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World needs a break from Foo Fighters, says front man Grohl

By Denise Quan, CNN
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Foo Fighters' greatest hits
  • Foo Fighters' latest record is a greatest hits collection
  • It's not the end, says front man Dave Grohl, just time for a break
  • Grohl formed the band after Kurt Cobain's death ended Nirvana
  • Foo Fighters have put out six albums, won six Grammys
  • Dave Grohl
  • Kurt Cobain
  • Music

Los Angeles, California (CNN) -- A huge portrait of Dave Grohl hangs in the Control Room of the Foo Fighters' Studio 606. He's wearing a smoking jacket, holding a brandy snifter and looks very much like the Man of the Manor -- albeit one in need of a haircut.

At age 40, Grohl is, without a doubt, the master of his domain here in Northridge, California. The walls of the industrial complex are lined with dozens of gold and platinum records from his days with Nirvana, Queens of the Stone Age and, of course, the Foo Fighters.

Some -- from France and Germany -- are little works of art, elaborately displayed in shadow boxes or gothic frames. Others -- like those from the United States -- are more utilitarian.

Grohl points out a nondescript plaque from the Foos' self-titled debut album in 1995. It contains a cassette with a fake metal finish.

"The first record was a demo tape," he says. "This is my favorite one right here. Platinum cassette, baby! Yeah!"

It seems that everything Grohl touches turns to gold -- or, in his case, platinum. Instead of going into a tailspin in 1994, when Kurt Cobain's death abruptly put an end to Nirvana, the drummer, then 25 years old, headed into the studio to record what would become the first Foo Fighters album. He sang lead on all 14 tracks, and played just about every instrument on the record.

Fifteen years later -- with bassist Nate Mendel, drummer Taylor Hawkins and guitarist Chris Shiflett -- the Foos have become one of the top rock bands on the planet, and after six studio albums, six Grammys and an estimated 20 million CDs sold worldwide, the quartet is finally releasing a greatest hits compilation.

And then, the Foo Fighters will quietly slip into indefinite hiatus. CNN talked to the group members about the break and about the band's history.

CNN: The new album contains 16 greatest hits. But in the liner notes, Dave, you say they're not necessarily your favorite songs or your best songs.

Dave Grohl: On each album, there's diversity. There are songs that are very heavy, and there are songs that are acoustic. We have fans that love some songs, but dislike others. And I think even within the band, there are songs that I love that I'm sure the other guys don't. ...

I like to think of it as a truck stop cassette. When you go on a road trip, and when you stop to get some smokes and gas, there's that little cassette thing next to the cash register with, you know, Kansas' greatest hits or Dire Straits' greatest hits. I don't want to know about their other songs. I want to know their greatest hits. And you put it in, and you listen to it on the drive.

CNN: It's been 15 years since the Foo Fighters came into existence. Did you think it was going to go on this long?

Grohl: No way. Every time you make one, you sort of imagine that it could be your last album -- because it wouldn't make sense that anything could last this long, and in most cases, it doesn't. Most bands hang out and make music with each other for a while, until the people get sick of it, or the band gets sick of it. That hasn't seemed to happen with us yet, so it's kind of nice.

CNN: So what is going on with the Foo Fighters right now?

Grohl: I think the band decided to take a break not because we wanted to stop making music, but because we thought the world needed to take a break from us. This greatest hits record -- that's the end of something, you know. It's time to move on into this next chapter or another phase. Maybe it will be different in whatever way. I don't know.

But to be honest, we put our hearts and a lot of thought into what we do, but never so much that anything feels overly calculated or choreographed. It's nice to not know what's going to happen next. We're going over to do some shows in Europe (this week), but after that, it's like I don't even know when I'm going to see these guys. So it's kind of weird.

CNN: Do you guys get together in the off-times for barbecues, stuff like that?

Grohl: F*** no! Are you kidding? We just spent five years together! (Laugh)

CNN: Everyone seems to be working on side projects, but I've got to ask about Them Crooked Vultures (Grohl's side project with Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones and Queens of the Stone Age's Josh Homme). Have you all seen them?

Nate Mendel: No. I think the L.A. show is coming up, so Dave's going to be in the hot seat.

Taylor Hawkins: I don't even have a ticket. I'll be on the side of the stage. I'll probably be loading Dave's drums for him. (Chuckles)

Grohl: Things are good with the Vultures. Album's coming out in a couple of weeks (November 17). I love being the front man in the Foo Fighters, stomping around in stadiums and stuff like that. But to be able to sit back in the back and play the drums -- I don't even talk into a mic, I just sort of sit there and smile. (Puts on big goofy grin)

CNN: Do you have any idea what you want to do for the second chapter of the Foo Fighters?

Grohl: I do know I want to try to make the next record in my garage. I'm serious.

CNN: Think you'll be around for another 15 years, and a greatest hits, part 2?

Grohl: As long as I take my thyroid medicine. (Laughs)