BAKERSFIELD, California — Something wasn't right on the set of the Foo Fighters' new video at the Centennial Garden arena. Dave Grohl wasn't wearing lipstick, fighting off a dog or flashing his million-dollar smile. He was singing and playing guitar.
"It's wild because for the last five years we've been making these funny videos, like the 'Big Me' Mentos video or the 'Learn to Fly' thing or the 'Breakout' thing," he explained Monday between takes. "We do that and people recognize us for our videos, and then they come see us play and they're like, 'Damn, you guys really rock out. You guys really do it up.' So we figured this time we'd just sort of show everybody this is what it's like when we play live. We're not in dresses. We're not on an airplane. We don't sell candy. We just jump around and scream a lot."
The "All My Life" clip is certainly a performance video in the purest sense, but with Grohl behind the lens (see "Dave Grohl To Direct Video For New Foo Single"), the Foo Fighters humor that fans have come to love makes an appearance.
"Once we decided on a performance video, I started thinking, 'God, everybody's done a performance video. What kind of twist can you put on it? How can you make it different than any other performance video?' " Grohl said. "So basically, it's like the greatest show we've ever played in our lives, but ..."
Sorry. It's a surprise.
And Foo fans are in for another surprise when they hear "All My Life" and the rest of 1 x 1 ("One by One"), due October 22. The material sounds a lot like Queens of the Stone Age, the band Grohl spent the summer drumming for.
"This song is unlike anything [the Foo Fighters] have ever done," Grohl said. "And it represents the album well. It's much more aggressive. It's a little darker, more romantic, creepier than anything we have done. The record has a lot of that in it. And this song just caught everyone. I said, 'Really? That doesn't sound like it's going to sell any records.' But sh--, man, I dig it, so we're good to go."
It was the edginess of "All My Life" that inspired Grohl to make a performance video. "It's balls-out rock, there's no two ways about it," he said. "You just kind of have to do it."
In the video, cameras follow Grohl, guitarist Chris Shiflett, bassist Nate Mendel and drummer Taylor Hawkins from their dressing room to the stage, where they rip through the infectious track.
"The biggest challenge of this shoot has just been to get all of the production together," Grohl explained. "We've always had performances in the middle of some ridiculous cross-dressing scheme, but with this, it's just full-on performance. So in order to make it interesting, you have to have the environment change throughout the song. Four-and-a-half minutes of just performance can be really boring."
So Grohl and his production team coordinated a series of backdrops and video screens that rise and fall at various points of the song, flashing a Foo Fighters logo and other imagery, including lyrics to the song and heart drawings.
"It's pretty simple to direct a video," Grohl admitted. "It's not brain surgery. Basically, anyone who has an idea can be a video director. I don't know how to use the f---ing cameras. I don't know how to use the playback monitors or any of that sh--. I just say, 'This is how it should look.' "
For a full-length feature on Dave Grohl, check out "Dave Grohl: Rock Royal."