Dave Grohl Fighting For Rock At The Grammys

When Dave Grohl started in the music business, Lady Gaga and Bruno Mars were tots; Rihanna and Adele weren’t even born.

That makes Grohl and his Foo Fighters kind of the senior set as they face off against the new kids at the Grammys on Sunday for album of the year. It’s one of the six nominations for the Foos, who tied Adele and Mars for the second-most nominations (behind Kanye West) and will be performers at the show, to air from the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

“It feels great to be the guy with gray hair in his beard who is still invited to these things,” said the 43-year-old frontman. “Twenty years ago, I never thought I’d even have a career in music this long.”

Grohl considers the last year to be his best. The band had a top-selling tour and sold more than 663,000 copies of their album, Wasting Light, which faces off against Adele’s 21, Lady Gaga’s Born This Way, Bruno Mars’ Grenade and Rihanna’s Loud for album of the year.

Oh, and he had a brief cameo in “The Muppets” as a drummer for a Muppet cover band.

This year is starting off just as good. On a recent afternoon inside 606 Studio, the band’s garagelike headquarters in Northridge, Calif., Grohl discussed his Grammy competition, previewed what viewers can expect from the band’s Grammy performance and mused about being the rock band with the most nominations at this year’s ceremony, which is set to air live Sunday on CBS.

AP: The Foo Fighters have won six Grammys, and you’re up for six more this year. What does it feel like to win one?

Grohl: When we won for best rock album for our third record, which we made in my basement, I was so proud – because we made it in my basement in a crappy makeshift studio that we put together ourselves. I stood there looking out at everybody in tuxedos and diamonds and fur coats, and I thought we were probably the only band that won a Grammy for an album made for free in a basement that year. I feel the exact same way about it this year for an album that was made in my garage.

AP: You were raving about Adele the last time I interviewed you, and now you’re up against her for album of the year.

Grohl: I’m glad that we’re with Adele in the same category. It means we’ve done something right. I think she gives us all hope. She’s made an incredible record, and she’s an incredibly talented artist, so maybe it is true that the cream actually rises to the top. There’s a reason why that record is so (expletive) huge. It’s good. It’s inspiring when something legitimate gets recognized for what it is. It’s such a cliche, but it’s a huge achievement to be nominated.

AP: Tease me about what you’ve got planned for your Grammy performance. Will you be collaborating with anyone?

Grohl: Maybe. Ken Ehrlich, who produces the show, is no dummy. He’s been doing it for 30 years. He’s a very musical person, and he understands collaboration. He understands there has to be some common connection between the artists collaborating, but it has to be somewhat adventurous and unexpected. To be honest, how many (expletive) rock bands are on the show this year? Yeah, so they’re not gonna put us with another rock band. Right now, there just aren’t that many.

AP: How do you feel about the lack of rock in some of the bigger categories at the Grammys?

Grohl: I feel the same way about it as how I felt at this massive car show in Pomona last weekend that I entered my 1965 Ford Falcon van into. I’ve never entered a car show before, and I don’t really know a lot about it, but we put the van into the competition. My friend Troy, who built the thing, said to me, “I think we’re gonna win.” I asked him, “Why’s that?” He said, “Because there are no other vans here.” I ended up winning first in class. It’s kind of the same feeling.

AP: Tell me more about that feeling. It’s kind of like you’re the rock spokesman at the Grammys.

Grohl: I feel a little bit of responsibility and a lot of pride. I’m (expletive) proud to be in the (expletive) Foo Fighters. … We’re a real (expletive) band. If I were a kid in (expletive) Tulsa, Okla., who loves rock bands and plays with my rock band in the garage, and I turned on the Grammys and saw a rock band with choreographed dancers playing to computers, I’d be bummed until the Foo Fighters came on, and then I’d think, “Oh, good, humans that play instruments.”

Photo: John Davisson
SXSW, Stubb’s Bar-B-Q, Austin, TX

AP: You’re nominated for six Grammys, so you’ll probably win one. Do you have a speech prepared?

Grohl: No. I never plan what I’m going to say when I get up on stage. My father was a speechwriter, and my mother was a public speaking teacher, and one thing that I’ve learned in life is that you never want to read a speech. You just want to go up and give it. That always jinxes it, anyway. The last thing you want to do is walk out of there with a speech in your pocket that you didn’t get to read.