The Story Behind One of the Most Unique and Successful Promo Videos
October 2009: The world has officially been introduced to a new powerhouse collaboration coming out of Los Angeles, by the name of Them Crooked Vultures. Consisting of Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters/Nirvana) on drums, John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin) on bass and Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age) on guitar and vocals, the band was a beautiful sonic explosion of musicians who are simply masters at their craft. The first single “New Fang” was released on October 26th, and aside from a few spot gigs and festivals in August, Them Crooked Vultures embarked on their first tour on October 1, 2009 with Alain Johannes joining on guitar.
Reflecting upon my thrilling TCV experience, three things pop to mind – 1.) The amount of people that sprinted to their stage on day one of the Austin City Limits festival in 2009, this included numerous other artists on the bill. 2.) Being blown away by their show at my then favorite New York venue, Roseland Ballroom (RIP), as the collective sound coming from these four musicians was beyond enthralling. And… 3.)…. Fresh Potttttttssss.
Shortly after the release of their self-titled debut record (November 16, 2009), a two-minute and nine second video appeared on YouTube featuring the members of Them Crooked Vultures in the studio, but with an emphasis on Grohl and his caffeine intake. A subtle but genius promotional angle, this hilarious video would rapidly catch fire – and now almost a decade later, it has amounted 6.5 million views.
Grohl appeared on the Bon Appetit Foodcast with Adam Rapoport earlier this year, and discussed how this legendary video came to be. Though there was truth and a health scare behind it, the approach further captures the charisma and infinite creativity of Grohl.
“There once was this YouTube video call Fresh Pots that has millions and millions of views and I’ll tell you why. I was in this band called Them Crooked Vultures with Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age and John Paul Jones from Led Zeppelin. So, we were making that record and I was drinking so much coffee. I was actually making two records and having my second child at the same time. So, I was sleeping about four hours a night (I’m an insomniac), I’d not sleep. I’d wake up in the morning and I’d drink a pot of coffee by myself. Then I’d go to the studio and I’d drink another pot of coffee, work on this Foo Fighters thing, and in-between coffee I was drinking that Tejava stuff… you know that like tea, it’s tea, but it’s like if you freebase tea, that’s what it’s like – hot coffee and cold tea in-between. Then I’d have another pot. Then I’d go to the Vultures studio and drink another pot. So, like in a day I was probably drinking, no exaggeration, three to four pots of coffee. Then I’d get home from the studio at like one o’clock in the morning and be like ‘Why, can’t I sleep?’ I’d try to fuckin’ sleep for four hours and wake up and do it again. While I was drinking all that coffee a friend of ours was making this documentary of us making that record (Them Crooked Vultures). So, he was getting all of this on film. I was losing my fuckin’ mind, I was spazzing so hard. It was like I was on crack, I was out of my fuckin’ mind. I had to go to the hospital.
It actually happened right before the Foo Fighters were playing at the White House on the 4th of July. This is Obama’s first year in office and we were invited to go play on the South Lawn, on the 4th of July – which, I was like ‘I am so doing this,’ not only because we’re being asked by the president and not only because it’s Obama, but because, I don’t know if you remember what used to happen on the 4th of July on the mall – the rock against Reagan shows. In the early 80’s or mid-80’s they had these rock against Reagan shows over by the Lincoln Memorial and all the punk rockers would come out and there’d be 15 punk rock bands, that was the 4th of July. So, here I am 30 years later playing at the White House for the first African American president who we all think is rad – on the South Lawn, on the 4th of July, I’ve got my kids and my mom with me and I’m like, ‘This is like, it’s kinda some full circle shit.’ About two days before we’re supposed to go to DC, I start getting chest pains and I’m like, ‘Holy fuck, I’m dying.’ I had just put some Bayer Aspirin in my wallet, I was like, ‘If I have a heart attack, I’ll just put this under my tongue, I’ll be fine.’ So, I put the Bayer in my wallet, we go to DC, I’m totally having chest pains.
So, we do the thing and I come home, I call my doctor and I’m like ‘Mel, I’m having chest pains.’ And he’s like, ‘OK, are you having them right now?’, and I say ‘Kinda’, and he’s like ‘Get in here!’ So, I go in and it’s full six-million-dollar man with the things on me and an EKG.
Anyway, so he goes ‘You look fine, but I think you should get a CT Scan.’ So, I go in and get a CT Scan. And the doctor comes in, he takes one look at the CT Scan and he’s like, ‘How old are you?’ And I said, ‘I’m 40.’ I had just turned 40 so I assumed I was gonna die soon anyway. And he’s like, ‘Your heart’s fine…. are you under any stress?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, a little bit.’ And he’s says, ‘Do you get enough sleep?’ I’m like, ‘No.’ And he goes, ‘Do you drink a lot of coffee?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, I do.’
So, he says, ‘OK, here’s what you do….’
He basically said try to play drums about three days a week and have a glass of red wine before bed, and you’ll be fine. I tried to decaffeinate. I bought decaf and tried to drink it for about a week.
Anyway, so the Fresh Pots thing – when the record was coming out, we didn’t have a video. We didn’t make a video for a song, but my friend Liam had made that as joke just for us – just a stupid fresh pots thing. And my managers like, ‘Do you mind if we put this Fresh Pots thing out instead of a video?’ And I was like, ‘Dude, that’s embarrassing!’ It’s so embarrassing. I took one for the team and I’m like, ‘Yeah, sure.’
It comes out and within a day it’s got a million views on YouTube. The next time I go to the grocery store and I’m checking out and the guy who’s bagging my stuff, he looks at me and goes, ‘Hey man, do you want a cup of coffee?’”
~ Dave Grohl / via Bon Appetit
Justin, fresh pot!