For one of rock’s most revered musicians, Dave Grohl has never seemed to take himself too seriously. The former Nirvana drummer turned Foo Fighters frontman (he really is rock royalty) has made his fair share of funny music videos since graduating from lo-fi grunge beginnings to stadium rocker extraordinaire. There’s even a top ten funniest listed by metal bible Kerrang! which must qualify the six-piece as the funniest serious rock band out there. Grohl has further soldered the bond between heavy metal and comedy by appearing as Tenacious D’s resident Satan – once on the big screen in Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny.
If you’re thinking it odd that Foo Fighters are making a foray into movies – as the driving force behind Studio 666 as well as starring in it as themselves – it seems an obvious move when you take Grohl’s background into account. Particularly with the movie intent on fusing demonic shenanigans (historically, parents and puritans have decried heavy metal as the music of the devil) with rock music and then sending the whole thing up.
Bloodbath at Studio Trick or Treat
In Studio 666, Foo Fighters are struggling to make their tenth album. So when the band moves into an old Encino mansion with a dark history to begin the creative process, they hope to find the inspiration they need to record a bonafide banger. Grohl finds his mojo when he stumbles across some old equipment in the basement – and becomes possessed by a demon that allows him to tap into, among other things, the little-known musical key of L#. Unfortunately for his fellow Foos, the devil in him has murderous ideas, and one by one, they begin to fall in grisly ways.
Wait, what? L#? That’s made up, the musically minded may well cry. Well, see for yourself — Grohl teaches Fandom how to reach it in the video above. So we can confirm it’s a thing. It’s certainly a thing. The film has been compared by some to This Is Spinal Tap but it’s more reminiscent of a couple of 1980s films from the archives. Firstly, British horror comedy and Kenny Everett vehicle Bloodbath at the House of Death, which featured Vincent Price in a cameo role and revolved around a group of scientists meeting supernatural forces in an old house they’re holed up in, has blatant parallels.
And secondly, a US humour-infused horror flick called Trick or Treat, in which a teenage heavy metal fan is haunted by the ghost of a dead rock star after he plays the musician’s record backwards, also shares similar DNA. The film is notable for cameos from Ozzy Osbourne and Gene Simmons, whereas Studio 666 boasts Lionel Richie, Slayer’s Kerry King, and horror and sci-fi maestro John Carpenter.
Surprisingly, neither Grohl nor Mendel have heard of either movie.
“Bucket list! Gotta see those before we die,” says Grohl.
So what did the band make of Grohl’s idea for the movie when he pitched it to them?
Faking It Until They Are Making It
“Full horror,” says Mendel, describing his reaction — not to the story and the prospect of picking each of the members of the band off one by one but to the idea of acting and tackling everything that goes hand in hand with making a polished feature-length movie. “[I thought] how in the hell are we going to make a horror movie? Not actors, never made a full movie before, only done videos, never done dialogue. How are we going to get from A to B? But [we were] kind of excited about it and … game to give it a shot, right?”
With Hatchet III director BJ McDonnell behind the lens and accomplished writers Rebecca Hughes and Jeff Buhler (2019’s Pet Sematary) on screenplay duties, not to mention comedy talent like Jeff Garlin, Leslie Grossman, and Witney Cummings among the cast, they had a proficient team on the project to make sure that shot went as smoothly as possible. But Grohl says it was his professional amateurism that gave him license to go for it.
“You have to understand that we’re a band that can’t read music, [and] don’t really live up to a lot of the professional expectations put upon us,” he says. “We basically are faking it until we are making it at all times, so why not?”
The Most Fun Screen Kill
But onto the business of slicing and dicing his bandmates — for dramatic purposes (and laughs), of course – because what we all really want to know is who was the most fun to do away with.
“Let’s see who do I kill?” Grohl muses. “It’s probably Taylor [Hawkins]. And I don’t say that because he’s a drummer and I am too.”
Really? We weren’t questioning it. Protesting too much?
“That’s another amazing cliché that was played on,” Grohl explains.
The film deliberately incorporates rock and roll clichés – like band rivalries – for laughs although it does make you wonder how much of it is real since, well, they are a band, and there’s a reason that clichés exist. Time and again we’ve heard stories of band tensions, and egos, and bands splitting or having huge bust-ups because of them.
“I’m going to stick with Taylor Hawkins because it was a pretty inventive way [to kill him] and something that most drummers would understand,” says Grohl.
“It was never a fantasy of mine to murder, decapitate, or eat any of my band members,” Grohl adds, just to clear things up. “But it sure was fun to do, I gotta be honest. It’s kinda funny to watch. Here’s the thing, the movie really is based on a lot of rock and roll 101 clichés and stereotypes — probably the biggest being that the lead singer just wants to go solo.”
For the record, Grohl doesn’t want to go solo.
“I really enjoy being in my band because they’re good. So whether it’s writers’ block or the tension in the studio, it was all this exaggerated version of what it’s like for us to make a Foo Fighters record.”
“You’d have to be possessed by an evil spirit and commit murder in order to make it happen,” laughs Mendel.
John Carpenter Cameo
Bass guitarist Mendel doesn’t get to kill any of his bandmates in the film so naturally talk turns to who he’d most like to kill. I’m accused of trying to cause friction between the band, and by Grohl of being sensationalist UK rag, The Sun. We’re all joking, of course, just in case this isn’t coming across.
Nevertheless, Mendel settles on his choice. “I mean, Taylor would probably be the easiest to kill.”
Grohl adds, “I would say so. But not the tastiest to eat. That’s the thing, if I had to eat a band member, you know who I’d eat, honestly? Rami because he’s so organic. He’s, like, free-range.”
Taylor and Rami, watch your backs maybe?
I can’t let them go without asking them about the John Carpenter cameo. In the film, the legendary director plays a producer and gets a couple of lines. When I interviewed the director recently, he warned me not to look too closely: “I’m a terrible actor,” he said. Was this Grohl’s experience?
“No!” he says. “I think he was beyond perfect in this film. Most horror aficionados will see his face and just erupt into applause. We went to one of the premieres and when his face came on screen you could hear the people [cheer] … it’s a big one. Especially in a horror film. No. The guy’s a genius, we know this, but he played really perfectly in the movie and it was such an honour to have him. And a coincidence, a surprise; it was just through a mutual friend that he agreed to do it — and also write the theme song for the movie. So that’s a stamp of approval for sure.”
Carpenter also called the film “fun” – and he’s not wrong. It’s difficult to see how you can fail to have a good time with Studio 666. As for what’s next for the Foo Fighters… watch the movie then judge for yourself.
Studio 666 hits screens on February 25, 2022.
Check out that John Carpenter interview below.