Dave Grohl Backpedals On His Grammy Speech, Calls Skrillex ‘Badass’

Rock god Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters) got a lot of nods from the audience with his heartfelt acceptance speech at the Grammy Awards this year. In the speech, Grohl said:

“To me this award means a lot because it shows that the human element of music is what’s important. Singing into a microphone and learning to play an instrument and learning to do your craft, that’s the most important thing for people to do.

It’s not about being perfect, it’s not about sounding absolutely correct, it’s not about what goes on in a computer. It’s about what goes on in here [your heart] and what goes on in here [your head].”

Nice sentiment – but the way he said it also managed to piss off everybody who makes music with computers. People like Deadmau5, who remixed the Foo Fighters last year, and Skrillex, who won three Grammy Awards this year.

Grohl realized this and has released an official statement that backpedals a bit on his Grammy speech and offers an olive branch out to the electronic musicians of the world…..

Here’s what Grohl has to add:

I love music. I love ALL kinds of music. From Kyuss to Kraftwerk, Pinetop Perkins to Prodigy, Dead Kennedys to Deadmau5…..I love music. Electronic or acoustic, it doesn’t matter to me. The simple act of creating music is a beautiful gift that ALL human beings are blessed with. And the diversity of one musician’s personality to the next is what makes music so exciting and…..human.

That’s exactly what I was referring to. The “human element”. That thing that happens when a song speeds up slightly, or a vocal goes a little sharp. That thing that makes people sound like PEOPLE. Somewhere along the line those things became “bad” things, and with the great advances in digital recording technology over the years they became easily “fixed”. The end result? I my humble opinion…..a lot of music that sounds perfect, but lacks personality. The one thing that makes music so exciting in the first place.

I don’t know how to do what Skrillex does (though I fucking love it) but I do know that the reason he is so loved is because he sounds like Skrillex, and that’s badass. We have a different process and a different set of tools, but the “craft” is equally as important, I’m sure. I mean…..if it were that easy, anyone could do it, right? (See what I did there?)

So, don’t give me two Crown Royals and then ask me to make a speech at your wedding, because I might just bust into the advantages of recording to 2 inch tape.

I don’t know about you, but I think I like Grohl better after a couple of Crown Royals, raising hell about the importance of the human element in music.

Leave a comment and let me know what you think!

64 thoughts on “Dave Grohl Backpedals On His Grammy Speech, Calls Skrillex ‘Badass’

  1. Grohl has a valid point. For most music, I find the human element add greatly and I love electronic music. For electronica, add some guitar or cello, don’t quantise EVERYTHING, actually play some of your parts in, etc. I think more to the point, generic disposable music, regardless of style sucks. Electronic or rock.

  2. Yeah, cool article, definatly agree that the human element needs to come back Into electronica

    Massive attack can do it, Brian eno can do it but the latest trance djs just put some girl wailing on top of quantised stuff and the dubstep people, well, they add death metal or gangster vocals on top but that is subhuman to be honest and it’s all image centric rather than the genuine feelings that music should bring forth

    I’m all for real instruments adding to dance music, but I think the title of this post will no doubt bring some arguments again..is that what the site owner wants?

  3. The problem is that for some “computer musicians” adding a human element means to use the humanize function of their DAW. To a certain extend Grohl said what I always say here: before you spend lots of money to buy toys like iPads (because you might think your music gets better then) learn to play a real instrument. Because you get the human touch instantly when you really play something. And, by the way, this is what makes the difference between a musician and a computer operator.

    1. One reason I like the iPad is because of the expressiveness of multitouch control in apps like Animoog, SynthX (which is great for playing independently varying unisons), Orphion and MorphWiz, and the crazy fast playing you can do with the grid layout in apps like ExpressionPad. The CS-80 may be long gone, but the iPad brings back polyphonic aftertouch, to some extent!

  4. I didn’t get the impression from his original statement that he was dissing electronic/computer music. So, it’s not so much backpedaling as it is clarification, imo. Besides… if he was hating, who cares?

