Posted Monday, 10 October 2011 / Written by Paul Brannigan / Leave a comment
Former Kerrang! editor Paul Brannigan gives us an exclusive insight into the ex-Nirvana drummer / current Foo Fighters frontman.
Have you ever been slapped in the face by Dave Grohl? I have. It hurts. Really hurts. But the story does make for an attention-grabbing introduction to a book. Because no-one really expects such behaviour from ‘The Nicest Man in Rock', do they? Then again, maybe no-one knows Dave Grohl quite as well as they think they do…
I've been fortunate to meet the Foo Fighters' frontman on several occasions. In a former life I was the Editor of Kerrang! magazine (motto: Life Is Loud), a position which carries with it certain perks and privileges, access to the biggest rock stars in the world being just one of these. As such I would bump into Dave fairly regularly - at the annual Kerrang! Awards ceremony, in hotel bars, at video shoots and in the backstage areas of some of the world's most storied live music venues. We've done shots together in central London rock bars, dined together in the First Class carriage of a cross-Channel train, swapped milkshakes in a Hollywood diner. Last year I visited his home in Los Angeles while Foo Fighters were making their fabulous new album 'Wasting Light', and, as ever, the man of the house greeted me with a warm hug and a cold beer. But that's Dave: he's a nice guy. I've been interviewing him for almost 15 years and some things never change.
"I would consider the two of us to be friends," he once told me. "This is the basis of our relationship, this working thing, but let's go have a beer, you know what I mean? But it would take a long time for you to really know me."
In the eighteen months I spent writing ‘This Is A Call’, my new biography of the Foo Fighters' frontman, I thought about that sentence a lot. Dave is one of the most famous rock stars in the world, having first entered the spotlight as Nirvana‘s drummer some 20 years ago, and yet very people really get to see beyond the 'Nicest Guy In Rock' cliche... and that's exactly how Dave likes it.
"I don’t consider myself a loner," he once told me, "but it’s just not important to me to be everyone’s best friend."
Over the past 18 months though I've been speaking to people who are Dave's best friends - his childhood pals and most trusted musical collaborators - and it's been fascinating to see a portrait of the 'real' Dave Grohl come together. Because there's much more to David Eric Grohl than meets the eye.
Towards the end of last year, following a gig by his pre-Nirvana punk band Scream, I bumped into Dave in the toilets of a downtown Los Angeles bar.
"This isn't the time or place to discuss this," he laughed, "but how's the book going?" I asked if I could interview his mum. His reply was unprintable. And then we went back to the bar and got another beer.
I hope I've done Dave's story justice in ‘This Is A Call’. Because it is a truly remarkable, inspirational tale. How many punk rockers are on first name terms with the President of the USA? What other musician has shared a stage with Paul McCartney, Jimmy Page, Lemmy, Cee-Lo Green, Tom Petty and Kurt Cobain? The answer, obviously, is no-one else.
Dave is a singular talent and a true icon of modern music. None of which explains why he felt the need to slap my face on a cold night in a packed Soho bar admittedly, but I guess you could always read the book if you want to know that story...
Paul’s new book ‘This Is A Call: The Life And Times Of Dave Grohl’ is out now. Click here to purchase it from Amazon.