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Page last updated at 09:12 GMT, Monday, 28 March 2011 10:12 UK
Dave Grohl's 'questions' after Cobain death

By Tom Bateman
Today Programme

Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters performing on stage during the 2011 NME Awards

Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl has rarely spoken publicly about the death of his friend and Nirvana bandmate Kurt Cobain. But 17 years on, he says it is time to "acknowledge everything that's happened".

He walks into the London hotel room booked for our interview, stares at the circular bed in the corner, and makes a single, emphatic remark.

"Round beds suck."

The bearded 42-year-old, coffee in one hand, croissant in the other, delivers a simple explanation for the defects of curvaceous dormancy.

Dave Grohl
Dave Grohl still mourns the death of his friend Kurt Cobain

"You fall asleep and you wake up in another position, and you don't know where are," he says.

It's the kind of straight talking which has characterised Grohl's remarkable career in rock.

Grohl joined Nirvana as the band's drummer in the early 1990s, just before recording the album Nevermind, which was to become a huge global grunge hit.

But tragedy came in April 1994 with the death of lead singer Kurt Cobain, who shot himself at his home in Seattle.

Cobain left a note containing lyrics by the singer Neil Young - "It's better to burn out than fade away".

Nearly two decades on, Grohl says Cobain's "heartbreaking" death remains a key turning point in his own life.

"There's moments in my life that I really consider these 'markers'," he explains.

"I actually remember the next day, waking up and feeling like 'wow, I am waking up today, and he's not, so I really have to take advantage of this time'."

He reveals that he still mourns for his friend.

"I don't think of Kurt as 'Kurt Cobain from Nirvana'. I think of him as 'Kurt'," he says.

"It's something that comes back all the time. Almost every day."

The drummer-turned-frontman appears to tire of having to keep answering questions about the early part of his career and Cobain's legacy.

Kurt Cobain
Nirvana's shadow still hangs over Dave Grohl's career

Grohl has produced a feature-length documentary about the formation of his subsequent band Foo Fighters, which reveals his early frustration at journalists' comparisons between him and Cobain.

I ask him how difficult it was to cope with Cobain's death in the full glare of publicity.

"I'm not really telling you the truth right now," he replies.

"You're a journalist, and this is going out on the radio. You're not really entitled to knowing how I feel about these things because they're mine.

"I understand because of the band and the popularity and stuff that people want to know.

"But in a lot of ways I have as many questions as anybody else."

He doesn't elaborate on what those questions might be, adding: "It's the hand that I was dealt. I wouldn't be here right now if it weren't for Nirvana."

Caught on tape

It brings him on to the latest focus of his artistic attention, the Foo Fighters' new album - the band's seventh - Wasting Light.

In an almost literal return to form, the work is recorded on tape, without the use of computers, in an echo of grunge bands' early 1990s studio style.

The album was put together by the bespectacled US record producer Butch Vig, the man behind Nirvana's multi-platinum selling Nevermind.

"I just started thinking about the last 16 [to] 20 years, and how this would be our year, you know," he explained.

"It's time for us to acknowledge everything that's happened before now."

Songs include the current radio release, Rope - an anthemic Foo Fighters guitar track with trademark rock chords and vocal harmonies - and new tracks A Matter of Time, and I Should Have Known, containing thinly veiled references to Grohl's musical past.

The singer says the album "really sounds like the band" due to its authentic on-tape recording style.

"I'm not into albums that are meant to sound perfect," he explains.

"[With] digital recording, unfortunately, the options are just unlimited. When I listen to the radio I just hear so much music that doesn't even sound like people. The vocals are all tuned and the drums are all fake."

"This is rock and roll - this is not that."

Foo Fighter's new album Wasting Light is released on Columbia Records on Monday 11 April.

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