Grinner Takes It All

Kerrang! May 1997

The making of the Foo Fighters' 'The Colour And The Shape' album went like this: started in Seattle, had a bastard of a time, lost a drummer, moved to LA, had a laugh and came out the other end with a classic record. Dave Grohl tells Mike Peake why the whole thing 'yanked his crank'...

Foo Fighters; Kerrang, May 1997 In a dusty, grim part of north Hollywood, a huge black Chevrolet parks up outside a nondescript looking low-rent building. The car's doors open and Foo Fighters singer Dave Grohl and guitarist Pat Smear spill out.
  Pat's got a green dot on his neck from where he sliced off a mole, shaving. He considers trying to pass off the morning's painful faux pas as a new trend. There's a crunch of gravel as another, even bigger, car - a Cadillac - draws up alongside. Out get Foo Fighters bassist Nate Mendel - the driver - and the band's likable new drummer, Taylor Hawkins.
  The four men walk into the building - a shabby rehearsal studio run by bikers - and disappear into their room, where they will spend the next six hours making thrilling music. Most of this music is on the Foo Fighters' new album, 'The Colour And The Shape', and it's about to knock you senseless.

All of the Foo Fighters' glory was hinted at on their killer, self-tilled debut album. But that was recorded by Dave Grohl. On his own. In just a week.
  "I could never have made an album like the new one on my own," says Grohl, modestly. "And you know what? The new record doesn't sound like one person was playing all the instruments. When you throw different personalities and different perspectives into the mix, it's going to be totally different.
  "When I used to record stuff by myself I could hear the song in my head before it was finished, and when it was finally mixed I knew exactly what it was gonna sound like. This time it was such a mystery."
  'Foo Fighters' struck a chord with priceless tunes like 'Big Me', 'Alone + Easy Target' and the delicious 'This Is A Call', which Dave now finds frankly hilarious.
  "Have you ever seen the lyrics to the first record?" he says. "They're so dumb. They're so bad. For the most part if was nonsense. 'This Is A Call'? 'Fingernails and Minicine'? Minicine is a fucking acne medicine!"
  "On the new record," says Nate, "the lyrics actually make sense!"
"I don't want to yank my own crank," Dave says, "but it's great. Fucking everyone did so well on the record. Listen to the first, listen to the second. I'm so proud of it." And so he should be.

'The Colour And The Shape' is a monster of an album. First single 'Monkey Wrench', with its power-riffing and sparkling melodies, is just one of many highlights. Just wait until you get a load of the cracking 'Up In Arms' or the scorching 'Everlong'.
  But 'The Colour... ' was a bastard to make. The initial recording sessions, in Seattle, were a "bad experience", and led in part to the departure of original drummer William Goldsmith. Once the band· moved to LA to re-record, things started lightening up a bit. Apart from when Grohl had to tell Smear what to play.
  "Pat refuses to play the same chords as I do, ever," Dave says. "If I'm over here on the neck, then he's way down here and I'm like, 'What are you doing?'.
  "The other day in rehearsal I actually told him to play a different chord and I was so scared. It's so scary saying, 'Maybe you should try this...'. I sat there thinking about it for five minutes. 'How am I going to ask them to do this? How am I going to say that's not the right chord?'."
  Punk legend Smear is brimming over with enthusiasm for the new album. "Have you heard the record?" he gushes. "What do you think?!" We tell Pat it's ace and his eyes light up.
  "Isn't it?" he grins, before bouncing off.

Foo Fighters turned down Donington, Reading, Lollapalooza - just about every festival they were offered this summer. Except August's V97.
  "We just wanted to play with The Prodigy," says Dave. "They're so great live. What's gonna happen is that they're gonna come over to the US and put on the best show you're ever gonna see.
  "Who can come on after The Prodigy? No one in the world. Meaning The Prodigy are the best live band in the world. That's a serious fucking title.
  On our last tour, I thought we were good," says Nate "But now, we're really working on it."
  "One more practice and we'd be ready to play a show" says Dave. "But we'll have 20 more practices before we're even going to attempt to do one. By the time we get out of the practice room we're gonna be like the Bad Brains circa 1982."
  Does it have to be so perfect?
 "Fuck, totally," he says. "The Bad Brains were unbelievable. They were so connected that they didn't even have to look at each other. And it made all the difference in the world."
  And that's what you want?
  "That's what everybody wants," shrugs Dave . "And I don't know how many bands are doing it."

When the Foo Fighters' world tour kicks off in Britain this month, take a long hard look at the blokes onstage.Four top mates having a laugh and playing tunes they've loved and nurtured for the past six months.
  "You know, I think of this record as the first," says Grohl. "And I think that the next album - which is a funny thing to be talking about now - will probably... Actually," he grins, "the next album will probably be fucking all over the place!"

Words: Mike Peake     Pics: Lisa Johnson

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