In Dave Grohl’s three decades as a rock star, he’s recorded with Stevie Nicks and Paul McCartney, made documentaries, performed for presidents, and been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame twice.
But this month features a first: On February 25, Foo Fighters releases “Studio 666,” a horror-comedy directed by BJ McDonnell (“Hatchet III”) and starring, well, Foo Fighters.
“For fun,” Grohl said in a recent video interview. As he explained, “We never intended to get into the Hollywood game with this big horror movie. It just happened.”
In the film, which also features Whitney Cummings, Will Forte and Jeff Garlin, the band moves into a mansion, where Grohl himself once lived, to work on their 10th album. But songwriting proves difficult. Hoping to get out of a creative rut, Grohl wanders around the house and discovers a secret that infuses him with creativity and bloodlust.
The film has been in the works since 2019, with production halted due to the coronavirus pandemic. It’s unlikely to rack up awards – “We don’t order tuxedos for the Oscars,” Grohl said – but it does deliver nuggets of hard rock and gore.
Chatting from his home studio in Los Angeles over a cup of coffee, Grohl discussed making the film, his thoughts on rock ‘n’ roll and a new album. These are edited excerpts from the interview.
Why did you decide to make a film?
Three years ago a friend went to a meeting with a movie studio and our name came up. They said, “We always wanted to do horror with Foo Fighters.” He texted me and I said, “That’s the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard,” and I didn’t think about it.
We were writing the music for our last record. Usually when we make a record, I go alone to my home studio or a demo studio and just write melodies and instrumentals. So I started looking for houses to rent where I could build a temporary studio. At the same time, my landlord from 10 years ago emailed me and said, “Do you want to buy a property?” I said no, but if I could rent it that would be great.
I started writing and I was sending demos to our producer, and he was like, “That sounds good. Let’s record there. So I started thinking, we could make a horror movie in this creepy old house. I came up with this concept, presented it to the band and they just laughed. It snowballed from there. We never imagined that we were going to make a feature film.
Are you a horror fan?
I am not an aficionado. Even though I grew up loving the classics a lot. I remember reading the book “Amityville Horror” in 1979 and then going to see the movie. And I grew up outside of Washington, DC, where they filmed “The Exorcist.” I was obsessed with the house and those steps. This is where all the punk rockers used to hang out in the 80s. We would sit at the bottom of these steps and drink beer.
“Studio 666” is also a group film, which does not seem to be very numerous. Why do you think that is?
I do not know. I grew up watching rock ‘n’ roll movies. “Kiss meets the park ghost.” The Ramones in “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School”. It used to be something that went hand in hand with an ensemble cast.
I think the band has to not only want to do it, but be able to make fun of themselves. We’ve been doing this for 26 years, so it’s just a long version of us not caring about being a rock band.
We talked about a sequel and how [“Studio 666”] can be transmitted from one group to another. Would Coldplay make a horror movie? Does Wu Tang? That would be great.
You wrote in your memories that you once lived in a house that you thought was haunted. Did you have that in mind while making the film?
I don’t think it crossed that idea. But this house was definitely haunted. Before that, I had never had a fascination with paranormal activity. After that, I believe this kind of thing can happen. But I also remember thinking, so I shared a house with a ghost. Will it kill me? No. Do the lights come on occasionally and you hear footsteps? Yeah. I’ve had worse roommates.
Like most bands, the Foo Fighters have had some tension in the past. Did it inspire the plot?
No, this is not the case. But the screenwriter came to hang with us while we were recording. [“Medicine at Midnight,” the band’s 10th album,] to get an idea of the dynamics. She just overplayed.
Like any band, we are like a family. It is a relationship that falters in all creative situations, because there is vulnerability and insecurity. It’s not easy to stay a band for 26 years. From everything we’ve been through, I don’t think anyone would want to kill another member. We love each other too much.
The film pokes fun at rock in general, but it also pokes fun at you: you can’t write new songs; Lionel Richie is yelling at you. Was it fun?
There are so many cliches in this movie. This is part of “The Amityville Horror”. It’s part of “The Shining”. This is part of “The Evil Dead”. On the musical side, there’s the dominating vocalist who tortures the band, the struggle of writer’s block.
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The funniest shot, I think, is the applause in the living room. Whenever an engineer or producer walks into a room before recording, they are always clapping to listen to the acoustics. I’m here to say it’s [expletive]. It makes no difference.
Do you have a favorite scene?
I liked the round table scene with Jeff Garlin. Improving take after take felt like you were in “Curb Your Enthusiasm”.
There have been allegations that Jeff Garlin behaved inappropriately on the set of “The Goldbergs”. How was it working with him?
Jeff really loves music. So most of our off-camera interactions were just about the bands we like. I didn’t know any of this. We sat around talking about Wilco all day.
There’s a scene where your manager says rock’n’roll is long gone and needs an infusion. Do you think that’s true? If so, what could revitalize it?
I believe that is partly true. I don’t think rock needs more Satan, but I do think it needs another youth-led revolution. My elder [daughter] almost 16 years old. I watch her discover music and write songs, and that’s when [the action is].
I think the next rock revolution will be nothing like the one we’ve seen before. And I’m not quite sure what it is. But it’s coming. There is so much to enjoy. I find a new favorite artist once a week, so it’s not like the well has run dry.
In 2021 alone, you released two albums, a documentary, a documentary series, a memoir, a few singles and went on tour. What drives you to do the same?
No, I just appreciate every opportunity I have. I appreciate people who help facilitate these ridiculous ideas, and I surround myself with people who have the same energy. And I hate holidays. I’m just restless. I get this weird feeling of guilt when I don’t do anything. I am like a shark. If I stop swimming, I will die.
Do you know what I do now? I do the lost album of the group Dream Widow, of [the movie]like the “Blair Witch” tapes.
Will the main song from the movie be on it?
He is. This instrumental opus is crazy. I grew up listening to metal, so I started getting inspiration from my favorite bands. For a metal disc, it’s really good.
So you left covering the Bee Gees to metal.
Listen, what do you get the guy who has everything?
Law. Is there anything else to come?