25 years of Foo Fighters history! Select a tab to discover an album.
25 years of Foo Fighters history! Select an album from the dropdown menu to discover more.
This is where it all began 25 years ago.
Ever since the late 1980s, Dave Grohl had been writing and recording songs for his own amusement, never intending for anyone but he and close friends to ever hear them. When Nirvana came to an end in early 1994 Grohl had to make a decision on his future, unsure if he even wanted to continue making music.
Encouraged by friends that the desire to do so would return, Grohl picked himself up and began recording new demos that summer. Believing that making music was what he was really cut out to do, Dave made plans to spend time in a professional recording studio and put to tape some of his best songs.
The location selected was Robert Lang Studio in Seattle, WA, Dave booking just a week there in October 1994. With the help of long-time friend and producer Barrett Jones, Dave Grohl recorded 15 songs at breakneck speeds, playing almost every part himself and singing all vocal tracks. The only exception was a single guitar track on the song ‘X-Static’ played by Greg Dulli of the Afghan Whigs.
Grohl had initially planned to release the album anonymously, giving it the title ‘Foo Fighters’ to make people believe it was a band. Word soon got out, however, and that plan was quickly shelved as fans anticipated Dave Grohl’s new music.
The first single, ‘This Is A Call’ was released in June 1995 with the album following on July 4th, Independence Day in the United States.
The album was a big hit, certified platinum in the United States less than a year after release, selling 1 million+ copies there alone. ‘Foo Fighters’ was also certified Gold in the UK in March of 1996 and has now sold in excess of 300,000 copies in the country.
The Colour and the Shape
‘The Colour And The Shape’ is in effect the first real Foo Fighters album, the beginning of Foo Fighters as a full band of musicians – Dave Grohl (Guitar, Vocals, Drums), Pat Smear (Guitar), William Goldsmith (Drums) and Nate Mendel (Bass).
With a desire to create a more polished rock record rather than another quick and dirty punk album English producer Gil Norton (known for The Pixies ‘Doolittle’ and ‘Trompe le Monde’, among others) was approached by the band, a man with a reputation for precision and perfection.
Loaded up with demos and rough outlines of songs written on the road, the band convened with Gil at Bear Creek, a secluded recording studio in Washington. There, Gil’s order of precision pushed the band to build the album tenaciously, no matter how many takes it took to hit the spot – everyone was under pressure to perform, with nowhere to hide.
Work on the album was paused over the festive period during which time Dave Grohl went home and worked on some further ideas with one of them, ‘Everlong’, turning out to be the shot of whiskey the project needed. The band re-convened in the new year at Grandmaster Recorders in Los Angeles to finish up recording.
Grohl began laying down drum tracks of his own at the new studio, unbeknownst to William. Mendel and Smear also arrived and it was decided that Grohl’s new drum tracks would be used on the record, not William’s. Informed of the news and feeling deflated, the drummer decided he would not continue with the band.
The three remaining members pressed on and the album was finally completed by February 1997 with ‘The Colour And The Shape’ released on May 20th that same year.
Recording had been troubled but the results were well-received by fans and critics alike. With support from three huge singles in ‘Monkey Wrench’, ‘My Hero’ and ‘Everlong’ the album quickly went Platinum in the US and UK, with worldwide sales today estimated at three million.
There Is Nothing Left To Lose
The third Foo Fighters album saw a change of pace both in terms of how it was recorded and the music itself. Dave Grohl built a studio in the basement of his Virginia home and without any distractions from management or a record label he, Nate Mendel and Taylor Hawkins spent four months recording ‘There Is Nothing Left To Lose’. In the producer's chair was Adam Kasper who Grohl had worked with a number of times previously.
The home studio was constructed in an “old school” manner with no scientific acoustic tests and no cutting edge modern technology, some walls lined with sleeping bags for soundproofing. Recording equipment followed the same M.O. with vintage analog gear selected wherever possible, recording to analog tape through a Neve console.
Between important barbeques and other social activities, an album would gradually get made, Kasper pressing record whenever the moment felt right. Preserving these easy-going vibes for as long as they could, the trio took their sweet time crafting the album and wrote songs in the moment, at their home-cum-studio. When it came to the drum tracks, duties were shared between Grohl and Hawkins.
This laid-back approach was reflected in many of the songs recorded, with several soft-tempo, classic rock style tracks produced such as ‘Ain’t It The Life’, ‘Aurora’ and the hit single ‘Learn To Fly’. Make no mistake, though, the album still has plenty of hard-hitting rock songs, from the opening track ‘Stacked Actors’ to the equally raucous ‘Breakout’.
The record peaked at number 10 in both the US and UK album charts and also netted the band their first ever Grammy Award, winning the gong for Best Rock Album at the 2001 ceremony. The comic music video for ‘Learn To Fly’ also saw them take home the Best Short Form Music Video award.
The album that breathed new life into the band, “One By One” - the fourth Foo Fighters record – took shape over several sessions spanning from November 2001 to May 2002, the first to feature Chris Shiflett on guitar.
