Pearls of wisdom from the Foo Fighters frontman
On Dave Grohl’s 50th birthday [January 14], it seems fitting to look back and revel in some of the Foos man’s most candid and provocative quotes.
"TV talent shows make everyone sound like fucking Christina Aguilera." Interview in NME, March 2013
"It’s YOUR VOICE. Cherish it. Respect it. Nurture it. Challenge it. Stretch it and scream until it’s fucking gone because everyone is blessed with at least that, and who knows how long it will last." - Keynote Speech at SXSW 2013 in Austin
"Foo Fighters is the stupidest fucking name." - Keynote Speech at SXSW 2013 in Austin
"Heavy Metal would not exist without Led Zeppelin, and if it did, it would suck." In Rolling Stone 100 Greatest Artists List.
"How could you not want to do this? I get to sit around and talk about rock’n’roll all day, then go play music with my friends and laugh my arse off backstage, until it’s time to have a beer and get 80,000 people to sing with me. That’s not work!"
“I'm so not macho. It's crazy. My man cave is so not a man cave.”
"I can truly say out loud that 'Gangnam Style' is one of my favourite fucking songs of the past decade. Is it any better or worse than the latest Atoms for Peace album?"
On Foo Fighters: "You have to understand, we're a really simple band. We think we suck and we try really hard to make good records and we practice. We don't feel like the biggest, best band in the world. We just feel like the same five dorks that were touring in a van 17 years ago, that hasn't changed." - Interview with Billboard 2012
"My diarrhoea once caused a riot in Japan. I had to retreat from a live performance because of 'technical difficulties'!"
"I bought the first Metallica record the month it came out, I am a die-hard fan and you will have to pry their CDs from my cold dead hands." - Interview in GQ 2013
"Barry Manilow is the coolest motherfucker in the world." - Interview in GQ 2013.
On having fun with Nirvana: "There was this stuff that they used to clean the tape heads in the studio, and it was like pure alcohol and incredibly flammable. And so we started doing things like pouring it on someone's leg and lighting their leg on fire, or pouring it on someone's boot. I poured some on my head." - Interview with NPR 2013
"I quit doing drugs when I was 20. I never got into heroin, never did pills. I did a lot of acid, smoked a lot of weed, had a lot of fun." - Interview with Rolling Stone 2013.
"There’s a band in a garage right now writing songs for an album that will do the same thing Nevermind did some 20 years ago. We don’t know who and where, but it will fucking happen again. All it takes is for that storm to break." - Interview with The Guardian 2013
"I don't want to say that most rock bands live these formulaic biography existences - but they kinda do. There's always a divorce. There's always an OD. There's always a bad business manager. That story has been told a thousand times." Interview in Q Magazine
On family life: "What would Lenny Kravitz say if he knew I was turning up to a show like this in a rented van, with my kids?" - Interview in The Guardian 2011.
"When I meet young musicians and they fuck themselves up because they've read too many rock'n'roll biographies, it makes me a little sad. There's other ways of doing it - you don't have to get strung out on heroin to write a good song." - Interview in Q Magazine.
On his childhood: "I never needed much, and I never thought I'd get more than what I had. A trip to Burger King was the biggest thing in the world to me. Heaven."
"We [Nirvana] were real and visceral, fucked-up and ugly. That was what people were craving. And that will never go away." - Interview in The Guardian 2013.
On his first trip to the UK: "I didn't realise it [tea] had caffeine in it. After seven cups I thought I was going to have a heart attack." - Interview in The Guardian 2007
His views on talent shows: "I think people should feel encouraged to be themselves. That's what bums me out about those shows where people are judged so harshly by fucking musicians that hardly even play an instrument on their own fucking albums. It makes me really mad." - Interview in NME 2013
"The late '80s was full of over-produced pop that kids had nothing to grab hold of. You had a bunch of formulaic pop songstress bullshit, and music was boring."
"I don't believe in guilty pleasures, you know. I believe you should be able to like what you like, if you like a fucking Ke$ha song, listen to fucking Ke$ha."
"I love everything about my job, except being away from the kids. The day I was leaving, my daughter said, 'Daddy, I want you to wear this [points to ring]. And every time you miss me, look at this ring and just know that I love you so much'. She's not even five! I was blown away." - Interview in The Telegraph 2011
"I'm not allergic to fashion. I'm just one of those people who when they put on a suit look like they're going to a funeral or to court." - Interview in GQ 2013
On the last thing he said to Kurt Cobain: "I called Kurt after Rome. [In March, 1994, during a European tour, Cobain overdosed on pills and alcohol in a hotel in Rome. Nirvana returned to Seattle, where Cobain died a month later.] I said, 'Hey, man, that really scared everybody. And I don't want you to die'." - Interview in Rolling Stone 2013
On kicking a fan out at the iTunes Festival show in 2011: "You don't fucking fight at my show you asshole. Let me see him, who's fighting right now? It's that guy in the striped shirt. Hey motherfucker look at me, get the fuck out of my show right now."
