The Reverb Essay

The Dave Grohl apology: Backpedaling hits breakneck speeds!

Earlier today, music PR company Nasty Little Man issued a “clarification” note from Dave Grohl’s Grammy acceptance speech, a long-winded, self-serving bit of egomania that took over-explanation and backpedaling to new and dizzying speeds.

Why? Because Grohl’s acceptance speech riled many critics and fans with its implications that drums ‘n guitar music is the only real way to enlightenment, or that he was one of the few musicians keeping it real whilst bobbing in a sea of pixels and Auto-Tuned vocals.

“Rather than go to the best studio in the world down the street in Hollywood and rather than use all of the fanciest computers that money can buy, we made this one in my garage with some microphones and a tape machine…” he said during the Grammys. “To me this award means a lot because it shows that the human element of music is what’s important. Singing into a microphone and learning to play an instrument and learning to do your craft, that’s the most important thing for people to do.”


Among various angry responses, an L.A. Weekly blog called the speech straight-up “bullshit,” generating nearly 350 comments in a little over four days.

Look, we’ve always loved the Muppet-faced Foo Fighters front man for his “don’t do drugs, kids!” enthusiasm and legit creative credentials (and we’re not just talking Nirvana here). But we couldn’t help but find today’s missive to be transparent image-tending — regardless of the fact that it tried to play itself off as tongue-in-cheek.

So, in Mr. Grohl’s honor, we’re proposing a number of further steps he could take to make nice with the electronic music world and restore the honor and integrity that the drummer of songs like “Milk It” deserves.

Dave Grohl + Skrillex
Grohl openly declares his love for the white-hot hair-disaster Skrillex in today’s “clarification” by writing, “I don’t know how to do what Skrillex does (though I fucking love it) but I do know that the reason he is so loved is because he sounds like Skrillex, and that’s badass.”

Dude, we have a few ideas how he does it, and most of them involve 1s and 0s. Why don’t you bust out your best Phil Collins/Rapture drum machine and help juice up some tracks from “Bangarang”? We have a feeling the dubstep goodness would only get dubbier if the beats were being triggered by someone with tree-trunk arms.

Dave Grohl + Josh Groban
Far be it from us to say that a killer singing voice is a prerequisite to great music. From Bob Dylan to Stephen Malkmus (and, ahem, Joanna Newsom) less-than-appealing voices often communicate more in their cracks, deficiencies and annoying high pitches than an opera star can in a lifetime. So when Grohl wrote, “Look, I am not Yngwie Malmsteen. I am not John Bonham. Hell… I’m not even Josh Groban, for that matter. But I try really fucking hard so that I don’t have to rely on anything but my hands and my heart to play a song. I do the best that I possibly can within my limitations, and accept that it sounds like me,” well, we couldn’t help but think that a Groban collaboration was overdue.

We know Groban would be game for it, having shown his unexpectedly cool sense of humor on “Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!” So why not pit Grohl’s “authentic” voice against Groban’s lilting perfection and see who comes out on top? Then again, maybe that’s not such a good idea, since Grohl often sounds like a Scott Stapp imitator while singing live and benefits as much as anyone (if not more) from studio overdubs and multiple takes.

Dave Grohl + Kraftwerk
According to this morning’s “clarification,” Grohl loves all kinds of music (and he capitalizes ALL, so you know he’s not fucking around). “From Kyuss to Kraftwerk, Pinetop Perkins to Prodigy, Dead Kennedys to Deadmau5… I love music… The simple act of creating music is a beautiful gift that ALL human beings are blessed with. And the diversity of one musician’s personality to the next is what makes music so exciting and… human.”

Now that German electro-pioneers Kraftwerk have announced an April residency at MoMA, we encourage Grohl to stop in and guest on a few tracks to prove that love. Since, you know, the POINT of Kraftwerk was to take the human element out of music as a means of commenting on our increasingly meshed electronic milieu. Just think: Grohl singing through a vocoder on famous tracks from “Trans-Europe Express,” or lightly plinking tinny keyboard notes with his fingerless-gloved paws during “Autobahn.” The possibilities are endlessly boring.

When all is said and done after the coming robot revolution, maybe we’ll still have Grohl’s embalmed head to tell us which of the Madonna-bots looks best on the Super Bowl DCCVII halftime show. Until then, let’s all be thankful for the Interwebs, PR companies and the pulpit that Mr. Grohl enjoys. Otherwise, we’d be in danger of forming our own opinions about what he says and taking him at face value.

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John Wenzel is an A&E reporter and digital media editor for The Denver Post and the author of “Mock Stars: Indie Comedy and the Dangerously Funny” (Speck Press/Fulcrum). Follow him @johntwenzel and @beardsandgum.