The Foo Fighters’ frontman talks about the band’s new album and "Nirvana Reunion"—17 years after the death of Kurt Cobain.
With the new record, Wasting Light, you reunited with Nevermind producer Butch Vig and your Nirvana band mate Krist Novoselic. Why turn back the clock?
You know, when the Foo Fighters stopped touring in 2008, we’d reached this point in our career where we were playing fucking stadiums, which was never a part of the plan. We never thought it was an option, so it freaked us out a little.
I just got really emotional at those shows. It’s moments like those where I’ll look back in 20 years and say, “OK, so wait. I dropped out of high school and I couldn’t go to college ’cause I wasn’t smart enough, so I’d resigned myself to loading trucks and playing punk rock on the weekends.” And I was cool with that! And then I go on to play with Kurt and Krist in a band that sells fuckin’ 50 million records or whatever, and I think, “Holy shit! That’s incredible!”
But after Nirvana ended, you got a second chance with the Foos.
Exactly. And it’s that kind of thing going through my mind as I’m looking at 85,000 people screaming fuckin’ “Best of You” at me. That’s why I did the new record with Butch Vig, and it’s why I had Krist Novoselic play on it, and why I did it in my garage, and it’s why I did it to analog tape with no computers.
What was it like playing with them again?
With Krist it was more personal than musical, to be honest. We’ve always been close, and losing Kurt brought us even closer, so when we see each other it’s a heavy reunion. Same thing with Butch. Those three weeks we spent making Nevermind changed our lives forever, so getting back in the studio brought back a lot of memories.
Was it like a Nirvana session?
No, this is definitely a Foo Fighters record, and I’m the one steering the ship. With Nirvana there was never any doubt that Kurt was the driving force. Having said that, I think this is by far the most rock record that we’ve ever done. That was our intention, and that’s why we did it with Butch. It has to sound huge. It has to feel big. I want to hear 80,000 motherfuckers singing the chorus of “These Days” because, to me, that’s what it’s all about. Our other band disappeared in a flash and our lives were turned upside down, so we’re kind of conditioned to feel like, “OK, you better fucking enjoy it while it’s happening, because it can go away like that!”