Producer extraordinaire Mark Ronson recently hopped on Zane Lowe’s Apple Music 1 show to promote his upcoming docuseries Watch The Sound With Mark Ronson. During the chat, Ronson goes in on his legendary career, giving anecdotes about everyone from Amy Winehouse and Daft Punk to Paul McCartney and Lizzo. Ronson, ever the affable music nerd, pays deference to the legendary figures he’s worked with… except in one notable case involving Dave Grohl.
“I didn’t really know Dave at all,” Ronson explains. “He reminded me of how I kicked him out of the studio when he came one time in to crash a Queens [of the Stone Age] session. It was the first time we were doing vocals and I was like, ‘Dave Grohl, rock legend, get the fuck out of here’.”
Grohl has a long and storied history of working with Queens leader Josh Homme which includes sitting in for the band when they’re in between drummers. Grohl performed on the band’s breakout third LP, Songs for the Deaf, toured as their official drummer in 2003 and contributed to five songs on the band’s sixth album …Like Clockwork. When Grohl decided to interrupt the recording on 2017’s Villains, however, Ronson was having none of it.
“I think we were doing maybe ‘Villains’ or ‘Fortress’, a very like personal song on the record,” Ronson continues. “And it was the first time Josh had really found his, that emotional place to get to, to sing that record. We had tried it a few times and I think Dave and Alison Mosshart were maybe next door getting jolly and just came into like ‘What’s up everybody?’.”
Despite proclaiming himself “such a fan of Foo Fighters [and] Nirvana”, Ronson’s laser-focused insticts as a producer kicked in, and Grohl subsequently got the boot. As Ronson remembers it, Grohl might have been puhsing Ronson’s buttons on purpose.
“I was like the newbie. And at that time I liked to probably dress a little too involved for going in the studio. I think Dave was hazing me. He was just testing how he could push me into every now and then come by with three pairs of basketball shorts and be like, do you ever wear shorts? It was like a funny… it was funny and then I was like, I don’t know if this guy even likes me. But I think he was just like hazing the new guy a little.”
“At that moment, when you’re the producer, it doesn’t really matter who it is, your job is to just like fortress your guy’s studio, protect the artist, protect the vulnerability, all this stuff at any cost. So unfortunately, even if it was Dave Grohl, Stevie Wonder, whoever would have come in at that moment, I would have had to been like, ‘Please, please come back’.”