With initial production by Adam Kasper, the early recordings went through their growing pains and, for all that had been invested, were not harnessing the sound that the band needed from themselves. When a move to Conway Recording Studios and a change of scenery couldn’t shake the cobwebs (producing only one finished song, ‘The One’, as part of the Orange County movie soundtrack), a break was called, adding to the uncertainty about the album’s strength.
Feeling the strain, Foo Fighters agreed to fulfil a deal to play at the Coachella Festival in April, after which they would read the vibes and decide how to proceed. As it turned out, their set was such blistering hot fire that it revived their enthusiasm for Foo Fighters and the troublesome record that refused to go unfinished!
Now with Nick Raskulinecz as their producer, the songs were first reworked at Taylor Hawkins’ home studio in Topanga with new ideas thrown into the mix, including ‘Times Like These’ and ‘Disenchanted Lullaby’. For the numerous months of hair-pulling and cup-throwing, the album that would become “One By One” was in the end completed in a matter of days via fractured recording sessions at Studio 606 in Alexandria and The Hook Studios in Los Angeles.
The wait, and the worry, was ultimately worth it. The album was finally dropped on October 22, 2002, with over 100,000 copies sold in its first week, and it would win Foo Fighters two Grammys the following year.
Ambitious. That is the one word that best described the plans for Foo Fighters fifth studio album, “In Your Honor”. Not only did the band plan to construct an entirely new studio in the San Fernando Valley, they planned to record a half acoustic, half rock double album epic in the studio once it was built. An album two years in the making culminated in a six-month recording process amongst the debris of the bare-bones studio, Studio 606 West.
Entering the studio with five-and-a-half hours’ worth of music, Foo Fighters split their focus between the rock and acoustic song batches, guided by producer Nick Raskulinecz.
The rock material was attempted first – as the band worked on the music during the day, construction continued through the small hours of the night. By Christmas, the rock tracks were considered complete, with now familiar hits ‘Best Of You’, ‘No Way Back’, ‘Resolve’ and ‘DOA’ among them.
For the first time, a Foo Fighters record featured several guest musicians with John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin), Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age) and Norah Jones among the star names providing their services during recording of the acoustic material. It also marked the first time the band worked with keyboardist Rami Jaffee.
With grand proportions of light and shade, the two halves of “In Your Honor” spoke as one: This was a new chapter in the story of Foo Fighters.
After several tough months the band eventually signed off on a record featuring 10 rock tracks and 10 acoustic tracks. Released on June 14, 2005, “In Your Honor” broke multiple platinum sales figures and earned them five Grammy nominations. It also earned them their highest chart position in the Billboard 200 up to this point, peaking at number two.
Skin And Bones
The first official live album dropped in on Foo Fighters over three critically-acclaimed performances at the Pantages Theater in August, 2006. The record and accompanying DVD, both released in November, 2006, saw the band give unique and fresh performances of songs spanning their entire career as well as introducing the new title track.
An ‘Afoostic’ reinterpretation of their live performance would mean more than stripping back Unplugged-style – their approach was to expand their songs, unfolding and revealing their details. To achieve this, the touring band grew larger, drawing on the diverse talents of percussionist Drew Hester, violinist and vocalist Petra Haden, returning Foo Fighter Pat Smear, and keyboardist and future full-time member Rami Jaffee.
Many of the band’s songs begin their lives in a stripped back manner, making “Skin & Bones” a fans’ reintroduction to the music and the musicians. It was that relationship which gave these new renditions their colours: Meeting expectations in some places, surprising them in others. The softer ‘Everlong’ that had its debut on radio several years before was a natural addition, while others from their rock library were reinterpreted in unexpected and surprising ways.
This collection celebrated an achievement in balance between gentle intimacy and rowdy jams, Dave Grohl switching effortlessly between tenderly delivered vocals on ballads and screaming at the top of his lungs. The new perspective set the tone for Foo Fighters rejecting any notions of boundaries and firmly established that given the chance, the band could knock any new challenge put forward to them out of the park.
“Skin & Bones” debuted in the Billboard Top 20 and went gold in Australia and the UK.
Echoes, Silence, Patience + Grace
For the sixth time around, Foo Fighters were itching to try something new. Excited by the thought of blending the rough with the smooth, they began gathering a handful of songs that would urge them to get out of their comfort zone and try things that had never been done on a Foo Fighters album before. That adventure became “Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace”.
With Gil Norton steering the car once again, the band got to work at Studio 606 in Los Angeles whittling down dozens of ideas into a powerful and dramatic narrative. Then they really started having some fun. For the first time, a Foo Fighters album had a string arrangement. Dave Grohl swapped his guitar for a piano. Melodies and emotions influenced the way the album moved. They weren’t exactly sure what it would be yet, but the enjoyment of the journey gave them faith in the destination.
In that spirit, along came some old and new friends: Rami Jaffee, Drew Hester, Kaki King, The Section Quartet, and Pat Smear. In another band first, the record also included an instrumental: ‘The Ballad of the Beaconsfield Miners’, a Grohl/King serenade for the Tasmanian miners who, when asked for any supplies they needed while waiting to be rescued, requested an iPod loaded with the band’s songs.
