What Drives Us
Ringo Starr, Brian Johnson, Flea, St. Vincent, Ben Harper, Lars Ulrich
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…an instant must-see for music fans.
“The Beatles fart,” Dave Grohl reveals to St. Vincent in one of the many amusing highlights from the new doco from the Foo Fighters’ main man. The enchanting pop singer’s response (“No!”) is equally amusing. What Drives Us – the entertaining follow-up to Sound City, Grohl’s 2013 deep dive into the history of the titular recording California recording studio – is essentially a look at what it’s like to be a band starting out and touring across the country in a van, but it quickly fans out into more cerebral territory, tracking the birth of the creative impulse in its various subjects, and the reasons why they’ve gone through the ups and many downs of said van touring.
The ever amiable and quick-witted Grohl proves a perfect guide and interviewer, while his presumably staggering contact list makes this an instant must-see for music fans. The roll call of players is nothing short of massive – Ringo Starr, AC/DC’s Brian Johnson, Guns’N’Roses’ Slash & Duff, U2’s The Edge, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea, Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, Metallica’s Lars Ulrich, L7’s Jennifer Finch, X’s Exene Cervenka, Ben Harper, No Doubt’s Tony Kanal, underground legend Mike Watt, Slayer’s Dave Lombardo and Fugazi’s Ian MacKaye, along with young up and comers The Radkeys and Starcrawler – and watching them relax with Grohl while effortlessly reminiscing is a real joy. A particular highlight is Grohl getting each legend to introduce themselves and where they’re from at the start of the doco, with richly varied approaches to the request. “Really?” Lars Ulrich asks incredulously, while “I’m Flea, from Melbourne, Australia” gets a surprised response from Grohl.
There’s a plethora of vintage footage and photos, and the whole thing has a gloriously loose and freewheeling feel. There’s a lot of talk about the aforementioned farting (“One of the guys in the van must have been sick,” St. Vincent cringes, “and the smell…”), and the grueling nature of van life, and it ultimately frames a fascinating picture of pre-fame, down-and-dirty cross-country touring. As funny as it is insightful, What Drives Us cements Dave Grohl’s current status as one of rock music’s true MVPs.