"He just set me on fire": St. Vincent on working with Dave Grohl on her forthcoming new album

St. Vincent and Dave Grohl
(Image credit: Neil Lupin/Redferns/Alex Da Corte)

No-one can drum like Dave Grohl. We know this. You know this. And when it came to making her forthcoming new album All Born Screaming, the Texan alt-rock-pop polymath St. Vincent definitely knew this. There are some very talented other drummers on the record, including Grohl’s own bandmate Josh Freese, David Bowie collaborator Mark Guiliana and Warpaint’s Stella Mozgawa, all elite stickspeople but not Dave Grohl. That is why for two songs on the record, the recent single Broken Man and a Yes-inspired prog ripper titled Flea, St. Vincent, aka Annie Clark, had to rope in the man with whom she became pals after performing with the remaining members of Nirvana for their induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2014.

Grohl coming over to her LA studio to record his parts was one of Clark’s favourite moments making the album, she recently told The New Cue. “The second he kicks in on the first chorus of Flea, it’s just mind-blowing, my whole musical life flashes before my eyes and lightning up my spine, he just set me on fire,” Clark marvelled. “It’s so exciting to hear him play and he’s playing on one of my songs, what?!”

Speaking to this writer for Music Week, Clark went further in explaining why she felt compelled to have Grohl play on the record. “I was like, ‘This doesn’t need somebody playing like Dave Grohl because nobody can play like Dave Grohl except Dave Grohl – this needs Dave Grohl because this needs thunder’. He brings thunder. I called him over to my studio and first of all, it was a fun experience because we’re sitting and chatting and trading stories and he’s smoking Parliaments and then it’s like, ‘Alright, let’s go’ and he played through the songs, which he’d heard maybe three times but knows every twist and turn because he’s a great songwriter.”

All Born Screaming, St. Vincent’s seventh album, is released next month.

Niall Doherty

Niall Doherty is a writer and editor whose work can be found in Classic Rock, The Guardian, Music Week, FourFourTwo, on Apple Music and more. Formerly the Deputy Editor of Q magazine, he co-runs the music Substack letter The New Cue with fellow former Q colleagues Ted Kessler and Chris Catchpole. He is also Reviews Editor at Record Collector. Over the years, he's interviewed some of the world's biggest stars, including Elton John, Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys, Muse, Pearl Jam, Radiohead, Depeche Mode, Robert Plant and more. Radiohead was only for eight minutes but he still counts it.