Sunday, April 18, 2021

Rock and Grohl

Dave Grohl has become something of an enigma. The former Nirvana drummer is widely hailed as the Nicest Man In Rock and has continued to talk a very good game (see, for instance, this 2009 episode of Amoeba's What's In My Bag?), and yet Foo Fighters haven't made a decent record in over two decades and he seems to be as happy contributing to cack like Mick Jagger's coming-out-of-lockdown anthem 'Eazy Sleazy' as he was to Queens Of The Stone Age's mindblowing set at Glastonbury in 2002, on the eve of the release of Songs For The Deaf.

It's impossible to watch his episode of Reel Stories without loving the guy, though. Presented with a series of video clips by Dermot O'Leary, Grohl talks animatedly and enthusiastically about everything from the formative experience of seeing Kiss on TV in 1976, to the rollercoaster ride that was Nirvana (a first live TV appearance, on The Word; what turned out to be their last UK show, at Reading '92; Kurt Cobain's tragically premature death), to gradually finding his feet as Foo Fighters frontman, to his band's transformation into stadium rock behemoths.

The teenager playing drums at basement parties with Mission Impossible never imagined he'd one day end up writing songs with Paul McCartney or performing for the president at the White House, and it's to his credit that he appears to remain genuinely amazed at how things have panned out. As he says in response to the clip of a thousand citizens of Cesena simultaneously performing a cover of 'Learn To Fly' in 2015, "These moments show the reach of music and the connection that it has with people that you've never met or that you don't know or that are thousands of miles away".

Grohl claims that he rarely has an opportunity to pause and reflect, but in truth he's been doing a lot of looking back lately - whether in the company of O'Leary, chatting engagingly to the equally humble and affable Brian Johnson of AC/DC or in the form of Instagram posts just to keep himself occupied during lockdown. The latter have paved the way for a memoir entitled The Storyteller, scheduled for publication in October, but before that he's releasing another documentary, What Drives Us, about the ups and downs of life on the road in the back of a van. The trailer's here (and looks promising), but the beginning of the Johnson interview also give a flavour.

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