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Musician Dave Grohl

Dave Grohl, Exhibiting 'Patience and Grace'

Once the drummer for the grunge band Nirvana, Dave Grohl formed Foo Fighters after the death of Nirvana's Kurt Cobain in 1994.

Foo Fighters' sixth album, Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, includes a song Grohl wrote for two miners who, trapped in an Australia mine collapse, asked rescuers to send down an iPod loaded with Foo Fighters songs. Grohl sent them a note, then met with one of the miners after they were rescued.

Grohl is a percussionist, guitarist and songwriter — and an actor, having appeared both on Tenacious D's debut album and in the 2006 movie Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny.

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Transcript

DATE October 22, 2007 ACCOUNT NUMBER N/A
TIME 12:00 Noon-1:00 PM AUDIENCE N/A
NETWORK NPR
PROGRAM Fresh Air

Interview: Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl on their new album, "Echoes,
Silence, Patience & Grace," on his time with Nirvana
TERRY GROSS, host:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. The band Nirvana reinvigorated rock in
the 1990s. My guest, Dave Grohl, powered the band with his hard-driving
drumming. In 1994, lead singer Kurt Cobain committed suicide and the band
dissolved. The following year Grohl re-emerged from behind the drum kit to
center stage as the lead singer and songwriter of a new band, Foo Fighters.

Last year, Esquire magazine named Grohl Best Entertainer and Foo Fighters'
drummer, Taylor Hawkins, as Best Drummer. Over the summer, the Foo Fighters
released a 10th anniversary edition of their album "The Colour and the Shape."
Now they have a new CD called "Echoes, Silence, Patience, & Grace."

Let's start with a track from it. This is "The Pretender."

(Soundbite of "The Pretender")

Mr. DAVE GROHL: (Singing) Keep you in the dark
You know they all pretend
Keep you in the dark
And so it all began

Send in your skeletons
Sing as their bones go marching in again
The need you buried deep
The secrets that you keep
Are at the ready
Are you ready?

I'm finished making sense
Done pleading ignorance
That whole defense
Spinning infinity, boy
The wheel is spinning me
It's never-ending, never-ending
Same old story

What if I say I'm not like the others,
What if I say...

(End of soundbite)

GROSS: That's the Foo Fighters from their new CD, "Echoes, Silence, Patience
& Grace."

Dave Grohl, welcome to FRESH AIR.

Mr. GROHL: Thank you very much.

GROSS: Does this new CD represent a new direction for the band?

Mr. GROHL: It does. Yeah, we've been a band now for 13 years, and with this
album we've taken everything a little bit farther than we ever have, lyrically
and musically. This album is filled with string quartets and pianos and odd
time signatures and low-level dynamic and really huge rock songs. And I'm
really proud of this one because I feel like we've managed to step it up to a
whole new level.

GROSS: You know, in a moment I want to play another track from your new CD,
and this is called "Let It Die," and I want to play this because it represents
two ends of your singing and music. It starts off, you know, very acoustic,
quiet, singing; and it ends up loud, and your voice is kind of full throttle
scream. Before we actually hear that, I want to ask you about the full
throttle scream style of vocal that you're capable of.

Mr. GROHL: Mm.

GROSS: What does that do to your voice?

Mr. GROHL: It does horrible things to my voice. I don't even want to know
what it's doing to my voice. I just kind of get out there and do it. You
know, there's a part of me that--I feel really fortunate that I'm in a band
that can have that polar opposite swing, you know, where we can begin a song
that has a beautiful, delicate melody and an acoustic piece that's finger
picking and beautiful, you know? And then by the end of the song it's like
"Helter Skelter." It's just I'm screaming bloody murder, you know? It feels
good to do that. I mean, there are two sides to my personality that most
people I know are well aware of. I can be the quiet wallflower, and by the
end of the night I'm usually the guy that you're taking out the bar in a
headlock screaming, "Let It Die."

GROSS: So how do you protect your voice? Like, I recently interviewed this
like vocal coach who specializes in coaching people who do like hard core and
metal vocals. So have you ever gotten any coaching like that just to learn
how to protect your voice?

