COVER

Foo Fighters

Take a Trip to Studio 666

By Gabby Sgherri

F

Fortunately, I’ve never had Lionel Richie come in and fucking scare the shit out of me,” Dave Grohl says to me via Zoom referencing a scene in the Foo Fighters’ new horror film, Studio 666, set to release on February 25th. The film begins with the band being pressured by their label’s chief executive (played by Jeremy Shill) to deliver their 10th studio album—which we now know as Medicine at Midnight—but Grohl is struggling with writer’s block. The aforementioned scene features Lionel Richie interrupting Grohl’s rendition of “Hello” to tell him “that’s my fucking song”, and he needs to get his own. “I have to be honest I have never really experienced writer’s block and I think it’s because I don’t have to write songs all the time,” says Grohl before laughing. “We go into the studio to make a record when we’re ready to make a record and even if we were to walk into a studio with nothing prepared it’s not that hard for the 6 of us to collaborate and come up with something.” Considering Studio 666 is fictional, it’s expected the plot wasn’t inspired by real events but it’s the first of many truths divulged by Grohl throughout our conversation proving life does not always imitate art—said art, this time around for the band, being a horror film.

The plot continues with the Foo Fighters deciding they need a change of scenery and they decide to record their upcoming album in an abandoned Encino mansion, found for them by a real estate agent played by Leslie Grossman. They’re not the only house guests as the house is haunted by the spirit of the lead singer of the fictional rock band Dream Widow, who years before became possessed and murdered all of his bandmates before ultimately killing himself. The Encino house the movie is shot in is where the Foo Fighters recorded their Medicine at Midnight album and they had originally planned an untraditional rollout for the movie that coincided with the release of the album.

Fortunately, I’ve never had Lionel Richie come in and fucking scare the shit out of me,” Dave Grohl says to me via Zoom referencing a scene in the Foo Fighters’ new horror film, Studio 666, set to release on February 25th. The film begins with the band being pressured by their label’s chief executive (played by Jeremy Shill) to deliver their 10th studio album—which we now know as Medicine at Midnight—but Grohl is struggling with writer’s block. The aforementioned scene features Lionel Richie interrupting Grohl’s rendition of “Hello” to tell him “that’s my fucking song”, and he needs to get his own. “I have to be honest I have never really experienced writer’s block and I think it’s because I don’t have to write songs all the time,” says Grohl before laughing. “We go into the studio to make a record when we’re ready to make a record and even if we were to walk into a studio with nothing prepared it’s not that hard for the 6 of us to collaborate and come up with something.” Considering Studio 666 is fictional, it’s expected the plot wasn’t inspired by real events but it’s the first of many truths divulged by Grohl throughout our conversation proving life does not always imitate art—said art, this time around for the band, being a horror film.

The plot continues with the Foo Fighters deciding they need a change of scenery and they decide to record their upcoming album in an abandoned Encino mansion, found for them by a real estate agent played by Leslie Grossman. They’re not the only house guests as the house is haunted by the spirit of the lead singer of the fictional rock band Dream Widow, who years before became possessed and murdered all of his bandmates before ultimately killing himself. The Encino house the movie is shot in is where the Foo Fighters recorded their Medicine at Midnight album and they had originally planned an untraditional rollout for the movie that coincided with the release of the album.

The only reason why we made this film was because a friend of mine called and said, ‘Hey, I just had a meeting with someone, they want to make a horror film with the Foo Fighters and I’m like ‘that’s fucking stupid why would we ever do that?’ Then I realized, wait we already have the house and might as well go for it.”

The only reason why we made this film was because a friend of mine called and said, ‘Hey, I just had a meeting with someone, they want to make a horror film with the Foo Fighters and I’m like ‘that’s fucking stupid why would we ever do that?’ Then I realized, wait we already have the house and might as well go for it.”


Grohl’s initial hesitation turned into excitement and the timing of the movie went perfectly with the release of Medicine at Midnight. While doing press for the album, Grohl started to peddle a story that the band had experienced supernatural phenomena at the house. All in an effort to create buzz surrounding the album that was actually the plot for Studio 666. The movie was going to be released as a surprise but production was halted in 2020 when COVID-19 halted everything. 

While Grohl’s plans got fumbled, he’s got another—and arguably better—surprise in store for the film’s release. Tapping into his character’s roots, Grohl and the Foo Fighters recently released a new death metal single called “March of the Insane”, under the moniker of the band from the movie, Dream Widow. The single is part of a full metal Foo Fighters/Dream Widow album set to release the same day as the movie. It’s clear they’ve never suffered from writer’s block.

What isn’t fictional about the Foo Fighter’s movie is the genre, “It was inspired by some of our favorite films. Nobody in the band is a real horror aficionado, I think everybody loves horror films to a certain extent especially the classics from the ‘70s when I was a kid—The Exorcist, The Shining, Friday the 13th, and Halloween things like that.” Having seen the movie myself, Grohl’s comparisons ring true but he continues by saying it was also heavily inspired by a lot of rock ’n’ roll clichés. “You’re in a band, you’re sick of working in all the studios, let’s find somewhere cool, and then you find an old house. Every band’s fucking done it by the way you get to that point where you’re like we’ve made so many records we’ve got to fucking switch it up and then you get into this creepy old house,” Grohl freely says. 

The most prominent cliché throughout the movie is the dynamic between the band which Grohl admits was intentional to poke fun at the horror stories about temperamental rock ‘n’ roll artists. “You know the controlling lead singer that’s screaming at everybody ‘no that’s not right!’ or writer’s block or the acoustics in a room,” says Grohl referencing his character in the movie who is said controlling lead singer. The parody element is what fans of the band will love most, providing comedic relief among the many gore-filled scenes. “The screenwriter, Rebecca [Hughes], came and hung out with us as we were making our last record to sort of figure out the dynamics of what it’s like for the Foo Fighters to make a record. She hung out for a few days and saw what we’re like together and she exaggerated that in the script,” Grohl tells me of how the band’s dialogue came to be.

 

Well, it has to do with love, it sounds a bit wishy-washy but it’s really true."

However, the acting didn’t come quite as easy. “Put the 6 of us in a room and we can be the Foo Fighters, tell us what we’re supposed to say [and] it’s gonna take 15-20 takes,” Grohl frankly says before laughing again. “There were a lot of scenes where we couldn’t keep from laughing, it was really difficult for us to keep a straight face.” Another challenge during production was the stunts that come along with playing an evil spirit-possessed character, “there were times when I was strapped up in a harness and thrown around, wearing crazy prosthetics, teeth and contact lenses.” But unlike his capricious on-screen persona, he responds to each of my questions with positivity and humility. “Honestly, at the end of the day, even the most difficult scene was a joyride compared to being on the road for 26 years or all of the jobs that we had before we were rock musicians,” he says before quickly reassuring me he’s not taking away from the hard work of actors or anyone in the film industry. “I used to work at Shakey’s Pizza,” and referring to the challenges of filming Studio 666 he continues “it’s got nothing on Shakey’s Pizza—that’s a job you don’t fucking want.” 

An exaggerated element of Grohl’s personality in the film is his love for cooking. When he tells their real estate agent he’s looking forward to barbecuing, guitarist Chris Shiflett makes a snarky remark saying, “yea if you like your meat charred and dry.” But IRL Grohl’s good times in the Encino house involve well-cooked meat, not medium rare bandmates. “I like to cook for the band so my best memories were filling the house with the smell of barbecue, chili, or whatever I was cooking. There’s something about a house that feels like a home because it smells like a home-cooked meal—it brings everybody down and relaxes them that shit I love.”

The thought of the Foo Fighters all sitting down after a hard day’s work to a home-cooked meal à la Grohl reminds me of just how long they’ve been together. In an era where bands are few and far between with many breaking up over “creative differences,” how have the Foo Fighters remained friends and co-workers for decades? “Well, it has to do with love, it sounds a bit wishy-washy but it’s really true. We’ve been through some fucked up shit so we’ve lived through dark times together and we’ve experienced amazing highs. When you gather together in a protective way, it’s not just you against the world—it’s us against the world.” Grohl’s answer is heartfelt but it’s a feat many groups of artists fail at. Illustrated in Studio 666 by Grohl’s demonic desire to kill his bandmates (and others) over things like creative differences. “Your bond gets stronger over time, also I don’t think anyone takes this for granted. We know what it’s like to not be in the Foo Fighters and it truly is a blessing to be in this band,” Grohl says to me before illustrating how fortunate he is with examples of what his job entails. Traveling, doing interviews, making a horror film, and playing in front of thousands of screaming fans are a few he names before saying, “[it’s] the fucking greatest job so realizing that is what’s kept us together for so long because we’d much rather have this than not.” 

Studio 666 is another experience added to the Foo Fighters’ plentiful bank of memories together. Nestled somewhere amongst 12 Grammy Awards, a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction, the MTV Global Icon Award (they were the first recipients), millions of records sold, and countless performances. Grohl has nothing but praise for the band’s first venture into feature films, calling the director BJ McDonnell and special effects designer Tony Gardner “legitimate badasses.” He recounts to me that seeing the filmmaking process and working with the whole crew was the best part of the movie. Then follows it up with, “that being said I don’t fucking know if I ever want to do it again [laughs]. I don’t think it’s why I was put on God’s green earth to become a fucking horror film actor.” If it’s the first and last Foo Fighters’ film to ever be made, at least they gave a whole new meaning to the term “killer album.”This summer, they’re sticking to their roots and headlining Osheaga music festival, along with many other stops on their 2022 North American tour.



Photographer: MK2 Mile-End


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