Foo Fighters singer Dave Grohl is a scholar when it comes to punk-rock, a fanatic who was there, sweating away during the 1980s, working in various bands to little success before his fortunes would change when Nirvana came calling.
His influential presence is an undeniable one. While it is hard to put forward a for Grohl being a part of the DIY ethos of today, considering that Foo Fighters have been selling out stadiums for decades, the drummer has always tried not to lose sight of his former self. Grohl’s punk integrity has stayed with him ever since he helped spiral Nirvana’s ascension from cult heroes to worldwide zeitgeist status. It goes without saying; the ‘make it on your own’ drive is firmly embedded in his DNA.
While punk music undoubtedly still exists, the genre isn’t stabbing a wound into popular culture as it did when bands like The Sex Pistols and The Clash first came along. It is now a concept that people are familiar with, which means the shock value no longer exists. Punk can point a mirror up at society in a way that no other genre has been able to and is still an immensely valuable message – no matter what shape or form it takes.
Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, Grohl feels that hip hop has filled that void in the fall of punk’s mainstream popularity – but not the genre as a whole. The singer spoke about the new wave of SoundCloud mumble rappers who emerged a few years ago, much to the bemusement of anyone old enough to drink legally, which was a reaction that reminded him of punk.
“In 2018, music doesn’t – and shouldn’t – sound like it did when I was 14,” he confessed to GQ. “I guess for me punk rock is about a state of independence and if that’s Lil Pump then so be it. It’s about being free to do whatever the hell you want to do.”
The rapper shot to fame with ‘Gucci Gang’, which is a phrase that he repeats 53 times throughout the song despite it only lasting just over two minutes. He’s also who President Trump referred to as ‘Little Pimp’ after he endorsed him in the election, although it later came to light he wasn’t even a registered voter.
Elaborating further on his love of Pump, Grohl told Rolling Stone: “Pat Smear and I had this conversation as we both became huge fans of Lil Pump, because imagine playing a Germs record for your father who was a classically trained musician.
“What do you think he would think? When I was a kid listening to punk rock, all I wanted was noise and rebellion, whether it was satanic death metal or industrial noise.”
He continued, “If anybody dug into my record collection then, it’s like, ‘This is noise!’ I love a good trap beat and a nice 808. And one of the things I love the most about ‘Gucci Gang’ is it’s two minutes long. It’s like a DRI song or a Minor Threat song. Look, I’m not going out and getting face tattoos anytime soon, but if (Lil Pump’s) ‘D Rose’ comes on, I am down.”
Reflecting a few years on from Grohl’s praise for the rapper, his evangelical approval for Lil Pump doesn’t bode too well. However, maybe he does have a wider point about the similarities in how mainstream culture perceived the birth of punk and mumble rap, even if one does have more integrity than the other, which merely boasts about designer clothing rather than saying something of worth.