"Foo Fighters" album "Sonic Highways" was released on November 10, 2014, and you can not miss the amazing story behind this album that had a road trip around the US !!
Although it is considered by many as a kind of interim album, between the special "Wasting Light" and the refreshing "Concrete and Gold" but the story behind it is very interesting (like many other Foo's albums)
Dave Grohl is a very big believer that the environment in which the album is recorded has a significant and direct impact on the music and on the end result of the album. Since he tries in every album not to sound like something they recorded in the past, he always tries to challenge the band and record differently from the previous album, he believes that the bigger the challenge the greater the creativity,y and this is reflected in the music.
(Photo: Foo Fighters)
When the recordings and filming for "Sound City: Real to Reel" ended, the directors sent Dave the film wrapped in a box with a pen and notebook inside with the opening: "And now for the next project..."
Dave was inspired by Sound City's interviews and recordings, to take the band on a historic tour In different cities in the US. Together with HBO, they decided to go to 8 special cities in the US that have an interesting or influential musical history and record a different song in each city.
The band along with the photography and production team stayed in each city for a week, during which they interviewed musicians, producers, creators, and various people who have influenced local and world music. They drew inspiration, energy, and creativity from everything they experienced during the week and then expressed it in the song they recorded in that city. They also made the recordings themselves in interesting and influential places that inspired them. Who oversaw the entire production of the album was of course veteran producer Butch Vig. This whole story was documented and released as an HBO documentary series called "Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways."
By the way, Dave wrote the lyrics to the songs just before the vocal recordings and after the end of the musical recordings, which he wrote based on the transcripts of the interviews they did in that city.
Shall we start with the tour???
1. Chicago - "Something from Nothing"
The band begins their adventure journey in Chicago, why in Chicago you probably ask... so we have an explanation. In Chicago Dave saw the first show of his life, it was a performance by a local punk rock band called Naked Raygun. Thanks to Dave's experience in that show he decided he wanted to be a musician and the rest of course is history. During the pre-recording interviews they interviewed Rick Nielsen who was a guitarist and writer in the band Cheap Trick. A 70s rock band that has made over 5,000 shows, sold more than 20 million copies, and was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2016. The band members are Rick's friends and everyone has a long acquaintance with him. When the interview ended he turned to them and asked with a laugh: "Okay, now you invite me to play in the song?" The friends who did not plan this in advance looked at each other and said... hell yes! This is where the idea of collaborating with local musicians began when in each city they visited, they recorded the song with a different artist. The song was recorded at Electrical Audio Studio which was established in 1997 by Steve Albini and has been used throughout the years as a home for local independent bands.
2. Virginia - "The Feast and the Famine"
The song was influenced by the punk rock band Scream which came from Washington (yes, it's in Virginia). The band has a direct connection to the Foos since guitarist Franz Stahl was part of the Foos for several months during a tour after Pat Smear decided to retire from the band. But the musical friendship did not survive a long time and he was replaced by Chris Shiflett. The song was recorded at Inner Ear Studio, and to complete the cycle, Pete Stahl joined the recordings, Franz's brother who was the singer, and Skeeter Thompson who was the bassist in the band Scream who by chance Dave was also its drummer.
3. Nashville - "Congregation"
This song was recorded by the band with singer Zac Brownandt Dave produced an album with his band Zac Brown Band. A country rock band that is considered to be very big in the province of Tennessee and even played at The Bluebird Café (mentioned in the song), this is where any artist who wants to succeed in Tennessee must go. If you have not passed the "Bluebird" test then you are not talented enough and you should look for another profession. Dave said that when Zack approached him to produce the album for him, he was surprised because he did not know him and when he asked people from Tennessee if they knew him, everyone told him he was a huge star.
4. Austin - "What Did I Do? / God as My Witness"
This song was recorded in Austin Texas at KLRU-TV Studio 6A with singer and musician Gary Clark Jr, best known for his blues and rock style with a combination of hip-hop elements. He has performed on stage with Eric Clapton, Bibi Kin,g and the Rolling Stones, among others, and has won a Grammy for Best Traditional R&B Performance
5. Joshua Tree - "Outside"
The song was recorded in the middle of the desert in a studio on the Rancho De La Luna farm. The song features guitarist star Joe Walsh who has a glorious career of 50 years in which he has played in several bands the most famous being the Eagles. Taylor said that when you add a guitarist like Joe, you don't let him play two, chords, but you let him explode and that's how it sounds. The song is also joined by Chris Goss who is a musician and producer (who also worked with Queens of the Stone Age) and is considered an important figure in the development of the subgenres Stoner Rock and Desert Rock.
6. New Orleans - "In The Clear"
Dave's favorite place, he said when they left New Orleans he was unfortunate. He was very connected to the people, the food, the music, and the atmosphere that New Orleans has. This is where he became connected during the journey of this album. The song was recorded at Preservation Hall which is a jazz club and non-profit organization that aims to preserve and nurture New Orleans music culture. The song includes the club's jazz band, also named after the club's Preservation Hall Jazz Band (do not expect to receive a jazz song)
7. Seattle - "Subterranean"
Nirvana's birthplace, Grunge's birthplace,e and Dave's birthplace (although he was not born in Seattle)...
The band returns to where it all began and records the song at Robert Lang Studios where Dave alone recorded the Foo Fighters' first album with producer Barrett Jones. The song features creator and guitarist Ben Gibbard who is best known as the singer and guitarist of the indie rock band Death Cab for Cutie.
8. New York - "I Am a River"
The song that seals the album and was recorded in the Big Apple, is also the idea for the number eight on the album cover, which also shows the infinity sign. Dave said that in this song he wrote the lyrics as a report of what he saw, he felt like a river in which everything is seen and all the water flows.
In addition to that is the story about the recording studio The Magic Shop where the song was recorded. The studio was built in a basement in New York when during construction the floor crashed down and a river was discovered flowing beneath the entire city of New York.
Dave said that when he heard this story he felt that there was a cosmic connection between all the studios they passed and it was as if a river flowed beneath them that connected all the music and creation together in an infinite way (a bit complicated but it is also the source of the symbol on the cover).
By the way... when they first released the album cover, Dave was so excited that he went in to check out the reactions to the cover and the first response was: "Dream Theater called to ask for their album cover back!"
The band said in several interviews that they went through a significant journey both in terms of the recording process of the album and spiritually with all the people, music,c and history they absorbed. Since it was very intense and they moved from city to city which time they had to record, it felt much more binding and intense to them. There was no place to take breaks or run away from the studio, everything was within the making itself.
On the other hand,d they also testified that with all the intensity and commitment, the making of this album was very solemn and extraordinarily enjoyable. Everywhere they went they learned how to do things, how to record, how to lead a band, and how to distribute the music. The combination of encounters with the people, experiencing the places, and learning the history made the whole process very unique and extraordinary.