Mr. GROHL: No, but if this is the same person that you're talking about, it
was a woman, and I can't remember her name, but she made like an instructional
DVD...

GROSS: Yes, exactly, exactly.

Mr. GROHL: Yeah, and my mother bought me that DVD for Christmas.

GROSS: That's funny.

Mr. GROHL: I never watched it. I probably should. One of these days, I'll
get around to it.

GROSS: So what I want to do is play the beginning and the end of "Let It Die"
so we hear both sides of you.

Mr. GROHL: OK.

GROSS: Do you want to say anything about the song before we hear it or about
your performance?

Mr. GROHL: Well, most of the songs that we write begin with an acoustic
guitar. A lot of these ideas just begin with me at home watching "Top Chef"
playing an acoustic guitar in my lap, and I come up with an idea and I think,
`oh, that's kind of cool,' and I'll put it on my little tape recorder next to
the couch. And so sometimes, if it's a really interesting riff or if it's a
really beautiful melody, I'll keep it and then bring it to the band and say,
`Hey, let's try to make this into a song,' and the four of us arrange it.

And with this record, we took a lot of time and put a lot of effort into
making every song as dramatic as possible. So if it were going to be a mellow
intro, then it really had to be whisper, soft spoken; and if it were going to
be a big rock crescendo, there's going to be 30 guitars tracked in there just
flying left and right, and amps turned to 11, you know, and that's kind of
what we did for this one.

GROSS: OK. This is "Let It Die." We'll hear the beginning and the end. This
is the Foo Fighters.

(Soundbite of "Let It Die")

Mr. GROHL: (Singing) Heart of gold but it lost its pride
Beautiful veins and bloodshot eyes
I've seen your face in another light
Why'd you have to go and let it die?
Why'd you have to go and let it die?
Why'd you have to go and...

And let this die?
Why'd you have to go and let this die?
Why'd you have to go and let this die?
Why'd you have to go and let it die?

(End of soundbite)

GROSS: That's the Foo Fighters, the beginning and end of "Let It Die," from
their new CD, new CD "Echoes, Silence, Patience, & Grace." My guest, Dave
Grohl, is the leader of the band. He's a drummer/guitarist/songwriter and
singer. Wears a lot of hats in the band.

Which hats are you wearing on that track?

Mr. GROHL: That song, I'm just singing and playing guitar. I haven't played
drums on one of our records for a really long time. We have a...

GROSS: Why not?

Mr. GROHL: Well, because we have a phenomenal drummer, Taylor Hawkins. He's
a decathlete. He's amazing. The guy's--I'm really lucky to have found him to
be in my band, and he's been with us for, I guess maybe 11 years, 12 years
maybe. You know, as a band, we're like a family, you know, and everybody
serves their purpose and everybody holds down their corner of what we do. And
you know, Taylor is not only my best friend in the world but an incredible
drummer. And so the relationship that we have as two drummers is interesting.
It's not like any other relationship I have in my life. We're close
personally, but then we're also connected by this love and understanding of
rhythm and drums. So when we're writing songs, you know, I might request
something or I might try to steer in a direction, but for the most part, the
guy--he doesn't need me to tell him what to do because he's an incredible
drummer, so...

GROSS: Do you miss playing drums?

Mr. GROHL: I do until I sit down and I do it for four minutes and then I
remember why I stopped.

GROSS: Which is why?

Mr. GROHL: It's really tiring. It can be really tiring. When I was--that's
kind of a joke--when I was young, I was tireless. I could play for hours and
hours and hours on end in all the fast hard-core punk rock bands that I was
playing in. And then in Nirvana I couldn't play hard enough. I felt like
those songs were so simple and wide open that I spent most of my time just
trying to break the drum set, and I succeeded. Every now and then I actually
would. But, you know, I really miss playing the drums. And I still play the
drums on different people's albums and when we're here in the studio. We have
our own studio so I'll come in here and record stuff by myself. It really
is--I feel more comfortable doing that than anything else, and I'm not the
greatest drummer in the world, but I can turn my mind off and do it and I feel
like I'm flying. It's great.

