Grohl demonstrated his own early method of bedroom "multi-tracking": He played an acoustic Gibson into an old tape recorder, placed that tape into a stereo and recorded "drums" (tapping on the body of his guitar) onto a second tape while the first tape played. It was via this method that Grohl recorded his first songs — songs about his bike, his dad and his guitar — before joining a high school group that entered a battle of the bands under the name "Nameless." Why? Because choosing a band name is "still the hardest fucking thing." Foo Fighters, he admitted, is a stupid name.
Grohl described his "first hero," a punk-rocker cousin by the name of Tracy who lived in Chicago and exposed him (circa 1982) to Black Flag, White Flag, The Descendents, The Ramones and everything in between. His first show was Naked Raygun at a little club across the street from Wrigley Field, and that show propelled him back home to DC, where he joined the punk scene, dropped out of high school and took up his dream of traveling in bands, sleeping on floors and stages and on floors under stages.
"Guilt," Grohl went on to claim, "is cancer." He proudly noted that "Gangnam Style" is one of his favorite songs of the past decade, and that when it comes to methods and practices of ranking and rating and judging songs (a la Pitchfork or The Voice), "Who fucking cares?!"*
Grohl described his process of grieving after the loss of his friend Kurt. He had a hard time playing or even listening music for a time after Cobain's death, but soon came to start over completely, "forming" Foo Fighters (a one-man project at its inception) and launching Roswell Records. Grohl described recently bringing home a Beatles box set to his two small daughters, watching proudly as they placed the needle on the record and danced along to "Get Back." He ended on the note that he hopes one day they will perhaps be someone's heroes, and know and recognize that the "musician comes first."
Watch Grohl's keynote address here.
* While this statement elicited wild applause, I think Grohl fails to recognize (or at least to mention) the importance of analysis and criticism. The craft of thoughtful, analytical music criticism can sometimes be conflated with the rather artless practice of "ranking," "listing" and flatly "judging" songs. But that's a keynote for another day.