Playing with the Foo Fighters

ROCK STAR BUZZ: Aaron Tokona of Cairo Knife Fight with Jack Black of Tenacious D.
ROCK STAR BUZZ: Aaron Tokona of Cairo Knife Fight with Jack Black of Tenacious D.

The Foo Fighters played to 50,000 people at Western Springs on Tuesday. Christchurch duo Cairo Knife Fight, comprising Aaron Tokona and Nick Gaffaney, were one of their support acts. Guitarist Aaron Tokona shares his Foo Fighters diary with Vicki Anderson.

Monday, 7pm: We're on the plane to go to Auckland and I see Richie McCaw hobbling down the aisle. He's got the broken toe buzz. I said to Nick ''the Captain's on the plane''. Dave Grohl, whatever, Richie's mean. He sat down and the safety video started up. It's always so cheesy. Richie was sitting a couple of seats behind us. We were sitting directly in front of a couple of other players, I think one was Sam Whitelock. Nick and I were trying not to eavesdrop but you couldn't help it really. One of them says to the other: ''Did you go to the wedding mate?'' and the other one said ''No way, mate.'' Then they had a big conversation about the Rugby World Cup. Nick was in rugby heaven.
We got to Auckland. I stayed at a mate's place across the road from Western Springs. I stayed up late watching him play PlayStation 3, before I knew it, it was 4am.

Tuesday, 9am: We had a meeting with our new Australia/New Zealand managers, Tom Larkin (Shihad) and Dan Hennessy, who used to manage Weta back in the day so that's taking things full circle. I thought you'd notice the Tom Larkin thing. Tom manages four bands in Australia.

10.30am: Started driving all around Auckland, picking up our gear.

12.30pm: Arrive at Western Springs. Promoter was a bit grumpy because we were supposed to be there at 12 noon and we were a bit late. It's that hurry up and wait buzz. We put our gear down and waited around for two hours. We've played a few shows with Dave Grohl associated projects this year so we know his crew a bit. The Foo Fighters lighting guy came over and gave us a hug and we caught up a bit with their tour manager. Then we went to catering for a feed, that was the best part of the whole gig. What food? Mean chicken, mean salads, it was all mean.

2pm. The Foos turned up for their soundcheck and did a pretty solid one.

3.30pm: We went on and did our soundcheck and then went back to catering.

5.30pm: It was the most surreal part of the night, we went on stage to do our set, it was early so I guess there were around 20,000 people there at that point. We were on the side of stage five minutes before we were due to go on. After the soundcheck we'd covered our gear in plastic so it didn't get wet. Tom Larkin said ''so are you ready to go?'' and we were so he started taking the plastic off the drumkit. I turned to Nick and said ''The guy from Shihad is getting your drumkit ready for you.'' All the kids in the crowd saw Tom and started chanting ''Shihad, Shihad''. We played our gig, it was a 20 minute set. The audience was cool, they supported us and that was choice.

6ish: Packed our gear up and went back to catering because they were serving dinner. I've been on a few tours with big American acts and backstage there's a rock 'n' roll line you don't walk over but the Foos aren't like that. There wasn't the usual tense buzz. It was all open plan and everyone was just walking around. That seems to be the kind of vibe the Foo Fighters have around them.

7pm: Some guy who makes aluminium guitars came up and I tried his guitar, it was pretty cool. We were on the side of the stage watching Tenacious D play and Dave Grohl slips in behind us to watch too. The guy selling the aluminium guitars wanted me to introduce him to Dave. I wasn't going to do that and the guy looked at me like ''What do you mean you don't know him?' Tenacious D was awesome.

8.20pm: Right to the minute, the Foos went on stage and played a good gig. They did 2x 45 minute sets and started having all these jam sessions in the middle of songs, so probably half of their set was Van Halen riffs. When they finished we were hanging about backstage having a few drinks. It was pretty mellow and everyone was chilled out. I thought it was pretty cool. I mean there are big bands, huge bands and massive bands and the Foo Fighters are one group at the top of the rock 'n' roll mountain. I liked their attitude.
Jack Black was wandering around in jandals. He came over and said ''awesome dude, loved it''. He was a good guy, a complete and utter gooba. Nick took the picture of us together. Jack Black was like ''let me see that, do it again, you need to put the flash on''.
After the gig it was just like going to a party with a bunch of strangers except the strangers were famous rock stars.
I always thought it was bogus, but I found out the Foo Fighters pick their own support acts so I didn't go and hand them our EPs or anything. We've done a few gigs with Them Crooked Vultures and the Foo Fighters before.

12.30pm: Left the venue and there were smiles all around, the promoters all seemed happy and like it had been a successful gig. Michael Gudinski seemed to have a skip in his step. I went back to my mate's place and watched him play PlayStation 3 till 4am again.

Wednesday, 7am: Got a taxi to the airport and came home, my wife picked me up from the airport. I got home and just fell into bed. Rock star buzz.

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