GROSS: My guest is Dave Grohl. He was the drummer in Nirvana and founded the
band Foo Fighters after Kurt Cobain's death. The Foo Fighters have a new CD
called "Echoes, Silence, Patience, & Grace." We'll talk more after a break.
This is FRESH AIR.

(Announcements)

GROSS: If you're just joining us, my guest is Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters,
and they have a new CD which is called, "Echoes, Silence, Patience, Grace."

I want to play the most out-of-character song on your new CD and it's called
"Ballad of the Beaconsfield Miners," and there's an incredible story behind
the song. Well, let me ask you to tell the story.

Mr. GROHL: OK. I guess it was probably about two years ago that there was a
mine collapse in this town called Beaconsfield in Tasmania. There were three
miners that were trapped about a kilometer underground. One of them
unfortunately died, but two survived. And it took a few days, but finally the
rescuers tunneled down, and I guess they maybe drilled a hole to contact the
miners that were trapped and found that they were alive and said, well, `Until
we can actually pull you out, is there anything that we can get you?' And one
of the miners requested an iPod with our last album on it, "In Your Honor."

And I was so moved, I was really touched because I felt like--I write lyrics
on cocktail napkins and we record these albums in our own studio, and to feel
like something that I do could perhaps help someone in a situation like that,
which is an unimaginable situation, just to be trapped in a mine for weeks
that far underground and the first thing that they ask for is water and a Foo
Fighters record, you know. I was genuinely blown away, and it changed the way
I look at what I do. To feel like your music is making a difference in
someone's life just, you know, it changes everything.

So I wrote them a note and I said, `Hey guys, it's Dave and I know I'm on the
other side of the planet right now, but you're in my thoughts and prayers and
I hope our music is helping you guys out. And when you get out, there's a
couple of cold beers and tickets to a Foo Fighters show. Wherever you want to
come see us play, just come on and we'll hang out.'

GROSS: So did you get to take them to a Foo Fighters concert?

Mr. GROHL: I did, yeah. We went down to play at the Sydney Opera House and
I knew that Brant Webb, one of the miners, was coming to the gig. So the
night before, I was in my hotel room with my guitar and I wrote this
instrumental, and I thought, `You know, I'm going to dedicate this to Brant
tomorrow night.' So we played the show and I dedicated the song to him, and
it's the same as it is on the album. And afterwards we went to the hotel bar
and we hung out all night and had a couple drinks and I promised them I'd put
it on the record, so I had to.

GROSS: Well, here's that track. This is "Ballad of the Beaconsfield Miners"
from the Foo Fighters' new CD.

(Soundbite of "Ballad of the Beaconsfield Miners")

GROSS: That's the "Ballad of the Beaconsfield Miners" from the new Foo
Fighters' new CD, "Echoes, Silence, Patience, & Grace." My guest, Dave Grohl,
is the founder of the band and he is a singer, guitarist and drummer.

Now, you decided to form the Foo Fighters after Kurt Cobain's death. And you
had to figure out what your sound was compared to what Nirvana's sound was.
You'd had such great success with Nirvana, and apparently all along you'd been
writing songs that you thought of as your songs and not Nirvana songs. Did
that help guide you in terms of trying to figure out what your band was going
to be compared to Nirvana?

Mr. GROHL: Yeah, I think it did. I mean, even before I was in Nirvana I was
recording music by myself in my friend's basement studio, and it was always
just an experiment, you know? I never--I didn't aspire to be the lead singer
of an arena rock band, you know, I was just doing these little experiments.
And it was like my own little secret. I wouldn't play them for many people.
I'd record a song and maybe make a cassette for my sister, maybe a cassette
for my friend Jimmy or my mother, and it was just another outlet for me. It
was a way for me to, you know, just play more music.

And I was perfectly happy, in Nirvana, being the drummer. When you're in a
band with someone like Kurt, who was a really gifted songwriter--I mean, his
songs were really simple and direct and almost like nursery rhymes, you know,
but with distortion pedals and cymbals washing all over them. So it was great
being the drummer of that band. I loved it. But I would come home from those
tours and go down into my basement and record music on my own.

