June 12, 2021

in Dave Grohl’s documentary it all starts in a van

// By: Concepcion Moreno

Fri June 4, 2021

On What Drives Us, a new documentary that can be seen on Amazon Prime, Dave Grohl takes a nostalgic look at the beginning of rock bands. It all begins one day when someone, usually with no idea how to play an instrument, decides to join his friends to make music. Or it actually begins with the day a teenager comes across a record. Something so simple and so telluric.

And then, when they have a certain musical vibe, they all get into a van and jump into the vital undertaking of making rock wherever they leave them. That real road movie in which the band travels from here to there all together, enduring the moods, affective changes, frustrations and joys that are what make the group curdle. It is there in which it is decided if the band goes or not. Everything, then, begins in a van.

Aerosmith’s van

Carry your band like a last name

The vans of groups as important as the Foo Fighters, AC / DC, U2 or Aerosmith are the reason for What Drives Us, directed by Dave Grohl with a good hand. The vans or vans are a pretext, what matters is traveling to the emotional past of rockstars who bear their band’s name as a surname: Ringo Starr from The Beatles, Lars Ulrich from Metallica, The Edge from U2, Brian Johnson from AC / DC, Tony Kanal from No Doubt, Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Annie Clark, better known as St. Vincent.

It is small details that make the documentary so endearing. Lars looking vulnerable when remembering the beginning of Metallica, for example, a face that is not always known to the drummer. Or Dave Grohl himself confessing that when the Foo Fighters story began, in reality every reporter who saw him asked him about Nirvana, nobody was interested in the new group.

Founding of an epic

Then the documentary does something fascinating: it follows two new bands to witness the founding of their epic. Starcrawler and Radkey, quasi-adolescent gangs, do the league. What is it like to become an adult on the road? What is it like to grow up surrounded by artistic ambitions and a hunger for fame? Grohl throws the top to the nail of trying to answer those questions live and all technicolor, in full development.

As the unforgettable Lemmy Kilmister once said, Dave Grohl is everyone’s best friend in the rock aisles. Grohl has an easy charm, loving him is anything but difficult. The drummer and leader of Foo Fighters uses that charm to dare to ask very personal questions of his interviewees. The funniest: Steven Tyler. The most emotional: Brian Johnson. The most unbearable: Lars Ullrich. And we can continue like this, making popularity charts like in high school. Isn’t the rock scene an international high school?

What Drives Us It is, already doing box cutting, a story about daring and daring: it takes a lot of courage to get on a van with those perfect strangers who, if luck visits, will become your fellow fame and glory. Go on an adventure to rock with those strangers – nothing more exciting in pop culture.