Dave Grohl: ‘I went swimming at the house where Sharon Tate was killed by the Manson Family. It was f***ing dark’

The Foo Fighters frontman talks to Leonie Cooper about the band’s new horror film ‘Studio 666’, ‘f***ed up’ pool parties at the Manson Family murder house, and why UK indie duo Wet Leg are going to take over the world

Tuesday 01 March 2022 11:05 GMT
<p>Grohl’s film takes inspiration from Seventies shockers </p>

Grohl’s film takes inspiration from Seventies shockers

When Dave Grohl was growing up in the suburbs of Washington DC, he’d regularly meet friends at a legendary local landmark. Rather than the fabled tinnie-strewn park bench of British teenage lore, this was an altogether more impressive arrangement. Grohl and his buddies would spend hazy evenings at the house where the greatest horror film of all time – 1973’s The Exorcist – was filmed. “I spent a lot of time hanging around on those steps,” explains Grohl with a glint in his eye. “There was a liquor store called Dixie Liquor right next to it, and they would sell beer to teenagers. So when we were little punk rockers, we would just buy big Foster’s cans and listen to punk rock, sit on the steps and get f***ed up on weekends.”

It’s no surprise, then, that Grohl’s sympathy for the devil runs deep. The Exorcist remains an all-time favourite and, alongside the rest of the Foo Fighters, Grohl has just fulfilled a lifelong ambition: to make and star in a scary movie of his very own.

The schlocky Studio 666 is a knowing pastiche of satanic slasher flicks, hinged around the sessions for Foo Fighters’ last album, 2021’s Medicine at Midnight. In it, they set about making their 10th record since 1994 in a highly haunted house. One by one, band members get killed in increasingly gory ways, as muso stereotypes – creative differences, a frontman who’s desperate to go solo, and the discovery of a brand new guitar chord – are all joyfully lampooned. There are some starry cameos, too, from Lionel Richie, Slayer’s Kerry King, and Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Jeff Garlin, who plays the band’s long-suffering record label boss.

So far, the film has received decidedly mixed reviews, but that isn’t really the point, says Grohl. “I almost feel like this movie is meant to entertain us more than you,” he laughs, although he rates Studio 666’s chances of Oscars glory highly. “No-brainer. A shoo-in. A slam dunk,” says Grohl confidently. “Wait, are we talking about the Razzies or the Oscars? I was referring to the Razzies.”

Based on a story by Grohl, Studio 666 takes inspiration not just from Seventies shockers, but from classic band movies like The Beatles’ Help! and The Monkees’ Head. There’s plenty of real-life weirdness thrown into the mix, too. Recording music in a creepy location is nothing new – in the early Nineties, Trent Reznor’s Nine Inch Nails decamped to the Los Angeles house where Sharon Tate and four other people had been murdered by Charles Manson’s cohorts, to complete their second album, The Downward Spiral.

Grohl – then the drummer in iconic grunge band Nirvana – actually ended up at the house, 10050 Cielo Drive in Benedict Canyon, during those sessions. “When I was young, I was kind of obsessed with the macabre and knew everything about the Manson Family and those killings,” he explains. “Then, in the summer of ’92, I was staying in California with a friend in this tiny house with no air conditioning.” Every day the pair would look for a different swimming pool in an effort to cope with the oppressive heat. One day, the friend had a particularly eerie option for a cool-down dip. “My friend called me and said, ‘Guess where we’re swimming today? The house where Sharon Tate was killed by the Manson Family.’” It wasn’t the fascinating experience Grohl expected. “It was f***ing dark,” he says, 30 years on from the creepiest pool party of all time, “because it became real, everything I knew about it: walking into that house, it was real. And that house had not changed; the front door, the living room. It was f***ed up. It was legitimately f***ed up. It was not cool at all.”

Sometimes we’ll hang out at a friend’s house and just dance until four o’clock in the morning, and we’ll play ‘Chaise Longue’ on repeat, like over and over and over and over and over again

Dave Grohl

Studio 666 draws on less gruesome concerns, too. There’s a moment where Jeff Garlin’s character comments on the current state of music. “Rock’n’roll, it hasn’t been relevant for a long time,” he huffs. It’s something we imagine Grohl hears a lot. “Well, I think you have to define ‘relevant’,” he starts. “It’s hard for us to say that rock’n’roll is in a rough patch, because we get up on stage and there’ll be thousands of people f***ing going bananas and singing along to our songs.” Further down the food chain, however, he’s aware that guitar bands might not have the cultural cachet they once did. “I can understand how it’s a different game nowadays for younger bands,” he offers. “There’s a lot of great young bands that are f***ing killing it and have devoted fan bases. They might not be as popular as Nicki Minaj, but honestly, when I see f***ing Billie Eilish, that’s rock’n’roll to me. She started a revolution and took over the world.”

Taylor Hawkins and Dave Grohl in the new horror film

When it comes to those great young bands, as well as his long-standing and well-documented respect for Eilish, Grohl is currently obsessed with Isle of Wight duo Wet Leg. “Wet Leg are about to take over America,” he grins, before rhapsodising over last summer’s phenomenally catchy “Chaise Longue”. “I really do dig them. A friend of mine turned me on to them about six or seven months ago and I couldn’t get the song out of my head.” If you get invited to party with Dave this year, expect the track to feature regularly on the playlist. “Sometimes we’ll hang out at a friend’s house and just dance until four o’clock in the morning, and we’ll play ‘Chaise Longue’ on repeat, like over and over and over and over and over again,” he reveals.

Turning 53 years old in January, Grohl can undoubtedly now be described as an elder statesman of rock. In fact, when he was watching Peter Jackson’s acclaimed Beatles documentary, Get Back, he saw a kindred spirit in another musical hero. “I could particularly relate to Ringo,” smiles Grohl, “because the majority of the film you see Ringo just sitting there on the drum set, just kind of f***ing waiting for something to happen. That’s what it’s like to be the drummer of a band!”

Despite being the frontman of one of the most successful guitar groups in the world, Grohl still regularly picks up the drumsticks. In fact, you’re far more likely to see him behind the drums than shiftily leaving his band for a solo career, like Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam or Gwen Stefani of No Doubt. “I mean, listen: if I had a solo project, you know what it would sound like?” he asks. “The f***ing Foo Fighters. And it’d be a lot harder to do without them.”

‘Studio 666’ is in cinemas now

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