All His Life

Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl is always between rock and a hard place

Actually, at 34, that last bit still holds somewhat true. Grohl famously took a break from the Foo Fighters last year to fill the revolving drum seat in the blitzed Californian hard-rock outfit Queens of the Stone Age, playing on the band's acclaimed Songs for the Deaf and hitting the road for a spate of high-profile live shows. Grohl says he loved the sabbatical from his front man duties and the opportunity to indulge the baser pleasures he's all but phased out of the Foos' repertoire. One By One displays Grohl's background in metallurgy, too, but he entertains the notion that it's down to the Queens' influence with a weary sigh.

"First of all, joining the Queens was a head trip to a lot of people," he says, "because they're like, 'Wait a second. He can't fucking switch instruments! He can't be in another band! That's not allowed!' Like you're swapping ingredients in recipes or something. It's fucking stupid; musicians are musicians, they're not cast members in stupid sitcoms. So that's weird enough, and then going back to the Foo Fighters and making a rock record, it was like, 'Oh, now this shit's rocking. And there's melody to it? Yeah, that's Queens of the Stone Age.' You know what? Go buy the fucking first Foo Fighters record, listen to a song like 'Weenie Beenie' or listen to a song like 'Exhausted.' Whatever. You make a rock record, you make a record that's acoustic, you make another rock record. I mean, if I went out and fucking played drums for Björk and came back and made a bunch of space-dance music, OK. But we're a rock band, you know?

"The reason why it's heavier than the last one is because each record is sort of a response to the last. For [Nothing] we wrote all these mellow, mid-dynamic songs that don't really have anything to do with the distortion pedal and had a great time recording them in the studio in my basement. Then we went out on tour, and we only played maybe five or six songs off that record. So this album it was like, 'OK, we gotta make 11 songs that we're gonna play every night.' And we were writing as a band in a little tiny room, so those are the kind of riffs that come out; those are the kind of songs that we enjoy playing when we're writing. It's like, 'Click, amp on, volume up to eight and one-two-three-four go'--that kind of thing. It was about pleasing ourselves and feeling like we've gotta make a record that's gonna make us happy for the next two years on the road."

They've evidently done that. Grohl says he begged his management for a single month free of band goings-on, but that after four days without playing he was "seriously frustrated," itching to work again. "I just can't stop," he says, laughing. "But that's good, right?"

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