We're looking back on some of our favourite big reads from TimeOut this year. Today, we revisit Karl Puschmann's interview with the Foo Fighters.

"I feel like I just smoked crack!" Dave Grohl exclaims, bursting into the room. "I want this to be the best interview I've ever done."

The Foo Fighters frontman is a tornado of high energy and hair. He looks around the small Sydney hotel room crammed with assistants, record company people and a full camera crew and loudly says, "cheer up guys!".

You can't really blame them for starting to fade. Grohl and the Foos' drummer Taylor Hawkins have been in this packed little room since 10am talking about the band's new album, Concrete and Gold, to various media in 15-minute blocks. The time now is 5.20pm.

They're also extremely hung over. Last night they hosted an album listening party. What usually happens at these things is the stars turn up, say a few words, hang around for a bit and then discreetly slip away when no one's looking. That, friends, is not how Grohl rolls.


At 2am both he and Hawkins were still there, partying hard and pouring harder liquor straight from the bottle direct into the mouths of all those still standing.

Despite sore heads and fatigue he's taking charge and dragging his weary crew to the finish line through sheer bloody-minded exuberance.

"Cheer up guys!"

After such a big night, followed by such a long day, how is he even still functioning? "I've had 17 cups of coffee today," he grins.

Grohl is a music legend twice over now. Firstly, as the powerhouse drummer for revolutionary grunge band Nirvana. And secondly, as frontman/guitarist/boss of the Foo Fighters for over two decades.

The Foos have sold more than 25 million records worldwide, over 250,000 of those in New Zealand. For a band of their status they gig here fairly regularly and, happily, will be back again on Saturday, February 3, next year.

"We've had some crazy shows there," Grohl says. He remembers their 2005 Supertop gig as, "the loudest audience I've ever heard in my entire life. I swear to God," before bringing up their 2011 show at Western Springs.

"We played at some speedway outside of town and the audience was jumping around so much that it triggered the seismograph. We have that seismograph readout of the show on the wall in the studio. I'm probably more proud of that, than anything we've ever done."


Then in a cartoonishly self-satisfied voice he nods his head and says, "triggered an earthquake".

"That's some hard rock," Hawkins says from beneath his sunny, surfer-dude hair.

"They're having it down there, that's for sure," Grohl agrees.

So then, the big question is will the new Foos album rock your world?

The record's not out until tomorrow but chances are you've heard at least one of the new songs by now. But if you haven't, the short answer is yes. Yes, it will.

Concrete and Gold is the best the Foos have sounded in years. At the outset Grohl said he wanted to make a "weird" album, which, after the predictable stomp of their last few records, was welcome news.

But weirdness is relative. Grohl and co haven't produced a difficult, challenging album like, say, Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica or drastically reshuffled their sound like Radiohead's Kid A here.

Instead they've built on the band's foundation, augmenting those earworm melodies with ornate orchestration and coating their crunching riffs in a wider sonic palette than they've ever previously attempted.

"It's funny, as much as you want to push outward and go crazy, you have to realise the limits," Grohl explains. "You don't want to go too far."

It's a fairly heavy album, albeit one that pulls inspiration from, and modernises the sound of 70s classic rock.

"Let's go in and make as big of a noise as we can and really milk these songs for every ounce of melody or harmony or orchestration, just blow it up sonically," he says. "That was the idea before we even went to start recording."

The record is surprising. Not only does it feature some of the Foos' heaviest riffs, with Grohl unleashing some of his rawest, throat-shredding vocals, it also veers into heavy lyrical territory.

"It just happened that way," Grohl says. "All the lyrics were written in a short period of time and there was a lot of heavy things going on in America and around the world. It's inevitable somehow those things influence whatever you're writing. If you're living under a dark cloud it's gonna influence you to write about that, or to find hope. The album winds back and forth throughout a lot of that stuff.

"I wouldn't call it a political record but everything that's going on in the world, especially at home in the States, it weighs on you."

After breaking his leg during the last worldwide tour, performing the final leg "in that ridiculous f**king throne", the Foos were worn out, "mentally, physically and emotionally".

Grohl says the plan was to take a year off to recuperate and give his leg some time to heal, but resting didn't quite work out.

"That's happened a few times in my life. After Nirvana was over I didn't want to play music. I couldn't even listen to the radio because it just broke my heart. I would hear songs and it would make me sad. But then I realised that music was what was gonna heal me. The same thing happened after the last tour. We were out for so long, I'd broken my leg. We were just beat up. I didn't want to pick up a guitar. But once I did it made me feel better. It just makes me feel better."

You can hear it. The Foos may have pushed their sound into new territory and experimented with studio whizz-bangery for the first time but mostly Concrete and Gold sounds like a band having a lot of fun playing together.

"Yeah, it was man, "Grohl smiles. "It was a good time. This is the closest we've ever gotten to my idea of what the Foo Fighters is."

Who: Foo Fighters
What: New album and an upcoming gig
When: Concrete and Gold is out tomorrow, the band play Mt Smart February 3, next year.