You know, there's a famous old joke: What was the last thing that the drummer
said before he was kicked out of the band? And the punchline is, `Hey guys, I
got a couple songs I think we should record." So there's some truth to that,
you know? You know, when you're in a band and everything's working so well,
the last thing you want to do is pollute that process, you know? And
honestly, what I was writing and recording I didn't consider to be anywhere
near what Nirvana was doing. I just thought it was this innocent little game
that I would play by myself.

But after Kurt died, I wasn't sure what to do or where to go, and I stopped
playing music for a while and it was hard to listen to music, any music,
because of that association, you know? Like I always considered music to
equal life and celebration, and all of a sudden music equaled death and the
loss of a friend, so I put it away for a while. And then eventually I
realized that, you know, music is part of the healing process because it's
been such a huge part of my life and my heart for the longest time.

GROSS: You first got into Nirvana because of a friend of yours who was in a
band knew one of the musicians in Nirvana, and your band was breaking up so
your friend put in a word for you. And then what? Did you have to like do an
audition? I know Nirvana had already been through several drummers...

Mr. GROHL: Yeah.

GROSS: ...even though it was early in their life as a band, but what did you
have to do prove yourself?

Mr. GROHL: Well, we set up in this tiny little rehearsal space the size of a
New York kitchen and plugged in and played 10 songs and looked at each other
and thought, OK, yeah, that'll work. OK? There wasn't any grand audition.
It was pretty quick. And we didn't--there was this incredible lack of
communication in the band, in good ways and bad ways. When we'd have an
amazing show, we wouldn't walk offstage and pat each other on the back and
say, `That was great. We're a great band.' It was--we would never talk about
the music. Even when we were writing songs, there wasn't a lot of discussion
about arrangement or dynamic. It was all really, really natural. We'd just
jam and songs would happen. And the quiet/loud dynamic that developed was a
result of that. Like, the build-ups into a chorus, those build-ups were used
instead of words, you know? Instead of saying `I think after four bars we
should kick into the chorus,' that wouldn't happen. I would just start a drum
roll and everyone would know. So it was like we had this ESP with each other.

GROSS: Dave Grohl will be back in the second half of the show. He was the
drummer in Nirvana and founded the band Foo Fighters. Foo Fighters have a new
CD called new CD called "Echoes, Silence, Patience, & Grace."

Here's a track from it. I'm Terry Gross, and this is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of "Cheer Up, Boys (Your Make-Up Is Running")

Mr. GROHL: (Singing) It was meant to be
But all along it never meant a thing
Never stopped to ask you why
You didn't pass me by
Did you see me in your life?
Pass before your eyes
Was it just that I wasn't hard enough

(End of soundbite)

(Announcements)

GROSS: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross back with Dave Grohl, the founder,
lead singer, and song writer of the band Foo Fighters. They have a new CD
called "Echoes, Silence, Patience, & Grace." Grohl started the band after the
1994 suicide of Kurt Cobain. Grohl played drums in Nirvana from 1990 until
Cobain's death. This is Nirvana's recording, "Heart-Shaped Box."

(Soundbite of "Heart-Shaped Box)

Mr. KURT COBAIN: (Singing) She eyes me like a Pisces when I am weak
I've been locked inside your heart-shaped box for weeks
I've been drawn into your magnet tar pit trap
I wish I could eat your cancer when you turn black

Hey! Wait! I got a new complaint
Forever in debt to your priceless advice
Hey! Wait! I got a new complaint
Forever in debt to your priceless advice
Hey! Wait! I got a new complaint
Forever in debt to your priceless advice
Your advice

(End of soundbite)

GROSS: That's Nirvana's "Heart-Shaped Box." Let's get back to our interview
with Dave Grohl.

I'd like to play "Smells Like Teen Spirit," which is probably like the most
popular song that Nirvana recorded, and this is from the album "Nevermind."
Would you talk about your drumming on this track before we hear it? Very
powerful.

