Dave Grohl documentary ‘What Drives Us’ features U2, AC DC, Ringo Starr and more

Published May 6, 2021, 4:22 PM

by Punch Liwanag

Chalk up another rock music-themed film for Dave Grohl.

The former drummer of Nirvana, who is now Foo Fighter’s singer-guitarist, has a new film out dubbed “What Drives Us.”

It adds to Grohl’s growing list of films including “Back And Forth,” “Sound City”, and “Sonic Highway.”

“All of the biggest bands in the world, they had to start somewhere,” Dave Grohl said at the start of the documentary. “Everybody I know started out like this: in a van.”

“What Drives Us” is a documentary about several influential bands and how their careers were launched touring in cramped vans.

The documentary interviewed rock stars such as Lars Ulrich of Metallica, Brian Johnson of AC DC, Steven Tyler of Aerosmith (who was interviewed inside the band’s still intact tour van), Tony Kanal of No Doubt, members of the Foo Fighters Pat Smear, Rami Jaffee, Nate Mendel, Taylor Hawkins, Slash and Duff McKagan of Guns & Roses, St. Vincent, Ben Harper, Dave Lombardo of Slayer, Ian Mackaye, Mike Watt, and more.

Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, for one, shared that music for him was an escape from domestic difficulties, and a means to escape his drug-addicted stepfather.

It was revealed in the film that this ace bassist started out on trumpet. “When I held that f**king thing to my lips and blew on it, it was like all the chaos, all the fear that hung over, because it was a crazy night and the cops came to my house and my stepdad was shooting at them and threatening to kill himself…all this stuff disappeared.”  

Some of the biggest rock stars in the film included The Edge of U2 and Ringo Starr of The Beatles.

The Edge revealed that before, during his young years in Ireland, he used to blow things up a lot.

“The one downside of living in the ‘burbs of Dublin city is often there’s not a lot going on, so we’d have to find other ways of amusing ourselves. That’s when we got into explosives, and that was a kind of an interesting phase. We had a couple of summers, good fun blowing things up,” he said in an interview with Grohl.

That changed though when the future U2 guitarist discovered The Beatles in the movie “A Hard Days Night,” jesting “things went horribly wrong when I discovered rock & roll.”

For his part, Ringo Starr shared some revelations about the early days of The Beatles.

“I think it’s great for the band in the van because you get to know each other. You’re locked in. I think that was part of us coming together, as the song says,” the drummer said.

He also gave sage advice: “If you fart in the van, admit it. Because it causes so much trouble.”

Starr also added: “You know what was crazy? We always drove home. We never stayed in a motel or in a tent; we drove home and then got in the van the next day and went to the next gig.”

He shared a particular story about how The Beatles avoided freezing one particular cold night: “We laid on top of each other, The Beatles, and if you got to the top, you had a slug of whiskey, and then you moved your way down and the next one had a slug, and that’s how we got home without freezing to death.”

Early on the movie, Grohl was able to encapsulate what touring does for a young band.

“What happens in the van is the foundation of who we become. It creates this unique perspective that we all share. Personally, I don’t think that I’d still be here if it weren’t for those early experiences, touring in a van, touring with my friends. If it weren’t for that old van, I don’t know where I’d be.”

“What Drives Us” is on the Amazon Prime video streaming platform.