You’re singing a lot more in Foo Fighters now and, over the last few years have been flexing your vocal cords to the max on these various Chevy Metal and Coattail Riders tours. Did you notice a big difference in your vocal strength when you got back into the studio to record this record, compared to when you recorded The Coattails’ Red Light Fever for example?
“Your voice develops like any other muscle and, as it does, you learn how to manipulate it and how to use it to the best of your ability.
"Of course it helps that I’m singing a lot more in the Foo Fighters now, and you’ve seen the Chevy Metal and Coattail Riders shows where I’m playing drums and singing the whole time...
"When my voice is in decent shape and I’ve been taking care of myself, it’s nice to have that increased confidence and strength, and know that I really can pull it off.”
I’m so busy with my real – and most important – gig, which is the Foo Fighters, and then there’s the other very important gig in my life, which is my family
In the past you’ve talked about finding lyrics the hardest part of the whole process of putting an album together... Did they come any easier this time round?
“Honestly? No! I don’t think I’m ever going to be able to say I enjoy writing lyrics. It’s a necessity more than anything – I’ve got to sing them, so I’ve got to write them.
"It was weird, though, because this record was made in a week and you tend to be reflective of one point in your life when you are writing lyrics. For some reason I happened to focus on the time when I was 18, 19 and 20 – right after high school and before I started becoming some semblance of a grown-up.
"My friends and I were complete reprobates in those days – it was the early ’90s, we were hanging out at Laguna Beach, getting up to all sorts of s**t, and we were going nowhere. But, because I have quite a dark sense of humour, I find all of that quite funny now...
"And, seriously, I think you have to be able to laugh at life, otherwise it can just be too hard. So yes, some of the lyrics on this record are dark and sound like someone is in trouble, or looking back at a time when they were in trouble – emotionally, spiritually, or physically. But it’s also done with tongue firmly planted in cheek.
"What’s funny is that in ‘The Ballad Of The Birds Of Satan’ I’m talking about a reverse narcissistic hatred of certain people – and I include myself – who do nothing but talk about, and think about, themselves. And what am I doing right now? Doing nothing but talking about myself again!”
Are there any plans for live shows with The Birds Of Satan?
“Of course I’d love to do live shows with this band, but it all comes down to time... I’m so busy with my real – and most important – gig, which is the Foo Fighters, and then there’s the other very important gig in my life, which is my family. If I can I will, but we’ll just have to wait and see.”
You’ve recently started work on the new Foo Fighters record – how are things in the camp at the moment?
“I can’t talk about the new record yet but, what I can tell you is that I think we are playing right at the top of our ability at the moment – better than we ever, ever have before.
"I’m not talking about songs, or concepts, or anything like that – I mean on a purely instrumental and musical level. And I say that because it’s honestly what I feel when I’m behind the drums and I have those guys in front of me doing their thing.
"It’s such an exciting place to be. I love that I have all these other vehicles for making music, but the Foo Fighters is the most important thing to me, and we are hot at the moment.It’s funny, because we seem to work harder the older we get – but perhaps that’s because we feel like we are running a race and the clock’s ticking!
"But then I look at someone like Mick Jagger and, at 70, he’s still got it. We were lucky enough to do Saturday Night Live with him a while ago and, honestly, he could have been 25 – he was so lively and spry.
"He’s no dummy; he really takes care of himself, he understands the path to longevity and is so incredibly driven and dedicated to what he does. I only spent a short time with him, but I was blown away by him as a person.
"It was one of those moments where you realise that you need to follow his example. We had a week’s worth of run-throughs leading up to recording that show and I’m not kidding when I say that every time we kicked into a song with Mick, it was like he was at Madison Square Garden – even at 8.30am in the morning! He’s my new hero and he kicks ass.”
You work hard at keeping yourself in shape, though – mountain biking being your favourite way of maintaining fitness and stamina...
“Oh yeah, I’m a bike fanatic! But there’s no way I could do a three-hour long Foo Fighters’ show if I wasn’t looking after myself properly. I’m not that strong to start with – I have to make myself strong and that takes time and effort.
"Even on stage I really have to work hard, because I’m not the kind of drummer who plays effortlessly. Everyone thinks I’m smiling up there, but I’m not – I’m gritting my teeth and I’m busting my ass to do everything in my power to play in time, have a good feel and make the songs sound the very best they can be.
"I suppose I’m always reaching for something that is perhaps unattainable, but that’s just my way, and it’s the only way I can get to what I consider to be the peak of my playing. It’s the battle within for me –as I’m sure it is with a lot of musicians–and I guess that’s why I finish every show feeling like I’ve been run over by a truck!”