Ringo Starr is about to get into a bathtub with Dave Grohl, and he seems a little skeptical. “Is this some sort of bullshit?” Ringo says. But he steps in anyway. Soon the pair are chatting comfortably; as Grohl discusses the Foo Fighters’ recent tour, Starr hands him a rubber ducky, and instructs him to make a heart symbol with his hands to complement his own omnipresent peace sign.
Grohl and Starr have known each other since 2013, when Grohl spoke at a release party for Starr’s first photography book. Grohl later enlisted Starr to shoot band photos of the Foo Fighters for their 2014 album, Sonic Highways. Today, they’re close enough that Starr gives Grohl shit about his time moonlighting as the Foos’ photographer. “I didn’t feel you ever liked ’em,” Starr teases Grohl of the pictures he took. “What are you talking about?” Grohl replies. “We used ’em on the record!” “I wanted more praise and love,” Starr says.
Grohl learned to play guitar, his first instrument, by working through a Beatles chord book. Since then, his career arc has mirrored Starr’s in many ways. Both artists rose to fame as drummers in generation-defining bands, and went on to reinvent themselves as songwriter-bandleaders — Starr just released his 20th solo album, What’s My Name, and wrapped a tour with his All Starr Band, now in its 30th year. They’ve both stepped into other artistic areas outside music — Grohl as a director, Starr as an actor and photographer (his latest book, Another Day in the Life, just came out). Along the way, both artists weathered the loss of a friend and bandmate to tragedy.
As they talk over the next hour, their conversation is punctuated by constant table-drumming from both. “You see,” Starr says when it’s all over, “two drummers, they’ll blah their asses off forever.”
GROHL Can you explain skiffle to me?
STARR Skiffle is: One chord’s enough. Lonnie Donegan in England had several big hits, but actually it was from house music down South in America. If you paid a dollar, you could go into the party and that would help buy the booze and pay the rent. And it moved to England — how weird!
GROHL Was there a specific shuffle to it?
STARR Well, it still had sort of a swingy feel. [Drums on table and sings Donegan’s cover of the American folk song “Rock Island Line,” which set off the skiffle craze in 1956.]
Read the complete interview here.