Beer Bongs With Dave Grohl!
In 2006 I had the amazing experience of recording with Dave Grohl. Juliette and the Licks had just come off the road and parted ways with Jason Morris (drums). We were looking to start making the follow up to 2005’s “Your Speaking My Language” but now found ourselves in need of a drummer. Since we had just done a few festivals with the Foo Fighters, Juliette (Lewis) and Dave were in touch and by some kind of miracle he agreed to come record with us! It was one of those rare moments he had time off. Timing is everything I guess.
We started out tracking a few songs at 606, which is Dave’s studio. I remember being super proud because they were two tunes that I co-wrote with Juliette. Watching Grohl bash them out was so much fun and really helped build my confidence as a song writer.
After that, we started tracking at Henson studios in Hollywood. The studio once belonged to Jim Henson (of Muppet fame) and at the entrance you are greeted with a Kermit the Frog statue, tipping his hat as if to say “welcome”.
We we set up in this big live room and I was told it is the room where “We Are The World” was recorded back in 1985 when the facility still belonged to A&M Records. Dave showed up rock’n a slightly grown out shaved head (believe it or not) and to my knowledge, he hadn’t even heard any of the tunes yet. So we went in to the lounge area to play him the first tune. He gave a quick listen or tune and said “Let’s do it!” So we went back into the live room, started playing and it immediately sounded great. His taste choices for the parts made us all sound tighter and I’m amazed how digested the structure so quickly. Playing live in a room with band is my favorite way to record as well.
After we had tracked three songs Dave said he needed a break to write something down. He grabbed a napkin and I think we all assumed he was writing instructions about his drum kit. Turns out it was a blue print for a beer bong! So off went Dave’s drum tech to Home Depot and when he returned he had a full constructed funnel and tube complete with a release valve. Of course all of us were dying to try it out but it was up to the boss. We all looked at Juliette, who was trying to keep the focus on recording but just kinda nodded and said “already, go ahead”. It was on! I think we all did one beer bong and then went back to tracking the tunes. At some point though, when it came time for overdubbing some guitars (I think), the beer bong party got a little wild.
The producer, Dylan Mclaren, had mentioned that he didn’t want Kemble Walters to think about or plan out his solo for the song “Smash And Grab” So I decided that maybe another round of beer bongs was in order! This time though, Kemble got a special recipe of beer, whiskey, pepper and whatever else I could think to throw in. He took it like a champ and then went in to do his solo feeling pretty good I imagine. He started trying some solo’s and since I was a bit drunk myself, I decided he was still over thinking it and I needed to “help”.
I ran into the tracking room where Kemble was playing and dived on top of him during the solo! Oh, the dumb things we do thanks to alcohol. I ended up cracking the head stock on his Les Paul and a piece of the wood put a nice gash in my arm and I still have the scar!! We both laid the on the floor, laughing our asses off for a while.
A few weeks later we decided to let Kemble write his solo in advance and wow, he killed it! If you get a chance listen to Juliette And The Licks “Smash And Grab” and you’ll hear what I’m talking about.
Making that record was a monumental experience for all of us. I wanted to write about it, not because of the drunkin beer bong debauchery but because of the lift it gave me as a writer and performer. Many years earlier, even before H2O, I had a band called Outcrowd and we were living rural Southern Maryland looking for our first break in Washington D.C. I don’t even remember how it happened but we got offered an opening slot for one of our heroes at the time, a band called Scream. In case, you didn’t know, that was Dave’s drumming gig before Nirvana. We borrowed a crappy van from a friend and somewhere along the way we broke down. So, (pre-cell phone) I called the club from a pay phone to let them know and an amazing thing happened; Skeeter (Scream’s bassist) offered to come pick us up in their van! That was the beauty of the punk/rock community back then. It was actually a community who looked out for each other! I remember watching Dave play the drums that night and I saw that inner fire that was destined for more. I stood there hoping that my fire would be seen one day as well. Who knew it would come full circle and involve a beer bong? Here I am, some 30 years and seven bands later, putting out my first solo album. If you haven’t heard it yet you can check it out here. The fire is still burning!
FULL DISCLOSURE: I was quite buzzed and blurry during these events so the story may differ slightly depending on who you talk to. Please leave a comment or message me if you this entertained you!
Special thanks to Juliette Lewis, Kemble Walters, Jason Womack and Dave Grohl