Archive for Dave Grohl

SXSW Keynote Speech: Dave Grohl

Posted in SXSW with tags , , , , , , on March 15, 2013 by 30daysout

Grohl 1

It all started with a riff: the monster jam that gives life to a great rock song. Dave Grohl, the Nirvana basher and Foo Fighters front man, traced his development as a rock and roller Thursday as he delivered the keynote address to a huge crowd at the South by Southwest (SXSW) music conference.

In Grohl’s case, it was “Frankenstein,” the thunderous 1973 instrumental hit. “I have to thank Edgar Winter for allowing that song to be on the 1975 compilation Blockbuster, by Ktel,” Grohl said. “My sister and I took that album home and we played it over and over … (the song) was an instrumental, no singing, but what I heard were the voices of each musician through their instruments, the sound of people playing music with other people.”

“Frankenstein” gave life to something dormant in Grohl, which was central to his theme on Thursday. “The musician comes first,” he said up front. “Nothing is as important as the musician.”

Bashing on a cheap Sears guitar in his bedroom, Grohl wrote songs about his life, his school, his dog and his dad. “Music instantly became my obsession,” he said. “It was my religion.”

On the podium at the Austin Convention Center, Grohl also demonstrated how he created songs in his bedroom. He inserted a cassette into a recorder and played a short riff on a guitar. He took the cassette and put it in another player, then taped his percussion over the guitar part onto a second cassette.

“I was multi-tracking,” he laughed. “To my chagrin, it wasn’t Sgt. Pepper’s. But I did it all by myself – it was my voice, all mine.”

Another seminal event for Grohl was attending a Fourth of July punk concert in Washington, D.C., on the steps of the Lincoln memorial, when he was a teenager. Thousands upon thousands of angry young people screamed at the walls of power until the cops finally moved in.

“It was a f***ing riot, and I was in heaven,” Grohl said. “It revealed to me that this music had the power to create an emotion, to start a riot and a revolution, or to save a young boy’s life. I knew I wanted to be somebody’s Edgar Winter, I wanted to be someone’s Naked Raygun.”

He was playing in bands, living in Hollywood with a group of female mud wrestlers (“That’s totally another keynote address,” Grohl said) when Dave heard the five words that changed his life: “Have you heard of Nirvana?” Grohl said, “They had Kurt and some songs, but no drummer.”

Grohl specs

Grohl hooked up with Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic in Seattle, and they started working out songs and practicing in an old barn. “What we were doing was speaking to each other without words. Our three voices resulted in a sound that caught the ears of other people,” Grohl said.

Courted by record companies, the band found themselves in the New York City office of a label bigwig. “What do you guys want?” asked the big shot. Cobain calmly looked back at the man and replied, “We want to be the biggest band in the world.”

Grohl said, “Think about what music was like at that moment in 1990. The Top 10 songs of that year included people like Phil Collins, Sinead O’Connor, Madonna, Mariah Carey … and the No. 1 song for that year was ‘Hold On’ by Wilson Phillips! How in the world did Kurt think we could even make a ripple in that atmosphere? How were we going to compete with Wilson F***ing Phillips?”

But, like those days in his bedroom, Grohl realized his band was being left to its own devices. They went into the dingy Sound City studios in Van Nuys to start laying down tracks, far away from the watchful gaze of the suits. “Sound City was a shithole with brown shag carpet on the walls, and this couch they’d been renting for 10 years!” Grohl said. “But that old Neve board captured something … a sound … it was something we’d been waiting our whole lives for, for this music to be captured on tape.”

It would become Nevermind. “We made that ripple!” Grohl exclaimed. “We didn’t think – nobody thought – though, that ripple would become a tidal wave.

“I like to think the world heard three human beings, finding their voices and putting them proudly on display. It was honest, it was pure and it was real,” Grohl said. “No one had told me what to play … and now, no one would tell me what to play ever again.”

But it all crashed in 1994, when Cobain committed suicide. “I was lost, and I just quit,” Grohl said. “The music had betrayed me, I felt. I turned off the radio and put away the drums … it just hurt too much.”

Eventually, the old feelings stirred back to life. Grohl remembered a day long ago, July 4 in 1982 when he and thousands of young punks rioted at the feet of Lincoln. “I felt it again, so I booked six days of studio time to record some of my own songs,” he said.

Grohl played every instrument on this new recording project, fueled by coffee and the revitalized passion to create music again. “I was the same one-man band who made songs back in my bedroom 20 years earlier,” he said. “But instead of songs about my dog and my bike and my dad, these songs were about starting over. Well, maybe a few were about my dad … I was still the same kid I was at 13 years old.”

