping, your voice is changing, you’re breaking through puberty, so listening to Tears For Fears somehow soothes the burn.”

It’s not the only surprise on a wildly eclectic list of inspirations expounded with fervour by Grohl. And yet it typifies the rich soundworld impacting on the expansive and melodic new Foo Fighters album, Concrete And Gold, constructed by the band with crucial input from The Bird & The Bee’s Greg Kurstin, an expert in warm, sophisto-pop sounds, as evidenced by his work with artists ranging from Adele to Liam Gallagher and Beck.

For the longest time we’ve been placing these restrictions round the band.
— Dave Grohl

“For the longest time we’ve been placing these restrictions round the band, these boundaries,” Grohl tells MOJO. “Not only in the recording process but also in the songs. Thinking, OK, we can’t go that far because we’ll never be able to reproduce that live. And this time, I thought – f**k it. Just f**k it. I said to Pat [Smear, guitar] and Taylor [Hawkins, drums] at one point, as we had stacked 32 vocals together, How the fuck are we gonna do this live? And Pat said, ‘Just do what Queen did – do the live version.’”

But while Grohl waxes lyrical about ’70s soft rock (“I can still close my eyes and see it, in the back seat of my mom’s Ford Maverick, with my arm out of the window on a summer day, and 10cc’s I’m Not In Love is on the radio as we’re coming back from swimming at the lake”) it would be a mistake to imagine he’s gone soft. At his heart, there’s still a diamond-hard splinter of rock, implanted as a ten-11-year-old when he went to see the AC/DC movie, Let There Be Rock.

“The energy that the Foo Fighters try to give off is rooted in the night I saw that movie,” says Grohl. “Live performance should be all about that scene where Angus Young is offstage sucking an oxygen tank, soaking wet, basically in his underwear.”

Also in the latest MOJO magazine: David Gilmour goes back to Pompeii; Cat Stevens reclaims his past; Sparks wave their freak flag high. Plus: Ian Dury & The Blockheads; Elvis – The Last Mystery; unseen Lou Reed by Mick Rock; LCD Soundsystem; AND our FREE CD: 15 tracks of inflammable underground rock and sub-pop, 1989-1992, starring Afghan Whigs, Pavement, Mudhoney, The Jesus Lizard and more.