Stronger Than Before

Dallas Observer 2003

These Fighters confounded critics and fans who expected a breakup, returning stronger than before

Chris Shiflett joined ex-Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl's Foo Fighters at a very strange time for the band: when a breakup seemed inevitable.

Shiflett signed on with the Foos following the recording of the group's third disc, There Is Nothing To Lose. After the disc was done, guitarist Franz Stahl quit, opening the position for Shiflett, an ex-member of punk band No Use for a Name.

When the group came off the road and started working on its fourth disc -- Shiflett's first with the Foos -- problems set in. In particular, Grohl wasn't happy with the way the songs were going, and eventually, the entire recording session was scrapped. Everyone in the band went their separate ways, fueling rumors of a breakup.

"We tried to approach making a record in a clinical and precise way," Shiflett says. "No one was happy with it. We took a break and went side-project crazy. I thought we were gonna break up when all that . . . was going down. Believe me, that was not lost on me. But we never broke up, of course, but people obviously thought that."

Following Grohl's recording and touring with his buds in thunderous metal band Queens of the Stone Age, the Foo Fighters reunited and rerecorded -- in a much different frame of mind.

"We got back together and made a record much quicker," Shiflett says. "We didn't overdo it as much, and I think it came out a lot better. I don't think it was a bad thing to abort the first session. Those songs just didn't work for us."

The new ones do. The resulting disc, One by One, harks back to the band's excellent first effort, a self-titled disc recorded solely by Grohl not long after Nirvana disbanded in the wake of singer Kurt Cobain's death. One by One, like the first record, has a deliciously raw feel to it; Shiflett's punk background obviously rubbed off.

"Dave's a great guy to work with," Shiflett says. "He's cool with you bringing ideas to the table."

Shiflett is the band's third guitarist. He's followed in the footsteps of Pat Smear, who played in the Germs and with Nirvana toward the end of their career, and Franz Stahl, who played with Grohl, years ago, in a D.C. punk band called Scream. William Goldsmith, the Foos' original drummer, also came and went. The current lineup is rounded out by bassist Nate Mendel and drummer Taylor Hawkins.

So is Shiflett nervous that such a tumultuous history could eventually spell the unemployment line for him?

"I don't see anybody, me or anyone else, leaving anytime soon," he says. "Everybody in this band seems very happy. We tour really comfortably. That makes life very easy for us."

Words:Malcolm Mayhew

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