Interview: Creator Of Foo Fighters ‘Learn to Fly’ Viral Video Tells The Rockin’1000 Story

Yesterday, a video was posted of 1,000 musicians (and die hard fans) performing Foo Fighters’ classic “Learn to Fly” in Cesena, Italy in hopes of attracting the band to come play their city. The last time Foo Fighters played in Cesena was on December 1, 1997 at the Vidia International Rock Club. As of this writing, the video already has over 5 million views on YouTube, and has already made Foo Fighters confirm a show in Cesena.

Fabio Zaffagnini is the creator of the project who came up with the ambitious idea for the viral video over a year ago, and since then he has worked tirelessly to secure funding (through crowdfunding), assemble a production team and musicians to make his dream a reality. Alternative Nation had the chance to speak to Fabio today to tell the story of the Rockin’1000!

When did you first become a Foo Fighters fan, and what drew you to the band?

Nirvana first, and the Foo Fighters then, even considering their differences, are the bands I grew up with through many years. From the outside, it seems like the Foos are a group of nice guys, having fun and doing great, and this is exactly what I’d like to be in my everyday life, I feel somehow connected to their spirit.

Can you describe the music scene in Cesena?

Some say that Cesena is the biggest “rock” city in Italy; I guess a lot of people would disagree, but in the end who cares?! Those who have grew up here were lucky enough to see many famous bands during their early stages (Foo Fighters as well), and there are many people playing and jamming around. It’s a great place to live.

What first inspired the idea to do a project like this involving Foo Fighters and getting them to play in Cesena? How did you get the idea?

One of my favorite films is School of Rock, and many years ago I a saw a DVD bonus feature where Jack Black asks Led Zeppelin permission to use “Immigrant Song” for the film. In the very end he says that if you really want to obtain something, you have to be ready to plead, and it works better when there’s 1000 people behind you. The idea of the number 1000 laid silently in my mind for years, and the Rockin’1000 concept was set.

Why did you pick “Learn to Fly”?

“Learn to Fly” is a popular song by the Foo Fighters and it is quiet and easy to play as well: no solos, no vocal virtuosity needed, and the rhythm works…so it is just perfect.

Can you explain the process of finding musicians? Who were some of the first, and then last? Did you think you’d be able to get 1,000?

Every musician had to register to our website, leave their information and a link to a video that showed off their ability. Four people (our “Music Gurus”) checked all the videos and decided whether the candidate was good enough. The first musicians got in a few seconds after the recruitment launch, the last ones signed up the day before the event. We counted 985 people, but a few locals arrived and played when they saw what was going on!

How did you logistically set up the shoot when it came to choreographing, and finding a filming crew that made it look so cinematic?

Well, Anita Rivaroli, the video director, works for the cinema and knows how to create “the magic.” The set was prepared in detail, but musicians had no rules to follow.

How much rehearsing was involved?

Much, much less than expected…after a couple of times, the Rockin’1000 were amazingly perfect

Any funny stories from the day of the shoot? I’ve got to imagine when you have 1,000 musicians in the same place, it can get pretty wild.

That’s what we expected as well, but it was not like that at all! Everybody, every single musician, has been respectful, orderly, and happy! And the reason I find is that people just wanted to rock, and they got what they wanted. The funniest part probably had to do with the guitarists. We were afraid that all the amps would drain the electricity, so we forced guitarists to keep the volume low, but at some point the Orchestra Leader, Marco Sabiu, asked them to raise the volume and there was just a joyous response. Guitar players generally aren’t asked to play louder!

Any other songs we can expect the Rockin’1000 to perform in the future?

Ah, we don’t know…and if we knew, we wouldn’t tell!

Any final message you’d like to send out to Dave Grohl and Foo Fighters in regards to the show is Cesena? Is there anything specifically you’d like to see happen at the show, perhaps the band themselves performing with the Rockin’1000?

Well, the Rockin’1000 gave me, my team and everybody involved such an amount of positive energy that on Sunday night I felt like I was already totally satisfied. But thinking about the idea of the Foo Fighters playing together with the Thousand, that gives me an emotion that could make me faint.