Arts and Entertainment, Brooklyn Bugle, Existential Stuff, History, Music, Opinion

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

October 20, 2014

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.

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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.

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


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.

More on this subject here.

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  • meangene

    I would have a lot more respect for your opinions if you wrote & played them in a song. there is no bad art, only bad critics. david grohl is just overplayed by the media. he needs to back off a bit as do a lot of the other “super stars”,

  • Kurdt

    Grohl may be pumping out stale stadium hits, but if you wanna pull your hair out over whats on the radio, The Foo Fighters seem an odd choice.

  • Jones()

    The tone of the article (okay… “manifesto”) is a little overwrought. But he’s got a point. Just by way of example, my 13-year-old son discovered DEAD KENNEDYS a few weeks ago. The day he started listening to them, he came to me with all sorts of questions about “Holiday in Cambodia”: what’s “you’ll work hard with a gun in your back for a bowl of rice a day” supposed to mean? What’s a “Pol Pot”? Then it was “MTV Get Off the Air”: dad, what is “wigged out on quaaludes”? What does he mean by “beloved corporate gods”? I got sick of answering them, so he spent a good part of an afternoon looking stuff up on his own. Since then, he’s gotten into stuff like King Missile, The Descendents, Dead Milkmen — all those funny/subversive bands from long ago. And he’s got all sorts of questions about what they’re singing about.

    Now he also happens to be a big FOO FIGHTERS fan, and he still is (and so am I). But he’s never once had a question about any one of their songs. Not one. The point isn’t really that Dave Grohl sucks. It’s just that maybe we should be a little amazed that someone whose music goes down so smooth and easy should be called “punk rock” in any form — but people do it. So maybe that’s something a person should get overwrought about.

  • Bilbo Baggins

    You lost me (and all credibility) at Chumbawumba.

  • Bilbo Baggins

    Here’s some art, kicked to you old-school style back when punk was punk:

    Imposter by Oingo Boingo

    You never lived in the streets though you wish you had
    Not enough talent to play a guitar
    You failed as an artist ’cause you lacked in the confidence
    Now you’re a critic and you’re at the top
    (The top of what)
    You don’t believe what you write
    You’re and imposter you don’t, don’t, don’t believe what you write
    You can’t get used to the fact that you ain’t a kid
    You like to think that you speak for them all
    You’d cut off your nose if you thought it would make you hip
    It drives you crazy you can’t be a star (Oh ain’t that tough)
    You don’t believe what you write
    (You’re an imposter) you don’t believe what you write
    (You’re an imposter) you don’t believe what you write
    (You’re an imposter) you don’t, don’t, don’t believe what you write
    You take the credit while others do all the work
    You like to think you discovered them first
    But we all know you moved in after it was safe
    That way you know you could never get hurt
    (You like to play god!!)
    (Repeat chorus)
    You’re just a critic, we know why you drink so much
    Jealousy slowly consuming your gut
    The streets that you never knew are just where they’ve always been
    Your head is firmly lodged way up your butt (where it belongs)
    (Repeat chorus)

  • crink

    Listen to Skeleton of God, Dave Grohl’s secret side project from 1993

  • Liz

    Who else needs an Excedrin after reading that rant? It was hard to get your point because you rambled on and on and lost us somewhere in the “Dave is not Punk Rock” gibberish. It reminded me of the time I was called a “poser” at a Agnostic Front show when I was 20, because I didn’t look like a punk. I’m so sick of music snobs telling us who we should and shouldn’t listen to and who is rock and who is not. Find something better to write about, because I am here to tell you, music is what it is to the individual who is connecting to it and more importantly, the ones who are creating it. It may suck to you, but the lyrics or whatever it is that they drew from it, may have inspired something for someone else.



    • Simon

      And you are a terrible speller.

  • MIke ross

    This from the guy who was responsible for hootie and the blowfish. Get a grip man.

  • franklin

    Wow. An article filled with names 98% of people wouldn’t recognize if their lives depended on it. It’s good you have a deep historic knowledge of times past, and I’m sure their music was all you say it was, but why have only the true punk ragers have heard of them? Music is music. If Dave Grohl is happy with what his band does, and his fans are happy with what his band does, why should he change to 3 chord, very fast, undecipherable lyrics screamed into a 30 year old mic at tremendous volume?

    Whatever. Elitist.

  • vernon

    never heard so much whining in my life.dont blame grohl blame your lack of adaptation to new ways of looking at music. if you cant be competitive , thats your hang up.

  • http://www.weingartnerphonogram.com Brian Weingartner

    You know what this article and all the comments remind me of? My local ska scene bickering on the internet 10-15 years ago.

    I personally enjoy Foo Fighters, and frankly have been more of a casual fan (oh that song on the radio is cool) and have been pulled into liking them more since Wasting Light, the Sound City doc, and so far I loved the new show/song.

    I don’t think Dave Grohl put himself up on a pedestal, “we” did. If you saw his SXSW Keynote and underlying message through Sound City and most of his interviews now, I think nothing would make Dave happier than some snot-nosed punk to come crashing down on his little parade. Gotta remember too that while to you and some of the older folks the Foos song may sound like a “rip-off” of various influences, that’s kinda the whole point of this record, is to reflect on who’s influenced the city/musicians they’re visiting, and for better or worse paying homage to those influences.

