Foo Fighters Made a Horror Film. Because Why Not?

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In the three decades that Dave Grohl has been a rock star, he has recorded with the likes of Stevie Nicks and Paul McCartney, directed documentaries, performed for presidents and been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, twice.

But this month presents a first: On Feb. 25, Foo Fighters are releasing “Studio 666,” a horror-comedy directed by BJ McDonnell (“Hatchet III”) and starring, well, Foo Fighters.

Why?

“For fun,” Grohl said in a recent video interview. As he explained, “It was never our intention to enter the Hollywood game with this big horror film. It just happened.”

In the film, which also features Whitney Cummings, Will Forte and Jeff Garlin, the band moves into a mansion, where Grohl himself once actually lived, to work on their 10th album. But songwriting proves challenging. Hoping to dig himself out of a creative rut, Grohl wanders around the house and discovers a secret that infuses him with creativity — and blood lust.

The movie has been in the works since 2019, with production paused because of the coronavirus pandemic. It’s unlikely to rack up awards — “We’re not ordering tuxes for the Oscars,” Grohl said — but it does offer nuggets of hard rock and gore.

Chatting from his home studio in Los Angeles over a cup of coffee, Grohl discussed the making of the film, his thoughts on rock ‘n’ roll and a new album. These are edited excerpts from the interview.

Why did you decide to make a movie?

Three years ago, a friend went to a meeting with a film studio, and our name came up. They said, “We’ve always wanted to make a horror with Foo Fighters.” He texts me, and I said, “That’s the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard,” and thought nothing of it.

We were writing music for our last record. Usually when we make a record, I’ll go into my home studio or a demo studio by myself and just write melodies and instrumentals. So I started looking for houses to rent where I could build a temporary studio. At the same time, my landlord from 10 years ago emailed me and said, “Do you want to buy some property?” I said, no, but if I could rent it, that would be great.

I started writing and was sending demos to our producer, and he’s like, “This sounds great. Let’s record there.” So I started thinking, we could make a horror film in this creepy, old house. I came up with this concept, presented it to the band, and they just laughed. It snowballed from there. We never imagined we were going to make a feature.

Are you a horror fan?

I’m no aficionado. Although I did grow up loving a lot of the classics. I remember reading the “Amityville Horror” book in 1979 and then going to see the movie. And I grew up outside of Washington, D.C., where they filmed “The Exorcist.” I was obsessed with the house and those steps. That’s where all the punk rockers would hang out in the ’80s. We would sit at the bottom of those steps and drink beer.

“Studio 666” is also a band movie, which there don’t seem to be that many of out there. Why do you think that is?

I don’t know. I grew up watching rock ‘n’ roll movies. “Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park.” The Ramones in “Rock ’n’ Roll High School.” It used to be something that went hand-in-hand with an ensemble cast.

I think the band has to not only be willing to do it, but be capable of making fun of themselves. We’ve been doing that for 26 years, so this is just a long-form version of us poking fun at being a rock band.

We’ve talked about a sequel and how [“Studio 666”] can be handed from band to band. Would Coldplay do a horror movie? Would Wu Tang? That would be amazing.

You wrote in your memoir that you once lived in a house that you believed was haunted. Did you have that in mind while making the movie?

I don’t think it crossed over into this idea. But that house was definitely haunted. Before then, I never had any fascination with paranormal activity. After then, I do believe this type of thing can happen. But I also remember thinking, so I shared a house with a ghost. Is it going to kill me? No. Do the lights go on every once in a while and you hear footsteps? Yeah. I’ve had worse roommates.

Like most groups, Foo Fighters have had tensions in the past. Did that inspire the plot?

No, it didn’t. But the screenwriter came to hang out with us while we were recording [“Medicine at Midnight,” the band’s 10th album,] to get a feel for the dynamic. She just overplayed it.

Like any band, we’re like a family. It’s a relationship that teeters on disaster in every creative situation, because there’s vulnerability and insecurity. It’s not easy staying a band for 26 years. Of all that we’ve been through, I don’t think anyone would want to kill another member. We love each other too much.

The movie makes fun of rock in general, but it also pokes fun at you: you can’t write new songs; Lionel Richie yells at you. Was that fun?

There are so many clichés in this movie. It’s part “The Amityville Horror.” It’s part “The Shining.” It’s part “The Evil Dead.” On the musical side, there’s the controlling lead singer that’s torturing the band, the struggle of writer’s block.

The funniest cliché, I think, is the clapping in the living room. Whenever an engineer or producer walks into a room before you record, they always clap to listen to the acoustics. I’m here to say it’s [expletive]. That makes no difference.

Do you have a favorite scene?

I did like the round table scene with Jeff Garlin. Doing improv take after take, you felt like you were in “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

There have been allegations that Jeff Garlin behaved inappropriately on the set of “The Goldbergs.” What was it like working with him?

Jeff’s really into music. So most of our interaction off-camera was just talking about the bands we love. I didn’t know about any of that stuff. We just sat around talking about Wilco all day.

There’s a scene where your manager says that rock hasn’t been relevant for a long time and it needs an infusion. Do you think that’s true? If so, what could revitalize it?

I believe it’s partially true. I don’t think rock needs more Satan, but I do think it needs another youth-driven revolution. My oldest [daughter] is almost 16. I watch her discover music and write songs, and this is where [the action is].

I think that the next rock revolution will look nothing like the one that we’ve seen before. And I’m not entirely sure what that is. But it’s coming. There’s so much to appreciate. I find a new favorite artist once a week, so it’s not like the well’s run dry.

In 2021 alone, you released two albums, a documentary, a documentary series, a memoir, a few singles and you went on tour. What drives you to do so much?

Coffee. [Smiles.]

No — I just appreciate all the opportunity I have. I appreciate the people that help facilitate these ridiculous ideas, and I surround myself with people that have the same energy. And I hate vacations. I’m just restless. I feel this strange sense of guilt when I do nothing. I’m like a shark. If I stop swimming, I’ll die.

You know what I’m doing now? I’m making the lost album by the band Dream Widow, from [the movie], like the “Blair Witch” tapes.

Is the main song from the movie going to be on it?

It is. It’s this crazy opus instrumental. I grew up listening to metal, so I started taking from my favorite bands as influences. For a metal record, it’s really good.

So you’ve gone from covering the Bee Gees to metal.

Listen, what do you get the guy that has everything?

Right. Is there anything else coming?

Yeah … you’ll see.

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