Dave Grohl reveals how a drum battle with a 10-year-old helped influence the Foo Fighters’ 10th album

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March 10, 2021 4:33 p.m. EST
Getty Images/Instagram @Nandi_Bushell Getty Images/Instagram @Nandi_Bushell

The Foo Fighters released their tenth studio album, Medicine at Midnight, in February after putting it on the shelf for many months due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Foo Fighters' frontman Dave Grohl admitted that 10-year-old Nandi Bushell had a lot to do with the actual release of the album.

If that name sounds familiar to you, it's because Nandi became an online sensation last fall when she challenged Grohl to a drum battle. The pair started sending videos back and forth on social media, and after Grohl admitted defeat, he wrote a theme song for Nandi to commemorate her talent. 

Ahead of Friday night's special etalk Presents: Foo Fighters (airing March 19 at 7 pET on CTV), Grohl told etalk's Chloe Wilde that when his friends were sending him the challenge, he thought, "Oh that’s cute," but his friends told him he needed to step up and respond. “I responded and then she like hits me right back and just kicks my ass with some other drum thing and I started thinking ‘Oh my God I’m getting my ass handed to me by this 10-year-old kid from England,” he said.  

Grohl said that there wasn’t a lot of good news coming out around that time due to the pandemic but he knew people would watch the videos and smile. “I thought, wait a second, this is what the internet is for. I understand that it’s, like, to share the world and the news. But I was like, for three-and-a-half or four minutes people would smile. There was no reason to do this other than to bring joy," he said.

Grohl continued, "And it was really, really inspiring to me because it was right then that I thought 'f—k it we gotta put out our record because this is what it’s for.' You’re finding joy, you’re finding escape, you’re finding happiness, you’re finding whatever it is. I was like we got to give the record to the world because if one of our songs could have the same effect on someone that Nandi had on me. I was like, we gotta do it.”

And they did it! All props to Nandi for influencing the release of the album. Grohl added that he realized music is for sharing and that's what he wanted to do.

“At first, of course, when everything really shut down we’re like 'oh well maybe we’ll just cancel the spring tour.' Then it’s like maybe we should cancel the summer tour and then it was like oh s—t maybe we should cancel the entire f—king tour. But, you know, we write these songs to be heard. We write these songs so that people can hear them and find some escape or joy or happiness. Whatever it is that’s what music is for. That’s what music has done in my entire life," he said.

"In the worst times or the best times and [music] became my best friend and my worst enemy," Grohl said that knowing the band couldn't go out and play big shows made him decide that they needed to share their album with their fans.

Grohl said he finally snapped and was like “f—k this dude, put it out now! Let’s just do it.” He said it got to the point where they considered it their “new, old record.” He hated seeing something they put so much work into just sitting on the shelf. 

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The "Best of You" musician said that "it's nuts" to think about the band being together for 25 years and releasing their tenth album.

"First of all, when we started this band, nobody thought it would last this long. We thought, ‘Oh, this is fun. Let’s do it for an album and go hit the road and play some shows.’ After we were done with that, we kind of looked at each other, like, ‘Should we do it again?’ We’re like, ‘Yeah, alright, let’s do it one more time.’ And then we’d do it one more time and we got on the road for a year and a half and do the thing and come home and say, ‘Should we do it again?’” Grohl said.

The Foo Fighters frontman said it’s been like that for “about 25 years” with the band. “At this point, every time we come home from one of those huge tours, it’s like 'I am never doing that s—t again. No way, like, I’m exhausted and I’m sick of this,’” he shared, adding that two weeks later he’s on the couch writing more songs for the band to get back together and do it all over again. 

Grohl said that the reward for him is "survival. He continued, “Just being able to live a life where you make music with your friends. You get to meet incredible people. You get to share these songs with hundreds and hundreds and thousands of people around the world and it’s, like, reassuring. It makes you feel like oh there is connectivity in this world, oh there is romance and there is love.”

The 52-year-old singer said that human beings need to "do these things together," adding, "We need to sing songs together… Even in the last year where you’re locked down and trapped at home, it could be the most frustrating thing but you remind yourself like oh no way there’s music and people have to share this. Whether it’s on Zoom or in a field of one hundred thousand people, this is what we have to do in life.”

Grohl reflected on the impact the pandemic has had on the Foo Fighters' plans for 2020.

"Last year was supposed to be the biggest year of the band, we’re like, 'Twenty-fifth anniversary, 10th album, we’re gonna take over the f—king world man. We got stadiums lined up and it’s gonna be amazing’ and then everything just stopped.

"But it’s the type of thing that you can’t put too much importance into those little anniversaries. If you just let them happen, then they happen… Maybe we’ll go for 30, maybe we’ll go for 40. Who knows? All I’m looking forward to is what we’re going to do later today," he continued, adding that quarantine just gave the band time to do the "50 things" they've been wanting to

“Now those things are catching up with me. All of the stuff we did in the last year when people thought we weren’t doing anything. This year is gonna be so bananas. You’re going to get so sick of us it’s crazy. I can think of five huge things that we’re completing this week that we’ll roll this year and you’re just going to be like ‘God, do these f—kers sleep? Like what the hell?’”

It was announced last month that the band is on this year's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ballot alongside Jay-Z, Iron Maiden, Chaka Khan and more. Grohl said that there are people on the nomination list that he would put “way above the Foo Fighters," particularly women.

He continued, “You’re talking about Tina Turner. You’re talking about Carole King. You’re talking about the Go-Gos. There’s a lot of women that need to get into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.. I would be perfectly happy, sitting back and toasting to these amazing artists as they get their induction.”

The musician said this year's nomination is "kind of weird to think about" because he thinks everyone should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. "But to consider our band a part of that I don’t really know what it means. S—t, if they want to give me the f—king trophy I will hold it. I’ll put it right next to my bed," he added.

Grohl said he’d be most excited for all of the people that have helped the band get to where they are today.

“We’ve had the same road crew for 25 years. We’ve got this really tight organization of people that we’ve all been together for 25 or 30 years. It’s not like some big corporate skyscraper full of people at the Foo Fighters headquarters. It’s literally like 12 to 15 people that have known each other half our lives.”

Catch Friday night's special etalk Presents: Foo Fighters as part of etalk's regular broadcast airing March 19 at 7 pET on CTV.

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