    1. Yeah, he was just saying don’t think you can buy a Mac and a DAW and you will get a Grammy. You need to learn that DAW like the back of your hand to produces something good. And if you play an instrument or both you need to practice. I work in Ableton Live and I practice like crazy. I also know how to play a few instruments but Live to me is also an instrument. If my wife used live, it would sound bad cause she does have a craft for using it. So what Dave is saying is stop buying pedals, Vsts and synths and start getting good at something.

      But hey, some people can pick up an instrument or a DAW a create something amazing. But for the rest, practice.

    2. Yeah, he does not need to apologize, or even clarify. Any artist wants to express the personal, or he is not ant artist. Corporate/factory hitmachine production is NOT art but a production methodology exploiting basic elaboration algorhythms to yield a musical-type product calculated to sell in large quantities. The use of quantization and melodyne autotune facilitate the filtering out of ‘error’. Those interestingly complex episodes of discovery which in such process would be termed ‘error’ are the fertile topos exploited by a real artist: the singing sharp, the slightly out-of time (or even losing count) – these mistake have given us the subtleties of intonation pushing the boundaries of 12TET (e.g. Coltrane) or the happy mistakes of a Led Zeppelin in ‘Black Dog’. Hitmachine productions will NEVER be remembered by future generations.

  5. “Today there are synthesizers that require the same level of technique you would need to play violin, flute, whatever. I mean they are real instruments today. You can do whatever you wish with them; it is up to the human being. There are no excuses anymore.” — Vangelis

  6. I totally agree all music comes from the head and the heart and not the instrument in which its made. Just because Grohl used a computer as an example isn’t a reason to be offended. My computer doesn’t sit there and make a composition, add swing to drum programs, and look for a nuanced in a specific sound. No more than my synth, guitar or piano do. If we are to think so simplistically that the human element only means singing.

  7. Music doesn’t have to be imperfect to be good. Heck, for some music, the mechanical feel (or even the autotune) is the point. But the REAL point is that any music that touches someone is worthwhile – and that music ultimately doesn’t come from a computer, it comes from a person’s mind, heart, and soul. What’s important is the music – we should all stop blaming the tools and instead keep the responsibility where it truly lies.

  8. This is totally relative

    Some people, myself included, cannot play an instrument to save their lives, nor can we play melody on a synth or an app for that matter, but we can make beats, decent samples, and use an arpeggio to make melodies

    What if we are skilled and intuitive sequencers? What if our overall production is good and the music has a good vibe?

    Despite our faults, are we deemed to be operators rather than musicians???

    1. Look at Brian Eno – who has often said that he doesn’t consider himself a musician. Yet he’s made some of the most influential music of recent years.

      Not everybody’s Brian Eno, though!

  9. You have to have something to say. It’s all tools, Grohl just prefers (now) traditional ones. There are crap guitar bands – loads of them, and just as many crap electronic musicians. 98% is crap in every discipline.

    The thing electronic musicians can do is use their tools in their own way. Are we tired of the same old filter sweep, 808 kick, and presets? We should be. Make your own fucking sounds. What would Hendrix or Eno do on a laptop? They wouldn’t play presets or make sounds that emulate the past 20-30 years, or even the past 6 months.

    Your artistic drive and connection to your inner emotions are what drives you to search for your own sounds. Without it you are just making ugly, tasteless noises. Don’t be disposable.

    1. Again, good points, listen to trance and house, it has not changed much since the 80s, in fact it’s got mor bland and boring, just overall sound quality is enhanced. And don’t get me started on hiphop, exact same productions and sounds since the late 80s

    2. I don’t see anything wrong with using presets if the result is good. I mean, a piano only has one “preset” and minimal programming capability (John Cage notwithstanding.)

  10. Besides, according to Brian eno, process is more important than results

    The sheer satisfaction of being able to make sounds from nothing, wether they are good or bad, is great in itself, screw those that don’t like my music, I don’t care, if I enjoyed TRYING then that’s the most important thing. If I get lucky and make a hit, great!

