As fans began lining up by three in the afternoon to see the Foo Fighters play a private St. Patrick’s Day show at the iHeartRadio Theater in Burbank, Calif., to celebrate the April 7 release of the the Sonic Highways DVD, anything was possible. At Dave Grohl‘s recent birthday show at the Forum the band was joined by a who’s who of rock stars. So, who knew what could happen on this night?
A couple of hours before their set, as all five band members talked exclusively with Billboard, guitarist Chris Shiflett joked, “We’re doing an all-Pogues set,” to which Grohl promptly said, “Thin Lizzy.” And as the quintet — including guitarist Pat Smear, bassist Nate Mendel and drummer Taylor Hawkins — discussed Irish rock, the talk turned to U2 and Grohl gave an impromptu serenade of a snippet of “11 O’Clock Tick Tock” and danced to “Party Girl.”
Grohl also revealed that the upcoming release of the Sonic Highways DVD, which will include — among other special features — a fuller conversation with Dolly Parton about Nashville and the Grand Ole Opry. “There’s additional interview footage, like the bulk of the conversation with Dolly Parton and President Obama and maybe Willie [Nelson],” Grohl said. “That stuff is fun to watch, especially someone like Dolly, she’s a great storyteller, engaging and fun and cool.”
So, is another season of Sonic Highways — perhaps an international version — a possibility?
“There might be a season two,” Grohl said. “There are a lot of studios.” What might be included in this next run? Grohl suggested drummer Taylor Hawkins is the person to answer that. “Taylor is one to ask about the U.K. studios, he’s been to them all, even if they’re kabob shops now. He’ll show up and be like, ‘You guys know that they fucking recorded Queen‘s The Game in here, right?'”
“They’re hallowed ground, I think they’re churches, man,” Hawkins said.
Grohl’s exaggerated humor was not far off as Hawkins recalled trekking to the famed Musicland Studios in Munich, Germany. “There used to be one in Munich where Queen recorded a bunch and ELO recorded a bunch, Stones, Zeppelin, it was called Musicland Studios,” Hawkins recalled.
“What is it now?” Grohl asked him. “It’s connected to a hotel and now it’s a storage room. I went there and I made the lady walk me down to where it was,” Hawkins replied. “It’s just a broom closet,” Grohl joked. “I’m like, ‘Yeah, but ‘Another One Bites The Dust’ was recorded right here.’ She’s like, ‘Huh?'” Hawkins said, bringing laughs from the whole group.
And the band already has a number of ideas in place for Sonic Highways to go international. “If we went to somewhere like Abbey Road it’d be fun to interview someone like Paul McCartney or George Martin, that’d be kind of cool,” Grohl said. “Or go to say, Berlin, and interview someone like David Bowie or Iggy [Pop].”
“Perhaps we could go to Melbourne wherever they made all those AC/DC records and interview George Young,” Shiflett suggested. “Or you could go to Manchester and interview the Happy Mondays, guys,” Grohl added.
Before the band can get to a season two of Sonic Highways, there is a matter of the upcoming tour and Grohl’s duties as Record Store Day Ambassador. He has plans in store for that, but he wouldn’t budge on specifics.
“We’re gonna have a lot of fun on Record Store Day, I know what we’re doing on Record Store Day and it’s gonna be a lot of fun,” said Grohl.
Fun was the theme of the night at the iHeartRadio Theater gig, hosted by Chelsea Handler. “It’s intimate, it’s fun and it’s cool, that’s really fucking cool,” Handler said of the chance to the Foos play to 250 or so people. As the whole band and Handler sat on the steps of the drum riser Grohl joked, “I feel like I am on Soul Train.”
Handler and the band have an obvious friendship and that came across in the easy banter of the brief Q&A, like when the subject of Vegas came up and Grohl quipped, “Don’t joke about that Vegas residency ’cause you never know when Foo Fighters might do one, and soon.”
And they’re open to checking out one famous pop diva’s Vegas show. “We have talked about seeing that Britney thing,” he said, referring Britney Spears‘ residency.
The short Q&A ended with Grohl recalling a great story about seeing jazz combos with his mom as a kid in Washington, D.C., being brought on stage as 15-year-old to play with all these “80-year-old guys” and their response to this kid coming out.
Then as Handler left the stage to allow the band to perform for the lucky audience members Grohl promised, “We’ll do all jazz.”
There was no jazz, Irish rock or special guests on this night though. This was just the band blistering through an hour of their greatest hits with a tight, forceful and intense mastery. Among the many highlights were “Times Like These,” “In The Clear,” which Grohl explained was written for the New Orleans Preservation Jazz Bandl, and the sing-alongs of “Best Of You” and “My Hero,” “Everybody’s best sing-along,” according to Grohl.
After “Walk” Grohl explained what he was thinking about as he thrashed around on stage. “Damn, my hair smells good,” he said, telling the audience how that morning he had stolen his daughter’s shampoo, “Because she always smells so good.”