As one of the most irrepressible men in rock music, it’s no surprise to learn that Dave Grohl is definitely steering the good ship Foo Fighters – I mean, he’s even started directing their video clips now, too.
But while a new interview the band gave to Rolling Stone reveals that they find Dave to be a bit of a dictator (albeit a benevolent one), they know it’s ultimately what’s best for the
people band, and actually reckon it’s one of the keys to Foo Fighters’ longevity.
“This band works because it’s not a democracy,” guitarist Chris Shiflett says. “People can read into that what they want – but it’s a big reason why the band hasn’t broken up.”
“It’s a benign dictatorship,” adds drummer Taylor Hawkins. “I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut until Dave’s really looking for input.”
I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut until Dave’s really looking for input
While Dave may hold the reins when it comes to the band’s direction, however, he’s certainly not trying to hoard all of the acclaim and wealth – if he’s a dictator, he’s a benevolent one.
“I think Dave learned that this is the way to keep a band happy and feeling like a band,” says guitarist Pat Smear. “He’s naturally a generous person – but he also gets that there’s an upside.”
“He was a fucking drummer, man!” adds Hawkins. “I think because he was in that back seat, he knows how we’d feel if we were treated badly.”
Dave Grohl is even directing the Foo Fighters’ video clips these days
For his part, Dave agrees that he’s definitely the one making the final decisions, but manages to do so without making the rest of the band feel like hired hands.
“I mean, I know at the end of the day it’s my name at the bottom of the check,” he says, “but we all hold different responsibilities that keep the thing fucking going.”
I think because he was in that back seat, he knows how we’d feel if we were treated badly
Hawkins does admit that it hasn’t always been a utopia within the band, especially back in their early days, but says that it’s been “smooth sailing” more recently, with a “sibling-like” vibe overall.
“I’m not saying that I can’t piss Dave off, or Dave can’t bum me out – Dave can hurt my feelings more than anyone else in the world. But there’s not an evil, out-to-get-you vibe.”
It’s a testimonial that both matches and contradicts the scathing criticism Dave Grohl has received at the hands of former drummer William Goldsmith, who was part of the band from 1995-1997 before leaving after Grohl apparently re-recorded his drum parts on The Colour and the Shape. In a recent interview, Goldsmith described Grohl as a “bully” – “a bit like the kid who is popular but is mean and everyone likes them.”
“[I felt creatively] raped,” he revealed. “It was a way of describing how it felt – when you put that much of yourself into something, and then without you even knowing, it is completely destroyed from existence.
“Staying in that band would have made me feel like my soul was destroyed and I would have likely ended up dead,” he added. “That feeling might change if we actually sat down and talked, but that hasn’t happened yet.”
Like most bands, it seems like everyone has mellowed a bit as the years go by, and the happy-go-lucky frontman everyone knows and loves will be touring Australia with his loyal crew (and Weezer) next year in support of their soon-to-be-released new album Concrete & Gold.