I hate Dave Grohl.
Here's a little video about the making of Nirvana's album Nevermind. There's a couple of cool things about it. First of all, they discuss choosing Butch Vig to be their producer. Butch Vig is also producing the new Foo Fighters album which I mentioned in my last post. According to fooarchive.com they have started a few weeks of rehearsing in preperation for recording with Butch in September. So in the video you get to see this guy in action and hear what he has to say about Nevermind. The second really cool thing is that at the very end of the video, Butch shows the various tracks for In Bloom and you get to hear Dave's harmonies right along with Kurt Cobain's vocals. Cool to hear Dave's pre-Foo vocals and what his voice sounded like then. Apparently he used to be really self-conscious about his singing ability, so it was interesting for me to hear something from early on and see what his voice sounded like. Maybe he hadn't developed his trademark scream yet. Maybe he was a little off-key in spots. Maybe his voice was high and whiny. Nope. None of those things. Turns out his voice sounded great all along.
I hate Dave Grohl.
In Part 1 of this series, I talked about Dave having one of the best screams in rock music today. Well, not only does Dave have one of the best screams in rock, he can also sing softly with the best of them. Again, what gives? Usually really good screamers can't sing smoothly also. There's always a rasp and roughness present in their voices, even when singing softly. I'll pick Eddie Vedder as a good example. On Pearl Jam's latest album, there are a couple of really great slow songs, but years of screaming Lukin, Spin The Black Circle and Do The Evolution and years of cigarette smoking give his voice a pretty rough edge. And I hate to say it, he just can't sing like he used to.
Listen to Dave Grohl, though and you hear something quite different. The first time I heard Dave sing was when Nirvana played MTV Unplugged and he was singing background vocals on some songs. And I remember being struck at the time, thinking, "Wow, he has a really cool voice" (this was way before I hated him). And if you go back to the first Foo Fighters album and listen to a song like For All The Cows or Doll on The Colour And The Shape, his voice has an incredibly smooth, soft quality to it. Even though Dave has said recently that he's spent the last 15 years wreaking havoc on his vocal chords and turning them into string cheese (and smoking cigarettes), you listen to songs on the latest Foo album like the beginning of Pretender or Let It Die, his voice is still silky smooth.
This is a guy that when you see him live on TV doing special appearances, his voice usually sounds like crap. He doesn't seem to concern himself with singing pitch perfect and is more focused on entertaining people and putting energy into his performance. And people love him for it. But for the studio he brings it. Of course I think there's some studio "magic" going on and there's a big difference between $2,000 and $100 microphones.
So how do I wrap this up? Dave Grohl has one of the best screaming voices in rock. Dave Grohl has one of the best soft voices in rock. I have neither. I hate Dave Grohl.
Dave Grohl has one of the best screams in rock. I admit it. I won't say he has the best scream, because it's hard to say really and it's pretty subjective. I mean, Eddie Vedder can scream awesome and Roger Daltry can scream with the best of them, even if he's not known as a screamer. Robert Plant can scream great, in an otherworldly (and womanly) kind of way. Steven Tyler has his moments too, although his screams feel a little more calculated to me (how many screams start with "Wai-kai-kai-kai-kai-KAI!!"?). And there are others, I know.
I'm not into all that "screamo" stuff either. Too much screaming becomes boring and monotonous anyway. But the perfectly timed scream can be powerful. What better time is there, really, than the bridge of Monkey Wrench? "One last thing before I quit..." crescendo-ing into "I was always caged but now I'm FREEEEEEEE!!!!" Awesome.
I've seen the Foo Fighters in concert three times. Each time, Dave screams his head off. Not just in Monkey Wrench either, as there are plenty of Foo songs requiring a certain amount of throat shredding. And each time I see them I can't help but wonder, "How does he do that night after night and still be able to sing?" If I did that, I'm not sure I'd be able to talk the next day. But I think God has given some people big, powerful voices and they are able to use and abuse them without too much trouble. Unfortunately, I'm not one of them.
In a previous post I mentioned that when I scream it sounds like a cross between John Fogerty and Wierd Al Yankovich. Just one shortcoming that I'm reminded of when I listen to Dave Grohl scream. I hate Dave Grohl.