MEET DAVE, ROCK DAD
Idon’t use an alarm clock; my body wakes me up at 5am every day, no matter what time I went to sleep. My closet has got 30 pairs of jeans, 30 flannel shirts and a bunch of stuff I never wear. I dress like a lumberjack, go downstairs, make coffee, check emails and wait for the stampede.
Our eldest daughters, Violet and Harper, turn on the TV or do the homework they didn’t finish the night before while I make breakfast — bacon and eggs or buttermilk biscuits and smoothies — and my wife packs lunch. Once they’re dressed, I take the girls to the bus stop. The important thing is to get them out the door with a smile and singing songs, from Prince to the SpongeBob record, which Harper still loves.
After the bus leaves I head back to hang out with Ophelia. You know, I’m still changing diapers at 48 years old. One kid wants her nose pierced, one is in diapers. It’s all over the place. I can’t imagine the teen years ...
My office is upstairs. It’s a makeshift studio and somewhere to hide. Before we start making a record, I’ll record by myself. But on a working day, I’ll head down to the studio in Hollywood at 10am. There may be one or two Foos, so we’ll have coffee and a couple of smokes.
The reason we’ve been a band so long is we enjoy each other’s company. There’s not a lot of brooding and torture going on. My favourite way to warm up for a gig is to have a whisky and walk onstage with tears rolling down my face from laughing so hard with the guys. It’s the best.
I did a lot of cooking while we were making the new record. I specialise in slow-cook barbecue. My day was spent checking the temperature of the beef brisket, then running in and doing a vocal or a guitar track, checking the temperature again, getting the cornbread ready and making sauce. There’s something to be said for recording studios that smell like your mother’s Sunday roast — it puts everyone at ease.
In this job, I’ve been lucky to meet some of my heroes, such as Paul McCartney, who is now a friend. It’s great when he comes over. The kids get that he’s a Beatle, but not really. So their interaction is beautiful because they’re not trying to act cool.
There have been a few seminal gigs over the years. Glastonbury this year was up there. Another was when Nirvana made the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2014. I got together with my old bandmates Krist [Novoselic] and Pat [Smear, now with Foo Fighters], and guests including Joan Jett and Lorde, and we played those songs again — it sounded just like it did, but of course with one thing missing. We hadn’t played a Nirvana set since Kurt died. Could we do that again? I don’t know.
If I’m not recording, I’ll pick Violet and Harper up from school at 3pm, take them horseriding, and make dinner. I read Ophelia stories before bed. Then I talk with the older kids. We talk so long, I forget they’re meant to be sleeping.
Around 9.15pm, my wife and I might have a glass of wine. I love wine. I have a nice collection. But I know myself and once I open a bottle, it’s going down the hatch. So I prefer to go to bed without a drink. Twenty years ago, we’d go on the road for three months and come home for three days. Now everyone has families, we only stay on the road for a few weeks. Plus, we’re getting old! Touring hurts a little more. So do the hangovers. That’s why I mostly drink at work. Not a lot of people can say that. is released on Friday. will tour nationally in January.
Dave Grohl; below, at Sydney’s Oxford Arts Factory