Mr. GROHL: Thank you. Yeah, I mean, when we wrote this song, we were
rehearsing in a barn behind someone's house in Tacoma, Washington, and we
would play it--we'd rehearse about five hours a day, maybe about five days a
week, for months and months and months, just tightening up the band and coming
up with new ideas and new songs. And "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was one of
those. Kurt came in with this guitar idea, and I think he'd worked out a
melody. And like I said, it was one of those songs that we just started
jamming on, and it was all about the release and the energy of just getting
away from the world, hiding out in this little barn and jamming. And this is
what happened.

GROSS: You know, I wanted to say earlier, you compared some of Kurt Cobain's
songs to like nursery rhymes. I see some of them as almost like chants, like
this, for instance, has...

Mr. GROHL: Yeah.

GROSS: ...a chant quality to it. But you're doing this kind of real power
drumming behind it, and it's such an interesting contrast.

Mr. GROHL: Well, yeah. I mean, to me the sound of the band was about the
melody and the dissonance. Or the melody and the energy of what we were
doing. Having amplifiers screaming, blaring, feedback, just
tear-your-face-off guitar sounds with a simple melody that was pretty, I
thought that that was such a beautiful contrast, you know? And like I said, I
felt like I couldn't hit the drums hard enough. So in a way I felt like I was
this steamroller that was just sort of pushing these beautiful songs, you
know? A lot of them almost seem playful in their melody or in their
structure. And to me, I felt like an army behind it. It was a cool place to
be.

GROSS: OK. Here's Nirvana, "Smells Like Teen Spirit." My guest, Dave Grohl,
on drums.

(Soundbite of "Smells Like Teen Spirit")

Mr. COBAIN: (Singing) Load up on guns and bring your friends
It's fun to lose and to pretend
She's overboard
Myself assured
Oh, no, I know a dirty word

Hello, hello, hello, how low?
Hello, hello, hello, how low?
Hello, hello, hello, how low?
Hello, hello, hello, how low

With the lights out
It's less dangerous
Here we are now
Entertain us
I feel stupid
And contagious
Here we are now
Entertain us
A mulatto
An albino
A mosquito
My libido
Yeah

Yay
Yay

(End of soundbite)

GROSS: That's Nirvana recorded in 1991 with my guest Dave Grohl on drums, and
Grohl is also the founder of the Foo Fighters. The Foo Fighters have a new
CD, which is called "Echoes, Silence, Patience, & Grace."

That song and the album that it was on, "Nevermind," was a huge success for
Nirvana. Were you comfortable with that level of commercial success, having
lived in like the, you know, like alternative rock or rock underground or punk
underground--whatever you want to call it--for so long? To have that kind of
visibility and commercial success afterwards, did it seem like a comfortable
place?

Mr. GROHL: It did and it didn't. I mean, I don't think that Krist or
Kurt--I don't think that any of us expected that that was going to happen.
And, you know, honestly, when I found out that we had a gold record, when we
had sold 500,000 copies, my first thought was that, you know, I could get my
own apartment. And I was so excited I didn't have to crash on someone's couch
anymore, you know. I just thought, `Oh my God, I can buy a car. I can have
an apartment.' These are things that I never had, you know. And I was really
excited that I could actually support myself doing what I loved to do. So it
was a pretty good feeling at first, and then it just went haywire and
everything was completely out of control and you felt like you were being
sucked up in a tornado, and there were days when you just wanted to escape.
But ultimately, personally, I didn't think of it as a bad thing because, you
know, we didn't change the band to make that happen, you know? A lot of
people change what they do in order to make that sort of thing happen, and we
just kind of had a party and everybody came, you know? And to me, I was
really proud of that.

GROSS: Yeah, you said, you know, after "Nevermind" you could actually get
your own apartment. You had lived for a while with Kurt Cobain. How long did
you live together in the same apartment?

Mr. GROHL: I think it was maybe eight months or nine months or something
like that. We lived in a house that was split into three apartments, and ours
was around the back of the house. And it was a mess. I mean, it was
disgusting. People shouldn't live that way. We did.

GROSS: What was so disgusting about it? Would you describe it?

