I went from Kiss to Rush to AC/DC, but in 1983 I found punk rock music through a cousin in Chicago. My intro to live music came when my bro took me to a punk program in a little bar in Chicago. I didnt have that festival/stadium/arena rock experience; I just saw 4 punk rock men on the phase, playing this fast three-chord music, with about 75 individuals in the audience climbing all over each other.
My mother was a teacher at the high school I went to. She spent her career dealing with defiant little assholes like me, but she was referred to as the cool teacher. She comprehended that every kid found out in a different way, and having a difficult time at school doesnt always mean that a kid cant learn. I believe I was her most difficult student, however she saw the passion in my musical fascination. When I hit that stage of rebellion, I just moved through it. My mom was completely encouraging, and she was encouraged by the self-reliance and imagination of the underground punk rock scene, due to the fact that everybody did whatever themselves. There were no record business assisting anybody: you just started a band, wrote a song, played a show, got $50, went to the studio, recorded something, pressed your own vinyl and put out your own record. To see your kid that passionate about anything at that age need to have been extremely motivating. Its always the things that you most wish to do that you do well. Really, all I did was listen to music.
At 13 or 14, I had a narrow-minded vision that everything could only be hard rock all the time. I scoured the record racks for anything dissonant and subversive– death metal, industrial music– anything that wasnt on the radio or appeared defiant. By the time I was 15 or 16, my pals and I had already made records, played shows out of town. I had found out to play drums by arranging pillows on my floor and my bed in the formation of a drum set and playing along to Bad Brains. We discovered Led Zeppelin simply as I began advancing as a drummer and I became obsessed with John Bonham: what he played and why. Its tough to discuss, however his feel and noise is apparent and undefinable. Anybody can take the chart of what he played, however it would never ever be the same since it was as unique to that human as a fingerprint. I ended up being like a monk, listening to these records and memorising them. It was like poetry to me. I became so obsessed that I offered myself a three-interlocked-circles John Bonham tattoo on my arm with a fucking sewing needle and some ink. I was branded for life.
Touring and travelling
If we were playing a squat in Italy, I d be learning about their sense of community, their political ideas and language. I had a five-year strategy: to find out music and become a studio drummer, then with the cash I made go to college and end up being a graphic-design artist. I still cant read music.
Eventually, I became close friends with another musician who had an eight-track in his basement, so by 17 or 18 I started recording songs by myself, playing the drums initially, then including guitars then the vocal. I never ever played the tunes for other people, but it was wild.
In my teenagers, I also understood that I could tape-record music by myself. When I had to do with 13, I determined how to multitrack things with 2 cassette decks. I would record songs with my guitar on my little handheld cassette, then take that cassette and put it into the house stereo, then hit play as I was recording another cassette on the cassette recorder. So I would add a vocal. I could multitrack that way.
Like many musicians playing punk and underground music in the 80s, I didnt have goals to make a profession of it. When. When I was in my later teenagers, the benefit was simply some sort of appreciation from the audience. At the most, I hoped that some day I wouldnt still have to operate in the furnishings warehouse that I was operating in at that time, and would have my own apartment or condo. Going on the roadway at that age [with the Washington punk band Scream], its such a lovely time in anyones life. Youre finding identity, finding some flexibility and youre becoming who you are. It was the ideal window of time to leave home and begin roaming around the world. I started exploring at 18: bring my things in a bag, sleeping on floors, and if I was lucky, I d get 7 dollars a day to budget on cigarettes and Taco Bell. I was open to experience.
I was hanging out with individuals in the Washington music and arts scene: photographers and authors or musicians who had labels of their own. One of my earliest friends from the Washington DC punk scene ended up being head of the Sundance TELEVISION channel and worked with BBC America. Everybody went on to do great things, I think, because we were raised in the neighborhood of free-thinking weirdos that decided we werent going to follow the straight course.
– Foo Fighters album Medicine at Midnight is released 5 February on Roswell/Columbia Records
I went from Kiss to Rush to AC/DC, however in 1983 I found punk rock music through a cousin in Chicago. My introduction to live music came when my sibling took me to a punk show in a small bar in Chicago. I didnt have that festival/stadium/arena rock experience; I simply saw 4 punk rock guys on the phase, playing this quick three-chord music, with about 75 people in the audience climbing up all over each other. At 13 or 14, I had a narrow-minded vision that everything could only be punk rock all the time. Like most artists playing punk and underground music in the 80s, I didnt have aspirations to make a career of it.