Far away Foo
Oakland, CA concert Oct. 19, 2011.
(video shot with my iPhone)
Dave Grohl, lead singer, songwriter and guitarist of The Foo Fighters rock band, and former drummer for iconic grunge rockers, Nirvana, turned 43 years old January 14. It is extremely rare that a drummer leaves one band to become the lead singer of another. Granted, he left the band Nirvana under the most traumatic of circumstances after Kurt Cobain, their lead singer, committed suicide. That was also the death of Nivrana. There is so much to say about Nirvana...but I'll save that for another day. Today I want to focus on Dave and the birth of the Foo Fighters. Not to be confused with these foo fighters.
Grohl stepped out from behind his Tama drum kit for awhile in April 1994 after Kurt's death. In November he played briefly with Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. Petty offered him the position on a permanent basis, but Dave declined. Later, he played for awhile with Red Hot Chili Peppers and thought he might be their permanent drummer, but they ended up going a different direction with Jack Irons.
By the summer of 1995 Grohl had formed the first version of Foo Fighters with guitaritst Pat Smear, Nate Mendel on bass, and William Goldsmith on drums. Their first album was released that summer.
My favorite track from this freshman effort is I'll Stick Around.
"How could it be
I'm the only one who sees
your rehearsed insanity..."
In 1997, the band began work on their second album when differences arose between Dave and drummer William Goldsmith. Dave wasn't happy with the drum tracks being produced despite the dozens of takes. When Goldsmith left thinking the album was in the can and ready for production, Dave, with some pressure from producers replayed all the drum tracks himself unbeknownst to Goldsmith. This obviously did not bode well for their future collaboration. Goldsmith was out and the search for a new drummer was on. Dave has said in past interviews that he wishes he had handled it differently with Goldsmith.
"There goes my hero, watch him as he goes..."
Everlong - Check out the size of the audience at Wembly Stadium for this 2008 concert. If you get a chance to see this entire filmed concert, please invest the time. The moment when Dave gets emotionally overwhelmed at the love surging towards the stage from the crowd is quite touching.
"Breathe out, so I can breathe you in..."
Taylor Hawkins then stepped in as drummer after his tenure with Alanis Morissette. Pat Smear decided he didn't want to tour anymore and bowed out of the group, and Grohl's former bandmate Franz Stahl, from his novice group Scream, once again paired up with Dave. Unfortunately, this was shortlived since the two childhood friends weren't meshing as songwriters. Grohl, Mendel, and Hawkins went on as a three piece and recorded the band's next album, There is Nothing Left to Lose(1999). Chris Shiflett joined the group as lead guitarist at his point.
Learn to Fly- Have you seen the official video for this song? It's fun, and silly, and makes me think Dave could handle more acting rolls.The one below is from an appearance on The Late Show. I like their nod to the origins of rock in their matching suits. This song was the first single to make the US Hot 100 List.
"Hook me up a new revolution, 'cause this one is a lie..."
Next Year- Another performance on Letterman, this from 2000. I like this one because it shows Dave & Taylor switching spots on drums and organ. Another versatile drummer, just like Dave. Taylor also adds vocals to the band.
"I'm in the sky tonight
There I can keep by your side
Watching the wide world riot
And hiding out
I'll be coming home next year..."
2002 brought us One By One, the next album. It was a difficult task to get this one put together due to much infighting between the band and Dave spending time working with the band Queens of the Stoneage. Also, in 2001 drummer Taylor Hawkins had a nearly fatal drug overdose. When the album finally got released it was filled with a number of hits.
All My Life- Live from Hyde Park. This is a perfect representation of a hard rocking live Foo Fighters concert. I've had the pleasure twice, the latest experience in 2011, and it was nearly 3 hours of superb musicianship, energy, and enjoying watching a band that clearly loves what they do for a living.
"All night long I dream of the day
When it comes around and it's taken away
Leaves me with the feeling that I feel the most
Feel it come to life when I see your ghost..."
Times Like These- Sorry for the advert. before the video-but you can skip it 5 seconds in. But I love the psychedelic quality of the video. And my husband has the same drums Taylor is playing, so it's fun for me to see someone playing the exact same kit.
"I am a new day rising
I'm a brand new sky
to hang the stars upon tonight..."
In Your Honor (2005) was the next album out of the gate for all things Foo. This one was recorded in their own recording studio , Studio 606 West.
The Best of You- This emotional solo performance is a nice showcase for Grohl's songwriting abilities. He was awarded with a Grammy that year for Best Rock Song. Well-deserved in my opinion.
"I needed somewhere to hang my head, without your noose..."
Echoes, Silence, Patience, and Grace (2007)
It spawned another big hit for the boys of Foo, The Pretender. The album efforts brought them another 2 Grammy Awards for Best Rock Album and Best Hard Rock Performance.
"I'm the voice inside your head you refuse to hear..."
Wasting Light (2010)- The seventh album for the band brought Pat Smear back into the fold. I was so thrilled to hear he was rejoining the band. The group decided to do it old school this time around and recorded it in Dave's garage on analog to tape. From Dave on the Official Foo Fighters website:
"I don't think we've ever worked so hard at making an album, and it ever being so easy. From day one, the idea for this record was to make something completely simple and honest, to capture that thing that happens when you put the 5 of us in a small room. No big production, just real rock and roll music: That's why we decided to do it in my garage. We wanted to retain that human element, keep all of those beautiful imperfections."
"Give me some rope I'm coming loose, I'm hanging on you..."
Walk- From a recent appearance on Saturday Night Live. And who doesn't want to see them introduced by Dame Helen Mirrin?
"You keep alive a moment at a time
But still inside a whisper to a liar
To sacrifice but knowing to survive..."
White Limo-Their heaviest sound.
" I'll take it out of the wishing well
I'm thinkin' I have a plan..."
I'm a big fan of rock documentaries--no surprise there, right? Foo Fighters-Back & Forth is one of the better ones I've seen in awhile. If you are a fan, you owe it to yourself to see this one. I've watched it a few times now, and love the candor, the down home feel, and of course, the look into the creative process. Here's a snippet for you.
You have a chance to see a live performance at this year's Grammy Awards coming up Feb. 12th on CBS. Check your local listing for time and channel. I know I will be there reliving my concert experiences and hoping they pull in some more awards. They are up for Album of the Year , Best Rock Album, and Best Rock Performance for Walk plus Best Hard Rock for White Limo.
Here's to all those beautful imperfections.
(photo from San Jose Mercury News article D. Ross Cameron/staff)