MELBOURNE, Australia -- From the loss of original drummer William
Goldsmith to the more recent blow of guitarist and longtime bandmate Pat
sudden departure, Dave Grohl has seen Foo Fighters through a lot in a
In the few years since he built the band from the ashes of what was the
grunge beast Nirvana, the 29-year-old drummer-turned-frontman has
a reputation as the ruler of the Foo Fighter regime.
But now he's here to say that the comings and goings and changes in his
bandmates have not necessarily been by his choice. In fact, he said, the
Foos are as much about the rest of the band as they are about him.
"The thing that makes me feel uncomfortable is this popular
that I'm the leader of the band, that just because I was in Nirvana
somehow rule this band with an iron fist, which is absolutely untrue,"
Grohl said a day after a recent gig at the Festival Hall here.
As leader of one of the most high-energy bands in the business, Grohl is
almost the archetypal anti-frontman with his uncoordinated stage moves,
gum-chewing nonchalance and laid-back stage patter.
Witness a moment in Monday night's show as Grohl tried to discuss the
relative merits of Hobart (the band's next tour stop), all to loud
from an over-hyped audience member, who finally yelled for the singer to
shut up. Some rockers would have spat at the heckler or directed the
nearest bouncer to remove him body and spirit. But Grohl mildly
"OK, I'll shut up. I don't really have anything much to say anyway," and
counted in the next song.
Hoping to shed light on his new role as frontman, the former Nirvana
drummer talked about his ongoing struggle with playing spokesperson and
public face for the band: "It's totally collaborative. As far as being
frontman, there's definitely times where I feel like I'm not charismatic
enough or I haven't really said enough funny things to the crowd --
their expectations are that you'll be more like Ozzy Osbourne or David
Bowie. But there's no point in trying to live up to those -- you'll just
end up looking like a fuckin' idiot."
The show Monday was the largest for the Foos thus far on their
tour and despite the fact that both band and crowd seemed to oscillate
between bouts of extreme manic energy and a curiously tentative
Grohl seemed pleased. Interviewed after the show, drummer Taylor
chalked the weird energy up to the fact that the event was being taped
national network Triple J for broadcast later in the week.
Whatever the reason, Grohl was on high energy that night, playing his
of the anti-frontman to a T. Opening with Grohl and Hawkins drumming
to the theme from "Shaft," Grohl leapt off the kit and strapped on a
for the set-opener "Monkey Wrench," which pummeled along at breakneck
speed. This was followed in swift order by a majestic "Hey, Johnny Park"
and a ferocious rendition of "Alone + Easy Target" from the band's 1995
New kid on the block Franz Stahl has none of the imperious stagemanship
predecessor Smear, but he has the chops, and his steady-as-she-goes
demeanor contrasts well with Grohl's puppy-off-the-leash enthusiasm.
this kind of chemistry that keeps the Foos going, Grohl said. "When
band begins, you're making a great noise, having a blast, and it's a
commitment -- if any one leaves, then the band breaks up. Every fucking
band says that," Grohl said. "I just felt with both William and Pat
that there was too much potential, too many good songs and too many
shows to let it all turn to shit. So, new drummer, new guitarist -- here
Perhaps some of the uneasiness of the night was down to Grohl's seeming
disregard for pacing or build up through the set. During the short pause
that marks the boundary between the quieter first verse of "Up In Arms"
the power pop of its remainder, Grohl stood calmly in the spotlight
wrapping his chewing gum around his tongue and staring out at the
He introduced one of his finest moments, "Big Me," in a heavily
tone as "This is me being really sensitive and introspective."
The crowd saved its most frenzied moshing for "Weenie Beenie" and the
encore appearance of
HREF="http://www.addict.com/music/Foo_Fighters/This_Is_A_Call.ram">"This Is a Call"
a Call"(RealAudio excerpt), during which Grohl announced, "I
divide the hall and get you to sing along Freddie Mercury-style, but I
won't." That didn't stop the room from bellowing out the entire song
anyway. Earlier in the set, "My Poor Brain" also ignited the hall when
Grohl screamed, "Sometimes I feel I'm getting stuck between the
and the fuck."
It's an odd line but one that speaks volumes about Grohl and his
toward rock stardom, if not for its content then for its shear
Initially dead-against a confessional style of songwriting, the singer
he came to see it as inevitable for the songs that ended up on the Foos'
last LP, The Colour And The Shape: "You're sort-of torn when you
write something so beautiful or powerful or that you think is special.
once it's on paper, you have to step back and think, 'OK do I want to
this up to anyone else, do I want anyone to know this stuff?'
"There were things I felt needed to make their way into the songs,"
said. "I know that sounds hokey and pretentious, but it's true. If you
something like music as one of your only vehicles to express things you
couldn't otherwise, then that's what happens."
Color="#720418">[Mon., Feb. 16, 1998, 9 a.m. PST]
Color="#720418">[Mon., Feb. 16, 1998, 9 a.m. PST]