We’ve said it before, but 2021 truly was the year of the Foo. Between a new Foo Fighters album, their pandemic-delayed 26th anniversary tour that saw the rock giants reopening arenas en route to a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction, and too many side projects to mention, the band made more headlines than Kanye West on his way to the Super Bowl.
Speaking of the Super Bowl, Dave Grohl and the rock ‘n’ roll ambassadors have carried their ubiquitous ways into the new year, playing a virtual reality concert after the big game and plotting a heavy spring/summer tour schedule that includes an Aug. 13 date at T-Mobile Park.
But first comes another first for a band that’s seemingly done it all: On Feb. 25, the Foo Fighters release to theaters a new horror-comedy film, “Studio 666,” starring its six members as themselves. “Studio 666” finds the fictionalized Foos attempting to make a new album in a haunted house before things get … murdery. The trailer looks a bit “Evil Dead” meets lunchbox band movie with campy gore and magnificently cheesy one-liners.
We caught up with Grohl, who now lives in Los Angeles, this month to discuss the out-of-nowhere horror movie, that throne he lent a Seattle bassist who took a bullet confronting an Idaho gunman, and the “melancholy” and “gratitude” he feels whenever the Foos are back in town. (This conversation has been lightly edited for length and clarity.)
Tell me about the idea for the film. Why did you want to do a horror-comedy flick?
We didn’t! It’s not something I ever imagined we’d do. It just all came together in a ridiculous sequence of coincidence. The house in the film, I lived in that house 10 years ago. I rented it for a year while I was remodeling my place right down the street. When it was time to start writing songs for “Medicine at Midnight,” I wanted [to] build a little demo studio somewhere where I could be alone and write all the music. And at that same time, my old landlord said, “Hey, I’m gonna sell the house. Do you wanna buy it?” No I don’t, but if I could move in and just record some music that would be great. He’s like, “OK, yeah go for it.” So I built a little studio in there.
At that same time, a friend of mine calls me and said, there’s these people that want to make a horror film with the Foo Fighters. I’m like, why would we ever, that’s not in the cards. Then I go back to this creepy old house. I’m like, hold on a second. [Expletive], we already have the house. We might as well make the record here, finish making the record, take a couple weeks off, and then film some low-budget, run-and-gun, slasher, longform video. Then it totally snowballed into a full-length feature film.
So no one in the band is a hardcore “Army of Darkness” fan?
Not really. We might be a bit more horror-obsessed than the casual fan, [but] by no means aficionados. Taylor Hawkins has a pretty good catalog of his favorite horror films — mostly ’70s and ’80s. I’m sorta the same way. I like the classics. I like “The Exorcist” and I like “The Shining,” “Amityville Horror” and “Halloween.” [Expletive] like that. And I do like newer movies like “The Witch” and “Midsommar.” But I don’t think anyone’s ever subscribed to Fangoria.
Did you write the story?
No. I mean, I swear to God it’s as simple as this: “Oh, my God, we have this house. What if we make a movie about Foo Fighters moving into a house they don’t realize is haunted, I become possessed by the spirit of the house, murder everyone and go solo.” That was the foundation of everything and that was it. Then we found the screenwriters and handed it to them, and [they] made it into an actual film.
How did this experience compare to the documentary film projects you’ve done?
Totally different. Making a documentary, the intent behind those is to humanize the experience or the process of making music. This was a whole different beast. This was total fantasy and, I imagine, what it’s like to make a [expletive] movie, which is a lot of hurry up and wait. A lot of “go put on your fake teeth and your contacts and we’ll be back here in three hours.” And then you’re sitting in a room trying to read the newspaper with a [expletive] prosthetic demon face. Let’s just say, I’m gonna keep my day job. It’s not something I want to do all the time.
It sounded like part of your interest was inspired by those ’60s and ’70s band movies.
Were you attached to those growing up?
Yeah, I mean, this is the thing: In the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, musicians would not only make albums and go perform live concerts. A lot of them went off and made movies. Prince’s “Purple Rain,” or “A Hard Day’s Night” or Kiss’ “[Kiss Meets the] Phantom of the Park” or Ramones’ “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School.” Even the [expletive] Spice Girls made a movie. It was this additional avenue of entertainment and it was always really fun, especially as a fan, to see this ensemble which you’re used to watching making music or on stage, then try to make their way on the screen. Because most musicians weren’t cut out for [expletive] Academy Awards.
Like “Purple Rain” — I [expletive] loved “Purple Rain.” I saw it in the theater when it came out and I remember thinking he’s so unnatural. It didn’t really seem like he was gonna win best actor, but I loved it because of that. So yeah, there’s something about musicians in movies or band movies that I always have loved. There’s a kitsch element or value to it. You tell people the [expletive] Foo Fighters made a horror film, they kinda giggle. They’re like “Uh, what?”
Last fall when you came through [Seattle] on the anniversary tour, you’re opening [Climate Pledge Arena] right before the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. It was also the anniversary week of you recording the first album with Barrett [Jones] up here. What was it like coming back to Seattle and having all these reflection points around the show?
Well, usually when I come to Seattle one of the first things I do is I rent a car and on my time off I just drive around to see if I can remember how to get to all of the places that I’d spent time or lived a life in before, and it all comes back. I have a lot of beautiful memories of being in Seattle and I have a lot of painful memories of being in Seattle. But it’s a chapter in my life that I look back on with a lot of love.
Those anniversaries, they’re funny man, because they offer a lot of reflection, but at the same time make you realize that there’s too much more to do to get bogged down in looking backwards. So I’m thankful that I’m still here and I’m very proud of a lot of the things that I’ve accomplished, and you look at those measures of time and you’re like, “Wow, how many years is that?! God, it feels like yesterday.” And in a lot of ways, it’s really weird. It’s really reflective because in some ways it feels like it was just yesterday, in some ways it feels like a lifetime ago. But ultimately it just reminds you, like, you’re getting [expletive] old. You better do as much as you can as fast as you can.
Were you feeling any more sentimental that particular show with everything going on?
Every time we play up there, there’s definitely a more sentimental feeling than, say, Kansas City or even Washington D.C., where I’m from. Seattle, it’s a big part of the Foo Fighters. Even though I haven’t lived there in a long time, that city really shaped the people that we became and I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Seattle. I wouldn’t be the person that I am if it weren’t for Seattle. So every time we come back, it’s melancholy, but there is a lot of gratitude for sure.
Did you ever get your throne back from the Greyhawk dude?
Yeah, I think they sent it back! I was so [expletive] stoked that he got it, too. I always take pleasure in seeing someone else in it — not because they need to be in it, not because of their injury — but I like seeing someone else in it because I always think, “That thing looks [expletive] ridiculous.”