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Image for Dave Grohl loves ‘Gangnam Style’ and other things we learned from his SXSW keynote

Dave Grohl loves ‘GangnamStyle’ and other things welearned from his SXSW keynote

“My musical life’s greatest honour.”

This is how the Foo Fighters’s Dave Grohl has described his keynote this morning at South By Southwest in Austin, Texas. Following in the giant footsteps of Bruce Springsteen, Grohl delivered a casual one hour “lo-fi tutorial” that recalled his early years in Washington’s punk scene, his rapid ascent to fame in Nirvana, forming the Foo Fighters and the importance of finding your voice as an artist.

He also shitcanned reality singing shows, dissed Pitchfork, and spoke about his recent documentary Sound City, which tells the story of the “shithole” LA studio where Nirvana recorded Nevermind (read our review here). Grohl even wore dark-rimmed reading glasses for the occasion: “I got these at the drugstore because I’m going blind,” he joked. “I hope I still look like a rock star.”

Watch the full speech below. In the meantime, here are some key quotes:

On Bruce Springsteen

“I congratulated him on last year’s amazing keynote, quoting him on his insight and humour, and told him this year’s keynote speaker was me. He started at me for a moment, then slowly cracked that famous smile that we all know and love, a smile that can light up an entire stadium, and then he started laughing at me. As if to say, ‘Good fucking luck, buddy.’ But truth be told, that’s not the first time anybody’s said that to me.”

On being born:

“As I was born, the room burst into applause. My first moments in this world, hanging upside down covered in blood screaming as I’m being spanked by a complete stranger. Perhaps the most appropriate preparation for becoming a working musician.”

On discovering punk rock at a Naked Raygun show:

“I was possessed and empowered and inspired and engaged and so in love with life and so in love with music. This was rock’n’roll. No matter what shirt you had or what fucking haircut you had, this was fucking real. It had the power to incite a fucking riot or an emotion or to incite or start a revolution – or just to save a young boy’s life.”

On being a DIY teenager:

“At 13 years old, I realised I could start my own band, I could write my own song, I could record my own record. I could start my own label. I could release my own record. I could book my own shows. I could write and publish my own fanzine. I could silk-screen my own T-shirt. I could do this all myself. There was no right or wrong because it was all mine.”

On his decision to join Nirvana in 1990:

“Nirvana were one of us. They seemed to share the same ideals, the same intentions. But they had something more: they had songs. They had Kurt.”

On Kurt wanting to be famous:

“[Record executive Don Ienner asked us] ‘So what do you guys want?’ Kurt slouched in his chair and looked up at Donnie sitting behind his massive oak desk and said, ‘We want to be the biggest band in the world.’ I laughed. I thought he was … kidding. He wasn’t.”

On Kurt’s suicide:

“When Kurt died, I was lost. I was numb. The music that I had devoted my life to had now betrayed me. I had no voice. I put away my drums. I turned off the radio. I couldn’t bear to hear someone else singing about their own pain or happiness.”

On The Foo Fighters:

“Finding a good band name is still the hardest fucking part. Foo Fighters is the stupidest fucking name.”

On PSY’s K-pop hit ‘Gangnam Style’

“Fuck guilty pleasure! What about just pleasure? I can truthfully say out loud that ‘Gangnam Style’ is one of my favourite songs of the past decade … Is it better than the latest Atoms For Peace album [Amok]? Hmmmm. If only we had a celebrity panel of judges to determine that for us. What would J-Lo do? Paging Pitchfork. Come in, come in. Pitchfork, we need you.”

On The Voice

“Who’s to say what is a good voice and what’s not a good voice? The Voice? Imagine Bob Dylan standing there singing ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ in front of Christina Aguilera. ‘I think it’s a little nasally and sharp.’”

On finding your own voice

“There is no right or wrong – there is only your voice. Your voice screaming through an old Neve 8028 recording console, your voice singing through a laptop, your voice echoing from a street corner. It doesn’t matter. What matters most is that it’s your voice. Cherish it. Respect it. Nurture it. Challenge it. Respect it. Stretch it and scream until it’s fucking gone … Who knows how long it will last. It’s there if you want it.”

On being a dad:

“As a proud father, I pray they are left to their own devices and they realise the musician comes first and they become someone’s Beatles … But then again, what do I know?”

Watch Grohl’s full SXSW keynote below:



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thereisnokevin said on the 15th Mar, 2013

oh dave. you can do no wrong.


crob said on the 15th Mar, 2013

hahahaha... fav quote from SXSW this year

"Hi Austin. Fuck SXSW. There… I said it.
Here, the music comes last. 5 minute set-up, no sound check, 15 minute set. The 'music' element is all a front, it's the first thing to be compromised. Corporate money everywhere but in the hands of the artists, at what is really just a glorified corporate networking party. Drunk corporate goons and other industry vampires and cocaine. Everyone is drunk, being cool. 'Official' bureaucracy and all their mindless rules. Branding, branding, branding. It's bullshit… sorry."

-- DIIV's Zachary Cole Smith is not enjoying his time in Austin.


Braveheart81 said on the 15th Mar, 2013

^ isn't that mostly the point of SXSW?

It's meant to be more of an industry event than a music festival isn't it?


crob said on the 15th Mar, 2013

^ isn't that mostly the point of SXSW?

It's meant to be more of an industry event than a music festival isn't it?

that's what i always thought, but over time it became bigger n more trendy so people forgot what the point of it was...


gumbuoy said on the 15th Mar, 2013

Also, how is that news? That's the same report that comes out of SXSW EVERY YEAR. his band got invited (or applied) to play it, what did he think was going to happen? "Oh, every year it's about corporate interests and short sets with no soundcheck, but this year when we play it, it'll be different!"

No sympathy. Don't like it, don't play it.


Mattymatt said on the 15th Mar, 2013

i couldn't agree more! it's the biggest music industry showcase in the world, what a shock that there are record executives there! with so many gigs on, obviously some bands are going to get a raw deal.