This weekend, BJ McDonnell’s throwback horror comedy Studio 666 invaded theaters exclusively and features the Foo Fighters squaring off against the forces of evil inhabiting a creepy Encino mansion as they work to finish up their tenth studio album.
During a recent press day for Studio 666, Daily Dead had the chance to chat with members of the Foo Fighters, including Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Rami Jaffee and Nate Mendel, during a roundtable interview where the group chatted about embarking on their very first movie project, influences behind Studio 666, some of the film’s gnarly kills, their thoughts on several of their co-stars, and more.
**SLIGHT SPOILER WARNING: While none of what is discussed here reveals much about the plot of the movie, several kills and a notable surprise cameo are discussed briefly here, which some readers might consider to be a little on the spoilery side. Just wanted to give you a warning before you proceed - enjoy!**
So, I was wondering how you guys decided that Studio 666 should be a horror comedy and not just a straightforward horror film.
Dave Grohl: I think that if you tell someone the Foo Fighters made a horror film, they would just immediately laugh. There's no way it couldn't be funny; it had to be funny. And we have a hard time taking ourselves seriously anyway, so it was inevitable that it was going to be a comedic horror film.
Taylor Hawkins: Even when we're trying to be serious, it's not very serious.
Dave Grohl: We're trying right now. So you could see how it's hard for us (laughs).
I had heard this story is based on an experience that you had while making your last album. Were you in the middle of the album and you were like, "Hey, this would make a great movie.” Or was it once you got through it, you were like, "That was all really crazy and ridiculous, we definitely need to make a movie." I'm just curious how the wheels began turning on Studio 666.
Dave Grohl: Well, we were telling everybody that we made a record in a haunted house, because we were setting up the movie to come out with the album, but then the pandemic hit. So, we were basically trolling everyone saying, "Oh my God, we made a record in this crazy haunted house without telling anyone we had made the movie." Now we could finally say that was all a fucking lie, okay (laughs). We were trying to set up this horror film so we could drop it in the middle of nowhere.
But the idea for the movie came years ago when a friend of mine texted me and said, "Hey, I just came out of a meeting and these people want to make a horror film with the Foo Fighters." I was like, "That's the stupidest shit I've ever heard in my life. Why would we ever do that? That's a ridiculous idea." And then we moved into this house to make the album and we thought, “Well, we're here, we're in a creepy old house. We might as well finish the record, take a couple of weeks off and then make this movie.” But we didn't think that it was going to turn into this big, full-length feature horror film. I think everybody imagined it would be this really simple, little, one-off run and gun project, but it's ballooned into a big movie.
Taylor Hawkins: An expensive one too. So the guy who said that we should make the horror movie, where was he when we were putting all of this together.
Nate Mendel: He left during that part of the equation...
Taylor Hawkins: I think we thought it was just going to be a quick little silly thing. And then we got about a third of the way through it and I was like, "Oh God, we are making an actual movie." That’s when it hit - here we were, acting in a movie.
Dave, being one of the co-writers on this, are these fantasies of how you wanted to kill your band mates while on tour, sometime through the last 25 years? And for everybody else, when you read the script, were you fearful of Dave's plots at all throughout the film?
Dave Grohl: These specific scenarios, no. I've wanted to kill them in a lot of different ways before, but not like you see here. These seemed a bit more dramatic and cinematic- like decapitation, chainsaws, or grilling and eating someone.
Taylor Hawkins: You would just push someone down the stairs.
Nate Mendel: Yeah, or just poison us. Stuff like that.
Dave Grohl: All of that seems a lot easier, but it’s not as fun to watch. So, no, we actually came up with the list of kills with the special effects guy, Tony Gardner, who did all the prosthetics and special effects for the movie. We were basically just walking around the property, talking about ridiculous ways to kill everyone. Taylor actually came up with his death scene.
Taylor Hawkins: Well, mine originally was a three-day thing where they were going to cut off my arms and then there was all this barbed wire and stuff like that. I was just looking at the cymbals and I was like, “Hey, can’t we just cut my head off with the cymbal?” So it ended up turning into a two-hour thing instead. They still had to do a lot of work to do all that stuff, though.
Dave Grohl: Poor Rami had to get a full-body cast because he gets chainsawed in half.
Rami Jaffee: Yeah, but I got to have movie sex while it was happening, so that was cool (laughs).
Were there any specific influences on Studio 666 that fans can see or were you just going crazy and doing whatever you wanted?
Dave Grohl: I think the premise of the movie is filled with and taken from some real classic horror movie elements. It's like you're in the house with the portal to hell in the basement, so that’s like Evil Dead. Someone becomes possessed and is murdering everyone, so that was very Exorcist-like. You're stuck in a house with a group of people and someone's lost their mind; that was like The Shining. There were a lot of elements in this.
Taylor Hawkins: It's a composite of all that stuff and then there are all these eighties slasher movies, too, that we grew up watching when we were kids. It seems like one of our goals was to make the murders or the kills or whatever, as gory as possible. Like BJ, the director, that's what he wanted to just make them as gnarly as they could be. And they are.
So you guys had some pretty cool co-stars in Studio 666 like Will Forte, Whitney Cummings, Leslie Grossman, and Jeff Garland. What was it like working with these performers? And did you have a favorite?
Dave Grohl: I'm going to name my favorite. First of all, pretty much everybody in the movie, we just texted them and said, "Hey, we're making a horror film. Do you want to be in it?". So I’ve known Whitney for years, and I’ve known Jeff Garland for a long time. Will Forte is someone who I have known for a really long time, but the craziest one, to me, is John Carpenter. Our lighting guy, Dan, has been our lighting guy for decades. He went out on tour with John Carpenter as his lighting guy back when John Carpenter was out performing his music in front of live audiences. So when we told Dan that we were making a horror film, Dan said, "Oh, you should email John Carpenter and see if he'll make a cameo." I was like, “Dude, there's no fucking way that John Carpenter will be in our movie.”
So Dan gives me his email address. I email and I say, "Hi, my name's Dave Grohl. I'm in a band called Foo Fighters. We have a mutual friend, Dan, and we're making a horror film. If you're not doing anything, do you want to make a cameo?" And he emails back and says, "Since you guys took my kids' band out on the road 15 years ago, and you treated them so well on the road, I'll not only be in your film, but I'll write the theme music to it." It was the craziest shit ever. When we got the original theme song for the film that he made, it was like, everyone got goosebumps and chills because it sounds so much like a quintessential John Carpenter theme. And to be associated with him for this movie is so huge for us. It's amazing.