90s Music

Artist Profile: Foo Fighters

Foo Fighters band in 2009
Featuring members of Germs, Sunny Day Real Estate, and Nirvana, Foo Fighters put on out in the world three back-to-back records in 1995, 1997, and 1999. Founded by Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl after the death of Kurt Cobain, Foo Fighters became known as one of the world’s most iconic rock bands. Though the band came out of the grunge rock scene, their sound more closely resembled popular, less hard-hitting rock groups. The Foo Fighters energized their listeners with their infectious pop-rock tunes.

What’s with the Name?

The group got its name from the UFOs and various aerial phenomena reported by Allied aircraft pilots in World War II, known collectively as “foo fighters.” From Nirvana’s fame, Dave Grohl hoped to keep his anonymity and release the recordings in a limited time run under this name. Around the time when Grohl was recording his music, he was reading a lot of books about UFOs. Since Grohl was playing all the instruments by himself in the first record, he wanted people to believe that it was more than just one guy. Eventually, Grohl regretted this decision, saying, “Had I actually considered this to be a career, I probably would have called it something else, because it’s the stupidest fucking band name in the world.”

Formation and Debut Album

Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl was a former drummer of the grunge group Nirvana from 1990 to 1994. During Nirvana’s tours, Grohl took a guitar to write songs but held it back from the rest of the band because he was intimidated by Kurt Cobain. When Cobain died in 1994 and Nirvana disbanded, Grohl received offers to work with various artists, but instead, he recorded 15 of the 40 songs he had written. Grohl played every instrument and every vocal on the tracks, except for a guitar part on one song. He completed an album’s worth of material for just five days and handed out copies of his sessions to friends for feedback.

Grohl’s demo tape circulated in the music industry and sparked interest among record labels. Grohl then formed a band to support the album. He recruited bassist Nate Mendel and drummer William Goldsmith – both from the disbanded rock band Sunny Day Real Estate. Pat Smear, Nirvana’s touring guitarist after the release of its 1993 album, also joined the group as its second guitarist. Foo Fighters took its first major tour in the spring of 1995.

’90s career

Grohl once again wrote all the songs for the second album, while the rest of the band collaborated on the arrangements. The album was entitled The Colour and the Shape, which was recorded both in Los Angeles and Seattle with Gil Norton as the producer. However, before its release, Goldsmith left the band due to a falling-out with Grohl. Goldsmith was dissatisfied when Grohl himself re-recorded most of the drum parts. He was replaced by Alanis Morissette’s touring drummer Taylor Hawkins. Hawkins made his debut with the group just in time for the release of the second album in 1997. Pat Smear also parted ways in the band and was replaced by former Scream member Franz Stahl.

The album included the singles “Walking After You” which was re-recorded for The X-Files and “A320” which was recorded for Godzilla. The B-side of the single “My Hero” and “Dear Lover” appeared in the horror film Scream 2. The subject matter for songs in The Colour and The Shape was definitely weightier than the first album.

In 1998, Foo Fighters started writing music for their third album, but Grohl and Stahl were unable to cooperate, which led to Grohl’s decision to fire Stahl. The remaining trio of Grohl, Mendel, and Hawkins completed the band’s third album, There Is Nothing Left to Lose. It spawned several singles, including “Learn to Fly,” the band’s first single to reach the Billboard Hot 100.

After recording, the band managed to find guitarist Christ Shiflett after launching an audition. Shiflett became a full-time band member before the recording of Foo Fighter’s fourth album.

2000s career

Foo Fighters is known as a popular ’90s band, but their career continued to flourish in the 2000s. The band released its fourth album, One by One, in 2002. It included singles like “All My Life,” “Times Like These,” “Low,” and “Have it All.” The band spent a year and a half touring behind the album.

The fifth album In Your Honor was released in June 2005, and included the singles “DOA,” “Best of You,” “Resolve,” and “No Way Back/Cold Day in the Sun.” It was a two-disc album – one full of rock songs and the other with acoustic tracks. That same year, the band toured with Weezer on the Foozer Tour.

In 2006, the band released their first live CD, Skin and Bones, featuring fifteen performances recorded over a three-night concert in Los Angeles.

To follow up to the album In Your Honor, the band asked for producer Gil Norton’s help – their producer in The Colour and the Shape. By 2007, they have released Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace. The album’s first single, “The Pretender” topped Billboard’s Modern Rock chart for a record-breaking period of 19 weeks. That same year, Foo Fighters started to go on world tours in support of the album. They performed throughout the US, Canada, Europe, Australia, Asia, and New Zealand.

The album brought the band five Grammy nominations in 2008. They won Best Rock Album for Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, and Best Hard Rock Performance for “The Pretender.”

In 2009, Foo Fighters released a compilation album, Greatest Hits, which featured two new songs, “Word Forward,” and the single “Wheels.” Both songs were recorded in a session between the last album coming out.

2010s career

The band did not show signs of stopping even after releasing the Greatest Hits album. In 2010, they carried on with recording their seventh studio album in Grohl’s garage using only analog equipment. They used no computers – not even to mix or master. Wasting Light was released in 2011, which won five Grammys and was nominated for six. That same year, the band released a rockumentary entitled Back and Forth, which chronicles the band’s career from the dissolution of Nirvana to the formation of Foo Fighters as a one-man band, to their rockstar status in 2011.

In September 2012, the band performed at the Fillmore in Charlotte, North Carolina, as a benefit concert for Rock the Vote. It set a record for the venue, as all tickets to the 2000-capacity arena sold out under 60 seconds. It was also the longest that the band has played, as the show lasted for 3 ½ hours, with a setlist of 36 songs.

Despite initially announcing a break after Wasting Light tour, the band worked in 2013 to start writing material for an eighth studio album. Entitled Sonic Highways, the eighth album was released in November 2014. After the album release, the band immediately started an international tour that started in South Africa, then to South America, Australia, and New Zealand.

Foo Fighters planned to follow their international tour with a North American tour, starting on the Fourth of July event in Washington, D.C., that commemorated the band’s 20th anniversary.

In 2015, the Foo Fighters had a surprise release of the free EP Saint Cecilia, including a single of the same title. Along with its release, the band also announced that they would be entering an indefinite hiatus. However, they announced that they would spend much of 2017 recording their ninth studio album. By September 2017, they released the album worldwide, entitled Concrete and Gold.

In 2019, the band released an EP entitled 01050525 in digital format. In February 2020, Grohl announced that the new album was complete, but the record’s release was postponed indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Best Songs

From the band’s 25-year long career, Foo Fighters had remarkable gems from various albums, including these best songs:

  • Everlong (1997)
  • Best of You (2005)
  • My Hero (1997)
  • All My Life (2002)
  • Monkey Wrench (1997)
  • The Pretender (2007)
  • Walk (2011)
  • Something From Nothing (2014)
  • This is a Call (1995)
  • Learn to Fly (1999)
  • Times Like These (2002)

 

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