"I once received a cape [from a fan] that was made from the little purple bags that Crown Royal Whisky comes in. I know! I used to wear it but I don't anymore." - Interview in GQ 2013
“When Kurt died I was lost. I was numb. The music I had devoted my life to had now betrayed me. I had no voice. I turned off the radio. I put away my drums. I couldn’t bear to hear someone else’s voice singing about pain, or joy.” - Keynote Speech at SXSW 2013 in Austin
"I don't think there's anything wrong with rock at all. It's overlooked. And right now, the current musical climate is not unlike it was back in 1991, right before Nirvana got popular."
His idea for Justin Bieber’s next album cover: "It's Justin in a tuxedo, sitting at a McDonald's and it's just called 'Eating Out'."
On why making a documentary about Sound City is most important to him: "People say, ‘Well wait a minute you were in Nirvana and you sold a billion records.’ Well f***king who cares how many records I sold?"
"I mean, I never liked being told what to do. It’s one of the reasons I dropped out of school. Give me something to assemble, I won’t look at the directions, I’ll try to figure it out by myself. It’s why I love Ikea furniture."
"Singing into a microphone and learning to play an instrument and learning to do your craft, that's the most important thing for people to do. It's not about being perfect, it's not about sounding absolutely correct, it's not about what goes on in a computer. It's about what goes on in here [your heart] and what goes on in here [your head]."
“Rick [Astley] is the man. The seventh Foo Fighter. He’s such a sweetheart.” Interview in NME 2018.
“You wake up every morning on tour and you open your eyes and think, ‘Does my back hurt? Does my throat hurt? Do I have another show in me?’ We were doing three countries a day in Asia. I’m f**king exhausted. I have found a cure for insomnia though: the BBC Parliament channel.” Interview in NME 2018.
On listening to Lil Pump: “I guess for me punk rock is about a state of independence and if that’s Lil Pump then so be it. It’s about being free to do whatever the hell you want to do.” Interview in GQ 2018.
“There are nights where you’re thinking about what toppings are on the pizza on the bus and whether you need to do laundry tomorrow, but when you launch into a song like [Everlong], it immediately brings you back.” Interview in Rolling Stone 2018
“I wish I could sing like John Lennon, or Adele, or Josh Groban. I wish I could. But I was raised on some really dissonant, noisy, crazy punk rock so a lot of my favourite vocalists most people wouldn’t even consider singers.” Interview on CBS Sunday Morning 2018.
On fan art: “I love it when the fan will draw a picture and spend loads of time on it and be really proud of it and be like ‘I did it because it looks just like you’ and they’re always just a little off. You look like you’ve had a stroke, one eyeball’s bigger than the other.” Interview in NME 2017.
On Donald Trump: “I’ve probably travelled internationally more than our current president and the one thing I understand that he doesn’t is that the world isn’t as big as you think it is. It is all in your neighbourhood. India, Asia, Iceland aren’t other solar systems.” Interview in GQ 2018.
“I was the kid with long hair in my face behind drums that looked like washing machines, and I could walk in the front door of a Nirvana gig and not really get noticed. So, I didn't have to suffer a lot of the pressures that Kurt did as the frontman." Interview on CBS Sunday Morning.
“Every record we go into make we go in thinking we’re gonna make ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ or ‘The White Album’ but at the end of the day we end up with a Foo Fighters record there’s nothing we can do.” Interview with Zane Lowe on Beats 1
On Florence + The Machine’s covering Foo Fighters at Glastonbury 2015: “I cried like a fucking baby. It melted my fucking heart. I am forever indebted to them.” Interview in Q Magazine 2015.
On breaking his leg: “What seemed like a setback at the time has turned into this beautiful blessing in disguise, where this throne and these crutches and these audiences make us play longer and harder than we ever have.” Interview with Entertainment Weekly 2015.
On Kanye West: “I think maybe Kanye’s personality might be harder to swallow than his music. But these are the moments that make for great moments in the history of rock ‘n’ roll”. Interview in The Sun 2015.
“I was never taught how to play the guitar. I don’t know what the chords to ‘Everlong’ are. I only know what happens when I put the fingers there. But that riff is a good example of how I look at the guitar.” Interview with Rolling Stone 2014.
“You know how I swing when I come to London? Bangers and beans goddammit! I swear to God, on my life, that is my favourite meal in the world. I could eat it seven times a day for the rest of my life.” Interview in NME 1997.
On playing with Iggy Pop: “If anyone has influenced any of us, it’s that man. I remember hearing his music when I was a teenager and going “oh, this is where it comes from. Oh, now I get it.” I started listening to everything differently.” Interview in Uproxx 2018.
"When I tell people I've never done cocaine in my life, they think I'm lying! But I love music, and I love life. And to me, survival is the game – that's the hardest part. I just wanna play music." Interview on CBS Sunday Morning 2018.