Mr. GROHL: I mean, the floor was just--there was this awful kind of beige
Berber carpet that was just littered with cigarette butts and corn dog sticks,
and the window was broken and never repaired. So on a winter night, the
living room would be about, I don't know, 40 degrees, and that was my room, so
I slept on a couch in a sleeping bag and I'm six feet tall and the couch is
probably four and a half feet long, and so my feet are hanging over the end.
And in the corner Kurt used to--he had a thing for turtles, he loved turtles.
And so he had made this makeshift turtle aquarium, or whatever, out of, I
think they were storm windows that he had put up or something like that. And
these poor turtles all night long just were trying to escape, you know, and so
they would just butt their heads against the glass all night long. And the
thing, it just stank. And I mean, it was really, really bad. It was
horrible. So you can imagine my first check for $700, I thought, `I made it.
I'm getting out of here. I've made it. I need to go get my own place.' Yeah,
it was pretty gross.

GROSS: My guest is Dave Grohl. He was the drummer in Nirvana and founded the
band Foo Fighters after Cobain's death. The Foo Fighters have a new CD called
"Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace." We'll talk more after a break. This is
FRESH AIR.

(Announcements)

GROSS: My guest is Dave Grohl. He played drums in Nirvana from 1990 until
Kurt Cobain's suicide in 1994. After Nirvana dissolved, he started the band
Foo Fighters. They have a new CD called "Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace."

Kurt Cobain had a heroin habit, and when you became aware of his addiction and
realized what a problem it was for his health, but also for the band, did you
feel in a difficult position about whether to try to intervene at all, and if
you did, whether that would be of any use?

Mr. GROHL: Absolutely. I think--well, you have to remember that I didn't
know these two guys before I joined the band, you know. I flew up there, and
the day they picked me up from the airport was the day that I met the two of
them. And so it wasn't long before, you know, we realized that there was a
problem. And Krist Novoselic, who was the bass player of Nirvana, he grew up
with Kurt and they started the band together when they were kids. And, you
know, as best friends, I think that Krist had that conversation with Kurt at
some point. And I remember having a brief conversation about it with Kurt and
Kurt saying like, `Yeah, no, that's--I'm not going to do that, that's gross.
I don't--that's--it's a filthy habit and don't worry. I'm not going to do
that sort of thing again.' I think someone who becomes addicted to something
like heroin can be really hard to reach because at the end of the day, the
only person that's going to pull them out of something like that is
themselves, and--yeah.

GROSS: Getting back to the music and to the band's life onstage, Kurt Cobain
would sometimes like dive onto your drum kit?

Mr. GROHL: Yeah.

GROSS: Would you like describe what the experience was like on your end...

Mr. GROHL: Well, you know...

GROSS: ...when he would do that?

Mr. GROHL: The first few times it happened, I imagined it being this
cathartic experience, like, wow, man, he's so into the music. You know, he's,
you know, sacrificing his body for this song and he's diving into a pile of
drums, which is--can only be the most painful thing you've ever done in your
life. And then after a year or so, I heard Krist Novoselic telling a story
about how Kurt used to do that because when he felt like the drummer wasn't
playing well, he would just dive into the drum set. So my whole perspective
kind of changed a little bit, like, `oh, wait! So, but I thought that was--oh
really? Oh.' So yeah.

GROSS: Well, like how close would he come to knocking you off your chair when
he dived into the drums?

Mr. GROHL: I usually--I saw him coming--and if he was--if I saw him--I mean,
you know, it was like standing in front of a bull or something. You see that
thing running at you and you just, you run away. So I did my best to avoid
any...

GROSS: Would you abandon your chair?

Mr. GROHL: Oh, yeah. I mean, what, am I going to keep playing? No. I
mean, I don't want to get run over by the guy so I'd usually just kind of step
out for a minute and let him do his thing.

GROSS: Would it ruin your drums? Did your drums ever get hurt?

Mr. GROHL: Oh man, my drums. The tour that we did for that album
"Nevermind," the American tour went from, I think, September of '91 to
Halloween of '91, and we started the tour playing these really small venues
because they were the type of place Nirvana would usually play, and the album
came out and the "Smells Like Teen Spirit" video went on MTV, and we'd show up
to a place that would normally hold about 110 people and there'd be 500 people
outside. I'd think, `Oh my God, that's a lot of--how they going to squeeze
all those people in?' And that was my gauge of what was happening to the band
and how popular the band was getting is every time we'd pull up to a club,
there'd be twice as many people as there should be at the club lining up
around the block, people trying to get in. And we had to start upgrading the
venues to fit, you know, the audience, to accommodate all the people that
wanted to see the band.

