Dave Grohl is Killing Rock ‘n’ Roll, Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll: Prologue to a Manifesto

It is time, friends.

We need a true form of musical activism. We need artists willing to risk everything to expose the cultural atrocities and mammon-driven careerist lies spread by the wheezing rock’n’roll machine.

We, we Americans, need our Crass, our Mekons, our Billy Childish, our Billy Bragg, our Chumbawumba. We need artists that filter every action through a desire to expose lies and create positive cultural models; and we need our musical Duchamp, Tzara, Dali, Arp, artists willing to make art extreme and art gorgeous and art that makes a statement about all the wrong turns music has made because of commerce and so-called common sense. And we need it now, more than ever; and such a movement has more potential to thrive, now more than ever, because of the virus of plurality and ubiquity that is the Interstream.

NOISE THE COLUMN ARCHIVES

Jon Langford: Role Model

I am inspired to type this (not yet a manifesto but perhaps a prologue to a manifesto) because I have heard the new track by the Foo Fighters. It is the most vapid, despicable, corrupt and unentertaining piece of crap I have ever heard (with the possible exception of ELP’s “Karn Evil 9”). The new Foo Fighters track sounds like late-period Blue Oyster Cult attempting to write a Tom Petty song but changing their mind midway and settling for any overly-macho and ham-fisted imitation of MTV-era Aerosmith, I swear to you it’s that bad; and if this is what claims to uphold the flag of rock’n’roll these days, let’s fucking kill this animal and start again. Let’s use all our energy and all our connections to find a Steve Ignorant or Jon Langford or punk rock Steve Earle to climb on the cardboard Golgotha sitting on the John Varvatos cash-pile consumerist rock has become and tell this rock’n’roll Herod that his time is over. And let’s find some hacker genius to make sure that every time someone tries to download this rotten piece of Classic MTV fuckery masquerading as punk statement they get “Rowche Rumble” by the Fall instead.

Foo Fighters were harmless enough when they were just churning out reasonable Husker Du imitations, but somehow they got it in their head that they were the God-appointed Czars of rock’n’roll and keepers of the punk rock flame; so now they have to make this really big dramatic music with lots of quiet parts and loud parts and even SWEAR words in it because THEY ARE SO FUCKING PUNK ROCK, though really it all just sounds like a track leftover from BÖC’s Imaginos plus a hefty dose of Hagar-era Van Halen bombast filtered through one of those frightening Billy Steinberg songs Cheap Trick recorded when they were desperate for a hit EXCEPT THE DIRTY WORDS IN THE SONG MAKE US IMPORTANT AND MAKE US REBELS, MAN, BECAUSE WE ARE SO PUNK ROCK.

Billy Childish. Role Model.

Generally, us old people want nothing more than to be back inside, back in the game, which makes us afraid to make enemies; but fuck it, I have lived and breathed through some of the best times this old beast rock’n’roll had to its name, and I owe it to these pleasures, these extremes of energy and emotion, I owe it to every great band I ever saw, to do everything I can to call this piece of sad decay exactly what it is: a sign of the absolute rotten corruption of this genre. And I recognize that all the pieces are in place to use the new-model music industry for POSITIVE CHANGE, and to combat this kind of over-fucked fucked-out old corpse.

Let this fax of the xerox of the shadow of the chalk outline of punk be combated, not with violence but with an alternative, with a new folk that sounds like howls of hillbilly cats and punk green and lean and honest. Let’s remember that the line between crispy Crass fan and crusty Burning Man daze dog is small indeed, and should be smaller; and lets unite to celebrate free music, and instead of condemning the cheapness and ubiquity of the resource, let’s celebrate this reality and utilize that ease of distribution to preach something truly meaningful. Let every song have a message, let every song have the courage to send shivers or be repulsive or even be absolute sugar. More than ever music can be rude or dumb-angel beautiful, and more than ever music can be courageous and make courageous statements and stand for something.

Steve Earle. Role Model.

Listen, if it’s all going to be given away for free now, anyway, let’s just fucking run with that concept: give it away and make it mean something. Make strange and beautiful music about important things (or make your music and your sites doorways for valuable information!) and give it away to the people

Maaaaaaaan.

Seriously, this country is a total fucking mess yet full of the potential of every genius, lover, and dreamer who lives in it, so make music (or create portals alongside your music) to reach these genius, lovers, and dreamers; spread art and information, information, information, information; combat ignorance; and since you’re giving it away, give away knowledge, too. And take it away from the people who use it to pump even more fart-filled air into this ugly monster, yes, Dave Grohl, I am looking at you, because you are spewing out your ugly sub-Soul Asylum-meets-Desmond Child belch-fuel masquerading, cruelly, as PUNK ROCK… I prefer the flagrant, blatant, numbskull fakes to the vile subtle ones; any Adam Levine, proud of his Douche Fiefdom, is preferable to some half-assed watered down version of REAL.

