The Foo Fighters leader said he tried to limit the effect of overwhelming sound levels by using controllable in-ear monitors, but he couldn’t make the wearable devices work for him.
“I have not been to an ear doctor,” he recently told Howard Stern on SiriusXM. “Actually I did go to an ear doctor recently to have them cleaned out. That was a fucking mess! … I haven’t had them tested in a long time. I mean, I know what they’re going to say: ‘You have hearing damage, tinnitus, in your left ear, more so that your right.’ My left ear is kinda worse than my right because of my snare drum and my stage monitor when I play the drums.”
You can watch the interview below.
Grohl added that his problem with in-ear monitors was that “it removes you from the natural atmosphere. … I want to hear the audience, like, in front of me, and I want to be able to turn around and hear Taylor [Hawkins] right there, and then go over here and hear Pat [Smear] and go over here and hear Chris [Shiflett]. … It messes with your spatial understanding of where you are onstage.”
But he said the situation was under control, partly because he’s had the same monitor roadie for 31 years, meaning he has a “great” sound balance and isn’t “up there getting my ass kicked by some loud stuff.” In the studio, he noted, he can tune his ears into “the slightest little things. … If I hear something that’s slightly out of tune or a cymbal that’s not bright enough or something like that, in the mix I can fucking hear the minutia.”
Grohl added: “That being said, if you were sitting right next to me at dinner, I wouldn’t understand a fucking word you were saying to me, the whole fucking time. In a crowded restaurant, that’s the worst.” Warming to his theme, he noted “t hat’s the worst thing about this pandemic shit: people wearing masks. I’ve been reading lips for like 20 years. When someone comes up and [mutters through a mask], I’m like, ‘I’m a rock musician. I can’t hear what you’re saying!’”
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