For us, this is a unique album, which combines the roughness, the power, the aggression... with the excellent melodies, and lyrics. We might even say that it's the best "Foo Fighters" album.
This is the band's seventh album "Wasting Light" which was issued on April 12th, 2011.
This episode of The Foo's begins after the band's great gig at Wembley Stadium which was the last gig of the previous album's tour. After such a huge event, even a band that has already released six albums and starred in the Grammys, a band that topped the charts felt it needed something different, especially when the person who lead them does not like to do things the usual way.
Shortly before that, the band recorded several songs that the members wrote during the tour for a compilation album, called "Greatest Hits". Only two new songs entered the compilation album: "Word Forward" and "Wheels".
Why is this important? Because for the recordings of those songs, the band invite the well-known producer "Butch Vig" and this was a sign for things to come...
So in this episode of the Foo's Dave Grohl thought that after the band performed at Wembley, they have a studio with state-of-the-art technology and they accomplished so much, they need to go back in time. Go back to what Dave did with Nirvana 20 years back. Not only with Nirvana but also With Butch, to create a different album, a special album. An album that on its first listening will feel like it's the Foo's, that will have a kind of hallmark of the band's character as Metallica's black album is a milestone in the band's discography, not that after six albums they need to prove anything, but still something pushed Dave to do things differently. Indeed, after they built their home headquarters "Studio 606" where they recorded the last two albums, Dave decided this time to record the album in his own house. Well, for those who read our previous posts, already know that it's a Dave hobby, building a studio in the basement of his house and recording albums. So this time he did it with two major new elements !!
First, he decides to record the whole album in an analog way, without computing, without Pro-Tools, and without any digital help. Recordings as it was back then, on reel-to-reel tape, what goes into the console goes onto the reel. Sounds simple and easy, but it's not. Today almost everyone records with the familiar software, it gives insane flexibility, and improvement ability and allows artists to create at home with a computer, instead of investing a huge fortune in a recording studio. But, some say that it loses the authenticity of the work, since the room for manipulation is very high. If you are an artist of acoustic instruments then the impact here is very big, you can take one chord you played on a guitar and make a whole song out of it. Let's pause here, the interesting discussion of digital versus analog, and say that the matter requires a lot of effort from the band.
We will explain shortly why...
Second, Dave decided he wanted Butch as the producer for the album, because no better producer than him knows the analog console and has been a part of Dave's history, so the coop between them will be cosmic. Butch who produced Nirvana's "Nevermind" album knows the analog recording style and even knows how to edit reels with a razor blade (sounds funny but very rare). But not only did Dave ask Butch to be the producer, he wanted Butch to help the band record a rough album. Notice this, an album that combines the style of the Foo's, with roughness and raw rock 'n' roll like in the '90s. With all that rawness, the mistakes, and complexity of analog recordings but with a contemporary feel and not something that will sound like it from the past.
Sounds complicated? So listen to the album and see how simple it is.
To put it all together, Dave decided to create a documentary about the recordings for the album, you are invited to watch the movie "Foo Fighters: Back and Forth" whose last twenty minutes tell the story of the album.
Dave brought analog equipment with all the necessary elements, including acoustic parts, a special chamber for singing, a special room for drums, a console, and tape reels to create a suitable technical environment for recordings. By the way, it was the equipment with which the band recorded the albums "There Is Nothing Left to Lose" and "One by One" at Dave's home in Virginia. He also set up a control unit for the studio, in a tent in the garden of the house to control what is happening in the studio.
The band members, this time reinforced by Pat Smear, the guitarist who started with the band and left in 1997, have started working on the new album. The album was recorded in 11 weeks with each week dedicated to one song. First, Dave and Taylor Hawkins would write the basics together with the drums and main riff, then Chris Shiflett and Pat would join, bassist Nate Mendel would complete the bass and finally, Dave would record the vocals.
The guitars have created a sort of three-dimensional sound on the album, with Dave playing the basic rhythm with the sound right in the middle, Chris adding his sharp and melodic part and Pat completing the roughness and aggressive sound. Once the song was ready, everyone would learn and practice their part perfectly and get into the recordings. Since everything was analog there was no room for mistakes so everything had to be perfect. Taylor, who is an honest and humble guy, said he had a really hard time recording the album. We know that on the first album, he had difficulty maintaining consistency in the recordings, this was the same case here. He said he had to practice for many hours on the song until he felt he was doing it well and even then he was not confident in himself, only after finishing recording the song, and listening did he feel he had done a good job. We can hardly believe that he is gone and no longer a part of this amazing band whose future remains unknown.
(Photo: Stephen Lovekin)
This album also hosts some big musicians, not necessarily big stars in the music world, but big stars in Dave's life. The first of his idols was Bob Mold, the guitarist and singer from the hardcore punk band of the seventies "Hüsker Dü". It is the voice you hear in the chorus of the song "Dear Rosemary" and he also plays guitar in the song. Another voice from the past is "Nirvana" bassist Krist Novoselic who participates in "I Should Have Known", Butch said this is the first time he has been with Dave and Chris in the same room since the recordings of "Nevermind". It was important to Dave that Chris take part in the album, both to give his touch to the song (the most problematic on the album in terms of recordings) and also to leave a mark on Dave's past in his present. "Miss the Misery" features a good friend of Dave's, Fee Waybill, a singer and guitarist of another hardcore punk band from the 1970s, The Tubes that Dave invited because he felt his voice was just right for the background sounds that should be in the song. The keyboardist Rami Jaffee who at that time was part of the band's tour team, today is a regular member of the band, also contributed his talent to the album. Two other contributors are canary Jessy Greene and percussionist Drew Hester.
An interesting story from the recordings is the final mix of the album. We are not experts in recordings but to put it simply, we know that the mix part is the part where each of the instruments is set its own volume in the song so that everything will fit together perfectly. Since everything was analog, even the mix console was analog, and not just analog but manual and not automatic. To create the mix, four people had to be placed at the same time to operate the console and this action made each song sound different adding even more of the effect of a live and rough performance to the album. After finishing each mix of a song they would go to one of the band members' car to listen to the final product, assuming that if it sounds good in the car it will sound amazing in a normal system.
The atmosphere during the recordings was completely different than before and you can feel it from the first song. You can see it in the amazing documentary, all the band members come with their families to the "holiday village" of the Grohl family, when the children play in the pool, the women enjoy small talk good food, and alcohol, the band members in the recording studio. There's a beautiful moment when Dave had to write lyrics for "Dear Rosemary" and his daughter kept asking him to come to swim with her. So he ran to write the text, came back, hung the text for Bob in the singing booth, went for a swim with his daughter, and then went back to the studio to finish the song.
We could have written an entire review about every song on the album but this time we will just share that already at the opening of the album with the song "Bridge Burning" the power, roughness, and aggressiveness of the album strongly stand out. This is without a doubt an album with a lot of intensity, aggression, and rock n' roll at its best. Songs like "Rope", the amazing "Dear Rosemary", the crazy and unstoppable "White Limo", "Arlandria" and "These Days" are all so melodic and powerful. "I Should Have Known" which is attributed to the character of Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic plays in it!
This is an album of 11 powerful and relentless songs that make you fall in love, again, with the band and music.
The album topped the charts, this is the first album by the Foo's who reached number one on the 200 Billboard and gave the band four Grammy Awards in 2012 !!!
And this time you are welcome to see the album!
With the release of the album, the band had a live performance of the entire album from beginning to end, which was filmed in "Studio 606" and broadcast on the network. The show conveys most of all the energies of the album so we recommend listening to and seeing the album below.