Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl is in Austin, Texas for South by South West (SXSW) this week, and on Thursday he gave his highly anticipated keynote speech following on from legendary speakers from previous years such as Smokey Robinson, Bob Geldorf and most recently last year’s, Bruce Springsteen.
Grohl’s 50 minute speech covered his youth and early experiences with music, his time in Nirvana, reality music television, and even his love for South Korean pop.
Speaking about the hotly anticipated lead-up to his keynote address, Grohl spoke of his conversation with Springsteen about the talk. “I congratulated him on last year’s amazing keynote, quoting him on his insight and humour, and told him this year’s keynote speaker was me,” says Grohl. “He started at me for a moment, then slowly cracked that famous smile that we all know and love, a smile that can light up an entire stadium.
“And then he started laughing at me. As if to say, ‘Good fucking luck, buddy.’ But truth be told, that’s not the first time anybody’s said that to me,” added Grohl.
The continuing thread of his speech however was the idea of “the voice,” as he spoke of his discovery of music at an early age and the powerful influence it had on him.
“I had finally found my voice,” he says, “and that was all I needed to survive from then on… I had my new voice because no matter how bad it sounded, it was mine,” said Grohl to the Austin audience. The singer also spoke of how he dedicated “every waking hour to playing music” in his youth.
It’s been this artistic idea that’s steered him since, says the wisened Foo:
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“There is no right or wrong – there is only your voice. Your voice screaming through an old Neve 8028 recording console, your voice singing through a laptop, your voice echoing from a street corner. It doesn’t matter. What matters most is that it’s your voice. Cherish it. Respect it. Nurture it. Challenge it. Respect it. Stretch it and scream until it’s fucking gone… Who knows how long it will last. It’s there if you want it.”
Speaking of joining Nirvana in the 1990s (“They had songs. They had Kurt.”), spoke of the loss of his ‘voice’ as he dealt with the fallout of Kurt Cobain’s suicide: “When Kurt died, I was lost. I was numb. The music that I had devoted my life to had now betrayed me. I had no voice. I put away my drums. I turned off the radio. I couldn’t bear to hear someone else singing about their own pain or happiness.”
As for what his fallen bandmate would have though of today’s landscape, Grohl made his feelings on reality television’s talent contests very clear; sarcastically saying: “Maybe we should ask a celebrity panel to decide for us? What would J-Lo do? Come in Pitchfork, we need you to determine the value of a song. Who fucking cares. Who should we ask to determine the value of a voice? Maybe The Voice? Can you imagine Bob Dylan singing ‘Blowing in the Wind’ in front of fucking Christina Aguilera?”“When Kurt died, I was lost. I was numb. The music that I had devoted my life to had now betrayed me. I had no voice.” – Dave Grohl
That’s not to say Grohl isn’t a fan of any modern pop music today. In fact the singer credited PSY’s online hit ‘Gangnam Style’ as “one of my favourite songs of the past decade.” His humorous speech also saw him poke fun at his own band name; “you laugh, but coming up with a good band name is the hardest part. Foo Fighters is a stupid fucking name”
Speaking of the Foo Fighters, Grohl’s primary music concern have also begun work on the follow-up to 2011’s Wasting Light, and speaking to Billboard, Grohl reveals he has “a crazy idea of what I want to do with the next record and how we record it. It’s not conventional. It won’t be a conventional record.”
It follows on from previous comments about the album, with Grohl remarking: “We know exactly what’s coming next. We have really awesome, big plans for the next album… I have the music for the next record and we’re going to start working on it once we finish doing all this stuff.”
It’s amazing he’s found time to do anything Foos-related considering his commitments to promoting his documentary Sound City: Real to Reel, which focuses on LA’s Sound City studio and the bands and artists who have recorded there over the years.
The film, which is his directorial debut, is also being shown this week at SXSW, and as previously reported, Grohl has said he will be bringing the Sound City Players on a world tour that could include Australia, with a one-off visit to Sydney.“Who should we ask to determine the value of a voice? Maybe The Voice? Can you imagine Bob Dylan singing ‘Blowing in the Wind’ in front of fucking Christina Aguilera?” – Dave Grohl
The supergroup is the collection of artists who featured on the documentary’s soundtrack. The amazing lineup features Stevie Nicks (Fleetwood Mack), John Fogerty (Creedence Clearwater Revival), Rick ‘Jessie’s Girl’ Springfield, Rick Nielsen (Cheap Trick), Brad Wilk (Rage Against The Machine), Alain Johannes (Queens of the Stone Age), Chris Goss (producer), Lee Ving (Fear), Jessy Greene (Geraldine Fibbers), and the Wallflowers’ Rami Jafee – just to name a few.
The supergroup played their debut performance at the Sundance Film Festival where they played a two hour live show filled with covers and originals. It’s this type of show that Aussie music fans can expect when the one off show is brought to Sydney, which will be a homecoming for ‘Jessie’s Girl’ hitmaker and Sound City member Rick Springfield.
We’re learning all of [Rick Springfield’s] songs because we’re doing gigs where we’re going out with all the people from the Sound City movie and doing shows,” Grohl previously stated. Adding that; “we’re doing a bunch of his songs, five or six of his songs – you know what it sounds like? It sounds like the fucking Foo Fighters with Rick Springfield singing.”
Grohl also revealed that the Sound City Players have rehearsed around 50 songs for their upcoming global tour. “You should go out there and look at the chart of songs we have to fucking learn. It’s insane.”
You can view footage of the Sound City Players whipping through covers of Rick Springfield’s ‘Jessie’s Girl’, Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Dreams’, Creedence Clearwater Revival’s ‘Fortunate Son’, and Queens of the Stone Age’s ‘Hangin’ Tree’ from their debut show at Park City Live below; while you drool over the potential concert of the decade.