Foo Fighters headline Saturday night at DeLuna Fest. / Special to the News Journal
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Nearly two years of touring and work related to the “Wasting Light” album will be nearly done when the Foo Fighters take the DeLuna Fest stage on Saturday night.
Sounds like cause to celebrate.
“Who knows what we’ll get into,” drummer Taylor Hawkins teased during a telephone interview. “We’ll check the vibe, and you never know, we could play all night. We could play for four hours, who knows?”
OK, nobody really expects four hours of music from the Foo Fighters — though certainly, you won’t hear any complaints if it happens. But expecting some magic, some raucous energy and some fireworks — well, that’s what the Foo Fighters are all about. From the beach party atmosphere of DeLuna Fest to selling out legendary venues like Wembley Stadium, the band — which includes singer/guitarist/mastermind Dave Grohl, bassist Nate Mendel and guitarists Chris Shiflett and Pat Smear — is above all known as a live powerhouse. Saturday’s set is sure to be another epic performance featuring classic songs like “Everlong,” “The Pretender,” “Times Like These,” “My Hero,” “Best of You” and others from the band’s nearly two decades together.
Q: A lot of Pensacolians still talk about your January 2008 show at the Pensacola Civic Center as an amazing concert that changed them from being casual fans to more active fans of the Foo Fighters. Do you think that people gain a different perspective by seeing your band perform live?
A: Yeah, I think a lot of people have. This last album we made, it’s kind of one of the first records in a long time that we’ve made where people kind of liked the whole record. But a lot of times, people consider us (as a band) that, you know, we have radio songs, and it’s all about seeing us live. I think to be a great rock ’n’ roll band, the most important thing, in a way, is to be a great live band. I mean, it’s important, it really is. We work, we pride ourselves on being a good live band, and doing it real and raw, and playing for a long time and not skimping. I think part of it is our dedication to really playing a long time, and giving everybody the whole deal. It’s hard for me to reflect on it, but it’s always nice when you hear it.
Q: A few months after that show, the Foo Fighters played an historic two-night, sold-out stand at London’s Wembley Stadium, which might be the ultimate test of a live band. Talk about that experience.
A: That experience was like literally being in the middle of a tornado. It was SO big. It was really frightening, sort of, in a way. We’ve done a lot of big shows, but there’s something about that place. It was massive. It seemed like we were very small on that big stage in that huge place. They show it a lot now on the Palladia channel, and I think a lot of people see that and say, “wow! I never really thought of you guys like THAT.”
I mean, do I think we played the best we’ve ever played that night? No. We were all a little bit on our nerves, and everything was a little bit uptight and excited. But that’s part of the vibe, you know? As far as the show itself, I think it definitely has given people a different perception of our band, having seen that.
Q: The documentary on the band, “Back and Forth,” seemed like a very bold and honest project. Talk about the experience of making the film.
A: Well, making it, I really had nothing to do with. Making it was really just living my life for the last (laughs) 15 years, or 12 years. That’s all I have to do with it. And then a couple of hours of interviews that got a little intense. It was pretty soul-baring. It was definitely revealing, and something that I was never really interested in revealing about my thoughts and feelings about certain times in this band, and our relationships in the band and issues that we’ve had. It’s a little tough to sort of bare that all for the world, and it was never really my dying desire to do that to myself or the world.
But I think in the end, all the cards are out on the table. If you’re going to do something like that, instead of doing some kind of fluff piece, sort of, “oh, look at how great we are; we’re so awesome; we’re a big, huge band; we have tons of money and we’re awesome and we’re so happy all the time” – that’s not the case. I’m generally pretty private, and we all are, to a certain degree. But we sort of let it all hang out in that movie, because what’s the point of doing something like that unless you kind of give them the whole enchilada, right? And I think it adds to the drama, and people connected with it in that sense.
Listen, were our lives dramatic? Sure, put in two-and-a-half hours to kind of zero in on some of the heavy parts of this bands existence and personal lives. But if they did a two-hour documentary on your life, and really zeroed in on heavy things that happened in your life, it would be just as dramatic and just as interesting. It just wouldn’t be, maybe, at Wembley Stadium (laughs).
Q: One of the interesting things revealed in the documentary was that the band almost didn’t happen; that Dave Grohl had to choose between starting Foo Fighters or accepting a job as the drummer in Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. What if he’d gone the other way? What would your life be like without the Foo Fighters?
A: Oh, Jesus, I don’t know. It’s so impossible to say. I mean, I’d still play drums, for sure. I already had somewhat of a professional career in the music industry before I joined the Foo Fighters. But I don’t know. I like to think that the chemistry of this band is special, and I don’t think any of us would be anywhere near where we are right now had Dave not made that choice to make a record and throw it out there and then to really keep it going, and to really put the work into it that he has and we have over the past 15 years or so. I mean, we’d all be in different places. I mean, I’d probably still be a musician, but I might not have as nice of a house (laughs). I’d be playing, I can 100 percent guarantee you that. Would it be my job? I’d hope so. But it might be doing Bar Mitzvahs and weddings on the weekends and being the manager of the drum department at the Guitar Center during the week. Who knows? It’s so impossible to say.
I mean, I’m glad he did it. I’m glad he decided to make that record. I mean, I was such a huge fan of that record when it came out. Being on the outside looking in for that first couple of years of the Foo Fighters, I mean, I was so happy he made that record, and I was so surprised that this amazing talent was kind of hiding behind the drum set. You always knew he was a great drummer, and he was such an important, essential part of Nirvana, there’s no question. Without those drum parts, Nirvana wouldn’t have been Nirvana. That’s the truth.
Q: You have roots on the Gulf Coast. What would you tell people that are visiting here for DeLuna Fest about the area?
A: Just go get some seafood, you know? Find out where the good places are and go get some. I love the food there on the Gulf. And I grew up on it because my mom’s from Alabama and my dad’s from Mississippi, and I used to spend my summers in Gulf Shores when I was a kid. Up until I was about 10 years old, my dad would send us with my mom for the summers to go visit relatives who live in Mobile, and we would always rent a house down in Gulf Shores. So I have fond, fond memories. I know that place. I don’t know it well as an adult, but I know it well as a vibe, from being there when I was a kid.
Q: There’s one more Foo Fighters show scheduled after DeLuna Fest, but really, for all intents and purposes, this is the end of the tour. Can we expect it to be extra-crazy on the stage?
A: I don’t know how crazy it’ll be, it just all depends on how Dave’s doing that night. I mean, we did a 3½ hour show at a club the other night, just because Dave … I think it’s because he took a big, giant shot of Jagermeister or something, and said, “I’m not getting off the stage!” I walked off that stage literally drained of all nourishment. So who knows? Who knows what we’ll get into? We’ll check the vibe, and you never know, we could play all night. We could play for four hours, who knows?
Q: There are several other acts on the DeLuna Fest bill with whom Foo Fighters are known to be friendly – the Joy Formidable, Joan Jett, Bob Mould … any chance we may see some collaborations?
A: Well, we’ll just have to see, won’t we? (Laughs)
Q: (British music magazine) NME did a story after the Reading Festival that made out like this tour would be the end of the Foo Fighters. Can you respond to that?
A: Welcome to England, pal. The English press love to sort of make a big deal about … they’ll take a sentence that you say and make a whole story about it. That was the end of the European tour, and that was the end of the proper touring of this band, for this cycle. We do have more shows, funnily enough, like the one we’re about to do for you guys. So that was sort of the end of the touring. We have a couple of one-offs, or in this case, a two-off, since we’re going to do Atlanta and then we’re going to play in Pensacola. And then we have one in Central Park, which is really the last show. And that probably will be the last show for a while, but it won’t be the LAST show.
Everybody’s perfectly happy and fine in this band, and we’re all looking forward to getting started on another record, eventually, when the time is right. And that probably won’t be that far away. We’ll probably start doing the sort of groundwork, which usually consists of me and Dave sitting in a studio and him kind of shelling out ideas with me, and I just kind of act like his drum machine, and we do a bunch of demos. And once he feels like we’ve got enough stuff to really bring the rest of the guys in, we all get together and start really putting the songs together, and then we bring in whoever’s gonna produce it and make the record. I don’t think it’ll be that long, but it’ll definitely be awhile.
We’re so proud of (“Wasting Light”), and we really feel like we had a mission, we had a goal, to make a record that was playable live all the way through, and also that was sort of seamless, in a sense. Even though all the songs are different, it really is the best cohesive record probably since I’ve been in the band, I think. A lot of people look at “The Colour and the Shape” as the best record, and if that is – which I wouldn’t really be the one to judge – I would say this one is the other best one, I think. And I think a lot of people say that.
But who knows? We’ll think the next one is the best one, of course – you always do.
Nearly two years of touring and work related to the 'Wasting Light' album will be nearly done when the Foo Fighters take the DeLuna Fest stage on Saturday night. Sounds like cause to celebrate.
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