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Q&A: Dave Grohl

The Foo Fighters frontman on uncovering American music history, studios as “churches”, and meeting Obama

What do you do when you’ve got a colossal worldwide fan-base, strings of awards and a stellar reputation for crowd-pulling riffage? You build on all that by recording your most ambitious album yet. In the Foo Fighters’ case, one (their eighth) inspired by their new HBO series of the same name: Sonic Highways. Not one to rest on his laurels, Foos mainman Dave Grohl interviewed scores of musicians – and US president Barack Obama – for the aforementioned series, across eight American cities, documenting their musical stories, and recording a song for the new album at each stop.

Was it your Sound City documentary (released in 2013) that got you interested in the idea of different recording studios each having a particular sound?

Actually it started before that, with the last Foo Fighters record, which we made in my garage. And at that point I thought: “You know, maybe we should do a documentary about the band where we tell the story of the last fifteen or sixteen years, which would maybe explain why we’re making a record in my garage.” When I bought the [mixing] board from Sound City I thought: “I’ll just make a short film about this studio and this piece of equipment,” because its history is unbelievable. And to me, these recording studios are hallowed ground. They’re churches. They’re monuments to me. Some people just think they’re rooms with tubes and wires, but history has been made in these shitholes all over the country. So I was like: “We’ve got to tell this story because it will humanise the whole process.”


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