Rein­vent­ing the process

The Press - The Box - - COVER STORY - Fair­fax MCT

Foo Fight­ers front­man and for­mer Nir­vana drum­mer Dave Grohl brought a rock’n’roll sen­si­bil­ity to his most re­cent ap­pear­ance in front of a bunch of TV crit­ics. His en­thu­si­asm for his new project, Foo Fight­ers: Sonic High­ways, was ev­i­dent with F-bombs sprin­kled through­out his de­scrip­tion of the eight-part doc­u­men­tary se­ries.

Later, Grohl’s cell­phone rang (‘‘Sorry, I’m new to this,’’ he said, fum­bling to fish the phone out of his jeans pocket) and then the mic clipped on his rum­pled black jacket fell off in his lap.

Not quite the typ­i­cal pre­sen­ta­tion from the care­fully spo­ken and groomed TV direc­tors, pro­duc­ers, writ­ers and ac­tors who come to the well­heeled Bev­erly Hil­ton to talk up their lat­est projects.

Grohl ad­mit­ted his love of play­ing mu­sic any­time, any­where led him to a sit-in with a cover band at a dive bar near his house in sub­ur­ban En­cino a night ear­lier, ‘‘just be­cause I didn’t want to go to bed at 10 o’clock’’.

The singer’s new se­ries, de­but­ing this week­end, is tied into the Foo Fight­ers’ Sonic High­ways al­bum, set for re­lease in Novem­ber. Grohl and band­mates Tay­lor Hawkins, Nate Men­del, Chris Shi­flett and Pat Smear visit stu­dios in eight ci­ties, record­ing one song in each lo­ca­tion for the al­bum.

Along the way, Grohl in­ter­views mu­si­cians tied to a par­tic­u­lar city, in­clud­ing Buddy Guy, Dolly Par­ton, Chuck D, Gibby Haynes, Allen Tous­saint and Gary Clark Jr.

‘‘Th­ese record­ing stu­dios are hal­lowed ground; they’re churches and mon­u­ments to me,’’ Grohl says. ‘‘His­tory has been made in [dives] all over the coun­try.’’

The episodes are set in Seat­tle, Austin, Chicago, Los An­ge­les,

Jessica Marais spent the bet­ter part of 2013 in 1960s Kings Cross. For ev­ery­one’s favourite Packed to the Rafters- girl-made-good that has meant a whole lot of polyester frocks, back­combed hair and thick black eye­liner, but she is not com­plain­ing.

‘‘It’s such an in­ter­est­ing era,’’ the 29-year-old Aus­tralian ac­tress says.

‘‘The time pe­riod was so rife with change and there was such an air of mov­ing for­ward.’’

Love Child sees Marais, who spent a brief part of her child­hood in New Zealand, play­ing Joan Mil­lar, a ‘‘mod­ern, spir­ited mid­wife’’, who re­turns from London to take up a job at fic­ti­tious Kings Cross Hos­pi­tal and Stan­ton House, a home for young, un­wed preg­nant women. The sto­ries of the women and their ba­bies, some of whom were forcibly re­moved from their moth­ers, make up the back­bone of the se­ries.

‘‘It’s go­ing to be a good back­drop for this se­ries. It feels like there’s this real pulse un­der­neath it all, that ev­ery­thing’s wait­ing to ex­plode.’’

In read­ing se­ries cre­ator Sarah Lam­bert’s scripts, Marais also dis­cov­ered a shame­ful part of Aus­tralia’s his­tory.

‘‘Just be­fore the apolo­gies [in March last year], and the ac­knowl­edg­ment of forced adop­tions, I had al­ready signed on and read the scripts.

‘‘Sarah Lam­bert had been cre­at­ing [ Love Child] for many years, so it’s all very in­ter­est­ing that it came to fruition last year. It seems very top­i­cal.

‘‘It’s amaz­ing how many peo­ple, from so many gen­er­a­tions, have a per­sonal con­nec­tion to some­one who went through that sort of thing. Nashville, New Or­leans, New York and Wash­ing­ton, D.C. Grohl chose the lo­cales for their con­nec­tions to the band. Lo­cal

‘‘It’s re­ally another form of a stolen gen­er­a­tion, if you will – this untalked-about part of Aus­tralian his­tory.’’

The sto­ries of young, un­wed moth­ers and their ba­bies play a key part in each episode of Love Child.

As with Bri­tain’s suc­cess­ful Call the Mid­wife, the show is set at a time when the coun­try was in a state of so­cial change.

‘‘What was in­ter­est­ing to me was delv­ing more into the med­i­cal side and the mid­wifery side of things,’’ Marais says, ‘‘find­ing out what laws were in place with ba­bies be­ing up for adop­tion.

‘‘[The se­ries] is spliced with all th­ese very per­sonal sto­ries, the sto­ries of the adop­tions, and Stan­ton House and the hos­pi­tal go­ings-on.

‘‘And then you have his­tor­i­cal mo­ments, like the moon land­ing. All th­ese things hap­pen through­out the se­ries that ground it in this amaz­ing time of change.’’

Prior to Love Child, Marais had been liv­ing in Los An­ge­les with fiance James Ste­wart and oneyear-old daugh­ter Scout. Last Au­gust, it was an­nounced that the se­ries that lured her to Amer­ica, Magic City, in which she starred for two se­ries, had been can­celled. Although it was un­for­tu­nate, the tim­ing could not have been bet­ter.

‘‘ Love Child has been fran­tic. All tele­vi­sion in this coun­try tends to be at a fairly cracking pace, so it’s been all hands on deck, but it has been great.

‘‘It’s a very fe­male-driven cast, which is re­ally un­usual. All the women are very strong and all of them are a de­light to work with, so that in it­self has been re­ally re­fresh­ing.’’ leg­ends sit in with the band on the eight songs.

Grohl waited to write the lyrics un­til the last day of each ses­sion, hop­ing to be in­spired by the ex­pe­ri­ences and in­ter­views he’d done.

‘‘We could just go make another record in the stu­dio, hit the road and sell a bunch of T-shirts,’’ he says. ‘‘It’s all about rein­vent­ing the process.’’

Grohl di­rects each episode, like he did with last year’s Gram­my­win­ning doc­u­men­tary film Sound City, about a stu­dio in sub­ur­ban Los An­ge­les where he did his first ma­jor record­ing ses­sion as drum­mer for Nir­vana.

Tragic tales: Love Child, star­ring Jessica Marais, fo­cuses on sto­ries from inside a fic­tional Kings Cross hos­pi­tal for un­wed moth­ers.

Learn­ing to fly: Dave Grohl holds court at the re­cent launch of Foo Fight­ers: Sonic High­ways.

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