Seattle Post-Intelligencer 2000
Is Foo Fighter Dave Grohl a bully or what?
Nope, says Nate Mendel, the band's bassist and only original member besides Grohl.
Maybe it's just growing pains. Grohl has gone through band members faster than a groupie at a Motley Crue concert.
"He's passionate about the music," Mendel said of Grohl. "If it doesn't sound right, there's going to be a problem."
But it always has been Grohl's band. It began nearly six years ago when Grohl heisted Mendel and drummer William Goldsmith from local band Sunny Day Real Estate. He then got former Germs and Nirvana guitarist Pat Smear on board. Everything was lovely as the men toured behind Grohl's debut CD 'Foo Fighters,' on which he had played all the instruments.
But while in Woodinville making the 1997 follow-up, 'The Colour and the Shape,' Goldsmith split. The move was fueled when Grohl, former drummer for Nirvana, didn't like some of Goldsmith's drumming and taped over it with his own.
Goldsmith's departure was followed by Smear's, who left midway through the ensuing tour.
Both musicians were replaced. Taylor Hawkins, formerly with Alanis Morissette, saddled up behind the skins, and Franz Stahl, who had played with Grohl years before in the Washington, D.C., band Scream, took over guitar.
Stahl eventually had his fill of the king Foo Fighter. He and Grohl could not agree on how songs should go, so he made his exit in 1999 after the final leg of the 'The Colour and the Shape' tour.
Meanwhile, Mendel and longtime girlfriend Katie Newsom split. He put his Tacoma house up for sale and moved to West Seattle.
Then, after lengthy auditions, Chris Shifflet was hired to replace Stahl. At last, with Shifflet on board, Foo Fighters again were fully staffed.
But getting to this point has been trying for Mendel.
"It's been difficult because every time we change a member, you have to step back, regroup and figure out where to go from there, It's been a pain in the ass."
Mendel is getting to know Shifflet and has become pretty good friends with Hawkins. But because they didn't grow up together as a band, as he did with Sunny Day, he said they were without that essential struggle period when band members form bonds.
"It's always been a group of individuals on the fly," Mendel said. "So in a sense, it doesn't change the dynamic all that much because it's been a consortium of people."
There are still the occasional tussles. Grohl writes just about every note of music, and so dictates to his band how it should be played - especially the drums. Mendel said Grohl replaced Hawkins on some of the songs from the new CD, 'There Is Nothing Left to Lose.' And Hawkins reportedly has said that though he has to play what Grohl wants, Grohl is far from a megalomaniac.
"Taylor was aware that Dave was going to be participating and (that it) might not be what Taylor was into playing," Mendel said. But Mendel added that they've all been getting along since touring. And playing live is what Mendel looks forward to the most.
Opening for the Red Hot Chili Peppers will mark Mendel's first time playing The Gorge. "I'm excited to do it," Mendel said. "Plus, it's a hometown show so family will get to see it."
back to the features index