This would become the Foo Fighters. “I had to do this all by myself. I was left alone to my own devices, and I found my voice again. There was no right or wrong, it was pure, it was real and it was all mine.”

Grohl said this is a story he seeks to tell in his film directorial debut, Sound City. The feature documentary was showcased at SXSW and Grohl brought his Sound City Players (including members of the Foo Fighters, Novoselic of Nirvana and John Fogerty, Stevie Nicks and others) played in Austin the night of Grohl’s address.

“In the movie we tell the story of this magical shithole that gave birth to great and classic albums by Neil Young, Fleetwood Mac, Rick Springfield and so many others,” he said. “It’s where we created Nevermind and started our own little revolution. But it’s also about the human element of creating music … it always comes right back to that.”

SXSW 2013: So You Want To Be A Rock and Roll Star

Posted in SXSW with tags , , , , , , on March 9, 2013 by 30daysout
Interstellar Transmissions

Interstellar Transmissions, ready to blast off from SXSW 2012 but first they had to get out of traffic.

The TV is telling us to “spring forward” our clocks this weekend, meaning we lose an hour of sleep. That’s scarcely enough preparation for some of us who next week will enter the swirl of madness and music known as South by Southwest.

That South by Southwest thing (let’s call it SXSW from now on) is a week-long event in Austin, Texas. It’s a conference, kinda, and a festival, sorta – it has conferences on interactive technology, film and music and a whole lot of entertainment to keep attendees interested.

For our friends and readers, we are set to attend the music portion of the SXSW maelstrom which nominally runs from Tuesday through Saturday, although like everything else in Texas it tends to spill out at both ends.

SXSW started modestly in 1987 as a way for up-and-coming music acts to get noticed by big shots (and not-shots) in the music bidness. Since then it has mutated madly into spring break on weapons-grade steroids, with literally thousands of music acts playing in more than 100 official venues as well as in every nook and cranny that can accommodate a microphone and a beer tap.


The Tontons – one of our bands to watch at SXSW. (Photo by Megan Tipps)

So imagine you are a struggling singer or band, begging online – excuse me, Kickstarter – to pay for a ticket to Austin. And you’ve managed to book a handful of venues to get your name out there. OK, sounds like a plan – who else is playing?

Green Day. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Iggy and the Stooges. Depeche Mode. Dave Grohl and his Foo Fighters/Nirvana refugees with John Fogerty, Stevie Nicks and Rick Springfield. The Mavericks. Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell. Steve Earle. The Zombies (yeah, from the British Invasion). Eric Burdon (yeah, from The Animals). Snoop Lion. Diddy.  (Deep breath)

Passion Pit. Big Sean. RZA. Ghostface Killa. Tenacious D. They Might Be Giants. Richard Thompson. The Flaming Lips. Jim James. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. The Levon Helm Midnight Ramble Band. 50 Cent. The North Mississippi All Stars. Tegan and Sara. Roky Erickson. Dawes. Billy Bragg. Robyn Hitchcock. The Airborne Toxic Event. And probably, some guy named Timberlake.

If you don’t like those names, there are few thousand more we can run past ya. The point being, maybe there are a ton of big acts playing all over Austin next week but if you can get your music in front of the right audience and the wrong people, you never know. Spin the video below, for a taste of some fresh-faced youngsters performing in a backyard or parking lot during SXSW 2009:

Well then, who are the fresh-faced youngsters we’re rooting for this year? The next biggest band in the world? We can only guess – last year we picked the Alabama Shakes, the same band we watched perform on “Saturday Night Live” a few weeks ago. So let’s run through some of our favorites.

The Lone Bellow – We like this Brooklyn folk-pop trio after hearing their music on the wonderful Radio Woodstock. Their harmonies go down like honey, and lead singer/writer Zach Williams really knows how to sell a song. This band’s music has very deep roots, think the Louvin Brothers crossed with The Band.

Chelsea Light Moving – This band might be a bit of a ringer, considering the singer/guitarist is Thurston Moore, on a long (permanent?) hiatus from Sonic Youth. The Los Angeles Times called the foursome’s music “pointedly dissonant work and goofy fun,” and yeah. Word is they do NOT perform Sonic Youth songs. We know they are ready to play parking lots and bicycle shops in Austin, because here they are at a birthday party in somebody’s basement:

The Tontons – When this quartet came together six years ago in Houston, the homies didn’t know what to make of them at first. But gradually H-Town embraced the Tontons’ blend of Zep-rock and Pixies-roll. Melted into that ball of wax is the soaring voice of Asli Omar, who has an R&B/jazz thing goin’ with her singing. This band has been ripe to bust out of Texas for a while now, and we think this may well be their year.

