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Dave Grohls Talks the Sound City Players, Paul McCartney, and More

January 23, 2013 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris

Billboard spoke with Dave Grohl who spoke about the Sound City Players, Paul McCartney, and his documentary Sound City. Grohl stated he’d like for the group to play again after their January 31 concert at the Hollywood Palladium.

Regarding his interview style for the documentary: “I’d ask everyone tell the story of what Sound City represents to them and what it represents to music. I talked with each of these people for at least two hours. The Tom Petty interview was three hours, Stevie was three hours. I could make a movie about each one. As an interviewer, I told them, ‘I’m not Barbara Walters, I’d like to just talk about music.’ The last question for everyone was, ‘What’s your piece of advice to the next generation of musician?’ You can imagine how inspiring it was to hear Trent Reznor or Neil Young talk about what they hope the next generation comes up with.”

How he wanted the film to have an emotional quality: “During the edit, I knew I didn’t want it to be a retrospective documentary, the history of a studio. (The story) has an emotional quality to it and it had to have some relevance. I love Sound City but why am I making this movie? I learned a lot from James Moll, who directed ‘Foo Fighters: Back and Forth.’ I just imagined it would be a retrospective on the band and what we’d done. Really he didn’t want to talk about the trivial things, he wanted to ask about our relationships with each other as people that made us survive for 20 years. That’s what everyone can relate to; who (cares) who produced our second record. Sound City has been home to so many influential albums, but also to so many beautiful stories about people and their relationships. It’s such a deeper story than a ‘Behind the Music’ that would talk about ‘Damn the Torpedoes.'”

Grohl on his style of directing and his inexperience as a filmmaker: “I don’t know if I would call myself a director as much as a ringleader. If there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s gathering people together to do something fun. One of the first meetings with Paul Crowder and Mark Monroe was in this dingy dive bar. I said ‘Look, I’ve never done this before so I need to know what you think of what I’m doing. I’m not so stubborn that I won’t collaborate. You guys are obviously great at what you do.’ I’m not going to tell (Crowder) how to edit, but if it doesn’t feel the way I think it should, I’m going to let him know. We all understood each other that way and had a clear vision of the direction we were taking…The other day I was cleaning out my garage and I found the journal from the week I decided to make the movie. I wrote out an outline and it’s exactly the movie we made. I’m so amazed. There were times when we didn’t know what was going to happen, like put Paul McCartney in a room with Nirvana and cross your fingers that something cool happens.”

On the secret of recording with Paul McCartney: “The McCartney song was the biggest secret (in the project). A few things leaked out, but the McCartney thing — we couldn’t give (that information) away because this is — spoiler alert — THE moment. At the first few test screenings we did, the moment where Paul appears there were audible gasps in the room. When we were editing that segment, I said ‘I don’t want a holy shit moment, I want a HOLY FUCK moment.’ I was at a screening in Salt Lake City (Jan. 22) and that moment he appears onscreen, you could just hear (the audience say) ‘Jesus Christ’ as if the thing couldn’t be tied up in a more beautiful bow than that. It really creates a cool moment.”

How he compares promoting the film to promoting an album with the Foo Fighters: “Promoting your album is one thing. Going out and promoting the idea of human beings playing music for the next generation, that’s another. There are times when I feel like I’m a traveling minister. I’m trying to go out and get kids to pick-up yard sale instruments and change the world. Foo Fighters do worldwide promotional tours months before our albums even come out.”

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Jeffrey Harris

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