Jack White, Japandroids and Dave Grohl Speaks Truths

In a January issue of Rolling Stone, Dave Grohl was asked about ’90s nostalgia and tough times for rock radio. His response was freaking excellent:

I don’t really see anything that I consider ’90s nostalgia. Loud-ass guitars and drummers who trash their kits — when did that ever go away? I love that a band like Soundgarden can still f***ing slay, but I wouldn’t consider it nostalgic. It’s not like all the guitars and drums and people who make honest records died off and are being resurrected in some
Jurassic Park laboratory. That sh*t still exists. It’s just suffocating under a pile of trash. 

It’s obvious that radio has been suffering from some kind of formulaic-playlist syndrome over the past 10 years. The feeling that you had the first time you heard “Bohemian Rhapsody” or “Roxanne” or “Smells Like Teen Spirit” — that’s what radio is for. Radio should not be warm milk. It should be moonshine. But for the last f***ing time: Rock & roll doesn’t need to be saved. It’s alive and well, thank you very much. 

* Dave Grohl, R.S. 01/19/12

The Foo Fighter is right. Whether it’s being played on the radio or not — rock ‘n’ roll surrounds us. It will never go away. And the reason it will never go away lies within what Grohl says: it’s all about the instruments.

Rock will never go away because guitars will never go away. And people’s urges to play drums as loud and fast as they can will never go away. And gathering together in garages to turn it waaaaaaay up will never go away.

And kids finding feedback will always be there. Rebellion will always be there. Bending strings and punching your guitar till it rings and playing till it hurts will always be there.

Sweat. Long hair. A shirt ironically declaring D.A.R.E.

There will always be iron men and girls just wanting to have fun.

Bleeding fingers, twisted shouts and bands on the run.

I’ve never personally gotten into this notion that rock is in a “good state” or a bad one, and especially not into the old man notion that it’s been declining since Elvis or The Beatles. There’s tons of music we’ll never even hear, but if you listen hard enough, you’ll find people still creating concept albums (Arcade Fire), new riffs, clever beats, insane videos (OKGo) and singing about something just as meaningful as whatever it was they sang about at rock’s inception (hound dogs?).

Rock is like the tollway: this exists now; no matter what form, people will continue to use these tools for that purpose.

Dave Grohl was right. And he’d know — Foo Fighters and plenty of their contemporaries remain relevant, whether you’ve moved on or not.

Is that what this “death of rock” crap is all about? Finding a bigger audience? The music industry was worried last year that rock singles weren’t competing with pop music. But the notion seems moot. Rock isn’t a competition. It’s a (finish that in your head).

While movie tickets were down in 2011, album sales went up. People still make and buy records. Real rock radio still exists on the back channels where you can hear Weird Uncle Andy’s All-Vinyl B-Sides Sunday. 

Plenty get stuck, plenty of people change and many might not know how to find it. But if you really want to rock you’ll discover a path. Just drop the reigns and let distortion guide you….

Remember, though — Lars doesn’t want you listening to any of his stuff on YouTube. So it may be time to investigate a new groove or two…

I was pretty stoked to hear this first new tune on the actual radio the other day. At first I thought it might be Ween (out of the blue), but it’s a guy who just won’t stop working — Jack White.


Gotta say, I underestimated the guy. Jack White always seemed to me one of those people who would disappear eventually. The White Stripes were catchy but I’ve seen duos rock harder (Local H). And then his penchant for constantly getting distracted by little side-projects like The Raconteurs? Bye, Jack. …But no, the guy keeps working (with everybody), getting bigger and putting out great music (with everybody).

White’s guitar work is increasingly impressive. Hell, I was blown away when he put the ax down to write Get Behind Me Satan (2005) almost entirely on piano, his obvious weak instrument, showing true song-craftsmanship.

White swore he’d never do a solo record, but when you have your own recording studio, those lonesome tracks must spontaneously emerge. Blunderbuss drops next week (4/24).

In other recent rock offerings…

You should listen to this song from a new-ish Canadian band with the awesome name Japandroids.

Their album Celebration Rock isn’t coming out until June 5th, but here’s a peek at the single “The House That Heaven Built.”

This is rock and/or roll.


Leave a comment
  • If you only heard the shit on the radio, you might think music is in a bad state sometimes. But we know, if you scratch away the veneer, underneath lies some pretty amazing music. There will always be new, good music, whether it be rock, rap, or whatever...

  • Dude, have you seen the Japandroids live? I saw them last year fall at Scubas and they blew the doors off the place! They friggin rock! They have put out a bunch of great tunes in the last few years. That new tune sounds rad, great call! Jack White rocks too, continuing to reinvent himself, which is not always easy.

  • In reply to radstarr:

    Whoa, that's good to hear man. I only just recently discovered these guys, but i'm loving the songs! They do rock pretty hard. Because you just gotta...

    And you make an excellent point -- there's even great jazz, blues, classical and a whole host of genres out there flourishing and re-inventing, no matter if millions of people buy the records. I'm a big fan of Bela Fleck's jazz/bluegrass fusion and that dude wins Grammys constantly, even if the radio ignores it. Goes to show that when the record industry is worried about something, it doesn't necessarily mean it's bad times for hardcore fans.

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