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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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  • http://none reece

    you should totally be a judge on american idol.

  • Fishblood pantspocket

    Grohls turds are worth more than your articles. So the guy can pretty much write the worst most boring rock and roll on earth and his reputation will carry it on. So what? Whining about it and bragging about how you know more worthy rock history shouldn’t even get you a hot meal. Let alone the attention your mom never gave you. Shame on you. I don’t even own a Foo Fighters album but I might go buy one just to spite pretentious assholes like you.

  • mark b

    God Tim-your just so full of crap. there are a lot of kids making the new waves roll, your just too old and wrapped up in illusions to see it. your like those asses who thought cause they were part of something sharp the rest of the world has gone dull. your real complaint is a pissing match of name dropping. go hit a club and see a band where no ones over 23 like we used to. kids don’t follow dull ghosts of nostalgia. they get drunk and their piss is piss, not retread bile from an aging elitist with his record collection as a rolodex. and ELP karn evil 9 is awesome.

  • Mike Flores

    EDM buried rock. Rock became politically correct, so the swagger and hunt for women is gone. EMO killed rock.
    Right now there are DJ’s who have never been on a major label who own their own planes and live in multi-million dollar mansions. Which every musician has dreamed of, right? Without a label?
    It wasn’t until 3 weeks ago after FORBES magazine published the DJ earnings for the last year that the industry began even signing them. Once they saw the top DJ’s earn 40 to 60 million a year without label support, interviews in publications or reviews in newspapers they woke up. About 30 have been signed so far. But how do you rip off a kid who earns 60 million a year without them? What rock musicians dreamed of, actually happened. Just not with them.
    Pretty soon publications will look closely at their music critics. Are they reviewing the DJ’s? The shows? Or are they just doing body counts? ( PEOPLE SENT TO HOSPITAL ON ECSTASY!). It’s time to clean house. Here is a talk I gave on EDM.


  • StevenB

    You sound so bitter, Tim. Not PUNK ROCK bitter, just BITTER bitter.

  • Doug

    http://www.leshatnoir.com/#!music/c10tw You want punk? There ya go. You’re welcome.

  • Your Stupid

    I like Pat Smear. Pat likes Dave. Good enough for me.

  • PFL1982

    you are one bitter old man… and I was cheering at a fair number of lines in this piece. Fortunately, there’s enough quality punk and hardcore to check out that I don’t need to listen to the fucking Foo Fighters. And Billy Childish IS a hero… so is Mark. E.

  • NW Music Scene

    Here’s what one of our writers has to say about that…….http://www.northwestmusicscene.com/2014/10/open-letter-rock-defeatists-re-tim-sommer/

  • docrock

    “Dave Grohl is a nice guy”. “Tim Sommer is apparently an uninformed cursing uninhibited dude running off at the mouth.” So, Grohl gets accolades and you’re all telling Sommer to shut up? WTF kind of world are we living in? Why did we love rock n” roll before it died? We loved it because as kids we needed someone freaking running off at the mouth unabashedly. We surely didn’t need “a nice guy” representing our teenage rebellion, or our teen age angst. THAT was ONE of the points Sommer was clearly trying to make. Maybe you are a kid growing up looking for a better world. Maybe you are a parent looking for a better world for your kids. Yet, everybody wants a different world. Teens and young adults today describe themselves as the generation of APATHY. Forget the genre of music, forget style and for love of god forget about Hootie already. Hootie existed in another place and in another time. The world could bear a band like Hootie then. In fact maybe America NEEDED a band like Hootie (an essentially white man’s band with an African-American lead singer, actually a much more ballsy band than yet another grunge band at the time…but an entirely different story). However, what the world needs now isn’t an ambassador of rock n roll inadvertently representing complacency. This is what Sommer is talking about if you actually read into what he wrote and realize it is more than a piece about music. I doubt he was even talking about music as much as he was talking about the sociocultural issues and the messages Grohl is sending. You’re a freaking rock start Grohl – hold up the torch of disinhibition. Be REAL. Give this struggling generation the guts to say FU. Yeah, Tim Sommer’s references could have been a bit less esoteric. However, I would say it’s simple enough just to have said we need another Johnny Rotten. We’ve lost our civil rights. Our country is broke. The next generation has fewer job opportunities than ever before in American. This is how punk rock started in the UK, no? Yes, emerging adults are hopeLESS and while there may be a great availability of music on the internet there is no UNITY in music as a platform for youth as it has been in the past for political protest, change or simple socialization with like-minded passionate peers. No, instead young people today, hopeless enough to try to affect any change in this country, are apathetic with, yes, Dave Grohl the “nice guy” representing one of the only vestiges of rock (or grunge) left. To those of you who were there in the late 70’s and early 80’s, do you not remember? Frankly, a lot of the music sucked (how many bands were truly talented musicians within the genre of punk rock?) but it wasn’t about the music, was is? As for the 90’s and more musically speaking have you forgotten Kurt Cobain and his soul-on -the-sleeve vulnerability that touched so many people both his own age and older? How can you even look at Dave Grohl and and FF’s vacuous music and believe there is anything sincere going on there? Grohl never fooled me. Neither did the Foo Fighters. Sometimes music is about music and often it is about more. That is the nature of all art. I think this was about more.

  • mark

    Dude, you’re a fake ass name dropping punk rock wannabe. You were an mtv/vh1 vj and you’re criticizing Dave Grohl? What a joke. Go sick your

  • Roy Jürgens

    You forgot New Model Army.
    That omission alone tells me that you’re the enemy pretending to be a friendly.

  • Roy Jürgens

    I get the criticism against FF… Yes, they are a flyover state version of “punk rock”… that said, you could do much worse. They deliver live, they write hooks, they have pedigree, and they are lovely to work with.
    I don’t quite get the hatred towards Grohl. He’s essentially a fanboy who is trying to share his record collection with us. I think that is noble. Trust me, there are plenty of folks who have no idea who the Bad Brains or Naked Raygun are, and giving those bands cred and publicity is a charitable and worthy act indeed.

  • UndergroundAlive!
  • crookedbill

    Whoa, sooo many kewl band references! Shoulda just posted a playlist to end all hipster playlists, instead of a lame screed that sold out stadiums of Foo Fighters fans will never know about.

    Up next – how the Black Keys raped the corpse of rock, that Dave Grohl murdered. Let’s do this. I need more disposable click bait for my morning toilet routine.

  • Jonathon

    THANK YOU for saying what needed to be said.

    Yes, Grohl is a nice guy. But the Foo Fighters are so unbearably bad. Their recent performance of War Pigs on Letterman was just the most infuriating ahistorical piles of garbage I’ve ever seen. They took an incredibly raw and powerful protest song and made it sound like they had tailored it to a corporate event.

  • Scott Monster

    Dave Grohl is what makes America great. Get over it. If you could do better, you would.

  • Scott Monster

    Worst. Article. Ever.

  • Jess Wilson

    The Foo Fighters are entitled to play whatever kind of music they want but in the same breath, Tim Sommer is just as entitled to write his opinion about his feel for music. I happen to like the Foo Fighters and have all their music to date. But I also see some of Tim’s points as well although I wouldn’t agree with saying the Foo’s are killing music in any shape or fashion. I see Tim’s point on how music has become as stained and nasty as any back alley in any town. Seems a lot of bands, especially those tied so closely to the mainstream music industry are about as sterile as a Ebola quarantine room. I do think there are bands out there right now that play with the attitude and love of just playing, but getting the right exposure to everyone is lacking. If I like what I hear then it’s good enough for me. I don’t care if it falls in one genre of rock or another, if it sounds good to me then so be it, I’ll listen to it forever. Tim just expressed HIS opinion and I’ll support his right to do so however…, I certainly don’t think in any way that it’s Dave Grohl’s fault or the Foo’s for rocks demise. We might all be better served if we just argued our points instead of calling people assholes for expressing their opinions, that doesn’t help rock’s cause at all.

  • d willis

    wow….dave must of wore the wrong t-shirt…or maybe he smokes the wrong cigarettes..or maybe you haters are mad at your parents…it doesn’t matter…i like the song.i like dave grohl…maybe i will just kill myself for not understanding the importance of your hostile opinions.

    • Simon

      Your opinion will count when you demonstrate understanding of the difference between “have” and “of”.

  • Keith Richards

    Settle down big fella

  • Nick Freno

    Musical activism? Grohl is a multi-millionaire married with children hitting almost 50 years old guy. The guy is living a comfortable lifestyle. You can’t expect Grohl to be the punk he was 20 plus years ago. Besides he was never the outspoken type on political issues anyway. That was never his style.I agree that the music the foo makes these days is bland, safe, etc….but thats what happens when you get older. You need to start chiding the younger bands these days that have no balls.

  • Darling Nikki

    Lighten up, Francis.

  • Kurt Skrivseth

    Granted from what I’ve heard, the new album isn’t the Foo’s best work, but this article really reinforces a wanna-be punk aesthetic that just comes off as snarky. There’s nothing punk about playing on the roof of Radio City Music Hall or selling out Wembley Stadium, it’s something else. Look at what he’s come out with against American Idol and company. Any interview you watch with Dave Grohl is nothing but encouraging to be a musician, watch his keynote speech from SXSW and try not to be inspired: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Efv0Y5Fs7m4

  • Kirk Larsen

    While I understand what the author is saying, he’s not addressing the
    real reason the music he “thinks” we should be hearing isn’t being
    heard – the music industry itself. There are hundreds of bands out there
    doing what he wants to hear. they just are not being played on American
    radio or signed by major record labels. Big corporations run both and
    they just want something that they can market like a new car or shampoo.
    Most of the artists he mentions in the article were signed 20-30 years
    ago when the music industry was different. Music like he wants to hear
    is out there. He just has to go to small clubs & buy DIY releases
    (or go to Europe) to find it.Grohl is only filling a rock n roll void because the labels & radio won’t take a chance on anything new. A band like The Strypes or The Cry! could kill the Foo Fighters as a Rock band but they aren’t what the corporations want.