Ronnie Fauss – His album is called I Am The Man You Know I’m Not, and with a handle like that you can probably guess he has a country pedigree. And yes, you would be right … although Ronnie likes to rock out his Texas-style storytelling. This Dallas boy deserves to be heard by more people, particularly those who like a little Gram Parsons-style sincerity in their musical cup of tea.

Blue Sky Riders – Easily the slickest outfit in the bunch, it’s possible that CMT fans may be way ahead of the rest of us. Well, this trio hails from Nashville and they sing radio ready stuff that could pass as country rock … but, wait – who’s that tall guy with the spiky hair? It’s Kenny Loggins, with spiky hair. Yeah Kenny Loggins. No word on if they perform “Footloose” but we’ll guess they do.

Thanks for being with us, follow us throughout SXSW here and on the big-time blog Popdose. We’ll dump our extra photos on a new Flickr account and you can also keep tabs on us through Twitter. It’s gonna be fun!

Things the Grammy Awards Taught Us

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , on February 13, 2012 by 30daysout

This is the future of music?

The last time I watched a Grammy Awards telecast all the way through was when John Denver was the host, and the Eurythmics were the hottest band on the planet (that would be 1982, punk). Until last night – I watched from beginning to end, and learned a great deal in the process.

If you were an alien who just dropped in from another planet and watched the Grammy Awards to see what music is all about, the first thing you would gather is that rock and roll is best performed by old guys. The old guys who bookended the show – Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney – peaked long ago as master songwriters but they’re still both dynamite live performers.

Dave Grohl is an old guy too.

Even though Springsteen’s new song “We Take Care Of Our Own” sounds like about 10 other Springsteen tunes, his rockin’ performance managed to stoke a little excitement for the rest of the telecast to come (and, Bruce hopes, his new album which conveniently comes out soon).

And you can’t go wrong with McCartney doing a Beatles classic; or classics, in the form of “Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End” from the Beatles’ Abbey Road album. Sir Paul’s voice has lost a lot of its old bite and he is a clever performer who knows how to manage his limitations.

Which he did by playing the tune backed by his crack touring band (and the awesome drummer Abe Laboriel Jr.) and, next, by turning “The End” into a superstar guitar duel featuring McCartney, his band’s guitarists Rusty Anderson and Brian Ray, as well as guests Springsteen, Dave Grohl and Joe Walsh. Everyone acquitted themselves well except for maybe Springsteen, who looked like he ran out of gas after his first solo. Maybe next time invite Glen Campbell to play.

Mike Love, left, hypnotizes you to believe he's standing next to Adam Levine.

Another thing I learned is that the Beach Boys’ 50th anniversary reunion tour may be entertaining mainly for singer Mike Love’s crazy antics. Probably the most clueless man in rock, Love is the musical equivalent of actor Nicolas Cage – a true head case. The only thing older than that merch-table ball cap was Al Jardine’s comb-over … but the Beach Boys actually sounded all right. Probably that’s because Brian Wilson’s backing band is also a crack unit and all the Boys had to do was sing. (Perhaps the lesson here is if you’re an older rocker get yourself a smokin’ band – like Bruce, Paul and Brian.)

I also learned that rhythm and blues has changed a little. Where R&B used to mean Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding and Smokey Robinson, it now means Chris Brown. Don’t know if the guy can actually sing – he didn’t last night – but he does a mean backflip. And I hear he has a left hook that would do Ike Turner proud. Otis did win an award though, as the title of a rap song.

This pretty much sums up the entire night.

One more thing I learned is that true talent will always save the day. Thanks, Adele. You deserve every award you get, if only for exposing the likes of Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and especially Nicki Minaj as the frauds they are.

So the big lesson we can carry away from Grammy Awards 2012 is that you don’t “get” music by watching stupid TV shows. You need to listen – with your ears, with your brain and with your heart. And only then will you find the music. I think Dave Grohl said that.

As a bonus we’ve added the best moment from last night’s Grammy telecast: a TV commercial from Chipotle that features a neat little story and cool music (Willie Nelson singing Coldplay’s “The Scientist”). Like Chrysler’s Super Bowl ad with Clint Eastwood, this will prove to be the most memorable moment from an otherwise overhyped and bloated affair.

YouTube: “Back To The Start” Chipotle ad

Bonus No. 2: This guy from SPIN snuck into the Grammy Awards, sort of

Bonus No. 3: Houston Press fills us in on just who this “Paul McCartney” guy is

Video Du Jour: Iggy Pop and Dave Grohl

Posted in News with tags , on June 15, 2011 by 30daysout

Iggy Pop sings “Shake Appeal” and makes Dave Grohl dance on stage with him at the Isle of Wight Festival 2011. Iggy also brings on Kate Moss’s hen party with Sadie Frost, all the while saying how he hates VIPS. Dave Grohl commented afterwards he was doing the Ozzy Osbourne dance as its the only one he knows.

Bonus Video Du Jour: Foo Fighters w/Lemmy

Posted in News with tags , , on February 24, 2011 by 30daysout

For those who may have thought the previous video posted today (see below) is a little fruity, we give you “White Limo,” the new one from the Foo Fighters.  The song is from the Fighters’ forthcoming, as-yet-untitled album, out April 12.  And of course the star is Lemmy Kilmister, from Motörhead and the star of the current documentary LEMMY: 49% Motherf**ker, 51% Son Of A Bitch.  This one rocks!

Foo Fighters official website

LEMMY movie official website

Review: Lots o’ New Stuff

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 8, 2010 by 30daysout

As usual, the new album racks fill up between SXSW and Record Store Day next weekend … and there is a lot of good new stuff out there.  So let’s get right to the best:

J. Geils Band frontman Peter Wolf hasn’t put out a studio set since 2002 but with the new Midnight Sessions he turns back the clock with a collection of excellent songs ranging from the elegaic rocker “The Night Comes Down (For Willy DeVille)” to the delicate acoustic ballad “The Green Fields of Summer.”  The album swerves from loose, Rolling Stones-flavored rockers like “Tragedy” (a duet with Shelby Lynne), Americana ear candy like “Always Asking For You” and love-man funkiness with “Overnight Lows” and a cover of the Lou Donaldson classic “Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky.”  In addition to Shelby Lynne, guests include Neko Case and Merle Haggard.  Highly recommended.

Listen: “Tragedy” by Peter Wolf w/Shelby Lynne

At one point on Women + Country, Jakob Dylan sings “Everybody’s Hurting,” and he is talking about an America that’s been shaken down to the roots – namely the common hard-working Americans who can’t see a future for themselves and their loved ones.  On this album Dylan visits the America that was most vividly depicted by the Band so many decades ago, and the music (produced by T-Bone Burnett, in the style of the Plant-Krauss masterpiece Raising Sand) lends the songs a ghostly, dreamlike quality.  But lest you think this is all depressing stuff, “Lend A Hand” assumes a jaunty French Quarter strut and the opener “Nothing But The Whole Wide World” perfectly blends Dylan’s voice with backing singers Neko Case and Kelly Hogan, who drift in and out throughout the album.  This album has really grown on me, and you should give it a chance to grow on you too.

Listen: “Everybody’s Hurting” by Jakob Dylan

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30 Days Out (From Christmas): Heavy Holidays

Posted in 30 Days Out (From Christmas) with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 10, 2008 by 30daysout


Day 13 – No Christmas is complete without some tunes from our heavy metal brethren.  They always put a pretty amusing spin on the holidays, and they’re much closer to Rock and Roll than the likes of Brenda Lee and Bing Crosby.  Our Ronnie James Dio, Lemmy Kilmister and two other selections today are taken from the new We Wish You A Metal Christmas and a Headbanging New Year.  The version of “Silent Night” here with Chuck Billy (Testament) and Scott Ian (Anthrax) is definitely the true spirit of Christmas.  “Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24)” is from Savatage, which later morphed into the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.  Check out our exclusive holiday interview with TSO singer Tommy Farese here.

MP3: “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” by Ronnie James Dio, Tony Iommi & others

MP3: “Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24)” by Savatage

MP3: “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” by Twisted Sister with Lita Ford

MP3: “Merry Xmas Everybody” by Slade

MP3: “Mistress For Christmas” by AC/DC

MP3: “Silent Night” by Chuck Billy, Scott Ian & others

MP3: “White Christmas” by Zakk Wylde

MP3: “Yellin’ At The Xmas Tree” by Billy Idol

MP3: “Run Rudolph Run” by Lemmy Kilmister, Billy Gibbons & Dave

MP3: “Deck The Halls” by Ted Nugent

MP3: “Heavy Metal Christmas (12 Days Of Christmas)” by Twisted Sister

MP3: “We Wish You A Merry (Metal) Xmas” by Jeff Scott Soto, Bruce Kulik & others

YouTube: Ozzy Osbourne and Jessica Simpson, “Winter Wonderland”