Dave Grohl Delivers SXSW’s Keynote Speech

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"Having been raised by a former D.C. political speechwriter and a former public speaking teacher, it’s practically written in my DNA zipper that I should feel the insatiable need to stand in front of a room of total strangers and bullshit them."  That’s Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters and Nirvana, keynote speaker of SXSW.

Grohl’s speech delivered on Thursday night on the topic of what he knows about music. He needles Pitchfork, touches upon recording Nevermind and In Utero, why Nirvana found success they did, his love of Gangnam Style and how when your bosses leave you alone to do your thing, it means you are doing something right. (Of course, eventually, "We weren’t Nirvana anymore. We were ‘Nirvana,’" he said. "Now you had to fucking leave us alone.")

But he primarily focuses on his belief that the musician comes first and not arbitrary notions of quality or commercial success. Artistic output should be life’s passion, not a guilty pleasure: "Fuck guilty pleasure. How about just pleasure!"

It’s really fucking amazing. And well worth watching all 49 minutes. 

Email me at Jessica.Wakeman@Gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter.

How to Destroy Angels Goes on Reddit for AMA, Trent Reznor Gives the Best Response

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Trent Reznor is a pretty busy man these days. Not only does he have a new Nine Inch Nails line-up and an international tour on the horizon with them, but he’ll be going on tour with his music collective—consisting of Mariqueen Maandig, Rob Sheridan, and Atticus Ross—How to Destroy Angels_ who just dropped their debut album yesterday. So, to celebrate the release, HTDA hopped on Reddit to host an AMA (Ask Me Anything). The questions ranged from respectiful and sincere to just plain awful but there were certainly a few highlights—and the first, in which Trent gives possibly the greatest response ever.

"As millionaires, why did you sign up with a record label to promote your new album? … I don’t buy the ‘get it to as many people as possible’ excuse … especially when Trent conveniently places a spotlight on his former cash cow a few days before your band releases this new album. Good marketing, Gene Sim-, er, Trent Reznor. When can I get my NIN toothpaste?"

Trent’s response: "Sorry, the wifi on our yacht is having issues, we can’t get your full question to load. Try sending me an email at gofuckyourself@youcunt.com."

He also went on to talk about how working on The Social Network and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo effected him as artist, saying:

“Working with David Fincher taught me a lot about collaboration, and HTDA allowed me to work in a band environment that I found very rewarding. I don’t know that I was ever comfortable enough with myself earlier in my life to be able to open up and collaborate. Regarding NIN, what’s interesting to me about re-assembling it is trying some new things out with a different type of lineup. We’re not deep into NIN rehearsals yet, but the idea is exciting.”

Sheridan also spoke about his role in HTDA and the aesthetic aspect of the collective:

The visual direction of this album came about first from the concept of the record. Trying to express the anxiety of information overload, the end of mankind as both terrifying and transformative, apocalypse and evolution, etc. I was inspired by the way Trent and Atticus set up rules for themselves around the way they record music for each project, and the analog methods they were experimenting with for this record that tied into its themes. So I started looking for a visual analogy for that, and also a visual analogy for information overloading the pipeline it’s being sent through – of signals unable to display coherently. It led me down the road of experimenting with analog cables and old CRT monitors and VHS decks. The result was a set of rules I came up with for creating the visuals. As much of a pain in the ass the process is sometimes, it’s strangely freeing to work within constraints. Not only does it force a rigid visual consistency, it takes Photoshop out of the equation entirely (the CRT texture makes the images largely uneditable in post, besides color corrections). Sometimes there’s something extremely daunting about a blank document in Photoshop, because you can go absolutely ANYWHERE with it. Setting up some limitations has proved really useful.

And when asked about a question in regard to Dave Grohl’s Sound City and the state of traditional instruments versus the electronic worldresponded that:

I don’t really care if you can play an instrument or not. I don’t think that’s a mandatory skill required to make music that can connect with people. I do think computers have made it easy to make lazy music that sounds nice. I find a fair amount of what’s championed today feels to me like it falls in that category – much more fashion than substance. There’s also a lot of current music I think is great … The Knife is a good example."

Speaking to the audio/visual aspect of the tour, Sheridan went on to say:

…the HTDA show will be a very visual experience, and all of the creative team from Lights in the Sky is working on this. BUT, please do not go in expecting Lights in the Sky, because this is a very very different presentation from NIN. This is going to be more of a statement, more of an audio/visual installation than a rock concert. Probably a lot of people aren’t going to "get" it, but hopefully they’ll walk away saying "I’m not sure what the hell I just watched, but it was pretty cool."

Check out the rest of the AMA HERE.

Check Out the Candid Faces of Sundance

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While we’re all enoying ths 17 degree whether in New York, it’s good to know that when it comes to balancing looking good and not freezing to death, we can turn to those at Sundance for some much-needed style cues. The festival may be ending tomrorow but it’s been an exciting week of debuts and premieres, getting the chance to see Hollywood’s biggest stars mingling with newcomers, anticipation building as studios snatch up the rights to our future favorite films of 2013. So, as the week of cinematic celebration draws to a close, Vulture has published a photo essay of candid shots from Sundance—featuring everyone from Michael C. Hall to Dakota Fanning and Dave Grohl. Photographer Chuck Grant spent the week in Park City snapping shots of some of the faces behind the most talked about work at the festival.

Check it out.

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Weekend Update Was Pretty Great This Week, Or, More Cecily Strong, Thanks

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For those who missed it because you have lives and weekend plans or something, ­this week’s Saturday Night Live had a lot going on. Martin Short was an unusually effective host, the Royal Baby sketch was goofy and fun and a whole lot of special guest stars showed up, including Samuel L. Jackson and Carrie Brownstein on “What’s Up With That,” Larry David and Alec Baldwin. Paul McCartney and the former members of Nirvana played together again, and Macca did three (three!) songs.

And, with the horrific school shooting in Newtown still painful and raw in our collective memory, too raw for any incensed commentary or even for words, the show paid a touching tribute to the victims by opening with a children’s choir tenderly singing “Silent Night.” It was one of the most moving openings the show has ever done, to the point where we’re really hoping that some opportunistic website doesn’t do a “10 Most Moving SNL Responses to Horrifying National Tragedies” slideshow. Nope nope nope.

But even with so much heaviness of heart and a stacked guest star bill, some of the show’s best moments still came from the regulars, and they came during Weekend Update. Vanessa Bayer reprised her role as Jacob, the Bar Mitzvah Boy, explaining the miracle of Chanukah to viewers in the format of a d’var torah, the speech Jewish kids give on the day of their bar/bat mitzvah explaining what they learned and what their reading is about. You’re told to write jokes into it, but the sort of jokes a nervous, socially awkward 13-year-old in front of his grandparents would tell. It becomes—and Seth Meyers put this perfectly—“a low-level roast of your family.” And Bayer nails the moment, to the point where I had some serious flashbacks to the bar and bat mitzvah circuit.

The other Weekend Update interview was with newcomer Cecily Strong, who reprised her role as the “Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started A Conversation With At A Party.” And the timing couldn’t have been better, nor could her commentary on the holiday season ("You asked for an iPad Mini? I asked for an end to genocide."). Between the holiday season, New Year’s Eve and recent current events that will unfortunely lead to some negative and ill-informed discourse during family and social gatherings, she once again served as a funny but somewhat painful reminder of what’s in store for us during the most wonderful time of the year. Strong had some other solid moments too, particularly as Fran Drescher in “You’re A Rat Bastard, Charlie Brown.” And if as a featured player, she already has at least one memorable recurring character that people like, she’s on the right track to becoming a headliner. Basically, SNL, more Cecily Strong, please and thank you. Kate McKinnon and Aidy Bryant too.

Lone Beatle, Surviving Nirvana Members Plot To Ruin Both Bands

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In news that 100% cannot be real in this or any other universe, it transpires that Sir Paul McCartney will be filling in for the late Kurt Cobain when “Nirvana” plays a reunion set at the 12.12.12 Concert for Sandy Relief tonight in New York. Earplugs are recommended.

Drummer Dave Grohl and bassist Krist Novoselic will also be joined by “unofficial fourth member Pat Smear” on guitar, making this frankengroup all the stranger. Luckily, McCartney won’t be singing “Rape Me.” The band will play something new that they’ve come up with together, ensuring the total dissatisfaction of anyone charitable enough to shell out for a ticket.

The best part? McCartney said of his collaboration with the grunge icons in The Sun: “I didn’t really know who they were. They are saying how good it is to be back together. I said ‘Whoa? You guys haven’t played together for all that time? And somebody whispered to me ‘That’s Nirvana. You’re Kurt.’ I couldn’t believe it.” See that? Nobody stays cool when they get old.

Follow Miles Klee on Twitter

Upcoming Hurricane Sandy Benefits Shows From Aziz Ansari, Neil Young, Grizzly Bear, and More

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If you still want to help out East Coasters affected by Hurricane Sandy and do so in an environment with adult beverages and high-caliber entertainment, this week, a couple more enticing Sandy benefits have been announced. So if you’re looking for something to do next week and live in the greater New York, Atlantic City, or Los Angeles areas, here you go.

Neil Young and Crazy Horse will perform in Atlantic City on December 6th at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, with proceeds going to the Red Cross.

On December 10th, a group of comedians you might recognize are getting together for “We Hate Hurricanes,” a night of comedy to benefit the victims of Hurricane Sandy at L.A.’s Nokia Theater. The venerable Jon Hamm is emceeing the event, with headliners Aziz Ansari, Will Ferrell, Sarah Silverman, and music from Beck along with even more acts. All proceeds from the show will go to AmeriCares, and pre-sale tickets go on sale today; general sale starts tomorrow.

One of the biggest announced shows is the 12/12/12 benefit gig for the Robin Hood Relief Fund, on December 12th at Madison Square Garden. The headliners play like an all-star Super Bowl halftime show: Kanye West, Alicia Keys, Paul McCartney, Bon Jovi, Billy Joel, The Who, Eddie Vedder, Dave Grohl, and, of course, Bruce Springsteen. If you still want to help out and rock out but the idea of a Bon Jovi show at the Garden sounds a bit too overwhelming, New York’s Terminal 5 is hosting a “4Artists1Cause” benefit on December 14th, featuring performances from Grizzly Bear, Sleigh Bells, Antlers, and Cults. More acts will be announced soon. Tickets are $40, with proceeds going to the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City

Foo Fighters May or May Not Be Breaking Up (Again)

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Before playing the fourth song of their set in Central Park on Saturday night, Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl sparked rumors that the band would be breaking up after casually saying that the guys had "no more shows after this." "This is it, man," he said to the crowd. "Honestly I don’t know when we’re gonna do it again…and this is the perfect place to do it." Then, today, Grohl shared a letter with fans (by way of a publicist’s email blast) explaining his comments. 

Here’s the letter, sent to copy-and-paste-happy music bloggers worldwide:

Hey everyone…

Dave here. Just wanted to write and thank you all again from the bottom of my heart for another incredible year. (Our 18th, to be exact!) We truly never could have done any of this without you…

Never in my wildest dreams did I think Foo Fighters would make it this far. I never thought we COULD make it this far, to be honest. There were times when I didn’t think the band would survive. There were times when I wanted to give up. But… I can’t give up this band. And I never will. Because it’s not just a band to me. It’s my life. It’s my family. It’s my world.

Yes… I was serious. I’m not sure when the Foo Fighters are going to play again. It feels strange to say that, but it’s a good thing for all of us to go away for a while. It’s one of the reasons we’re still here. Make sense? I never want to NOT be in this band. So, sometimes it’s good to just… put it back in the garage for a while…

But, no gold watches or vacations just yet… I’ll be focusing all of my energy on finishing up my Sound City documentary film and album for worldwide release in the very near future. A year in the making, it could be the biggest, most important project I’ve ever worked on. Get ready… it’s coming.

Me, Taylor, Nate, Pat, Chris, and Rami… I’m sure we’ll all see you out there… somewhere…

Thank you, thank you, thank you…

Dave

Well, whatever that means. Like many folks before him (I’m looking at you, Cher), Grohl has announced his sort-of retirement before, most recently at August’s Reading Festival, where he—let’s be honest, here—lied at it’d be the band’s last show. Let’s see how long before the Foo Fighters get back together for "one last show." At this rate, I’m expecting a reunion tour in three months or so?

Follow Tyler Coates on Twitter.

Grunge Comes Back With a Vengeance

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It was 1992 when Kurt Cobain posed with infant daughter Frances Bean wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with three words: grunge is dead. Of course it was a goof; at the time, the major labels were in full thrall with grunge, lustily courting greasy-haired Seattleites.

Years later, after Cobain took his own life, the phrase became an accepted truth. Labels started dropping grunge acts en masse. Bands imploded or slid into irrelevancy—few survived the decade.

Cut to 2012. Grunge’s influence has peppered popular culture for years, but the comeback began in earnest last fall with the hoopla surrounding the 20th anniversary of Nirvana’s game-changer Nevermind and Pearl Jam, who celebrated two decades of Ten with a Cameron Crowe documentary, a best-selling retrospective book, and a festival in Alpine Valley, Wisconsin.

Of the Big Four grunge bands, three are active concerns working on new albums: Pearl Jam never went away; Soundgarden reunited in 2010 after a 13-year break; Alice in Chains have fully integrated singer William DuVall, who replaced the late Layne Staley. A Nirvana reunion is out of the question—replacing Cobain would be a crime against music—but Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic, and producer Butch Vig collaborated on the Foo Fighters’ Wasting Life last year.

In April, Vig tweeted that he’d spent the day recording with Grohl, Novoselic, and an unnamed “special guest” (the session was likely to do with Grohl’s forthcoming documentary on Sound City, the studio where Nevermind was recorded). After a surprise reunion at the Williamsburg after-party for the grunge-era rock documentary Hit So Hard, which chronicles the travails of Hole drummer Patty Schemel, the band’s guitarist, Eric Erlandson, hinted at the possibility of a “White Album” featuring unreleased Cobain solo material he hopes will someday see the light of day.

But it’s not all ’90s nostalgia. GrungeReport.net estimates 40 percent of readers are under 20, some of whom weren’t even born when Kurt Cobain killed himself. Patty Schemel, for one, witnessed the younger generation’s grunge love firsthand as she traveled the country promoting Hit So Hard. “Maybe it’s a backlash to what’s going on with pop music today—everything is so packaged and slick. Something dirty needs to show up,” Schemel says. “It’s weird seeing a Nirvana T-shirt in H&M. For kids, Nirvana are what Jimi Hendrix was to me. Grunge has become classic rock.”

Courtney Love Proclaims “Kurt-Free Zone” At Solo Art Show

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Is Courtney Love ready for yet another comeback? After a tumultuous few weeks, including revelations that Love has lost control of former husband Kurt Cobain’s image to her daughter thanks to an outstanding debt and now-retracted Twitter accusations that former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl was fiddling with that same daughter, there is a bit of silver lining appearing around Love’s dark cloud.

Not only did her band Hole reunite for the first time in eons with all of the members who played on the band’s last record, Celebrity Skin, for a quick set in Brooklyn recently, but this week a show of Love’s artwork—titled “And She’s Not Even Pretty”—has its debut at the Manhattan art gallery Fred Torres Collaborations.

The show, which features 45 original pieces by Love, is open through June 15 and, as she told The Huffington Post, it’s a “Kurt-free zone.”

"A lot of this collection is about one romance," Love said. "It’s embracing this thing in my life that haunted me.”