Dave Grohl And Taylor Hawkins On Where Next For Foo Fighters: “It’s Not Enough To Just Make A Fucking Record Any More”

When Dave Grohl took his traumatic tumble at the Ullevi Stadium in Sweden on June 12, he and his band were on a roll. Last year’s ‘Sonic Highways’ project re-energised Foo Fighters. The band had hit the road with an intensity not seen in the Foos “since the 1990s” and were already firming up plans to direct a second season of the HBO series when disaster struck, hinting to NME that it may feature an anglocentric vibe: “It might only be England, or be England and other places, or maybe it’s places in America and people from other countries that are inspired by these places in America,” teased Grohl. Even more intriguingly, for the last few months, the frontman had been dropping breadcrumbs about the shape the next album will take, too, and how its central concept will dwarf that of its predecessor.

“I do have this idea, and I’ve had it for a long time, maybe about a year,” he tells NME, “but it’s not set in stone. It’s definitely about challenging the artist with the environment. It’s a good idea, but we’ll see what happens.” After recording 2011’s ‘Wasting Light’ in his garage and turning ‘Sonic Highways’ into a multi-format history of American popular music, “the biggest challenge for us now would be to just load into a studio and make an album like any other band,” he says. “I’m almost thinking that’s what we should do – go make a fucking record like everybody else does. You know, at our studio. That we built to make albums in.”

Talk to drummer Taylor Hawkins about the future, however, and it seems unlikely that the Foos will be re-embracing convention anytime soon. As he puts it, “It’s not enough to just make a fucking record any more. It used to be a simple process of writing a batch of songs, recording them, and putting them out. You’d make an album, make three videos. If they were good, MTV would play them, and you’d sell some records. Now, you need to do something else with it.”

Such as?

“Dave wants the albums to have some other kind of theme or experience linked to them. He wants every record we make from now on to have some sort of concept around it, whether it’s something as large as ‘Sonic Highways’ or as simple as, ‘Hey, let’s record ‘Wasting Light’ to tape in my garage.’”

And if the rest of the band are skeptical of those ideas?

“It’s Dave’s vision,” shrugs Hawkins. “It all started with him and a demo tape, and he’s always known what the best way forward for Foo Fighters is. I’m not gonna come in and be like, ‘Hey, let’s write a rock opera,’ because I can go and make those fun little records on my own. These are Dave’s fun little records and we’re his band, we help him get it done. Even if me and Nate go have a burger afterwards and say, ‘Hmm, I don’t know about this,’ we’ve still got to have faith and ride it out.”

Hawkins and Nate Mendel have both made ‘fun little records’ recently – Hawkins with last year’s Birds Of Satan LP and Mendel with his own side-project, Lieutenant. By contrast, Grohl, who acknowledges his reputation as a “wandering fucking serial collaborator,” has been quiet on the extra-curricular front, though that’s about to change. “So the legendary American hardcore band Blast called and said, ‘Hey, will you come in and play on our new record?’ Now, Blast haven’t made a new record in 30 years. They said, ‘Our drummer and our bassist couldn’t make it, so we’ve got Chuck Dukowski from Black Flag on bass, will you play drums for us?’ Fuck yes I’ll go play drums for Blast. The record is brutal and amazing, and I got to play with Chuck Dukowski, who’s one of my heroes. That’s the big reward: getting to watch someone you’ve listened to your whole life record.” The healing begins here.