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Dave Grohl reveals his favourite American songwriter

Foo Fighters
(Image credit: Andreas Neumann)

Foo Fighters leader Dave Grohl confesses that he owes a debt of gratitude to Bob Mould for the influence the former Hüsker Dü man has had on his own songwriting. 

“Bob Mould should be placed in the highest ranks of America’s greatest songwriters and lyricists,” Grohl tells Classic Rock’s Dave Everley. “You can argue that he’s just as influential in his own right as Tom Petty – he's a classic American songwriter, only writing from a different place to most.”

“When I discovered punk rock in the early ’80s, there were bands that stood out because of their heaviness or speed or dissonance,” Grohl continues. But Hüsker Dü, which was Bob Mould’s original band, had this sense of classic melody - it was almost like a punk rock band playing Byrds songs, which they actually did when they covered Eight Miles High. But there was an entire sense of emotion, with beautiful melody, which could sometimes be countered with this anger and distortion that was really unusual at the time.”

“They were the first punk rock band that I listened to that had a double album - the Zen Arcade record, which went from breakneck thrash buzzsaw guitars to acoustic ballads,” says Grohl, referencing the trio’s 1984 masterpiece on SST. “And having been raised on The Beatles and loving the White Album and the two greatest hits  records, ’The Early Years‘ and ‘The Later Years’, there was something about that dynamic that I loved.  I don't need (beats out jackhammer rhythm) DA-NA-NA-NA-NA-NA all the time. Especially if there’s a lyric and  a melody that I can hum. I can hum a Minor Threat song but I can sing a Hüsker Dü song.”

Grohl and Mould collaborated on Dear Rosemary, on the Foo Fighters’ 2011 album Wasting Light, and the Foo’s mainman admits that Mould continues to be a source of inspiration. 

“If you  go back and listen, you'll hear his influence in the stuff I've done,” he acknowledges. “So much that I reference Hüsker Dü in a lot of lyrics - there's even one reference on the new record [Medicine At Midnight]. I like to drop little lines here and there.”

“I'd seen him play in in 1984 or ’85, but I was just a stage-diving, slam-dancing kid singing along to the songs. I finally got to meet him maybe 10 years ago. I said, ‘I just have to thank you, because I've really taken a lot from your music.’ And he said, ‘I know’.”

Foo Fighters new album, Medicine At Midnight, is out now.