Paul Krassner. Role Model.

Now…I am sure Dave Grohl is a perfectly nice guy (and, in fact, people I trust confirm this). But we have all put up with his punk rocker-as-Ken Berry-on-1970s-variety-show persona long enough, his goofy and precious and almost ludicrously self-important self-anointed role as the good will ambassador of rock’n’roll. With this horrific release, NOT a well-meaning song but a carefully constructed attempt to make a “classic rock” song with “a dose of attitude,” he pushes it over the edge, and he needs to be stopped. His kind of vapidity in the guise of punk rock envoy needs to be combated by a new-model army of people willing to use music to instruct and enforce change. We need millennial Tom Hayden or Jerry Rubin or Paul Krassner to cover his constant public coronation with planeloads of dogshit, and to offer real alternatives in unique ways. Rock’n’roll doesn’t need a goofy ol’ Merv Griffin guest like Dave Grohl to make punk safe for all those rock’n’roll hall of fame voters, fuck that shit, fuck that shit, shit on that fuck; rock’n’roll was fucking hillbilly pillheads and London speed dealers and princes and princesses in the Kingdom of Outsiders and people courageous enough to give up a living because they wouldn’t appear on lying network TV shows, and it was about Wynonie Fucking Harris and the fucking Treniers (who I saw playing for tips in the bars of low-end Vegas casinos when they were almost 80 years old and playing as if they had just invented rock’n’roll that afternoon), and it was about the sloppy-ass Kinks in the 1970s and shrieking Sonics in the 1960s and shuddering Suicide daring the audience to hate them and Eddie Cochran slurring and slapping and Gene Vincent and Lemmy and Vince Taylor holding on to the rock crazy train and refusing to let go; it’s not about Dave Fucking Grohl’s Pat Sajak in a Mohawk act, it’s about hearing something that makes you shiver and shout, it’s not about hearing something calculated to be the perfect air freshener to brighten up your shit-stained classic radio doormat.

Phil Ochs. Role Model.

Listen to The Fall Listen to Huey Piano Smith Listen to Hawkwind Listen to Hanoi Rocks Listen to the Stooges Listen to the Mekons Listen to Pete Seeger listen to Pink Flag by Wire listen to Goatwhore Listen to Bo Diddley better yet

Make it yourself, drawing from the bruised and tic-tock ticking and thundering hollers at the root of the beast Dave Grohl ruined, listen to Ledbelly and listen to Joe Ely and listen to Billy Joe Shaver listen to Paul Sanchez listen to Fred Neil listen to Sister Rosetta listen to Phil Ochs Phil Ochs Phil Ochs Phil Ochs and Sun Ra and all these people who played with love and anger and because they had to. And

Dave Fucking Grohl read about Victor Jara who DIED for the right to make music that made a difference.

(Dave Grohl dies for the right to guest host Chelsea Lately and play drums at the CMA Awards.)

Victor Jara. The Anti-Grohl. And Role Model.

And it’s time to change, no period here, but an ELLIPSES, an ellipses that YOU have to fill in, that powerful people have to fill in by deciding to take the freedom and promise of FREE music and using it for POSITIVE CHANGE. Listen, I’m going to write a lot more about this in the future, because it’s really important. Start again. Make it means something. Rock’n’roll is dead, long live rock’n’roll.

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About Tim Sommer

Timothy Sommer has achieved some degree of notoriety working as a musician, record producer, MTV/VH1 VJ, journalist, club and radio DJ, and music industry executive.

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35 Responses to Dave Grohl is Killing Rock ‘n’ Roll, Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll: Prologue to a Manifesto

  1. iLeonD October 20, 2014 at 11:59 am #

    Eat a snickers bar. You get uppity when you don’t have a snack.

    • John M October 21, 2014 at 9:21 am #

      There is not just one kind of rock n roll. I am glad I had the el ride to read the whole thing. This guy is a negative asshole just like you. I understand why you may have liked the article if you even read past the head line. He is so set on explaining through example why he is the historian of all that is true and great and by comparison everything else is shit. I disagree. Everyone is entitled to have an opinion about music. Everyone feels and responds differently to this most primitive form of communication. The hardest rock is not for all and that should be respected. The world will not listen to the best of poets and the best of message providers if they don’t like the way it sounds. It is d bags like this guy and you who sit at home usually alone and when some one is around say “you got to listen to this”. Like you and this asshole are the authority of what everyone should listen to and like. Cunts. Create something. Don’t just criticize. The music critic or any critic for that matter is the destroyer of art. Not the artist. Everything has value and it is for each individual to determine what they like.

