Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl is making the rounds both with and without his bandmates this week for a media tour to support their new album, Sonic Highways, and it all basically started and ended with a wonderful hour of storytelling on The Howard Stern Show yesterday morning. No offense to Jon Stewart and The Daily Show, as last night’s interview with Grohl was charming and fun as expected, but Stern was able to probe Grohl and Co. about everything from the meanings of their greatest hits to that time that Prince played “Best of You.” (Have you heard Grohl’s Prince story? It’s pretty awesome, even the 100th time.)
If you have the hour and 12 minutes to spare, you can listen to the whole interview right now (via Consequence of Sound), but if you’re busy this morning, I’ve broken down the best, the best, the best moments, stories and tidbits of the interview in recap form below.
- Stern asked Grohl if it was true that he wanted to re-record the original, self-titled Foo Fighters album, and he said that he did. Grohl’s reason was that because he played all of the instruments on the tracks, he thought it might be better to have the guys in his new band record them instead. However, Taylor Hawkins stopped him, as he explained to Stern that he thought the album was so special that he told Grohl back then, “Don’t piss on my Picasso.”
- Grohl said he is not a music snob, and he likes a lot of pop music and even Psy’s “Gangnam Style.” “I don’t necessarily believe in guilty pleasures,” he explained. “If you like something, like it.”
- After Grohl’s daughter, Julia, was born, Paul McCartney came to visit, but Grohl didn’t realize until then how much Beatles stuff he had laying around. “I felt like a stalker,” he said. “It was a little weird. I was sort of making excuses and apologizing.” But he said that McCartney loved it, and then Grohl did an impression of McCartney that was really, really bad.
- Howard played songs for them and asked what the lyrics mean, which is always an interesting exercise. Grohl revealed (as he has before in some cases) that “This is a Call” has very little actual meaning, other than it was about him getting his act together. Meanwhile, “Monkey Wrench” was about Grohl “fucking everyone’s life up” and it was written right before his first marriage ended. Despite Stern assuming that it was about the darkest period in Grohl’s life, “Everlong” is a love song, but at the time he wrote it, Grohl was homeless, all of his assets were frozen after his divorce and his friend’s dog peed on him. “My Hero” is not about Kurt Cobain, as people have long insisted, and the chorus was supposed to be temporary, but people loved it so it stayed. “Times Like These” might be Grohl’s favorite song that he ever wrote, and it’s about the band starting over after they almost stopped playing in 2000. When it comes to picking a “favorite song,” though, Grohl says that’s like picking a favorite child, although he didn’t really resist when Stern asked if it was true that he hated “Learn to Fly.” For the record, Grohl said he loved the music video.
- As for Prince, the Purple One’s version of “Best of You” is way better than Foo’s, according to the band. Grohl re-told the Prince story that we all love, but it was a much more abridged version. Stern asked if it is rude that Prince invites them to stuff and then leaves them hanging, because Grohl said that he never heard from Prince again after that magical jam session. “He could beat me up as much as he wants,” he replied, insisting that he’s the greatest pop star in the world.
- As for the Sonic Highways series on HBO, David Letterman had a lot to do with it being made. Grohl said that he took the idea to Worldwide Pants CEO and former Late Show executive producer Rob Burnett, who in turn took it to Letterman, and the retiring talk show host basically boomed from the heavens: “MAKE IT HAPPEN.” Probably not as dramatic, though. Grohl said that Letterman and the band have a very strong relationship, as evidenced by the week-long residency last month. After his heart surgery years ago, Letterman personally requested Foo Fighters to play “Everlong” for his first show back.
- Because he seems to have a story about every music superstar alive – from Prince to Sir Paul McCartney – Grohl revealed that he has a unique relationship with David Bowie. Grohl had an opportunity to do a song for a movie a while back and he didn’t want to do it solo, so he asked Bowie’s producer if he’d be interested in teaming up. It never worked out, but now Grohl and Bowie are “email buddies.” “He’s hilarious,” Grohl said. “He’s wickedly funny.”
- Sonic Highways wasn’t simply a chance for Foo Fighters to indulge in their wildest wet music dreams on HBO’s penny. The band used American Express points to pay for most of the travel and accommodations while producing Sonic Highways, which sounds like it probably hit their wallets hard. However, Grohl said they didn’t lose money on it because they make so much money from touring and they’re selling out stadiums all over the world “because of the show.”
- On the upcoming finale of Sonic Highways, the band travels to New York to explore not only the city’s and state’s rich music history, but also discuss how the whole idea of the concept album relates to America’s history. Naturally, Grohl interviewed President Obama, because what better way for the world’s biggest rock band to close out a show than by interviewing the most powerful man in the world? Of the interview, Stern presumed, “It was a shitty interview because he’d had a tough day that day,” referring to sending troops back to Iraq and other such tough decisions of the Commander-in-Chief. However, Grohl saw it differently: “No, it was a great interview because he’d had a tough day.” That episode airs Friday at 11 PM ET.
- As for the whole reconciliation with Courtney Love that shocked everyone, Grohl said that he’s just not the type of guy who can live with grudges. “Don’t talk shit about my friend Courtney Love,” he joked to Stern. So how did he just suddenly squash some beef with someone that he’d been publically feuding with for so many years? “You have to have faith in the human condition.”
- The hug at the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony probably helped, but it was the $10,000 evening with strippers and tequila that repaired this bridge, right? “What you read wasn’t true,” Grohl explained. “I don’t want to burst anyone’s bubble – I was hanging across the street at this party, and Courtney said, ‘We have to go to Scores.’ I can’t go to Scores, it would be bad. She bet me that more strippers would hang with her than me.”
Stern: “So that didn’t happen?”
Grohl: “No. Unfortunately that didn’t happen.”
- If everything’s fine between them, would Foo Fighters tour with Love? Grohl immediately changed the subject to Love touring with Lana Del Rey, as if that was some shocking revelation. It was hilarious how well he avoided the question and changed the topic of conversation.
- Grohl wasn’t the only one with great stories. Well-traveled and former Wallflowers keyboardist Rami Jaffee joined Foo Fighters as a session member, and with a little prodding from both Stern and Grohl, he revealed that there is no love lost between Jaffee and Jakob Dylan. It wasn’t scathing by any means – even though Grohl hilariously added color commentary to make it sound like a death feud – but Jaffee said that it boiled down to the fact that Dylan doesn’t like touring, and that to him a full year of touring is “six shows.” This story probably isn’t interesting to too many people, but as a person who is fascinated by the crappy music of the 90s, I wanted to hear so much more. (“One Headlight” is still an all-time favorite bar jam, though. Even if Geico tried to ruin it.)