But on that tour we were still in a van, there were six or seven of us in a
van with a trailer pulled behind, and Kurt would chop at my drums with his
guitar. And so a lot of shows would just end with total destruction. And
guitars can be pieced back together. It can all be glued back together. You
know, you can smash a guitar and play it the next night. It might not sound
any good, but that's beside the point. You know, you just want to smash it.
So by the time we get to Chicago, my drum set had holes in it. I mean, there
were holes in the toms, and my kick drum was completely destroyed. It was
splintered. And I kept saying to our tour manager, `Hey, Lonnie, do you think
maybe I could get a new drum set? Because these sound like crap, man, I mean,
they have holes in it.' And he'd say, `Ah, can you hold on for another week?
Because, you know, we're a little low on money.' And I say, `Yeah, man, I
could hold off for another month, but honestly, dude, these things sound like
crap.' He'd just say, `Just hold off, hold off.' So I'd ask a couple days
later, `Lonnie, I'm telling you, I really need to get another drum set. This
thing is falling apart.' He'd say, `Just hold off one more week.'

And as we're pulling into Chicago to play our show, we had the radio on in the
van, and there was a commercial for The Drum Center, half off, everything, 50
percent off at The Drum Center. And I thought, OK, you know what? Tonight
I'm going to destroy my drum set beyond repair so that I can go to The Drum
Center and get a drum set for half off.

So that night I kind of whispered in Kurt's ear before the show, I said, `Hey
man, let's really do a number on the drums tonight so I can get a new set
tomorrow.' He goes, `OK.' So at the end of the gig, we actually told the
audience, `Hey, you guys can, you know, leave if you want, but we're going to
splinter this drum set. We're going to turn it into firewood.' And the
audience, 1200 people, sat and watched us completely destroy--no music. It
was just the sound of two guys destroying drums onstage. And I walked
offstage really proud of myself, and the next day was Sunday and The Drum
Center was closed. So I had to use the opening band's set.

GROSS: There must have been nothing left to play.

Mr. GROHL: No, there wasn't anything left. It was a good time, though.

GROSS: I want to play another track, and this is a song that you wrote when
you were in Nirvana but you never gave the song to Nirvana to play, you just
recorded it yourself. It's "Friend of a Friend." It's a song about Kurt
Cobain. Would you talk about the song before we hear it?

Mr. GROHL: Well, when I moved up there to play with those guys, you know, it
was a really weird time for me because I grew up in Springfield, Virginia,
just outside of Washington, DC, and I have an amazing family, a great mother
and father, great sister, good friends that I've known since I was five or six
years old, and I never imagined moving away from there. I just sort of
thought I'd always be there. I worked at a furniture warehouse. It was good.
You know, life was good. And ending up in Seattle, somewhere I'd only been
once in my life--and enjoyed, I liked it a lot, but I was, you know, I didn't
know anybody and I didn't have anything. And I was in a band with these two
strangers, and they were great people but, you know, I missed home. And there
was an acoustic guitar in the room, and I just started writing songs at night.
When Kurt would go to sleep, I'd just sit on the couch and write these quiet
acoustic songs, and this song, "Friend of a Friend," I wrote about the two
people that I just joined the band with, you know?

GROSS: There's a line, "He needs a quiet room with a lock to keep him in."
What does that refer to?

Mr. GROHL: Well, every night before going to sleep, Kurt would go into his
room and close the door and write in his journal. He wrote every night. And
I think a lot of his ideas, lyrically, maybe musically, came from that. But
he was really prolific, and I think that time that he had to himself every
night was entirely his own and, you know, he would write for hours every
night.

GROSS: Well, let's here "Friend of a Friend," and this is David Grohl's song.
He's singing it. And here it is.

