The same scene has been playing over and over in Dave Grohl's life during COVID: Someone comes up to him in a mask and says something, but he might as well be hearing the teacher from the Charlie Brown specials.
"That's the worst thing about this pandemic s***, it's like, people wearing masks," the rocker told Howard Stern last week on SiriusXM's The Howard Stern Show. "I've been reading lips for like, 20 years, so when someone comes up to me... I'm like, 'I'm a rock musician. I'm f***ing deaf, I can't hear what you're saying."
Grohl explained that he hadn't had his ears tested in "a long time," but he knew what the doctors would tell him about their condition. "'You have hearing damage... tinnitus in your left ear, more so than your right ear,'" he expected them to say. (The American Tinnitus Association describes the condition as "the perception of sound when no actual external noise is present," such as ringing, buzzing, clicking or hissing.)
The Grammy winner, now 53, has played in rock bands since he was a teenager. And, fortunately, he can still hear the music.
"My ears are still tuned in to certain frequencies, and 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 f***ing hear the minutiae of everything that we have done to that song, I really can," he explained.
But it's not that way everywhere.
"That being said, like, if you were sitting next to me right here at dinner, I wouldn't understand a f***ing word you were saying to me, the whole f***ing time," Grohl said. "There's no way. In a crowded restaurant, that's worse."
He said in-ear monitors, which many artists use to filter some sounds out and protect their ears while performing, didn't work for him. He felt that it took him out of the "natural atmosphere sound," where he can better hear the audience and the other musicians. "Plus, I have little f***ing ear holes and those things, when I put 'em in, they just pop out," he said.
Still, the sound he hears onstage is "f***ing perfect," he said, thanks to his "monitor guy," Ian Beveridge, who has been with him since his days in Nirvana.
Grohl also spoke to Yahoo Entertainment about his new horror movie, Studio 666, last week: