November 6th, 2009
05:47 PM ET

The rock stars and the intern

Recently, I accompanied correspondent Denise Quan and photographer Chris Audick to an interview with the Foo Fighters at their studio.  I got the assignment on such short notice, I had no time to YouTube or Google the band.  I knew the band name, but couldn’t match them to music.  On the way to the studio, I had the nerve to ask, “So, Foo Fighters, they’re punk rock, right?”  Hurtful.

If I’d had the time to YouTube the Foo Fighters before the shoot, I would have realized just how deeply their songs permeated my early teen years - songs like “Everlong,” “Times Like These,” and “My Hero” among others.  When I hear their songs now, my mind flashes back to a simpler time: my early teen upbringing in NorCal, when I used to describe things as being “hella sick.”  I wouldn’t be surprised if I let such an expression slip when I first heard “All My Life.”  I still find myself humming their songs, more than five years later.  How could I not have connected them to songs I remember so clearly?

The halls outside their studio were covered floor to ceiling with hundreds of signed albums, awards, photos of the band members and other memorabilia, including artwork from Nirvana (the famous naked baby).  Obviously, these guys were big.  But their faces eluded me.  I had probably never seen them perform, but I had heard their music all throughout my middle school years.  Most recently, Foo Fighters shared the stage with one of my current favorite rock bands, Queens of the Stone Age, and mega-legend Led Zeppelin.  And still, none of this clicked.

I stood for a solid half hour, a mere five feet away from Dave Grohl, Nate Mendel, Taylor Hawkins and Chris Shiflett, in a position that millions of fans would kill to be in.  And yet, I looked on blankly, as if Denise was interviewing the next up-and-coming Disney superstars.

I spent an unforgettable hour inside the Foo Fighters’ studio, a studio they said few people have visited.  I listened to them talk about their 15 years of fame, how they never imagined their success would last so long.  Denise asked what their future plans were, if Foo Fighters would continue as a band.  They joked that they can’t exactly jump back into the workforce now: they haven’t had real jobs in 15 years.  I empathized with them as they described, like a lot of us, how some of their families are struggling during the current economic turmoil, and how they’re trying to help.  The Foo Fighters sounded like regular guys, who just happened to be UBER successful musicians.

Now, perhaps seeking to console myself, I see my temporary ignorance as a positive.  I did not see the Foo Fighters as integral pop culture icons who I relate dearly to my early American roots.  I didn't meet Foo Fighters, the musicians.  Rather, I got to meet Foo Fighters, the people.

A lasting memory, no less.

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