(Soundbite of "Friend of a Friend")

Mr. GROHL: (Singing) He needs a quiet room
With a lock to keep him in
It's just a quiet room
And he's there

He plays an old guitar
With a coin found by the phone
It was his friend's guitar
That he played

Hm-mm mm-mm mmmm
Mm-mm-mmm mmmm
Mm-mm-mm mmmm...

(End of soundbite)

GROSS: That's Dave Grohl singing a song he wrote for Kurt Cobain--or about
Kurt Cobain, I should say, when they were living together in the same
apartment. And Dave Grohl was the drummer in Nirvana and has subsequently
been the founder and leader of the Foo Fighters. And the Foo Fighters have a
new CD, which is called "Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace." We'll talk more
after a break. This is FRESH AIR.

(Announcements)

GROSS: My guest is Dave Grohl. He played drums in Nirvana from 1990 until
Kurt Cobain's suicide in 1994. After Nirvana dissolved, Grohl started the
band Foo Fighters. They have a new CD called "Echoes, Silence, Patience &
Grace."

You have a 17-month-old daughter now. Do you sing lullabies to her, and if
so, like what kind of music do you sing or play for her?

Mr. GROHL: Right now--we have jam sessions sometimes where she'll get a pair
of drumsticks and sit down in front of a snare drum and just beat out some
noisy rhythm and I'll play guitar, and what I like to do is I like to make up
songs with words that she knows so that she'll sing along. So I'll sing a
song called "House," and I basically just repeat the word "house" over the
verse and the chorus until she starts trying to sing along with me. And then
I'll sing a song about horses, where the chorus is just "neigh, neigh, neigh,"
you know, and so, yeah, and I mean. We haven't done any television. We
haven't done any Barney or Wiggles or any of the kid stuff. She likes music,
and she actually has good taste in music. If I have the radio on, she'll
stand still for the songs that I hate instinctually, and then a really great
Beatles song or Credence Clearwater Revival song will come on and she'll start
dancing, and I'll think, `wow, you already have good taste in music. How'd
that happen?

GROSS: I'd like to end with the final track from the new Foo Fighters CD,
which is called "Home." And it's a beautiful song, and again I'll ask you to
introduce it for us, to tell us about writing it.

Mr. GROHL: Well, I got a piano for my birthday about a year and a half ago,
and I'd never played piano before. It always seemed really intimidating to
me. As a rock musician that plays guitar and drums, you could imagine that,
you know, there were just too many little buttons on that thing. I didn't
know what the white ones did. I didn't know what the black ones did. And
I've taught myself how to play all of the instruments that I play, so I got
this piano for my birthday, and I sat down and someone said, `You know, all
you really need to know is that note right there is middle C.' And I thought,
oh, OK, well, if that's a C, well, then that's a G, and I started playing and
coming up with melodies and just writing these really simple songs.

And this is the first song that I wrote on the piano, and I didn't imagine it
to be a Foo Fighters song because it's so unlike anything we've ever done.
But then we did a demo of it, and I sat down and wrote these lyrics really
quickly and listened back and it kind of gave me the chills because I felt
like I'd finally accomplished that thing that I'd been trying to do for 20
years, to write a song like this. And I'm more proud of this song than
anything that I've ever done in my life because, as a musician, you want to be
able to tap into that thing, or that place inside of you that's entirely real
and to be able to express it so that it makes sense. And I listen to this
song and it sounds like it makes sense, and that's all I've been trying to do.

GROSS: Well, Dave Grohl, it's really been great to talk with you. Thank you
very, very much, and good luck with your new CD.

Mr. GROHL: Thanks for having me. No, it's been an honor to be on your show.
Thank you very much.

GROSS: It's a real pleasure to have you. And this is the Foo Fighters from
their new CD "Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace." This is "Home."

(Soundbite of @"Home")

Mr. GROHL: (Singing) Wish I were with you
But I couldn't stay
Every direction leads me away

(End of soundbite)

(Credits)

GROSS: I'm Terry Gross.

(Soundbite of "Home")

Mr. GROHL: (Singing) Home
I want to be home
Stand in the mirror...

(End of soundbite)
Transcripts are created on a rush deadline, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of Fresh Air interviews and reviews are the audio recordings of each segment.

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