Foo Fighters frontman, and former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl isn’t known for his quiet demeanour or keeping his opinion to himself. We guess that comes from being an international rock god playing stadiums around the world. But unlike other stadium band frontmen (see: Bono) Grohl has managed to keep himself and his band surprisingly grounded despite their runaway success.
The group have just come off at tour of New Zealand and Australia where they were regularly playing to audiences in excess of 50,000 and their record reached number 1 in 12 countries including Australia where it went platinum. But not every rock n roll band has been as successful and the general disregard the genre is shown the US has many asking ‘Is rock dead?’.
In a candid interview with Billboard, Grohl explains it’s a question he gets asked regularly and puts forward his views on the future of the genre and state of the music industry in general. “There’s always gonna be rock’n’roll bands, there’s always gonna be kids that love rock’n’roll records, and there will always be rock’n’roll,” he says in the interview.
“I travel all over the world and play music, and it’s easy to think rock’n’roll has gone away when you’re in a country like America. We just got back from a trip Down Under, we did a tour of Australia and New Zealand where we were pulling 40,000-50,000 people a night, selling out stadiums.”
“To me, that means rock’n’roll is alive and well,” he continues. “The thing that will never go away is that connection you make with a band or a song where you’re moved by the fact that it’s real people making music. You make that human connection with a song like “Let It Be” or “Long and Winding Road” or a song like “Bohemian Rhapsody” or “Roxanne,” any of those songs. They sound like people making music.”
“For years, usually about once a year, you have a rock band that comes out and says, “We’re gonna save rock’n’roll,” and then you’ll read an article asking, “Is Rock Dead?” It’s never gone away in my world. Ask the guys in AC/DC whether they think rock’n’roll is dead.”
“Because you have things like “American Idol” and you’ve got radio stations that play music made entirely by computers, it’s easy to forget there are bands with actual people playing actual instruments that rock.”
Outside of Foo Fighters another rock n roll band making waves are Detroit-based garage band The Black Keys who just released their seventh studio album, El Camino, to critical acclaim and impressive record sales. Grohl muses that a time not to dissimilar to when Nirvana broke is bubbling just below the surface and the current music climate can’t continue forever.
“Right now, the current musical climate is not unlike it was back in 1991, right before Nirvana got popular. The late ’80s was full of over-produced pop that kids had nothing to grab hold of — they had no way of connecting to this hair metal band singing about fucking strippers in a limousine on Sunset Boulevard. Who can relate to that?”
“Then you had a bunch of formulaic pop songstress bullshit, and music was boring. And then a bunch of bands with dirty kids got on MTV and rock’n’roll became huge again. And I feel like that’s about to happen. Something’s got to give.”
“Someone asked me recently, “What do you think the problem with the music industry is?” I said, take the Adele record, for example. It’s an amazing record and everybody’s so shocked that it’s such a phenomenon. I’m not. You know why that record’s huge? Because it’s fucking good and it’s real. When you have an artist singing about something real and she’s incredibly talented, it deserves all the rewards it gets, it’s a great record.”
“Now imagine if all records were that good. Do you think only one of them would sell? Fuck no! All of them would. If all records were that good the music business would be on fire, but they’re not. A lot of people are promoting records that are just throw-it-against-the-wall-see-if-it-sticks meaningless bullshit. Everybody has the responsibility to do the right thing and promote artists that mean something.”