    Also it might better serve the newer generations to use the Foos to turn them onto your “better” music. Let the Foos be a gateway to the wonderful world of rock-n-roll. Some kid likes Miley Cyrus, who are you going to introduce them too after that (well, check out this awesome tune her dad did, Achy Breaky Heart!)… but if you see some kid rocking out to the Foos, feeling inspired by them, hell celebrate that. Show that kid some videos of your “real” rock heros, or better yet give that kid a CD, cassette, or vinyl record to listen to. Chances are they’re willingly fall down that rabbit hole to discover all kinds of great music.

  • Jon

    I’m just hear for the Snickers. Cool blog post, bro.

  • http://deleted DC Dan

    How ’bout this one, Tim Sommer? This do it for you? Foo Fighters recently covering Roky Erickson on Austin City Limits:


  • http://www.dansjams.com Dan

    You’re really over thinking this. If a song that takes 3:30 takes you 1:00:00 to formulate hate for, at the very least you lost 56:30. I mean definitely KUDOS for the adjective strings, there are a gem or two in there. But in the same way you hate his careerism, I hate your punk eliticism, that only defines GOOD punk as FINANCIALLY DESTITUTE and SOCIALLY CANCEROUS punk. If any trope of rock is a tired, self-imbibing clowning caricature of itself, it’s punk nihilism. Spread your wings and experience new things, you gangly sex pistol.

    • SinDelle Morte


  • ahem

    How does the new Tim Sommer’s record sound? Anyone find the Walmart bargain bin that it’s in?

  • Greg

    I love how he condemns Grohl for adding cuss words to be cool but whenever he wants to emphasize a point in the article, he uses an expletive. He’s so tough….as tough as a middle-schooler.

  • Jay

    This cracks me up…

    I read all this utter drivel then when I get to the bottom ‘About the author’ it states ‘MTV Journalist! What a hypocritical self righteous twat hat. Harping on about ‘punk rock’ and he writes for MTV! Fuck off mate.

    I have no particular overwhelming feelings towards Dave Grohl, but I can appreciate solid talent when I hear/see it. The guy’s been around for nearly 3 decades and has a solid body of work that crosses a variety of genres. FYI, dip shit, none of which are considered ‘punk’. You certainly show your age and ignorance when you overly use the term ‘punk rock’, which really has very little to no relevance to the current music scene in general.

  • james

    This article is not a bitter pill but a huge bitter fart. who’s being pretentious here ? i mean the whole “I’m so real ” thing is stupid too. I’m into the documentary side of what dave’s doing. Does it come off that everything has to be dave grohl approved ? sometimes yes, and thats annoying. but you know just let him do his thing. i mean at least he’s doing shit, I’m sure its work too. whatever who cares. do your thing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/northwestmusicscene KAH
  • mathyoo

    “We, we Americans, need our Crass, our Mekons, our Billy Childish, our Billy Bragg, our Chumbawumba.”

    Sometimes I need Crass. When I am in a mood, I might need the Mekons, Billys Childish or Bragg. But there is no need for Chumbawumba. No thanks. Your references in the column and comments suggest that the last things relevant things that happened to you occurred sometime in the late nineties. It’s fine. Your taste stops there. It’s boring, but it’s fine. So now, Dave Grohl grinds your gears, because he has traction. And you, a guy who’s apparently done some things that people liked at one time, you have no traction. You only have this moment, to wield your huffy rant about how Dave Grohl isn’t punk. But really, nobody is punk. Not anymore. It’s not a thing. So what’s the big deal? The only other motivation for this pathetic screed seems to be, your desire to gain traction. But nobody cares about what you’ve done. So what do you do? You pick the biggest target you can, and you try to take it down. It didn’t work. You’re boring, and your writing is boring. And I say this as someone who doesn’t even care for Dave Grohl. Just stop.

  • DW

    Steve Albini’s opinion > Yours

    Bob Mould’s opinion > Yours

    You have every right to an opinion, but it just so happens that a lot of people with more credible opinions disagree.

  • http://www.ATOMSTRANGE.com Alex Rude

    I am waiting for the author of this article to give me all of the music he creates for free so I can write a manifesto about how critics need to shut the fuck up. Not holding my breath.

  • C. A. Martin

    First…I gotta say, I laughed my ass off at all the “eat a Snickers bar” responses. Really, I loved that.

    BUT…the article is the dumbest thing I’ve read today, maybe all month. The “goodwill ambassador of rock and roll” has been profanely outspoken against American Idol and similarly fluff-intensive musical marketing. He’s been tirelessly working with everyone, showing his deep respect and honest fandom of everyone from Heart to Joan Jett to Cheap Trick. This article, frankly, reeks of someone trying to use the Foo Fighter name in order to draw attention to himself. He hates them SO bad that he’ll…well…use them, shamelessly, for his own marketing.

    That’s gutless on many levels…more than can be cured with a Snicker’s bar.

  • Jon

    With your experience working in mainstream media, what more can you tell us about your penchant for punk rock?