  2. NickR October 20, 2014 at 8:00 pm #

    Huh? The Foo Fighters make music they like. If you don’t like it that’s fine but what is this article? Is it supposed to be “punk journalism”. Just comes off like a hater spewing forth. Grohl is hardly one to focus hate on. A live Foo Fighters show is a 3+ hour celebration of Rock and Roll. What else matters. Not this article that’s for sure.

    • Sue October 21, 2014 at 5:25 pm #

      Ya!

  3. Crowdee October 20, 2014 at 10:30 pm #

    “About Tim Sommer
    Timothy Sommer has achieved some degree of notoriety working as a musician, record producer, MTV/VH1 VJ, journalist, club and radio DJ, and music industry executive.”

    So…a VEEJAY is gng to tell us what’s what? How meta.

  4. Billy October 20, 2014 at 10:46 pm #

    Whenever you stop complaining about the state of music and start creating it … I vow to take this article a little more seriously. People enjoy what Dave does, as do I, and not that he needs any “Defenders” … (see what I did there?)… people like you need to put your money where your mouth is. Kudos, by the way, to making your invalid point that much more hard-hitting by swearing. Skip the official manifesto and quit while you’re ahead. (Sometimes artists release tracks that don’t tickle your ears or give you goosebumps … get over it. The most significant body of his work revolves around really decent tunes that have defined music over the course of his career.)

  5. Billy October 20, 2014 at 11:00 pm #

    BTW … clearly what I do is pick fights over the internet because I am passionate about these things. I stand behind what I said but seriously, there are not too many people achieving what Dave has out there at the moment. I’ll take him over the sorry state of pop music any day! You seem to be very well-researched and informative. I simply, strongly, disagree with your statements. Cheers.

  6. Kevin Combs October 21, 2014 at 12:51 am #

    Watch this- it will brighten your heart.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5QRBUAUYBr8

  7. Daz October 21, 2014 at 3:25 am #

    Why get so worked up about one artist, band or song? There’s plenty crap music out there. If you don’t like it, don’t listen to it.

  8. Xavier Trevino October 21, 2014 at 7:43 am #

    David Grohl is about as punk rock as Julie Andrews.

  9. MJC October 21, 2014 at 10:20 am #

    Tim Sommer signed Hootie and the Blowfish.

    • James Patrick October 21, 2014 at 1:02 pm #

      Wow. Talk about cred killer. If you are/were IN ANY STATE OR FORM AFFILIATED WITH Hootie & The Blowfish you should not comment on the sorry state of rock music. It’s your fault. That is all.

  10. Ok.... October 21, 2014 at 12:31 pm #

    Really? Of all the crap out there, and you pick Dave to trash on?? Come on, man….You must know, deep down, that this is ridiculous.

  11. Dw Dunphy October 21, 2014 at 1:35 pm #

    At this point, I will gladly take Dave Grohl. You can have your processed synth sonatas, your Katy Perry/Ariana Grande/Nicki Minaj/Beyonce parade, your twerking, your Miley Cyrus self-abusing, and so on, because if you remove Foo Fighters from the pop music landscape, that’s all you got.

    The best bet for your next wave of rock music to wash away the smell of pop music stagnation, and for someone to actually pick up a guitar again one day, is through Grohl. Not by demeaning and removing him. You don’t have to like that, but it is truth.

  12. Tim Sommer October 21, 2014 at 1:36 pm #

    I agree with about every comment here. These are all enormously valid points. And Hootie & the Blowfish were about as honest a bunch of musicians as I ever met, much less worked with, and comnplete and total underdogs at the time I signed them (I literally had to beg the label I worked at to have their album, which was recorded for an unimaginably low budget, released — please recall that in 1993, NO ONE at ANY major was signing anything but grunge). Oh and I also worked with Brian Eno, Stipe, was a founding member of the Swans, and my band Hugo Largo were about as left-field as anyone could want. I signed Hootie because they were amazing songwriters and a class fucking act.

  13. Tim Sommer October 21, 2014 at 1:46 pm #

    WAIT…interesting that a lot of people are defending Grohl (which is fine), but there are NO comments addressing my general thesis and most important point — that a person of Grohl’s power and visibility might be better off spending their time organizing voters or combatting the Tea Party than hosting Chelsea Lately or playing drums on the CMA awards…

    • Michael Nameche October 21, 2014 at 5:08 pm #

      Oh, THAT was your most important point? The one sentence (in parenthesis, no less!) at the end of the piece that seems mostly like a personal dig about the company Grohl keeps? THAT was your most important point?

