BY JOHN B. MOORE
It’s going to take a dead
hooker in the trunk of his car for Dave Grohl to finally shake his “nicest guy
in rock” image.
On Back and Forth, a documentary following the founding of the Foo
Fighters up through the recording of their latest full length Wasting Light, Grohl talks about having
to let two band members go and you can tell he genuinely feels bad about the
separations years later (including former drummer William Goldsmith, from Sunny
Day Real Estate, and guitarist Franz Stahl, who played with a teenaged Grohl in
the D.C. Hardcore band Scream). It’s clear Goldsmith and Franz still feel
shafted and why shouldn’t they, now that they are no longer part of one of the best
selling rock bands; but as the interviews reveal, it was more about the two not
really playing up to the rest of the band’s ability and there have been far
more fired from bands for far less.
The documentary chronicles
every step in the band’s 16 year history, from the anything-but Nirvana-sounding
cassette demos Grohl worked on after Kurt Cobain killed himself, to putting
together the band (and in the case of guitarists, this seemed like a constant),
the Foos’ growing popularity and the pitfalls that nearly crushed the group.
Aside from discussing the death of Cobain, Grohl gets the most emotional in
detailing drummer Taylor Hawkins’ clearly out of control drinking on the road.
Though doled out over the
years in various interviews, Grohl offers some interesting trivia throughout
the movie, like his invitation to be Tom Petty’s drummer shortly after the
demise of Nirvana. He also shares stories on the road when the Foo Fighters
were just starting out and opening for Mike Watt (Grohl and Pearl Jam’s Eddie
Vedder also served as Watt’s backing group night after night).
Part Behind the Music (getting hammered before shows; Hawkin’s OD-ing on
heroin; the band’s near break up during the recording of One By One), part Our Band
Could Be Your Life bio, ultimately Back
and Forth is a cynical-free look at one of the strongest rock bands working
today. The movie ends with the Foo Fighters recording their seventh album in
Grohl’s garage (a beautiful, massive, well-equipped garage, but a garage none
the less) and the band is looser and clearly happier than they have been in
their 16 years together. As Grohl is working on a guitar part, his young daughter
taps him on the shoulder, in the middle of recording and says “You said we’d go
swimming,” and, while trying hard to hold back from laughing he says “I know, I
just have to finish this guitar part” – e seems happier than he was standing in
front of thousands at Wembley Stadium in an earlier shot.
One of the last images we see
is Grohl playing in the pool with his young daughter, while Husker Du’s Bob
Mould is just feet away in the garage recording backup vocals for a track on the
new record. On second thought, we’d probably still give Grohl the benefit of
the doubt even if there was a hooker in his car trunk.