Two decades ago, X-Files composer Mark Snow produced a compilation dubbed Songs in the Key of X: Music From and Inspired by the X-Files that included tunes by Nick Cave, Elvis Costello, P.M. Dawn and William S. Burroughs with R.E.M., among others. It also contained a cover of Gary Numan’s echoey, new-wavey “Down in the Park” by some alt-rock upstarts calling themselves Foo Fighters, whose frontman was an X-Files megafan. That same year, he got the chance to appear on the show.
“Dave Grohl was a big fan of the show,” Gillian Anderson tells Rolling Stone with a laugh. “He came to the set for one episode as an extra. He did a cameo; a drive-by. If you blink, you miss him. He ended up just being the guy in a hallway.”
The episode, “Pusher,” aired 20 years ago this week on February 23rd, 1996, and focused on Scully and Mulder hunting down a man who could subliminally command people to do his bidding. Grohl’s scene appears in the FBI building, as the man with mind-control powers sneaks in; the Foo Fighter is seen with his then-wife Jennifer Youngblood. Two years later, Grohl and his Foo Fighters bandmates re-recorded the Colour and the Shape track “Walking After You” for The X-Files: The Album, which came out in 1998 as the soundtrack to the X-Files movie.
“I was obsessed with The X-Files,” Grohl told Anderson in 2014 on the BBC program The One Show. “I don’t want to scare you, but I was an obsessive fan.” He later expounded on his infatuation with the show in an interview with BBC Radio 1, via music-news.com. “[Gillian] was the one person who I was like, ‘We’re gonna get married. One of these days, she and I will finally meet and this will finally happen,'” he said. “So last night, I was just sitting next to her like, [whispers] ‘It’s Gillian Anderson, Oh, my God.’ I don’t even know what I said or how I answered the questions; I was just looking at her like, ‘She’s so beautiful.'”
In her Rolling Stone interview, which will run in full tomorrow to follow tonight’s season finale, Anderson also revealed other musicians who were X-Files diehards. “The Smashing Pumpkins were big fans, too,” she says. “Their lead singer, Billy Corgan, used to come and hang out on set. And Chris Martin is a fan. Whenever they were in town, his manager dragged him to our set. So yeah, we’ve got a good relationship with some rockers.”
As for the Songs in the Key of X comp, Anderson would like to hear what musicians offered now. “I think we should do that again if we ever do more episodes,” she says. “You could still ask Nick [Cave] to do it, and I think there’s a new version of that Catatonia song, ‘Mulder and Scully.’ And there’s a new video for [Bree Sharp’s] ‘Why Won’t You Love Me, David Duchovny?'”