Foo Fighters Biography

The Foo Fighters was formed at the end of 1994 by former Scream and Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl (David Eric Grohl, 14 January 1969, Warren, Ohio, USA), now switched to guitar and vocals. There was some conjecture that the Nirvana bass player Krist Novoselic would join him in this venture, but Grohl eventually recruited Pat Smear (b. Georg Ruthenberg, 5 August 1959, Los Angeles, California, USA; guitar, ex-Germs and a ‘fourth’ member of Nirvana during their later career), Nate Mendel (b. 2 December 1968, Richland, Washington, USA; bass) and William Goldsmith (b. 4 July 1972, Seattle, Washington, USA; drums). The latter pair had previously played with Seattle band Sunny Day Real Estate. Their debut single, ‘This Is A Call’, was released on Roswell/ Capitol Records in June 1995. The Foo Fighters’ arrival initiated intense A&R activity, but Grohl opted for Capitol through the auspices of Gary Gersh, who had been Nirvana’s A&R representative at Geffen Records.

With media expectations weighing heavily on the project, analysis of the band’s debut album focused on tracks such as ‘I’ll Stick Around’, which some alleged was an attack on Cobain’s widow, Courtney Love. Both the song’s title and its lyrical refrain (‘I don’t owe you anything’) seemed to pursue some form of personal exorcism, but it was hard to argue against the sheer impact of Grohl’s new canon of songs. Detractors pointed at the similarity to Nirvana in the stop-start construction of several tracks, and Grohl’s inability on occasion to match Cobain’s evocation of mood. However, the simplicity of execution added greatly to the immediacy of the project. Grohl’s original demos had simply been remixed rather than glossed over by a new production, and the result was, on the whole, enthralling.

Goldsmith left the band during the recording of their second album and was replaced by Taylor Hawkins (b. Oliver Taylor Hawkins, 17 February 1972, Fort Worth, Texas, USA) from Alanis Morissette’s touring band. Although the critics were waiting to pounce on The Colour And The Shape it was another hard and tough album of blistering, paced songs, which were lightened by the band’s great grasp of melody - songs such as ‘Monkey Wrench’ and ‘My Poor Brain’ burst into life in the middle eight. Smear left the band following the album’s release, and was later replaced by Franz Stahl (ex-Scream). In 1998, Grohl recorded the soundtrack to Paul Schrader’s Touch. Stahl left in June 1999, shortly before the release of yet another strong set There Is Nothing Left To Lose, the band’s first album for RCA Records. The recording of their fourth album was delayed by the various members outside interests, the most notable of which was Grohl’s membership of Queens Of The Stone Age. Released in 2002, One By One proved to be another storming record full of hair-raising hooks and powerful melodies.

Plans for an ambitious double album intrigued critics when it was announced that one full disc would be a gentle acoustic recording. WhenIn Your Honor was finally issued in 2005, the wholly satisfying acoustic set did contain piano, drums and occasional string accompaniments. Together with the more familiar sounding second album the Foo Fighters took their career to another level; higher and even better.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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