Six Pack: Dave Grohl on Kurt, Radiohead and barbecues

This is Six Pack, our mini compendium of the informative or the quirkier aspects of rock music. This week, we poke around the hairy head of Dave Grohl.

**ON… SONGWRITING **“I like simple songs. I went to see Radiohead in Los Angeles once. I had told my sister that she should come because they’re an amazing and beautiful live band. We got there and they went off on this fucking drum-machine, Krautrock, self-indulgent, feedback mess. I was really bummed. I wanted to sing along and I couldn’t. Really, I want to move people – whether that’s with a song that makes people bounce up and down or makes them just listen. I don’t want to exclude anyone. I think it’s important that people know they’re going to have a pretty fucking good time when they come and see us. That’s one of the reasons why I’m in it.”

**ON… BEING IN THE SPOTLIGHT **“I remember feeling uncomfortable in front of large audiences for the first few years. There was one festival in particular when we were opening for David Bowie in France in 1996. I was stood on a huge stage, in front of thousands of people and I felt completely out of place. I lost faith in our music’s ability to translate to a huge field full of punters. I just didn’t know if it was right. I suppose it was because I thought I had to be a certain type of frontman. I didn’t know what to do upfront. I was a drummer and, all of a sudden, I was put in the front. It was frightening. There was only one way to get over it and that was just to say – fuck it. From then on, I didn’t worry about it and I haven’t since.”

Dave at work and play Photos: Michael Loccisano/FilmMagic, Raphael Dias/Getty

ON… COPING WITH KURT COBAIN’S DEATH “I didn’t want to say anything on that first album. I was deliberately trying to say nothing, in order to keep from saying something. I was afraid that people would read things into what I was trying to say. Now, though, saying something is the most important thing to me. I guess I finally realised how important it is. I want to write things that make both me and the listener connect. The songs that people connect to are the ones that people sing the loudest. That’s important to me. I want to have a connection with the crowd in front of us. Hearing them sing Times Like These or Best Of You like a fucking choir is the greatest thing in the world. Something like that makes somewhere like Wembley Stadium shrink down to a room the size of [London venue] Dingwalls.”

**ON… SUCCESS **“I was grilling up food on a barbecue before we went onstage at Hyde Park a few years ago. I remember thinking, ‘OK, there are 85,000 people here. Motörhead is playing as our support band and we’re responsible for all of this.’ We set up everything that day – we looked after all the staging, everything. We had 1,100 employees that day. It was all because of this demo tape I did for fun 13 years ago. I had a moment there where I thought, ‘How the fuck did this happen?’ But it’s fleeting, it goes away. I’ve only ever had one monitor guy and one manager in my life. That means this has turned into a family and that makes things easy and simple. I’m the president of Roswell Records. Do I look like the fucking president of a record company? No. It’s a scam.”

**Nirvana at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards and right, Grohl plays to a few friends at London’s Hyde Park in 2006 **Photos: Kevin Mazur/WireImage, Louise Wilson/Getty

ON… KEEPING THINGS SIMPLE “We’re only human beings. We’ve all got our problems. The reason we work well as a band though, is that we all keep it simple. We try to run this organisation as though we’re a garage band. I hate the feeling of being swamped by minders and security. I hate being hustled from room to room like a diva. That upsets me, I hate it. It’s nice to just show up early, stay late, hang out and play music. We played a show once for a bio-engineering company. We met the man who invented synthetic insulin. He basically saved millions of people’s lives by reinventing that drug. He’s the kind of dude who deserves a medal – not some drunk onstage with eyeliner who sells 10 million records. So what? What we do isn’t changing the world.”

**ON… HIS BEST FRIEND **“Who’s the last person I’d want to be stuck in a lift with? I love him to death but it would have to be Taylor Hawkins. He’s my best friend in the world but the two of us drive each other fucking insane. Putting us in an elevator would be like two atoms colliding.”

**Dave with Yo Gabba Gabba’s Plex the Yellow Robot and right, with Taylor Hawkins at Rush’s induction into the 2013 Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame **Photos: Charley Gallay/WireImage, Kevin Kane/WireImage

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Tom Bryant

Tom Bryant is The Guardian's deputy digital editor. The author of The True Lives Of My Chemical Romance: The Definitive Biography, he has written for Kerrang!, Q, MOJO, The Guardian, the Daily Mail, The Mirror, the BBC, Huck magazine, the londonpaper and Debrett's - during the course of which he has been attacked by the Red Hot Chili Peppers' bass player and accused of starting a riot with The Prodigy. Though not when writing for Debrett's.