All those years playing in Foo Fighters and Nirvana have caught up with Dave Grohl. During his recent appearance on The Howard Stern Show, the 53-year-old rock veteran discussed his hearing loss and how it affects his life both on and off the stage.
“If you were sitting next to me right here at dinner, I wouldn’t understand a fucking word you were saying to me the whole fucking time,” Grohl said, motioning about a foot away from his left ear. “There’s no way. In a crowded restaurant — that’s the worst.”
Up until mask-wearing became the norm, however, Grohl’s hearing loss didn’t pose too much of an issue in his day-to-day life. He insisted it’s “not that bad,” but now that mask-wearing is the norm, Grohl has had a harder time conversing in public.
“The worst thing about this pandemic shit is people wearing masks,” he said. “I’ve been reading lips for, like, 20 years… I’m a rock musician. I’m fucking deaf. I can’t hear what you’re saying.”
But being a rock musician also means that despite his impending tinnitus, Grohl still has certain acute sensitivities to music. Decades of experience have made him able to pick up on some seemingly minor details in the studio.
“When we go in to make a record, and we’re mixing an album, I can hear the slightest little things,” Grohl explained. “My ears are still tuned in to certain frequencies, and if I hear something out of tune or a cymbal that’s not bright enough or something like that. In the mix, I can fucking hear the minutiae of everything we had done to that song.”
Meanwhile, onstage, Grohl prefers go to without ear monitors. Having relied on the same audio technician for 31 years, he feels confident enough to perform without them and feel immersed in the music: “The problem that I have with [ear monitors] is it removes you from the natural atmosphere sound. I wanna hear the audience in front of me… It messes with your spatial understanding of where you are onstage.” See the full clip below.
Going deaf isn’t nearly as scary as what Grohl and his bandmates will deal with in Studio 666, the band’s horror-comedy that premieres this Friday (February 25th). You can celebrate all things Foo all week long here at Consequence during our inaugural Foo Fighters Week, which begins today.