      Tim, I don’t want to tell you how best to get your point across but if that was your point, you may want to burn this first draft and start from scratch.

  14. DMSWoj October 21, 2014 at 3:15 pm #

    Say, that was refreshing. But… how about a couple of lady role models?

  15. Slobbo October 21, 2014 at 3:18 pm #

    Maybe Grohl is enjoying himself. What the fuck do you care? He was in the band that slaughtered hair metal. The guy is a fucking hero.

  16. dave October 21, 2014 at 4:16 pm #

    Some of this rant is totally hilarious but seriously politics is Krist’s thing man. You know he’s a billionaire too right? Being in media for so long you probably should understand that when the castle blew up one guy went one way rocking and rolling caring the torch and the other pulled a Cat Stevens.

  17. JABC October 21, 2014 at 4:57 pm #

    Maybe no one addressed your ‘thesis’ because the article is so poorly written and so full of pseudo-intellectual blather it is difficult to cut through the crap and figure out what you are trying so hard and so pompously to say- my 10th grade English teacher would have had a stoke reading this. Why should Dave Grohl or any one else who has gained a following use their platform for something other than what they know and do well? Maybe you would prefer if Kim Kardashian held a summit on ebola readiness in the US? I would prefer to see her, and Dave for that matter, hosting Chelsea Lately. Its a really stupid point.

  18. Ryan October 21, 2014 at 5:27 pm #

    This is well written, but has no point and is just nonsensical ranting about you’re favorite musicians. Instead of giving reasons why Dave is ruining rock music, you just dropped every band or musician you appreciate in comparison. Is Dave the first in rock n roll to drop an F bomb? You call him out for swearing and than drop as many swear words as you can to help prove your point. Somehow hosting Chelsea Lately or playing drums with a country act is the reason he’s killing rock music? Like the Stooges playing Lollapalooza is so punk rock.

    I seriously doubt Grohl would ever describe his band as punk rock. He has plenty of punk rock influences and wears them proudly but I’ve never heard him describe the FF as punk rock. In fact, I think he’s compare it to Styx or Cheap Trick or 70′s commercial radio. His new HBO show did dive into the Chicago punk rock scene to delve into where Steve Albini, the engineer on their track, came from, but he also covered Muddy Waters and Buddy Guy.

    People who compare art are idiots, go judge a battle of the bands.

    • Gary October 21, 2014 at 6:22 pm #

      I agree with Ryan. If you’re gonna bag on someone that has pretty much set the bar of positive influence for future musicians/musical artists, I suggest you do more to be like him instead of the pretentious turd you’ve painted yourself as. You don’t have to like what he does, but when you go public with that opinion, you open yourself to the same judgments. I don’t know if that’s wise for someone that hasn’t accomplished anything close to the person you’re trying to tear down.

  19. Joe October 21, 2014 at 6:24 pm #

    Author’s point is valid. He’s not comparing FF to bad music in general – since the beginning of time, there’s always been plenty of histrionic ballad singers and fruity boy bands and processed dance music.

    He’s talking about rock. And about how Grohl has assumed the role of some kind of authority on what we’re supposed to be nostalgic about, what we’re supposed to be influenced by, and what we’re supposed to groove on now. And yet his music is about as tepid and uninspired as anything I’ve ever heard, and I’ve heard Bad English.

    To quote Jason Hartley in his book “The Advanced Genius Theory”: the Foo Fighters are “the Mike & the Mechanics of grunge.” Aside from the pure hilarity, the quote also happens to be true. I think Grohl is a good singer and musician, seems like a nice guy, but I’m not sure why a guy who beat the crap out of his open hi-hat while waving his hair around is conferred the title of Rock God out of the gate. (Is playing drums behind a genius the qualification?)

    And by the way – Grohl had my vote straight out of the gate with the first FF song I ever heard: “Big Me.” Turns out I loved the song for one simple reason: it didn’t sound like any other Foo Fighters song.

    • Gary October 21, 2014 at 7:10 pm #

      The only person calling him a Rock God is you and this windbag.

      …but by popular music standards, Dave Grohl is a rock god because he’s earned it, in more ways than one.

      You play a show in Wembley and see how well attended it is. Are you part of an exhibit in the EMP in Seattle? Did you even know what Sound City was before you watched it? Did you go see the Foos back in ’97 and scream for Marigold from the crowd? How many documentaries on music have you made?

