Foo Fighters front man Dave Grohl cranks musical education up to 11 in HBO's new docuseries Foo Fighters Sonic Highways. Over one year, Grohl visited eight American cities — from Austin to Washington, D.C. — to document their artistic histories through original interviews and personal anecdotes. At the end of each stay, the band recorded a track influenced by that stop for their new album, also titled Sonic Highways, available Nov. 10. Grohl gives us a peek.
TV Guide Magazine: Why did you decide to embark on such a grandiose project?
Grohl: I'm an incredibly energetic and passionate lover of music. It's my duty in life to [help] people feel as inspired as I am. And I realized that getting beneath the surface, giving people some depth and substance to music, establishes more of an emotional connection.
TV Guide Magazine: What surprised you most during your travels?
Grohl: In Nashville, I had no idea how much religion had to do with country music. All of these legends — from Dolly Parton to Carrie Underwood — were raised singing in the church. Going to New Orleans and learning about the slaves who brought their music from the Congo, Haiti, and South America: Those things shaped modern jazz. I learned so much. You think you know, but you have no idea. Did I just quote The Real World? [Laughs]
TV Guide Magazine: You also sat down with President Obama. Why did you want to include him?
Grohl: It was important for me to talk about America as a place where these stories can happen. I wanted to talk to this man who grew up in Hawaii and became the first African American president. To me, there are parallels there, musical or not. There is something about America where these things can happen.
TV Guide Magazine: What do you hope the takeaway from this experience will be?
Grohl: For people to learn something about music. You're not going to get it in school, because the schools are striking down all the music programs. You're not going to get it from MTV, because they're spitting out f---ing teen-pregnancy shows. You can go buy an Iggy Azalea CD and bounce your ass to it all day long, if that's what music is to you. But if you want to know something about New Orleans, Nashville, or Seattle, come ask me!
Foo Fighters Sonic Highways premieres Friday, Oct. 17 at 11/10c on HBO.