Dave Grohl Almost Joined GWAR, How His Songwriting Style Differs from Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo, “Teen Spirit” vs. Rick Astley and More (via ‘Rolling Stone’)

Rock Cellar Magazine StaffCategories:Latest News

Rock Cellar Magazine

Dave Grohl was the focus of a recent feature in Rolling Stone from journalist Brian Hiatt, geared around the Foo Fighters being enshrined into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame coming up on Oct. 30, the recent 30th anniversary of Nirvana’s seminal 1991 album Nevermind and more — including the upcoming publication of The Storyteller, Grohl’s first official memoir (for which he has some special in-person events on the schedule as well).

It’s an especially reflective piece from the normally somewhat reserved Grohl (at least when it comes to certain topics from throughout his life and career), and this week Rolling Stone followed it up with some quotes from Grohl’s conversation with Hiatt that didn’t make it into the feature story. They’re all interesting tidbits for Grohl fans, ranging on some more stories about his time around Kurt Cobain, his childhood and more.

One, for example, features Grohl reflecting on how he very nearly joined the costumed metal icons GWAR, back when he was a teenage rocker in Washington, D.C.:

“GWAR were looking for a drummer,” says Grohl. And I talked to their guitar player Dewey about it. And he’s like, it’s great, and you get to design your own costume. As drummer, you don’t want something that covers your face fully. You want your arms to be free. So I was like cool. So I started kind of drawing this thing. At the time Gwar was a band that would draw like 700 people, right? Which is huge. And then the more I thought about it, am I really gonna invite my uncle to see me play when there’s like fake blood and cum shooting all over the place?”

In the hours after this Rolling Stone story was published, GWAR fired back with a statement of its own, in typically zany GWAR fashion:

Another choice quote regards Rick Astley, who’s become a friend of the Foo Fighters in recent years, showing up on stage for some wild covers of “Never Gonna Give You Up.” When rehearsing to cover the song with the Foos, they began realizing a stark resemblance to “Smells Like Teen Spirit”:

At the Summer Sonic Festival in Japan, the band decided to play “Never Gonna Give You Up” after noticing that Astley was on the line-up. “We started kind of learning it true to the original,” Grohl says. “And then I start to realize that the arrangement is exactly the same as ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit.’ The chord progression has an uncanny resemblance. It’s true. There’s a riff and then the drums kick in, and then there’s a verse… there’s a lot. I’m like, ‘Oh my God.’ So we start joking around playing it in that same style, and it was so funny that we did it ten times in a row. And then we walk out on stage and fucking Rick Astley is standing on side stage. Had we gone through all of the typical logistics that you would go through to ask a famous musician to jam with you, it wouldn’t have been as fun. I walked over to him. I’m like, Hey, ‘I’m Dave.’ He’s like, ‘I’m Rick.’ I’m like, ‘Do you want to do it?’”

For reference, here’s a video mash-up somebody very helpfully uploaded to YouTube over a decade ago.

Another interesting passage from the new Rolling Stone piece finds Grohl commenting on an exchange he had with Weezer front man Rivers Cuomo, a back-and-forth that showcased their very different songwriting processes fronting alt/rock bands that broke through in the mid-1990s and continue being relevant today:

“I had this conversation with Rivers a few years ago when we toured them in Australia,” Grohl says. “Clearly the dude writes fucking great songs. We sat down next to each other at this group dinner. Eventually, he goes, ‘Hey, so when you write songs, how do you do it?’ I started explaining how we do it, which is pretty simple. l make some demos. I show them to the guys. And then we get together and play them. He says, ‘Do you listen to top 40 radio?’ I said, ‘Now? Not really. I mean, unless I’m in the car with my kids, I guess.’ He said, ‘So you don’t write songs to try to get on top 40 radio?’ And I said, ‘No. I don’t think I don’t think we’re allowed there! Do I expect to knock Cardi B off the fucking charts? Absolutely not.’ I said, ‘No, I kind of write songs for the stage or a setlist, and I write them for Foo Fighters fans.’ And he said, ‘Wow. So you write for the show?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, don’t you?’ And I don’t think that he does. I think that we’re sort of on opposite ends of that spectrum. Which is funny.”

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