Then, of course, one last song was included to make the album feel complete and as big as it could be: ‘The Pretender’. The lead single from “Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace” quickly became one of the band’s best-known songs and a Grammy winner for Best Hard Rock Performance.
“Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace” hit the shelves on September 25, 2007, went platinum in its first week, and bagged the band another Grammy for Best Rock Album.
“Wasting Light” was the answer to a very simple question: What if Foo Fighters recorded an album without the safety net of a recording studio? The experiment saw them setting up camp in Dave Grohl’s own garage, with long-time friend Butch Vig at the controls. Armed with a solid supply of material written and jammed on the road, the band were ready to get out of their comfort zone and into the garage.
Cars, bikes and kids toys were moved out of the garage to make room for a drum kit, a makeshift control room constructed in the room above. Dave’s marital home was very much taken over. No one was quite sure how it was going to turn out, but for Foo Fighters that was half the fun.
Recording began in September by which time songs were tightly rehearsed and most issues with the garage were remedied. A goal of completing one song per week was set, powering through with a focus on performance, not precision. Adding to the challenge was the rule that they’d record to analog tape with no digital crutches. If a tape was at risk of being lost, they were committed to recording it all over again. Just like the good old days.
With Pat Smear officially reunited with the family, and guest collaborations with Krist Novoselic (Nirvana) and Bob Mould (Husker Du), “Wasting Light” stated its case for the craft of creating music from scratch. Dave’s garage seemed like an unconventional environment, but the method came to represent the band and the perfectly imperfect spirit of making music: The “human element”.
The album was released on April 12, 2011, led by the single ‘Rope’, the second song in Foo Fighters history to debut at #1 on Billboard’s Rock Songs Chart. “Wasting Light” earned the band four Grammy awards and remains a firm fan favourite.
Eighth album, eight tracks, eight cities, eight studios, one week in each stop, writing and recording on the fly. Sounds like a job for Foo Fighters.
After pre-production in Autumn 2013 to lock down instrumentation, the band began work on “Sonic Highways” in the first half of 2014, collaborating again with Butch Vig as production jumped from coast to coast. Some visits, such as Washington, D.C. and Seattle, had personal significance to the band and their formative years; others like New Orleans had captured their imagination as they’d passed through on tours past and stood out for their rich musical history. It was also in NOLA where they broke with convention, ignoring a number of traditional recording studios in the city and setting up shop in the world-famous Preservation Hall. The band brought along Rami Jaffee once more, his last collaborative work before being an officially initiated Foo Fighter.
Along the way, musicians from each city lent their talent to the album: Rick Nielsen, Pete Stahl, Skeeter Thompson, Zac Brown, Gary Clark Jr., Joe Walsh, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Benjamin Gibbard, Kristeen Young, and the Los Angeles Youth Orchestra.
“Sonic Highways” was a love letter to these places and people whose gifts and wisdoms were generously given to Foo Fighters during the recording process. Drawing inspiration from the sights, sounds, and stories of each location, the finished tracks spun the tales from the road into vignettes of a shared human experience.
“Sonic Highways” was released on November 10, 2014 and debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Top Rock Albums chart, appearing in Top Ten charts nineteen times worldwide. The lead single, ‘Something From Nothing’, was honoured with a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Performance.
Concrete and Gold
The drive, in pressing times, to find a place to feel free is expressed in every aspect of the ninth Foo Fighters album “Concrete and Gold”.
Keeping the recording under wraps and releasing the lead single ‘Run’ by surprise on June 1, 2017, the band relished the opportunity to colour outside the lines. Perhaps the most outlandish concept was the recording method – after being dropped in less conventional spaces for previous records they realized that the wildest thing they could do was simply walk into a state of the art studio and hit record!
Having enlisted producer Greg Kurstin to lend his sense of melody and arrangement to their sound, they experimented in their space at EastWest Studios with equipment that they didn’t typically use. Throw in some guest appearances and happy coincidences (Justin Timberlake, Paul McCartney, Dave Koz, and Shawn Stockman to name a few) and “Concrete and Gold” was firmly established as an idea with plenty of room to move. The record also celebrates Rami Jaffee becoming a full-time Foo Fighter.
This new process brought forth some of the grandest and most confident offerings in the band’s history: From the multidimensional title track, and the rallying ‘The Sky is a Neighborhood’, to the rhapsodic Hawkins-led ‘Sunday Rain’.
World events and the political climate were on their minds as they entered the studio in December 2016, but for Foo Fighters, the mood they wanted to set was hope. However disheartening the world may be, a Foo Fighters show is a place where thousands can connect and release. “Concrete and Gold” is an album that asks for unity, reminding us that “our roots are stronger than you know”.
“Concrete and Gold” was released on September 15, 2017, and was the second Foo Fighters album to debut at #1 on the Billboard 200. ‘Run’ was nominated for a Best Rock Performance Grammy award and won Best Rock Song.