      If you’re concerned with his status in the industry, try putting in 25 years and see where you measure up in comparison. If you don’t like what he’s done, then do something better. Hell, just do something besides complaining about people who have.

      • Joe October 21, 2014 at 7:29 pm #

        Bon Jovi achieved much of what you’re trumpeting about the Foo Fighters.

        If you’re going to turn around and defend BJ on the basis of their sales, attendance, number of documentaries by or about, people screaming for a certain song at their concerts (why would you include that in your list, as if it was something universal? Sounds like something YOU’RE proud of that YOU did – and to answer your question, no I didn’t), then your reading comprehension is low and you don’t know how to make cogent arguments.

        Whether I’ve created something or performed at Wembley is immaterial.

        Your boy’s boring. Live with it.

        • Gary October 22, 2014 at 12:13 am #

          So boring that you’re willing to argue about it?

          FACT: Every person/musician/artist that sells records and plays shows in front of crowds for paying customers provides more to the industry than some turd with a keyboard and a hard-on to belittle people that do.That includes Bon Jovi, Foo Fighters, and every other band that has accomplished more by being less of an asshole than you.

  20. Ken October 21, 2014 at 6:26 pm #

    We’re reading Tim “Hugo Largo” Sommer rail against Grohl and what he’s doing to punk rock? Hugo Largo was about as far from punk rock as I recall from that era. Don’t get me wrong, I actually liked Hugo Largo, ‘Mettle’ is still in my music collection, I spun them at college radio but it’s like Kenny G. writing about how David Sanborn is killing jazz. Or George Thorogood telling of the ills of SRV’s contributions to the Blues. If Langford wants to write about it, or Ian MacKaye, or hell, Albini, go ahead. Just not Tim Sommer.

  21. The Real Hootie October 21, 2014 at 7:15 pm #

    I’m sure Brian Eno does nto remember you, and if he did would not admit it. Hugo Largo? Yawn. I guess you wish you could work at buzzfeed or something. clickbait is what you are after apparently. Hootie were great songwriters? Breaking news – bitter old man trying to stay relevant shakes fist at successful mainstream band, claims they are not punk!

  22. D October 21, 2014 at 7:50 pm #

    Lemmy says he’s OK, he’s OK

  23. Sammi October 21, 2014 at 7:55 pm #

    Grohl seems like a nice guy. But for my ears, he makes really boring, middle of the road music. Right now, the foo fighters are the standard for a rock band, and when we’ve accepted mediocrity as excellence, it doesn’t bode well for the future of this music. Just my two cents.

  24. John Yingling October 21, 2014 at 9:47 pm #

    It’s happening. You’re just not paying attention.

  25. izac October 21, 2014 at 10:00 pm #

    Dave Grohl does a good job of using his status and success in the rock industry to support the underground through his label Southern Lord Records. He supports up and coming acts and has helped amazing older Punk bands such as BL’AST and Poison Idea (and many others ) get back on the road, re-master and re-release past works. What the fuck have you done other then bitch blame and complain. You are clearly apart of the problem. Sounds like you are jealous…

  26. please remove October 22, 2014 at 12:16 am #

    will you please remove my past. Dave G is just affiliated with southern lord . I thought he was the founder and that is Greg Anderson. can you please remove my post . sorry my bad.

  27. Aviv October 22, 2014 at 1:52 am #

    Look, I get it man. I get the frustration.
    Personally, I still love the FF and Grohl but I’ve learned to take both their music and Grohl’s public persona and statements with a grain of salt.
    after about album 3 or 4 the music has become a formula (Yet, in my opinion, was still awesomely energetic and catchy) and Grohl’s over romanticizing wasn’t very relatable to me, even though, between some of the cheesyness, you could definitely find some actual good input that come from genuine, interesting life experience.
    FF never claimed to be a punk band with some generation-leading message. That was never their purpose and they’re definitely not taking any room from any artist who might actually want to take on that role.

    Waiting for a rebellious, message-carrying musician to come and save us all sounds a little archaic to me (unfortunately) in the sense that with the way the music industry is right now, you’re not going to get someone who’ll swoop everyone off their feet. Doesn’t seem like it anyway. (Maybe Kendrick Lamar could transform into something like that? I highly doubt it though) and also, you can’t just sit and wait for that. Do it yourself if you want that to happen, nobody’s gonna do it for you.

    I’m sure Grohl could use his power and influence for sending more significant messages than what he’s doing right now (Although, it’s not all terrible at all.. His HBO show actually gives you or a younger audience a nice little history lesson) but he’s doing something different.
    Not defending him, but rather trying to point out that the attention should probably steer in a different, more productive direction.

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