Dave Grohl decided to take on the upcoming HBO docuseries “Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways” for a number of reasons. And one of them, it seems, is that his offspring won’t have to turn to a Simon Cowell-type music mogul for validation some day.
Speaking at the Television Critics Association panel for the upcoming series, which premieres in October, the Foo Fighters frontman discussed the inspiration that he hopes the series will inspire in aspiring musicians — and he took a thinly veiled swipe at “American Idol” and its ilk.
“I don’t want my kid to think that the only way you can be a musician is to stand in line at a song contest audition, and then wind up having a bazillionaire tell you if you’re not a good singer,” Grohl said Thursday at the Beverly Hilton hotel. “Don’t get me started. To me, that’s not what music’s about.”
The series represents an ambitious project for Grohl and his band; in it, the Foo Fighters travel to eight different cities to record their new album in eight separate studios, chronicling the musical legacy of each city. In the process of interviewing key players in each music scene, Grohl gathers material that will serve as lyrical fodder for the song they recorded in that city.
For Grohl, who cut his documentary teeth with the lauded “Sound City,” the roundabout process of recording the album helped to keep things fresh, as the band moves into its third decade of existence.
“To me, it’s all about reinventing the process. We could just go and make another record in the studio, hit the road and sell a bunch of T-shirts … but wheres the fun in that?” Grohl offered during the panel. “We’ve been a band for 20 years now. Let’s go to tiny studios all over the country, tell the story of music from that city. What is it about that each one of these cities that influences the music that comes from there? Because there are real reasons, cultural influence from each one of these places. There’s a reason why jazz came from New Orleans. There’s a reason why country went to Nashville, and why the blues went to Chicago.”
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But beyond the personal challenge, Grohl is hoping to expose the series’ viewers to the overlooked musical gems that reside across the country.
“You could give a history of music from any city in America; all these places have music, not just New York and Los Angeles,” Grohl enthused. “I think the idea is that you tell the stories of these unsung musicians and that’s when people start to get inspired.”
Grohl found himself pretty inspired by the process too — though he noted that he’s more than happy to leave it as a one-off experience.
“It was so fun — I will never, ever do it again, it’s a pain in the ass,” Grohl admitted. “But it was so exciting.”