  11. i dont like grohl … ^^

    ok he won an award, thought to be a wiseass on the acceptance speech, his manager told him, man thats unwise, so he realeased the second part in which he states that it was unwise … no big deal

    so the bad nirvana drummer still makes music, i wonder if he considers his own and nirvanas compositions as “good” like in “complex” hehe

  12. I’m interested in what happens when people without formal training make music with widely available tools. That said, I had to get a lot of education and a lot of expensive tools to make music the way I do today. Music has changed and new music requires a different set of criteria to be appreciated. I’ve always been forward thinking, but ended up siding with the backlash against technology, because there should be a balance. I’m also sick of buying the same mac over and over. Can tools be overused? Sure. More often, people go out and make music in public before they are prepared to do so, and are not aware that people don’t like what they hear. Most people don’t know how to listen, because its work. People don’t want to listen. They want to feel stuff.

    1. Agreed on that one

      Some just didn’t have opportunity to learn music for various reasons, some can’t even operate complex software and this is why the apps are booming, they empower others, take garagebands smart instruments for example, or nanostudio, it gives people a chance, even though they may not make pro music, they still have tools to allow creativity to take place. Some may even decide to make an effort to take courses after finding out they enjoy making music, to take it further.
      But I reckon the majority of current electronica dance producers never had formal training, many likely use factory loops and use their dj experience to blend sounds that sound good together, lol, so you have teenagers coming home from school making dance tracks on pc or iPad. In one sense it’s great, but in another, it’s made things more diluted and competitive, skrillex is the prime example of diluting dubstep, takes him a few hrs to blend out the latest fat wobbles from loops and factory presets on ableton, so no skill there, he just got lucky and had a hit, and once someone has a name, they WILL sell records, even if they are crap, unfortunate..but this is our world today, many will only listen to artists they have heard of, or what their friends like, or what is deemed cool to be into. Again, dubstep is now cool, so it’s huge, because you are told its cool to like it. And the funny thing is that most of these people have no idea that pink floyd were messing with analogue back in those days, making acid sounds, and that people like Brian eno were leading the way with synthesis. These youngsters thing they created it all in the rave days, wrong! They just distorted it..huge subject lol

  13. I do believe that the human element is important, and I think you should actually learn instruments (I learned to play b flat clarinet and piano before I even knew what a synthesizer was) but, no matter how good you can make a song, if you can’t play it live, how are people supposed to take you seriously. Don’t just learn how to make a dubstep wobble in a DAW, learn a real instrument, like guitar, piano, flute, cello, ukelele, drums, or any other instrument. Also, I’m not saying that synthesizers aren’t real instruments, I’m saying that just knowing how to use a DAW is not an instrument.

    1. Good points apogee

      It’s a fact most dance producers cannot do this stuff live, a rare few can

      This is another human element missing. Also that of improvisation live. Most dance producers mix their records live, which takes little skill, if any, considering the accuracy of traktor et al, and even then, and it’s proven that the two highest ranking, and paid trance djs- tiesto and armin van buritto mime their dj sets. To the doubters, go look at some youtubes, all you see is some knob fiddling and no fader action whatsoever, and these djs get paid 100 000 per set, excluding travel, accommodation, insurance etc it’s a joke

      Using a daw properly is a skill, and a rare few use it like an instrument I.e ableton live, so I wouldn’t dismiss that. But to actually play chords live, loop stuff on the spot, make beats on say maschine live, I’d like to see more of that

      1. Wouldn’t it be great if someone invented software to make it easy to perform dance music live on a PC? You could call it “Live” or something. I bet it would enable tons of innovation. 😉

    2. So Autechre or Orbital should learn how to play an instrument in order for people to start taking them seriously? Have you ever heard Oversteps or In Sides with its almost classical compositions and dynamics? Guess what? It was programmed.

      1. Both artists mentioned also use hardware and perform works live, your statement not applicable to them, great you mentioned them

        1. Both artists play pre-programmed stuff. They “just” mix them and manipulate them differently but the sequences are pre-programmed. Beat repeaters, loopers etc do the job for them. There is no classical instrument playing as far as I know (if we don’t count triggering samples or playing a sequence of two tones with two fingers…). I think one of the Hartnolls brothers used to play the sax a little but that is all. Their music is programmed and sounds absolutely great and soulful and that was the point. You don’t have to learn an musical instrument to make an absolutely incredible and beautiful music.

  14. Oh Grohl was just being a dick and indulging in a bit of alcohol-fueled self-righteousness. That’s what musicians do, just take a look at the comments section of this blog on a typical day for further illustration. We’re all needy self-righteous assholes, it’s embarrassing! lol

    1. That’s what musicians do, just take a look at the comments section of this blog on a typical day for further illustration. We’re all needy self-righteous assholes, it’s embarrassing! lol”””

      I kind of agree with you on this, but I gave you thumbs down.

      Btw, It´s kind of sad that Skrillex´s the “standard” for electronic music…

      1. How’s Skrillex ‘The Standard’?

        He got recognized at the Grammy Awards, but so did a bunch of other people.

        For better or worse, he’s the face of dub step – and he deserves credit for bringing a huge audience to that music, mainly by constantly touring and performing.

        But artists that stand the test of time, like Eno or Steve Roach or Klaus Schulze, are still the standard for me.

        1. Agreed, skrillex will not stand the test of time, give it a year or three, he will be history, likely dubstep will be too, something else will take its place

          There is not much timeless music with modern dance stuff, roach and eno are if course timeless and will always be, helps that they are mature men and not kids who think they are cool and have surpassed the pioneers!

  15. More haters hating on people for making music. I am so glad that teenagers and kook’s like me can ignore the traditionalists and make programmed beats on my phone.

    The more the merrier.

    Haters hate because they are jealous.

    1. Yes making beats on touchscreens is great and creative, but we are talking about standing the test of time, few will do that

      Anyway, keep creating:)

      1. What makes you think guitars will stand the test of time? In the 1930s everyone knew trumpets would the premier instrument forever…a century later they’re been relegated to high school bands and two jazz clubs per city. You think guitars won’t end up the same way? When the electric guitar took over it was NEW TECHNOLOGY and people who played trumpets hated it, now it’s OLD TECHNOLOGY and people are moving on. Keyboards will probably be around forever because they aren’t an instrument but rather a user interface. IF you think guitars will be around forever just remember that’s how trumpet and sax players felt before the introductions of electrified guitars. Maybe you’re just a baby boomer living in the past. Once you die off do you think The Beatles or Led Zeppelin will be any more relevant to kids in the 21st century is than Chopin is to kids today? Sure a few music nerds with overbearing parents are forced to memorize Chopin but no one else cares and so it will be with your favorite guitar band in another 100 years.

        1. Obviously you never considered what Hendrix did – to you he’s just another axeslinger. In the hands of an ARTIST anything becomes a cybernetic interface. Hendrix was totally plugged in. And his instrument of choice, the Fender Stratocaster, has met few players since Hendrix died 42 years ago who could SYNTHESIZE as much sound out of it as he did– as a controller for a vastly complex electro-acoustic array.

          And heads up: Chopin may not be ‘hip’ in your self-imposed ghetto of the mind but his music, as much as Bach’s or the Beatles’, will profoundly influence players for many generations to come. Real creativity does not come cheap, but it leaves a lasting impression – lost on such smart-alecs as you.

  16. I think the issue here is people without the experience making uneducated assumptions about what he said. I know exactly what he was talking about. There has been a Protoolsification and corprorate-led rapefest of Rock and Roll. Dave has lost his edge a bit, but he still keeps it real. It’s about musicianship and staying true to music, not dead industries.

  17. Wow…. Not only is Dave Grohl talentless, he’s a talentless idiot with the IQ of a doorstop! I’d like to give him my Electribe or SH32 and see if he could even figure out how to turn it on, let alone make music with it. Classic brainless d$#%less a&*hole. He should learn how to play a REAL instrument. If it weren’t for Kurt, he’s be a factory worker or janitor. He’s not even a musician… he’s a drummer trying to be a guitar player.

  18. Kurt Cobain blew his brains out 18yrs ago the Grammys are just a corporate pat on the back for commercial exposure and to tell sheep what music they should by.

    I did like the first couple Foo Fighters album but modern rock music is now more a fashion statement than serious creative music that will stand the test of time.

    Also controlled generative music with the right ear for selection is a powerful form of exploring new sounds and musical options which is evidently something Mr Grohl is sadly out of touch with which also goes for his current musical output.

  19. Lol, I hope site editor puts a feature up on eno, fsol or similar, artists we all can relate to and not slag off

    While its good to use constructive criticism, seems this grohl and skrillex being featured have truly wound a lot of people up

    How about a feature on enos latest album drums between the bells, released on cutting edge label warp? This album proves that mr eno, despite his being older than any dance music artist, beats them all hands down for sheer originality and power in production, lol and guess what? He sometimes uses iPad apps too so I hear.

    Boards of Canada are another decent band who can do live Aswell as cutting edge productions, not sure if they use apps though, but they do make decent original electronic music

  20. I like what he had to say, but truth be told I was never a fan of Dave Grohl’s music. I always felt it fell into that same sterilized mush of modern music that he is referring to.

  21. Look at it this way, Dave Grohl’s been called the nicest guy in rock and roll tons of times. He’s allowed to have an opinion just like we all are. He chose to make his known at the Grammy’s. I say good for him. I agree that the human element has been lacking in a lot of music today. I think people jumped the gun on this though. I highly doubt he was calling out Deadmau5(They put his remixed version of Rope on their itunes album…I highly doubt they have it out for him) or Skrillex. I think he was pointing to people like Nicki Minaj, who gave one of the worst performances I think ive ever seen. She needs all this new technology to even reach mediocre.

    Music is completely subjective. But I think most everyone can agree that Dave has a point, and it’s being torn apart by websites and taken out of context. Calling him an idiot with a low IQ is just immature, too. Come on…he’s one of the good guys.

  22. man these other computer musicians are being big babies if they are really worried about a possible shun from some guitar player. i didnt really think his was offensive, not written well at the very least.

  23. i meant I think he is referring to the over use of production equipment that makes songs “perfect” sounding- songs finished and fixxed “in the box”.

  24. HAHAHAHA These comments are hilarious and boring. Mostly pretentious music snobs and gear heads. Glad a few commenters were accepting of both featured musicians in the article.

    1. I think it’s a case of two different worlds,rock and electronica,mid count neither persons under discussion as being insightful representatives of either genre

      We must remember that rock and dance are so broad now with sub genres turning up every other week that it’s hard to keep track, so what to speak of people who are stuck in a tunnel vision state of mind, wherein each feels their expression is the ultimate?

      Very rare a rock guy can understand deep electronica production techniques and even rarer a dance producer being able to pick up a guitar or drum sticks

      So while the above comments were for the most part valid, it’s still relative territory, unless of course we take the Puritan path and dismiss it all and think we know best.

      These two artists are of no consequence to myself or many others who read this forum, likely we’d be better off discussing more progressive artists real soon as a much needed breath of fresh air!

      Going to listen to some Sigur ros, a band that is a blend of both genres but far more skilled and experimental IMO

  25. Lots of good and bad points with some ignorance; I have to say that learning an instruments and learning music theory is a must, but it does not matter if its by ear or by going to a conservatory. I have several friends that play instruments by ear very well, they hear a classical piece and they could reproduce it just by ear. So if does not matter if you are making music through a DAW or through an instrument, this does not mean that someone who play an instrument is better than someone who makes music with a computer DAW. Its best to learn the music theory either self taught or through a conservatory school. So what I am saying here is that playing an instrument is not going to make you a better musician, or more important than someone who uses Logic, Ableton, Reason, etc etc, to me both are musicians either self taught through ears or by going to school. We have to stop hating those who play instrument and those who don’t. The most important is creativity, and expression with sounds, I do have to say that many who plays instruments have no clue about using a DAW in their benefit to EQ, Level, or even putting the final touches to their music, they depend on people who uses a computer or those in a studio with analog equipement to refine their EQ, Levels, etc etc to brighten the sound to standard volume. But I am not saying all those who play instruments are clueless I am saying some because I have a friend who plays the piano and he knows a lot about, how to use a mixing board either analog or through a DAW like protools. But lets stop the hating and lets start being more open and share ideas and creativities expand because music is a language, not a secret language, where we just think about ourselves and money.

  26. I caught the reason two-hour documentary on The Foo Fighters, and his comments totally made sense considering how the current record was recorded. They grabbed Butch Big, all the analog recording equipment they could get their hands on, and recorded in Grohl’s garage.

    This is how I learned when I went to recording school back in the 90’s. We used big-ass SSL, API and Neve consoles recording to Studer 24-Tracks, and then dumped down to two-track or DAT. Sure, they had one digital Mitsubishi digital recorder (probably way too expensive for us to play on), and one early version of ProTools (covered in a MIDI class), but that was it. Unless you were able to chain multiple Studer’s together, you weren’t going to have multiple takes of certain instruments.

    So, I totally get what Grohl is against, this whole recording something fifty different ways to find the one good note that blends together with the other good note from another fifty takes. If the man were against electronic music, would have he supplied a whole hard drive full of drums for the last Prodigy album without request?

  27. An iPad, a computer, a synth, are all EQUAL to an instrument. They are tools. I’ve heard plenty of terrible music played with a guitar or a piano, and conversely I’ve heard brilliant music crafted with all electronic pieces. It is just as easily true vice versa, so for anyone to feel differently is just antiquated thinking. Music is emotion, and that should be the human element in it that we strive for. Not the digital vs analog nature of the tools that made it.

  28. Do we need to tell other people how to make music the way we like it or how the human element is infused. The truth is that is someone made it and someone likes it, that to me is all that matters. I don’t care if a midget farts into a tuba and its auto tuned to the nearest cent. This shit happens in art too.What is the human element there? A woman puking paint onto a canvas or a guy squirting mustard into his underpants? Some places need to be explored and we may not be gracefull about it but I’m all for it. You may like music I don’t like but I don’t go spewing belligerent comments just to please myself. Is it Skrillex’s fault that he has fans? I hate country but I don’t waste my time flaming Willie Nelson or Johnny Cashand I don’t waste my time making comments about f*ing wooble this and wobble that. Why don’t you use that time to “Enlighten” us with your awesome music instead of ranting and bitching about someone that is successful? Thats s*it gets old.

    1. i personally love skrillex AND foo fighters/nirvana. in fact, at the moment im listeng to dubstep remixes of the foo fighters. but what i see when dave says things like this, are that he isnt trying to diss or piss people off. he just hasnt planned his speech out well enough. now im sure none of you really give a fuck about what im saying, but dave is a huge role model for me. i like the way he performs (usually shit-faced) and i say if i ever get that huge, id probly do the same. now seeing as he didnt specificly name anyone, or do anything to a specific band or person, they have no right to be pist. just my thoughts. and again, like ive said, i love dubstep and rock, but the ones who keep it real-as in real life-are the ones who will always have my respect. http://weknowmemes.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/no-skrillex-mac-is-not-an-instrument.jpg
      not a virus. just something that made me laugh.

  29. Ok so discard all the music in your Itunes that were made with a computer as some form of the production process and you are probably erasing 99.9% of all music made in the last 25 years. Including most of Mr. Grohl’s as well.

  30. He was simply stating in his original statement, put your heart into what you do, that is the human element. If it be rock,pop acoustic, electronic or whatever put your heart into what you do. Dave should not have to justify so idiots don’t get offended. As for shit like skrillex do what you do, but Grammy and music award worthy I think not. Adding some electronic shit to someone else’s already great song does not make it original or yours.

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