Stream Dave Grohl’s SXSW Keynote Address
Foo Fighter takes potshots at Pitchfork, praises "Gangnam Style," and remembers Kurt Cobain
Current SPIN cover star Dave Grohl continued his media domination today (March 14) by delivering the keynote address at South By Southwest 2013. (How the 44-year-old rocker/filmmaker is not completely worn out after releasing an album and touring with his behemoth supergroup the Sound City Players, rounding the talk-show circuit, rehashing Nirvana’s history for hour-plus interviews, and starting work on the next Foo Fighters record is beyond us. Oh yeah — dude is super positive.)
The lead Foo dug deep into his personal history for the 50-minute speech. “The morning of January 14, 1969 there was a class of young doctors in a small delivery room in Warren, Ohio, there to witness their first live birth,” Grohl said. “As I was born, the room burst into applause. My first moments in this world: hanging upside down, covered in blood, screaming as I’m being spanked by a complete stranger. Perhaps the most appropriate preparation for becoming a working musician.”
The Sound City Players main man then recounted his long, historic music career, starting with the song that inspired him to play guitar (“Frankenstein” by the Edgar Winter Group), moving onto his eventual baptism into Washington, D.C.’s hardcore punk scene (the “Rock Against Reagan” concert on July 4, 1983, which featured Dirty Rotten Imbeciles and the Dead Kennedys), and delving into his tenure as the drummer for Nirvana.
“Just as we couldn’t imagine making the slightest ripple in the mainstream, no one else really imagined that happening either,” Grohl said. “Within a month, [Nevermind] was gold, by Christmas the record went platinum, by the new year we were selling 300,000 records a week.”
“I never really figured out why that happened,” he continued. “Timing? Perhaps. Legions of disaffected American youth fed up with Wilson Phillips? Probably.”
The Sound City creator also offered his feelings on In Utero producer/noted curmudgeon Steve Albini (“He’s a badass,”); named PSY’s “Gangnam Style” as one of his favorite songs of the past decade; took a shot at Pitchfork (“Paging Pitchfork… we need you to help us determine the value of a song. Who fucking cares?”); and impersonated Christina Aguilera.
All laughter subsided, though, when Grohl quit cracking jokes and began discussing Kurt Cobain’s tragic 1994 suicide. “When Kurt died, I was lost,” he said, before taking a long pause to gather himself. “I was numb. The music that I had devoted my life to had now betrayed me.”
“I turned off the radio,” Grohl added. “I put away my drums. I couldn’t bear to hear someone else’s voice singing about pain or joy. It just hurt too much.”
The rocker/director shared how he recovered from the loss of his friend and bandmate: By throwing himself into a then-new project he dubbed the Foo Fighters. We all know how that one turned out.
Don’t miss our in-depth and exclusive coverage of all things Grohl: