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My summer with the Foo Fighters

Extended for EW.com: EW’s Shirley Halperin tagged along with Dave Grohl and the band from L.A. to London to Las Vegas — and found out what it’s really like to be in one of rock’s most tireless bands

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Foo Fighters
Benn Watts

June 20, 2007
Northridge, Calif.

”Look! There’s Daddy, there’s Ozzy…” The Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl is playing show-and-tell with 14-month-old Violet while carrying her through a hallway covered floor-to-ceiling in platinum plaques, songwriting awards, and photos of rock legends. Violet points to a picture of a long-haired, mustached, and menacing-looking guy as if to ask, Who’s he, Daddy? ”That’s Tony Iommi,” Grohl coos, clearly pleased with her interest in Black Sabbath’s lead guitarist. ”Can you say Tone-ee Aye-oh-mee?”

Blue-eyed Violet has gotten some serious pre-preschool tutoring in music history. In fact, Grohl and Jordyn, his wife of three years, played music to their firstborn before she was, well, first born. ”We started with Mozart,” explains Grohl, 38. ”Then I said, ‘Let’s try some rock, [like] the Beatles.’ So we played ‘Taxman’ and she went berserk.” And what was Violet’s reaction to the Foo Fighters oeuvre? ”There was absolutely no movement at all,” he deadpans. ”I was like, ‘Wow, she has taste!”’

All self-deprecation aside, Grohl’s accomplishments with the band he started some 12 years ago — 7.4 million albums sold and 18 modern-rock hits to their name — are nothing to sniff at. It’s the reason 100 music industry execs from around the world are convening today at the band’s Studio 606, way out in the scorching-hot San Fernando Valley. In store for the evening? Beer, barbecue (featuring Dr. G’s Strip Steak, Grohl’s secret recipe), and a first listen to the Foo Fighters’ sixth studio album, Echoes, Patience, Silence and Grace (out Sept. 25).

The Foos weren’t supposed to release a record this year. Along with Grohl, bassist Nate Mandel, 38, and guitarist Chris Shiflett, 36, are also new fathers, and drummer Taylor Hawkins, 35, is two months away from joining the club. But after last year’s successful acoustic (or unofficially, ”Afoostic”) tour, the guys were inspired to get back to writing, and Echoes was recorded in less than two months. ”We have the most kick-ass record we’ve ever done,” Grohl declares. ”When I listen to these songs, I picture a festival crowd. I see 60,000 people.”

Sure enough, as tracks like ”The Pretender” and ”Let It Die” pummel through the speakers, it’s clear that neither fatherhood nor age has tamed the metal in this foursome. Led by Grohl — a guy who seemingly achieved the impossible by transitioning from Nirvana’s drummer to singer, guitar god, and rock star in his own right — the band has once again managed to channel the energy, rebelliousness, and desperation of youth, even while approaching 40.

Which is exactly the point of this get-together (it precedes two days of intense meetings at the Beverly Hilton, where everything from marketing to publicity to radio and touring will be discussed). ”It’s like inviting everyone into our home, cooking them dinner, playing some music and getting wasted with them,” Grohl explains later. ”I can understand how someone at a label would feel overwhelmed with just ‘product,’ people who don’t have any personal connection, they might as well be selling f—in pizzas. To me, it’s important that they see how we function — how simple, honest, and real it is. That we’re just a f—in’ band, we make these records, f—in’ grill up some food, and get trashed.”

Indeed, when the Foos hosted a similar soiree for 2005’s In Your Honor, not only did Grohl out-drink most of his guests, he ended the night by trashing the rented glassware, a discovery made the next morning when he woke up on the studio couch. This time, there was no such debauchery (but just in case, cups and plates were plastic) since the band was conserving their energy for two very important upcoming shows: a secret warm-up gig at a Valley rock club called Paladino’s and a much bigger weekend set opening for the Police. The album may still be three months away, but the machine is already cranking.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Take a tour of the Foo Fighters’ tour bus, courtesy of Dave Grohl, in the video below.