SXSW Dave Grohl Keynote: 'I fucking love Gangnam Style'

15 March 2013 | 11:28 am | at SxSW

Dave Grohl: "Gangnam Style one of my favourite fucking songs of the past decade."

First up on Wednesday morning at the annual SXSW music conference is the much anticipated keynote address form rock legend Dave Grohl. Not often seen wearing reading glasses he joked “I hope I still look like a rock star”, as he set to address a packed Austin conference room.

Today's keynote is a history lesson in Dave Grohl, from his early childhood growing up in Virginia through to the unexpected success of Nirvana and beyond.

He joked about his first high school band being called 'Nameless' because they could not think of a name. “You laugh, but coming up with a band name is the hardest part” and continued, “Foo Fighters is a stupid fucking name.”

The self-confessed Beatles freak gave the audience a demonstration of how, as a kid he would 'multi-track' in his bedroom. He would record guitar on to one tape recorder, then press play and perform the next instrument over the top, whilst recoding in to a second tape player.

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Grohl, now 44, spoke of the pivotal moment in his childhood meeting his punk rock cousin Tracey Bradford saying, “this was the first day of the rest of my life” after she showed him her vinyl collection and introduced him the world of punk rock.

He adopted the DIY punk rock attitude that continued throughout his early career that soon found him touring the US and internationally with underground punk rock outfit Scream.

After Scream disbanded and Grohl wound up broke, he had another turning point. “That was when I heard the five words that would change my life forever, 'Have you heard of Nirvana?'”

He spoke of the early days of Nirvana practising in a barn every single day. The sessions would always start with a free form jam, with little or no talking with each other stating, “verbal communication was never really Grohl said Nirvana were “left alone to find their voice” without external direction. He recalled a time where he and Kurt Cobain were sitting in a record executive's office and Cobain was asked, “What do you want?” He answered, “We want to be the biggest band in the world”.

He continued, “How Kurt could even think we'd make a ripple in this ridiculous mainstream world of polished pop music was beyond me. It was beyond everyone. It made absolutely no sense. It was the type of hopeless, shallow ambition we'd been conditioned to reject.

“What the world heard in Nirvana's music was three human beings, three distinct personalities, proudly on display. Three people that had been left to their own devices their entire life to find their voices. It was honest, it was pure, and it was real. And up until that point no one had ever told me how to play or what to play, and now no one ever would again.”

Grohl stressed the importance of finding your own voice, and playing music for pleasure, rather than to please.

“I can truthfully say out loud that Gangnam Style is one of my favourite fucking songs of the past decade,” he declared. “It is! Is it any better or worse than the latest Atoms for Peace album? Hmmm, if only we had a panel of celebrity judges to determine that for us. What would J-Lo do? Paging Pitchfork! Come in, come in we need you to help us determine the value of a song! Who fucking cares?

“Who is to say what's a good voice? The Voice? Imagine Bob Dylan standing there singing Blowin' In The Wind in front of Christina Aguilera.”

- Nick Lynagh

Watch the full keynote below: