Sonic motorways! When Jay joined the real Foo Fighters

The UK Foo Fighters' Jay Apperley on stage with Dave Grohl in Brighton.
The UK Foo Fighters' Jay Apperley on stage with Dave Grohl in Brighton.

By Graham Chalmers

Forget X Factor, a Harrogate man has a real rock n roll tale to tell.

The question is, if you found yourself on stage with one of the world’s biggest rock groups what would you do?

Take over on lead vocals, then ask one of the world’s most famous singers to plug your own band’s next gig?

Probably not but that’s exactly what Jay Apperley of tribute band the UK Foo Fighters did the day rock god Dave Grohl of the real Foo Fighters invited him on stage at a ‘secret’ gig at Brighton’s Concorde 2 venue.

Jay said: “It was bizarre and emotional. I’ve always been a massive fan of Dave, which is why I set the band up in the first place.

“I wasn’t nervous but something in my head was saying “this is it, this is my chance” and I was going to grab it with both hands.

“The moment he played the intro on guitar to the song, I went into my usual routine.

“White Limo from the Wasting Light album isn’t the easiest song to sing but I hit the last note bang on. Then Dave started talking to his band and the crowd about how I’d done.

“He hugged me then told me to get off his stage, so I cheekily told him we were playing the same venue in a few weeks’ time and could he plug our show.”

Incredible stuff from a family man who usually works at BMW in Harrogate by day.

“It’s crazy. During the week, I’m working flat out on my day job. Saturday morning, I’m in the van and off we go to play 02 Academy venues. Monday morning I’m back in the suit.”

In the aftermath of that night to remember, the music biz has gone wild for this real-life rock music fairytale.

Everyone from Classic Rock magazine to Rolling Stone has featured Jay and his band of part-time local musicians.
Offers of new tours have poured in, threatening to transform the already successful UK Foo Fighters into the next Bootleg Beatles.

While the real Foo Fighters release their new Sonic Highways album, the UK Foo Fighters are on their own Sonic Motorways tour which hits Nottingham’s legendary Rock City venue this Saturday, November 15.

Most people might assume that Jay’s big moment with Dave Grohl must have been arranged in advance.

But there were no ‘talks about talks’ and no management agreements, partly because the UK Foo Fighters have no manager.

The whole thing was one big surprise.

When the call came to join the Foo Fighters, Jay was in the middle of the packed crowd and had to fight his way through hundreds of fans before clambering on stage.

How he found himself is a long story so here’s the short version.

Jay said: “Because we were due to play at the Concorde ourselves in our Sonic Motorways tour, I knew the owner a bit.

“He phoned me up and said “are you sitting down - the Foos are playing a secret gig here, I can get you and the band on the guest list and I’ll do my best to get you a ‘meet’ with Dave and the boys.

“He knew what it would mean to me. He knows the lengths we go in our band to recreate the real thing with genuine respect.”

And that might have been that.

But the enterprising Jay’s once humble band hasn’t gone from playing in front of 20 people in a Harrogate pub five years ago to headlining 500-capacity venues on their current UK tour without having that extra something.

“Harrogate brewery Daleside sponsors our tours, so we took a crate of Monkey Wrench beer to leave in the Foos’ dressing room with a welcome note and gave it to security.”

There’s more. On the day itself, the UK Foo Fighters parked their own tour van, a distinctive American Dodge, registration plate D6 Foo, right in front of the venue.

Before the Foo Fighters had even arrived, their dopplegangers had attracted a crowd of fans.

“Some people thought we were the Foo Fighters. Dave’s road crew noticed us so we started chatting to them. We were nice but fairly cheeky. We gave them flyers for our own gig.”

Combined with the fact the venue inside was plastered with UK Foo Fighters posters, when the real band finally showed up, they must have wondered whose show it was!

Even so, Dave Grohl still didn’t need to react the way he did to this situation.

He didn’t need to dedicate a song to Jay’s band six songs into the set.

He didn’t need to call them “Britain’s premier Foo Fighters’ tribute band.”

And he didn’t need to invite Jay on stage to take over on vocals.

Jay said: “At one point Dave said “dude, do you think you look like me”. There was a lot of joking on stage. But my biggest issue from when I first set the UK Foo Fighters up was what Dave Grohl would think about what we were doing. Now I feel at peace.”

Our rock n roll tale has one final twist. It seems the rock superstar, known as much for his sense of humour as his generosity, may have had an ulterior motive.

Jay said: “I’ve talked to a lot of people about that the concert since it happened. Apparently, Dave decided in advance he was going to get me on stage to sing White Limo because it’s the one track in the Foos’ set that always kills his vocal chords. It’s a real shrieker.”