Reinventing the process
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.